“Prayer for Spiritual Strength”

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Eph 3:14–19.

I Am So Selfish

I am so selfish. I am very self centered. And I’m very possessive. I know this about myself. I’m always trying to find what’s best for me in any situation. I want to know how I can be benefitted by doing different tasks for activities. Going out with friends will benefit me because I get out of the house, and perhaps learn a few more things about my friends because I like to collect information about people. What’s in it for me? Acquiring knowledge just to have, to make myself feel smarter and impress those people later with the trivia I remembered. I have things that are mine and mine alone. Anyone else using my things must use them with caution and must put it back exactly where they got it from. You can use my pen, but you must recap it properly, it must not have leaked, and you must put it back in the same pencil case from where I got it out from. I’m particular with my things. Food is mine too. You can’t have my food, because it’s mine. I saved that piece. This is my road. Why are you driving on it? You are allowed to drive on this road if you drive the same speed as me. Otherwise get off my road. Man, I could go on.

I’m a very selfish person. Everything has to be about me. Conversations with my parents are always about me. Conversations with my brother are always about me. Conversations inevitably turn into something about me. And generally I accept it and go on because I have a listener. I enjoy telling people about myself. But I don’t like this about me.

I’m trying to get better. I’m doing my best to turn my attention to the person I’m talking to and ask them questions about themselves. And only give brief anecdotes about myself, keeping the focus on them. People feel comfortable speaking about themselves. Gaining insight about who they are helps me to pray to God on their behalf.

I’m starting to come around to letting people share some of my stuff. I can’t think of an example right now, but I’m sure there was something. I’m trying to make sure my relationships revolve around who God is and what He’s doing in their lives so that we can praise Him and not ourselves.

All these changes have happened because of the grace that Jesus has given me. It’s repentance. I’m beginning to turn away from my old ways to turn to Jesus’s way. His way is loving, generous, good, kind, humble, beautiful & without selfish ambition. Since this is way, I must conform to it. And what a wonderful set of qualities to conform to. These are things that bring us true joy and delight in God and His grace. What else do you need to ask for? God is good.

Jesus

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. He died. He was God’s only son. The one and only. God sent him to live a life of suffering. He suffered so much. All of those things you’ve been through, Jesus has gone through as well. He was rejected. He was bullied. He was ostracized. He was laughed at. He was called a drunkard. People said he was a lunatic. People did not believe him. He was betrayed. He was tested in the wilderness by all the things that frequently lead us astray, but he endured it. He endured it all until the very end. His death was prolonged agony, the epitome of suffering. It was horrific. But he endured it. Until is life gave out, he cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:48 ESV). Fully man, separated from God the Father. This was God’s sacrifice of his only son for one purpose. The purpose of Jesus on the cross was while Jesus was perfect, he took on the sins of the people of the world as his own sin. And he put them to death. In the most terrifying way possible. So sin is put to death. Woo hoo! Then Christ is miraculously retuned. He came back . He stripped off all our sins. So that we can live a life forgiven and free. We are no longer slaves to our sins. We no longer have to be ashamed. Jesus took our shame for us. We no longer have to feel abandoned. We are God’s children. We are no longer hopeless. Jesus IS our hope, “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24 ESV).

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.

Hope

What do you hope for? Where does your hope lie? What are your hopes and dreams? So I start to think about what I’ve been “hoping” for lately. I’ve been hoping for peace. For clarity. For relief of stress. I’ve been hoping that going back to work will go smoothly. I’ve been hoping that I don’t get tired and drained and that I won’t spiral down again. My hope in the world is dwindling and I hope that it gets better again before it gets even worse.  I have all these things that I’m hoping for. But it’s simply semantics. These are desires, not hopes.

Well then how do you define hope?

For a follower of Christ, hope is not what you desire to achieve or have things for yourself or anyone else. Hope is our relationship with Christ himself. We hope for our meeting with Christ. Our hope lies in relating with Christ. And we dream to be united with Christ.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25

We hope for our relationship with Christ. We hope that we can make it stronger. We can spend more time with him reading his word, talking to him in prayer. As a community we can gather to read the word and reflect and eagerly get to prayer and pray for each other in our hopes in Christ. We can hope with joy. We hope for Jesus’ presence.

Hope is the confidence we have in Christ that he will do his will. He has given each of us gifts of the Spirit so that we can work together to build up his body to do his will.

Colossians 3:12-17

Happy first day of October! Today was baptism Sunday at church. Seventeen people were baptized, immersed in water, publicly proclaiming Christ as their Lord. It was beautiful. In that spirit, I wanted to share this passage from Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV).

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Let Your Light Shine

Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.