Category Archives: Quiet Time

The End of the Line

It is written that I was made to overcome (Romans 8:31-39). But I do not see it. What use is hope, when the battle has gone on too long and there seems to be nothing left? What use is having hope when all evidence points to the contrary?

Paul wrote: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV).

Isn’t it curious that he uses the word “evidence of things not seen”? People say seeing is believing, right? But what if it’s not so? Remember, God Himself is Spirit (John 4:24; 2 Corinthians 3:17). And you have not seen Him, but you know Him. And you love Him (John 14:17; 1 Peter 1:8-9)

The greatest battle that Christ faced was not with the powerful and wealthy religious leaders of His time (Matthew 23:1-39; Mark 12:35-40; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 20:45-47), the unbelieving crowds (Matthew 17:17; Mark 9:19), His own disciples (Matthew 18:1-4; Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 22) or the Roman government (Matthew 2; John 19; Luke 23; Mark 15).

It was with His own physical body. He knew the purpose for which He came, to give His life to redeem us from our sins (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; John 13:1-17). He declared to His disciples when He found them sleeping when they should pray to be able to resist temptation: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41b NIV). Christ Himself is without sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:3-4; Hebrews 4:14-16).

Yet Jesus consistently set the example for us to follow. And in that moment, when facing the weight of the cross, He did not turn away. He prayed (Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42). Personally I don’t think Jesus was asking God to remove the possibility of crucifixion. He always predicted His own death and was quite clear in telling the purpose of His death and how it will glorify God (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22; Mark 8:31; Luke 13:33). Rather, I think it was more related to the fact that He was under so much anguish that He suffered while praying, which can possibly affect his physical body to the point of death before He reaches the cross. He sweated drops of blood (Luke 22:44).

There are times in our lives when we feel like even the things we struggle within our own minds are too difficult to bear. Christ said that in this world, we will have trouble – but also tells us to have courage, because He overcame the world (John 16:33)!

By the way, Jesus never promised that we would have a smooth sailing. So if anyone tells you any different, spouting the nonsense that your life will be full of prosperity and ease, that’s not the truth of Christ.  

When we are at the end of the line and there’s no rope to hold on, that is when we need shift our focus off way we feel, off our own minds – and towards the Word of the Lord. No discipline is easy. Think back to the time you first began learning. Be it pottery, martial arts, math, writing. How did you grow? Did it take persistence?

In the same principal, it is written: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV).

Let’s give the end of the line to God. Maybe it’s time that we do His way. Are you ready?

The Purpose of Easter

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:1-6 (ESV)

From the very beginning of his letters, Paul states clearly his identity in Christ. His purpose was centered around who Christ is (v. 2-5) and the authority and power in which Christ displayed His triumph over death. More importantly, Paul knew that without the truth of resurrection, our hope and faith in Christ is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

My prayer is that as you go forward throughout your life in full knowledge and acceptance of Jesus’ complete work of redemption on the cross, you will remember with unshakable faith the eternal life we have through His resurrection.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” – Romans 8:11 (NLT)

(Text is a quote from Luke 24:6-8 NIV version in purple script, bordered in white. A text beneath the Bible verse is a bold "R" with a red "+" on the bottom left corner of the letter. The background is a picture of a tree with pink flowers in full bloom).
(Alternative text: The text is a quote from Luke 24:6-8 NIV version in purple script, bordered in white. A text beneath the Bible verse is a bold “R” with a red “+” on the bottom left corner of the letter. The background is a picture of a tree with pink flowers in full bloom)

The Grace of Being Lost

These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

Everything Is Meaningless

 “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

The Teacher Speaks: The Futility of Wisdom

I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

What is wrong cannot be made right.
    What is missing cannot be recovered.

I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.

The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief.
    To increase knowledge only increases sorrow
.” (Ecclesiastes 1 NLT)

This world is full of ideas on what purpose we serve. We are often times pressured from birth to death to fulfill a certain role or purpose in society. These expectations may or may not help us discover our sense of self. Yet when we fail or succeed to meet the expectations of those around us and that of our own, we discover that we only feel the same way as King Solomon did. We think: “what’s the point?”

But I wonder, is there some blessing in allowing ourselves to acknowledge that sometimes we get lost?

Maybe it’s okay to be.

Our purpose isn’t found in the way people perceive us, or the standards we set up for ourselves. Having goals and hopes for the future is important, but there’s something even more important.

Through Micah, God teaches us: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV).

