Grace Upon Grace

My past embraced
My sin forgiven
I’m blameless in Your sight
My history rewritten

You delight in showing mercy
Mercy triumphs over judgment

Oh love, great love
Fear cannot be found in You
There will never be a day
You’re uncertain of the ones You choose

You delight in showing mercy
Mercy triumphs over judgment

I will wake and spend my days
Loving the One who has raised me up
From death to life, from wrong to right
You’re making all things beautiful”

The Lord has used these beautiful lyrics from Bethel’s song “Mercy” to completely transform and humble my heart in ways I would have never imagined. In my walk with Christ, I wholeheartedly want to live my life zealously serving the Lord and on fire for Him. But let me tell you, my failures are many and my sin is great. I fall into temptation, I get caught up in my selfish and sinful desires, I allow the enemy to have a stronghold and I blatantly disobey the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life. I have come to this broken and hopeless place when I haven fallen into sin and it has been used by God to humble me and awaken my heart to the awe-inspiring reality of grace and mercy.

I never fully understood grace and mercy as two individual words. They both sort of blended together in my mind simply because the definitions are so extremely similar. But this is what I wanted the blog to be about today; to give a better understanding of grace and mercy and to, god willing, bring comfort to those who are struggling with sin in their life just like I am. I pray that this is used to open your heart to not only the reality that we are sinners who don’t deserve grace but the righteous judgement of God, but also that we serve a God who is merciful and gives grace to those He loves.

The definition(s) of grace are 1.) favor or goodwill, 2.) a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior, 3.) mercy; clemency; pardon. Grace is the free and undeserved favor of God, as evident in the salvation of sinners, and the bestowal of unmerited blessings. There is nothing that we can do to earn salvation ourselves because we are sinful. Mercy is 1.) compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence, 2.) an act of kindness, compassion or favor. When mercy is being performed, it is shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm, often justifiably. Like I said before, I never quite understood the difference, especially when grace uses mercy in its very definition. So, let me share a passage of scripture that brought me to my knees and helped me realize the impact of what grace and mercy are. 

Luke 7:36-50, “When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, He went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of a woman she is – that she is a sinner.’ Jesus answered to him, ‘Simon, I have something to tell you.’ ‘Tell me, teacher,’ he said. ‘Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them would live him more?’ Simon replied, ‘ I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’ ‘You have judged correctly,’ Jesus said. Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them away with her hair You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the moment i entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.’ Jesus then said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.‘”

This woman came before the Lord broken and humbled, seeking His forgiveness even though she knew that she did not deserve it. Now, this woman lived a life of sin so publicly, that it appears that almost everyone knew about her. They knew who she was, what she did, what sin she lived in. And i want to ask you something, how many of you can say honestly that you would not have responded the way the Pharisees did? Because i cannot say that i would. These people lived by the Word, they practiced it, they knew what the bible taught, but they allowed this to make the proud and they ignored the fact that we are all sinners. They looked at her in such a way that they saw themselves so much higher than her. This is something that the Lord has brought my heart to a realization of; that i am just as broken and sinful and in need of Christ as any other person on this earth. It is by God’s grace that even after i sin, i can be forgiven and am continually allowed to fall at His feet.

Let me just say, that from using the context clues, I believe this woman was most likely a prostitute. Tell me how many of you read this and feel that your sin is on the same level as hers in the sight of the Lord? Even after knowing the kind of lifestyle she lived? I know I sure do. Matthew 5:27-28 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Sin starts as a heart condition before it manifests into a physical act. Let me ask another question, have you ever murdered anyone? I can almost guarantee you all answered this question with “no”. “You have heard that it was said to people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,’ and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgement.” Matthew 5:21. This is a circumstance of the heart, and if we could look at our own hearts as God does, we would realize that we are just as sinful as the prostitute and the murder.

So, back to mercy and grace. Mercy is when the Lord, instead of handing down a punishment when we sin, shows mercy and withholds His judgement. In the story of the sinful woman above, Jesus justly could have turned her away, punishing her for the life of sin that she lived. But rather, He showed her mercy, and was compassionate toward her brokenness and her heart of repentance. Going a step further, He gave grace to her by blessing her with forgiveness and telling her to go in peace. In His eyes, her sins had been washed away, no longer visible, and by God’s grace, was able to go out and sin no more. God shows us mercy by not punishing us when we sin and then gives us grace by blessing us, despite the fact that we have sinned. Here are some verses below regarding grace and mercy that may help to understand the graceful and merciful character of God in context.