And 1 Corinthians 13 shows us the most excellent way; summed up in one word in how we should live our lives with a singular purpose: love.

Love is so difficult. It would be severely understating it when I say that we aren’t consistent in loving others and ourselves. How much more when it comes to loving our Lord?

But through Him, we receive grace. When we are lost to ourselves and the world, God pours more grace into us. And that is the grace of being lost. Not because of what we have done in the past or what potential we will fulfill in the future, but simply because of who He is (Romans 5).

There’s grace of being lost in God’s love. Once we allow ourselves to give up our identities to Him, we discover and become who we are meant to be.

Doubtful Prayer

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”” – Mark 9:24 (ESV)

How long has it been? I remember the ones we lost. Those who have left us. They died. Of cancer.

How I hate that disease. From the count of those who suffered and passed away, it has so far, proven to be unbeatable. Not even our prayer availed much.

My friends’ fathers have died from it. I know many who suffer from it. I know many more through stories of others who have passed away because of it.

Despite our prayers, there was no healing. No testimony of God’s miracle. There are only monuments. Graves. Flowers. Memories. And grief that doesn’t completely go away.

That cry of healing from a father on the behalf of his son is something I think we all can relate to. There’s the desperation, a glimmer of hope against all hope that God will come in and save the day. The hope that there will be healing and rejoicing. And fear, fear is always there too. Through doubtful prayer we groan in grief and pain.

What a paradox! We believe, but we also disbelieve.

But whenever people pleaded for a healing, asking, “If you are willing…” Christ always answered: “I am willing…” (Matthew 8:3; Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13).

So why? Why did our prayers go unanswered? Why was there no healing, even though Christ is always willing? Why did they pass from this earth?

I cannot say. I cannot say and there are times I’m afraid to even begin praying for a healing when hearing of someone becoming terribly sick. I’m afraid I’m coming to God as a hypocrite, someone who doesn’t believe and yet…knowing He still listens.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with my own faith – even while having my own personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness. But I tell you this, even though I continue to struggle in my unbelief regarding healing, I still go to God in prayer, having faith that He hears. We don’t always get what we desire, and our circumstances don’t always change. But He gives us strength to get through the day and love to comfort others in spite of our troubles. Joy to look forward to the life we have in Him, and peace knowing that regardless of what happens to our physical bodies, our soul is secure in Him.

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” –Isaiah 53:4-5 (ESV)

Masks

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
    Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
    speaking the truth from sincere hearts.”
– Psalm 15:1-2 (NLT)

Revealing the truth brings pain. More often than white lies or plain all out lies. Why do I say this? Because in this world, we learn very quickly that truth is inconvenient. So we live a lie. Every day, we put on a mask. We do this out of fear that nonconformity will bring punishment from those we seek to be accepted by.

I’m not talking about the lies we tell our siblings (and in some cases of parents – children) about stealing their Halloween candy. Or that time you took your dad’s car on a joyride that left a scratch on it. Or the time when you cheated on your significant other by making out with someone else. Although those count as lies.

I’m talking about the painful truths of ourselves. Truths that expose us for who we are. I think some of the heaviest burden we bear is the one where we ask ourselves: if people knew the truth about me – would they still accept me?

Why have I started writing about this? Because I just read an acquaintance’s story. Did you know that April 2nd  is Autism Awareness Day? He is on the Autism Spectrum (ASD 1). I honestly had no idea. His story resonated with me, particularly about trying to pass off as “normal,” which is a quite painful burden to bear.

By nature, we want to love and be loved. To be accepted. This is, I think, a natural longing that leads us to care for one another. But after sin and separation between God and man that led to the brokenness in relationships, everything changed. Our lives are in shambles. That love became twisted into something else entirely – a thing that requires certain arbitrary conditions to be met before the person is considered lovable. That longing for acceptance can become an unhealthy obsession to conform to the world, even if it means selling our very own soul for it. Only God’s love can truly set us free.

I love what 1 John 4 has to say about this. I believe it’s best to read it in its entirety for context and clarity.

No one understands our fear and pain of rejection better than Yeshua, who was rejected, despised and considered by others to be cursed. No matter how inconvenient or how difficult it is, we need to acknowledge that we are broken, and that we are tired of living out a lie.

We all are tired of hiding behind our masks. The world’s acceptance doesn’t matter. God’s acceptance of us does. God already loves us – in spite of our faults, our disability(s), our weaknesses, in our brokenness. It doesn’t matter if we are poor, rich, disabled, non-disabled, male, female, slave, or free. He is able to work and create a new life in us despite the fact that society tells us it’s impossible. His love has the power to heal us and bring us to a new kind of life. Live your life knowing God has accepted you through Yeshua’s work on the cross – but have you accepted Him?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” (2 Timothy 2:15-16 NIV)

Have faith and be patient. Continue abiding in the Lord. All will be completed in His time.

How can a young person stay pure?
    By obeying your word
.” (Psalm 119:9 NLT)

Remembering Past

“As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.” – Psalm 103:13-19 (ESV)

It was one of those sleepless nights where I lay wide awake.

Many thoughts running through my mind.

Among them were things I remembered.

I remember the pink bubble gum smelling surgery mask.

An oxygen mask, really.

I remember being in the hospital room with my parents,

waiting for what I later would learn was for surgery

on both of my ears.

I remember a small boy my age,

who was given the same mask.

We took turns talking about, exchanging, and smelling each other’s

bubble gum scented masks.

I remember the metallic, strange odor underneath the bubble gum

scent, a scent that no amount of fragrance could erase.

I remember his parents were there, too.

Smiling at their boy.

Watching us.

Their hid their worries well.

I don’t really recall his name.

I remember he had brown hair.

I don’t recall the color of his eyes. What

color were they?

It’s troubling to me that I’m unsure if they

were a deep brown or a clear blue.

I don’t recall a lot of things.

I remember that he was the first to go out

with the surgeons.

His parents huddled together by the door as they

bravely smiled, waved good bye, and told him

they would see him soon.

I remember when it was my turn,

I was scared, I cried.

On the bed, oxygen mask put on me.

One surgeon said, “Don’t cry. Remember your

new friend (from waiting room) _____? He’s fine. You’ll be okay.”

Was his name John? I remember cold

cotton rubbed on my back. A needle.

The bubble gum metallic gas smell.

I remember crying while fading out.

What was his name, is he well?

I remember you, I hope to see you well.

NOTE: This is about my experience having surgery done for the first time as a young girl. My parents wanted to help preserve my hearing – not that it mattered. I still went through stages of gradual hearing loss. By 7th grade and onward, my hearing loss became profound.

Life is not easy, but I know God remembers. I honestly have not thought of that boy and my experience there for a long time. I remember after the surgery, I was discharged. Went home. After a while, there was deep bone ache in my ears, but far deeper. It eventually went away as I healed, but that ache is what I also remember. When the painkillers wore off, I felt that ache.

The Bible says that God remembers us. He remembers how weak we are, that we don’t really last long. He never will take his love away from us.

He knows our pain.

My hope and prayer is that I get to meet that boy I met in the waiting room. I hope that he’s doing well, and that he and his parents are alive and happy. I hope that he’s healthy, and that God will continue to show His goodness to them.

Why did I share this experience? Because of this verse:

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” – Proverbs 14:10 (NIV)

But God understands every single thing we went through. Even if there isn’t anyone else in this world that understands you, He does. A lot of our suffering and struggles can make us bitter. We also feel lonely. And yet –

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)

God remembers everything. He understands us more than we know. So talk to Him about it. May you know Him and be satisfied. May you continue to experience waves upon waves of His love and mercy all the days of your life. May He give the kind of contentment that you need. Know that the Lord is good. God bless!

Controlled Anger

“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”” – Hebrews 12:4-6 (ESV)

“Control your anger!”

“Why are you so angry?”

“Stop getting angry.”

And better yet, when we are on the receiving side of anger or have gotten angry at someone, the response usually is: “My feelings are valid.”

I used to think that as long as one controls their anger, it’s okay to be angry. But the problem is, when we are angry, we will always need an outlet. A healthy way to release our anger. Usually, the way we confront or release our anger is not healthy – for ourselves and others. Even after a while of suppressing our anger, it will eventually erupt, just as a volcano can remain dormant for periods of time – and erupt with devastating effects.

The Bible says that anger IS a flood (Proverbs 27:4). Have you ever seen them? They’re impossible to manage or control! In the end, what’s left after the flood has passed is to pick up any pieces that remain behind.

Furthermore, God’s Word teaches us that as Christians, we are expected to be slow to become angry, because human anger never results in the kind of lifestyle, words, thoughts, and actions that honors God (James 1:19-21).

God knows our weaknesses and empathizes with them (Hebrews 4:15). The Bible acknowledges that there are times we become angry. But we can control how we deal with it.