  • Romans 6:14 ~ “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
  • Hebrews 4:16 ~ “Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
  • Psalms 51:1-2 ~ “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 ~ “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
  • Titus 2:11-12 ~ “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
  • 1 Peter 1:13-16 ~ “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you has 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.'”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ~ “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I cannot tell you enough how important this is to not only know, but live our lives in constant remembrance of. That we are not worthy, nor can we do anything to earn salvation. It is freely given to us! Free, without condition. This ought to bring us to our knees in humility when we understand that we are just like this sinful woman. Broken, battling sin, and in desperate need of a savior. We can also be just like the Pharisee, looking at other peoples sin as if it is so much worse than your own sin. Sin is sin my friends, and we all have sinned. There is not one person who has walked this earth apart from Jesus who has been without sin. It is important to remember to see sin the way God sees sin, not how the world sees sin. When you realize that you are just as sinful, it should bring you so much gratitude knowing that even in your sin, Christ forgives you over and over. He shows us mercy, and that alone is enough to bring me to tears.

I know this was kind of a long one today, but I wanted you all to know that I have been dealing with my own struggles with sin, and that the Holy Spirit does not remain silent. He will make the truth known to you, and just in reading the passage and verses above, my heart feels as though it could explode with joy, because the grace and mercy God has shown just within my own life is far beyond comprehension. Praise God for forgiveness, for showing us mercy when we deserve the wrath justly rewarded to a life of sin, and for the endless blessings in each of our lives.

Thank you for reading my blog today! I pray that this was as eye opening and heart changing for you as it was for me. As a community and body of believers, I want to ask that you all be praying not just for me, but for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been under spiritual attack and I know that I am not the only one. Just remember who fights for us, and that we already have victory in Christ over sin and death. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58. 

That is my prayer for us all, that we stand firm in the truth of the Word of God and that we will not be shaken by the enemy and his schemes against us. I cannot begin to explain how humbled I am to have the opportunity to come to all of you and ask for prayer and share in the walk with Christ together with you. I pray you see my heart in the blog, and that you know why the Lord lead me to write this. Have a wonderful night everyone, and know that I am praying for strength and endurance in each of your lives. That even when we sin, that we fall at the feet of Jesus, weeping and repentant, so that we may be forgiven. Thanks again for reading and please feel free to comment any prayers or things you have witnessed in your own walk with Christ. I love hearing your feedback! God bless!

 

~Chaya

 

~Choosing Thankfulness & Gratitude~

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Can you believe it is already Thanksgiving again? That came so quickly this year. I know that writing about “thankfulness” on Thanksgiving is very cliche and expected, but this blog has been laid on my heart for a couple weeks now and it just so happens that it came right around the time of Thanksgiving. But I don’t want to just sit here and list off all the things I am thankful for or all the things we should be grateful for, but rather how God uses choosing thankfulness and gratitude to completely change and impact your life in ways you would have never imagined. Similar to the fruits of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,” having a spirit of gratitude is something we often have to choose and is given to us through the Holy Spirit. So, that is where I want to focus this blog today, because I personally do not always have a grateful attitude nor does my spirit reflect that of thankfulness.

I have realized that often there are times when I find myself wrapped up in complaining or frustration because of one thing or another. Gas prices going up, someone driving 20 miles under the speed limit, a family member who ate the rest of the food you specifically set aside to eat that day. These examples are frustrating and I am sure we all have those things in our day-to-day lives that really set us on edge. The Lord brought to my attention just the other day in what seemed like a gentle whisper in my ear; “You have been blessed with a car and job to provide gas to drive your car. Sure an increase in gas prices is annoying, but you still have a way to get to and from work.” I know this sounds like such a small thing, but it really hit me hard. Thinking about all of the things I have complained about in my life, all the times I have gotten frustrated because of one thing or the other, I should have still been choosing to have thankful attitude.

You know, I once heard a story about a servant and his king. The king went out to practice his sword fighting and lost one of his fingers. The servant looked at his king with a smile and said “this is good.” The king was confused by this, but went on after his hand was bandaged. A few days later, a person came to the palace with the intention to kill him, but was stopped before he had the chance. As the king looked to his servant, the servant looked at him with a smile and said “this is good.” The king was beginning to become annoyed with his servant and that night was tortured by a dream. When the king woke up and told the servant, the servants reply was “this is good.” Outraged by the servants lack of compassion and ignorant response, the servant was thrown in jail. A day went by and the king was out for a walk, when out of no where was captured by cannibals. They were planning to eat the king, but because he was not complete without his finger, they threw him out of their village and he returned to the kingdom. The king ran to the jail, to his servant and told him all that had happened. The servant shouted with joy, saying “this is good!”. The king finally asked why the servant responded that way, and the servant said “I did not lose a finger. Had i not been thrown into jail, I would’ve been with you, and they would have surely killed me.”