We can control what we say and do when we are angry so that we do not sin before God and people. And we are to always leave that anger, to surrender it up to God before the day ends – otherwise Satan will have a secure place in our lives in which he can progress further to our ruin and ruin of others who will be affected by us (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Finally, we are to cast off our old selves and allow God to work in us (Ephesians 4:22-23).

And so we cannot control our anger, but God has equipped us with all we need on how we deal with it (2 Timothy 1:7). We need to always begin by surrendering it up to Him. No Christian can conquer him or herself without prayer.

We do live in the world, but we do not fight in the same way the world fights. We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments  and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NCV)

In Spite of Me

“The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. ” – Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)

The world is dark. The mind is dark. And the heart is dark. Darkness dwells, filling in every area we see.

Even in the beginning, there was darkness.

The Word says everything was swallowed in darkness. There was only emptiness (Genesis 1:1-2). Even now in this world, we have only darkness, the deep emptiness of a spiritual kind.

And the first thing God does in both circumstances – in the beginning and through Christ – is to shine light into the darkness.

“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” – Genesis 1:3 (NKJV).

And again:

“In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:1-5 (NLT)

And so we have light.

If I were to be honest with you, even with knowing God for as long as I could remember, I struggled with the darkness in my mind.

The darkness stemmed from all the bitterness in my heart.

Pain and loss leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to resentment and hatred. This bitterness corrupts others, for it is written: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” – Hebrews 12:15 (NLT),

and “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV),

and again, “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”- Luke 6:45 (NLT).

Yet I can still remember with clarity all the sufferings and wrongs at the hands of others. This leads to despair, for if I cannot be free from this even after years of struggle, where’s my hope? When will it end, and where will I go?

Romans 15:13 clearly says in no uncertain terms that God is the source of hope. Hope is not to be found in good deeds we see and hear of that leaves us glowing with happiness and dissipates after a little while. That sort of hope is eventually forgotten.

Hope is not in tomorrow. Hope is not in the new job you need. Hope is not in progress you are making, for anything we do can become undone in a moment.

“The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:

 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?” – Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (NIV)

Therefore God is the source of hope. Whatever He designs to accomplish, He will.

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” –Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV)

I look to God and feel very sure of this, that my purpose in the Lord will be fulfilled. “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” – Psalm 57:2 (ESV)

David wrote this, not knowing when his exile during the reign of his enemy, King Saul, would end. He knew that God is the source of hope. And so He is.

Keep this for yourself. Whatever purpose God created you, created me for, it will be done. In spite of you. In spite of me. In spite of our failures, our pain, our weaknesses. It will be done.

May we have joy not dependent on anything in this world, in ourselves, people, and our beloved animals, but in God. That’s true hope. That’s His unchanging, eternal love.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Joyless Purpose

In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important. The important things are living right with God, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”-Romans 14:17 (ICB)

 

Imagine that you receive a map of your life. When you unfold it, you see that you have a beautiful purpose. Your skills, talents, and ways to unlock your potential and how to forge supportive relationships are laid out in gold letters. As you follow the map, everything works out for good as you overcome every obstacle and challenge. And yet…there is still one thing you lack.

Joylessly, you go through motions. Your passion dies, despite having a clear knowledge of your purpose.

So what is purpose without joy?

Many people have expressed about how they would love to find their purpose in life.

Still, I have also seen people who have not yet discovered their purpose. They are on a journey, called life, and enjoying every single moment. They are not sure if they will ever find that purpose, or they might even have a vague idea and have no clue where it leads, but they have joy for life. This joy leads them to eagerly facing each new morning and they remain smiling even as the sun goes down and they prepare for the day’s rest.

Knowing your purpose is important, but having joy is important too.

I think this is what Paul meant, when he wrote: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 (NLT).

Why is joy so important? Because joy is intimately bound with hope. The reverse is also true – without hope, there is no joy! Having knowledge of your purpose is not, and will not ever be enough. There needs to be joy. Without joy, we will lack hope and the strength necessary to overcome days when we don’t seem to be making any progress anywhere. A joyless life is a purpose defeated.

May you discover the complete kind of joy and peace from God. May you trust in Him, and may you overflow in confident hope that comes only from the Holy Spirit!

Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith. He paid no attention to the shame of the cross. He suffered there because of the joy he was looking forward to. Then he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”-Hebrews 12:2 NIRV

The Reason for Christmas

“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

(Isaiah 9:2-7 ESV)

 

Merry Christmas!!

 

With Love,

Redemption Ministries