Why am I telling this silly and irrelevant story to you today? Because I can see how things happened for a reason in the kings life, and even though the king was miserable about it, the servant still chose to see good in it and was thankful. Even after being thrown in jail, you can see that had he been with the king when he was captured, he would have been killed. This same situation can be applied in our own lives. I know I have mentioned choosing joy before in past blogs, and I believe wholeheartedly that thanksgiving and gratitude is also a choice. We make the conscious decision to be grateful, and then the Lord takes over from there. When something bad happens to you, or when you find things becoming frustrating in your life, how do you respond?

I can tell you truthfully, I do not always respond with gratitude. This is what I am getting at. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not just some. Not just the situations that bring us joy or the ones that are easy to be thankful for, but the ones that you really have to decide to be grateful. It is not easy, nor is it enjoyable to choose gratitude when you feel upset, or angry. I completely understand it because I struggle with this as well. But God has given us an outline to model ourselves after. Psalms 107:1, “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Something that the Lord has reminded me of time and time again when I struggle with being grateful is Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” I really want to emphasize the “And we know…” in that verse. “We know” is present; the verse does not say “And we knew at one time,” nor does it say “And we will someday know.” It says that we know; currently, in this present time and state of being, that all things are working for the benefit of those who love Christ. That’s us, brothers and sisters! God works all things, good or bad, to benefit us. I know things happen to us, terrible and heart wrenching things in our lives that we cant seem to be grateful for. I get that; there are still things in my life that I am working on being grateful for even though they were miserable. But that is where our faith comes in.

We have to choose to believe that this verse is truth. That this is a promise straight from God that we can rest peacefully knowing that it will be fulfilled. Believe me, remembering this, praying for strength to be thankful in all circumstances, God will use to benefit your life and walk as a believer in so many ways. And even when in the moment we don’t see how it could possibly be a good thing for us, God uses it for our good and we look back. Remember, that even though it was hard to be thankful and trust God, you still did and you can see the Lord working right before your eyes. “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what o am doing, but later you will understand.'” John 13:8.

So yes, today is about giving thanks and showing gratitude, but I really want to emphasize the need to do this every day, not just on Thanksgiving. Not only when we feel grateful or thankful, but even when we must chose to have a spirit of gratitude. Since we are on the topic of Thanksgiving, I pray you all know how thankful I am to have been blessed with the opportunity to come here and open up with you all and be able to grow with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I thank you all for taking the time to read these blogs and comment on them. And I also thank you for your prayers. Not just for me, but for the body of believers we have here and that there are across the world. Let’s choose to be grateful today and the rest of days, because in reality, we have been given the gift of eternal life through Christ that cannot be taken from us. Rejoice in this truth, and find thankfulness in all things, knowing what awaits you when you stand before the feet of our Lord and Savior. God bless and have a happy Thanksgiving!

 

~Chaya

 

~Authenticity over Perfection~

How many of you strive for perfection? Seeking to be the ultimate best that you can be? Well, I can tell you, I have and still do struggled with this, especially in my walk as a born-again Christian. I desperately crave to be like Jesus, to be transformed into the image of Him, but that is where this thought process and innocent desire can start to be warped into a different mindset. We cannot in our own strength be anything like Jesus. That is completely done by the influence of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. And so I thought it would be relevant in my own life as well as my brothers and sisters in Christ to talk about being authentic rather than “perfect”.

Something that took me a while to understand, without even realizing it, is that God desires us to be real, true, authentic. Though He knows every part of our beings, He wants us to be genuine in our hearts as well as actions. So, is it wrong to crave being like Jesus? Absolutely not. But the problem is when we want to be “as” Jesus instead of “like” Him. This can very quickly turn into a very legalistic way of thinking and that can cause us to stumble in our walk with the Lord. It becomes very easy to develop a prideful spirit which definitely creates a hurdle for us and our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.

John 8:12 says “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” This is what we should fervently be seeking after: to follow Him and be transformed but the Holy Spirit. Christ wants to see us turn from our ways of sin, following and seeking after Him wholeheartedly, so that we can be made new, completely transformed. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit“, 2 Corinthians 3:18. The Holy Spirit is what gives us the ability to live a life modeled after Christ. That is it- there is nothing we can do in our own abilities to try and accomplish the impossible task of perfection.

Let me tell you a short story about myself: I absolutely love drawing; with pencil, with pen, with paint or chalk. Whatever utensil I am given, I will use it to not only create a work of art, but fall in love with the beautifully messy process. Now, part of being an artist means that I am hardly ever happy with a piece I have created until everything is absolutely perfect. Even if another person thinks it is beautiful and doesn’t need anything changed, I will still work work work until I am pleased with it. I know that we can get this way in our walks as believers. But something that I want to bring to your attention that the Lord revealed to me is that this life is crazy, and we are a beautiful mess. God loves us to the point of sacrificing His own Son so that we can be with Him one day, and He knows our inmost being. He knows how corrupted we are and how sinful we can be Like it is said in Matthew, He knows every hair upon our heads. So He knows that it is impossible for us to reach the level of perfection required to have eternal life. That is why Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection is absolutely vital in our walk as Christians.

Now that does not mean that we are to sit stagnant in our sin and never grow or strive to be more like Christ. But we need to come to a place where we accept that we are sinful, that we have many, many imperfections and that we are not worthy of God’s love. In order for us to truly be authentic, we must accept who Christ made us to be, and then we will witness the Holy Spirit working in us and through us in ways we never would have imagined. Being authentic and genuine matters so much more than being perfect or the best.

Also, something I believe we should all take note of, myself included, is the fact that when we see other people, both believers and non-believers, we tend to look at how “perfect” they are. Their job, their marriage, their children, their home and car; so many other things that can get in our way a cloud our vision from what truly matters. The truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect person or a perfect life. There is only a perfect God. You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in someones life, and I have noticed that the enemy feeds this idea of malcontent and will turn that into coveting, jealousy and even anger towards God. So when you see others and start thinking about how you “wish your life could be as perfect as theirs”, remember this: the only things that someone can have that is perfect is Christ in their lives. That is it. 

Believe me when I tell you that I often find myself worrying about being the perfect Christian instead of being a real, true christian. This way of thinking is not honoring to the Lord nor does it help to strengthen our walk with the Lord. The only thing it does is leaves a stronghold for the enemy to use in order to knock us off our feet and take our eyes off of Christ. I am in constant prayer for a spirit of humility, of compassion, of gentleness, of self-control. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. These are the attributes of a real follower of Christ that allows the Holy Spirit to bless them with the fruits described in Galatians. When we are able to admit we are sinners in need of a savior, we start to realize the beauty of being genuine rather than putting on a facade in order to look or appear to be better than you really are. 

I pray that this was not only a blog that was completely raw and vulnerable, but also a learning tool. I am still currently working through the idea of being authentic rather than perfect, but by the grace of God and influence of the Holy Spirit, these words have not only brought me comfort, but also clarity. I pray this was also used to be the same thing for you. Remember, that it is not about being perfect or achieving perfection, but rather, about being genuine, honest, and authentic. Psalms 136:26Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” He loves us unconditionally, flaws and sin and mistakes. He loves every part of our being and desires that we be open, submissive, and authentic with Him. So if, like me, you are struggling in this, rest in the loving truth that God does not call us to be perfect, but rather, to lay down our imperfections at His feet so that through Christ, we will be made into His holy and righteous image. You are a new creation in Jesus, so stand firm in that, knowing that God loves every part of you. Be authentic, be genuine. God bless!

 

~Chaya

 

~National Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church~

So, yesterday was the national day of prayer for the persecuted church and I really wanted to take the time to pray with you all for the persecution of our brothers and sisters across the world. I was reading an article and have heard multiple testimonies throughout the weekend about things going on in countries around the globe and it absolutely broke my heart. To see so much devastation and turmoil, pain and suffering, simply for believing and worshiping Christ. In the U.S., we are free to worship and pray and read the Word without fear of being imprisoned or killed. But that is not the case in certain countries, and that is what I wanted to take the time to pray about today. So rather than blogging in depth, I will take the time to pray for the children of God throughout the world, who are boldly living for Jesus, despite the consequences.


 

Heavenly Father, I want to take the time right now to pray over my brothers and sisters in Christ across the world who are suffering persecution for serving and loving you. Lord, I know that I cannot completely know or understand what they are going through. The things they endure for your name is unimaginable and heart wrenching, and my heart breaks for each and every one of them. We know that in 1 Peter chapter 4, Paul says that you are blessed if you suffer for Christ, so Lord I ask that you remind each of the persecuted Christians that they are blessed; so completely cherished in your sight. That they are not alone and that there is a crown of righteousness awaiting them in the kingdom of heaven.

Father, I pray that you give them peace and comfort during their circumstances. Many of them have been separated from their family or have witnessed their loved ones being murdered in front of them. They have been left scared, alone, shocked and tormented by the loss of their loved ones. Bless them with peace Lord. Allow the Holy Spirit to shelter them with comfort as they struggle with loneliness and sorrow. God, please help these men, women, and children boldly and proudly proclaim the name of Jesus to every corner of the world. Lord, not only them, but help the Christians throughout America and other countries who don’t struggle with this kind of persecution to live even more boldly. We do not face the possibility of being beheaded or having our family shot before our eyes for saying the Holy name of Jesus. We don’t face prison or torture on a daily, even hourly basis. Though persecution of any kind is hard and difficult to endure, Christians across the U.S. should boldly proclaim their faith in Jesus, being unashamed of who their Savior is.

God, I pray that these men and women remember that they serve a God who is mighty, and that even if these people take away their homes, their families, even their lives, they still cannot take away their life eternally lived by your side. Holy Spirit, write the Word on their hearts, so that even when it is illegal to own a bible, they will still know your Word and your promises. Give them the courage to stand up for what is right and allow the Spirit to speak truth through them to all who can hear. I also ask that you humble the hearts of people across America, to join with me in prayer for our brothers and sisters. Remind us of the blessings we have been given, and remind us of what is important. That bringing you glory and praise is what our lives should be about. Lord you are mighty and strong enough to do anything, and I pray that the believers who are submitting everything, including their lives, will continue to be strong, bold, and fearless. They are warriors for Christ, so Lord I pray blessings over them.

I also ask that you protect the missionaries and groups who have been fighting for these men and women. They willingly lay down their lives to protect others, so Lord please strengthen and protect them in that as well. Remind them of who they are really fighting for, and that the love that they show by laying down their lives to serve and protect is held highly in your eyes. God, I ask for your forgiveness. Forgiveness in my own life, forgiveness for this country, and across the globe. This world is filled with those who have blatantly rejected you and allow the enemy to guide them in the direction of destroying those who desire to serve you. Lord, saturate the hearts of many with your unconditional love and mercy, humbling them to the point of knowing that they are in need a savior. That they need YOU.

We all have sinned, none of us are worthy, so Lord we thank you for the opportunity to know you, and love you. I ask that when Christians across the nations face persecution of any kind, that the Holy Spirit allow us to find joy in that. Help us rejoice in the promise you have given us; that when we lay down our lives and surrender to you, we will surely face trials and persecution, but we have the promise of eternal life through Christ. Greater is the one living inside of us, than anyone in the world. You are worthy of all our praise, and we joyful glorify your name. Your will be done, through each individual and their circumstances. I humble pray all of these things in your Son’s precious name. Amen.


 

Verse of Encouragement for Persecuted Church

  • Hebrews 13:5-6 ~ “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'”
  • 1 Peter 4:12-19 ~ “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
  • Matthew 5:10-12 ~ “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad,because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
  • 2 Timothy 3:12-17 ~ “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse,deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

  • 1 Peter 1:6-9 ~ In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
  • Deuteronomy 11:18 ~ “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”
  • Proverbs 7:1-3 ~My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you.  Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

 

Halloween special: Are you allowing your past sins to haunt you?

I am not one who really likes Halloween or celebrates it. I know that is a very unpopular opinion in today’s society, trust me. Putting that aside, I believe that the Lord has brought something to my attention today and that I should share this with you all that, yes, you’ve guessed it, deals with haunting. Not the haunting that most people think of that have to do with ghosts or demons, but rather our sin. Sin we have committed in the past that just wont go away. Whether that be an addiction that you still struggle with, or shame that you cant seem to get rid of, it haunts you. I was just recently dealing with the same thing, on an extreme level, and I believe that it is good to share the good news about what God has to say about our past sins.

So to start, I want to point out that this is a common weapon the enemy uses against us, especially when we are fervently seeking Christ; he brings up sins in the past, our failures, both big and small, and will rub them in our faces. And trust me when I say that you are not alone if and when you struggle with this. I not only am combat with this attack from the enemy, but I also struggle with self-forgiveness pretty bad as well. When I mess up or do something wrong, I have a very hard time forgiving myself, even when someone else has forgiven me. “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” Psalms 51:2-3. This is something I am constantly working through, and it truly does feel like my sin is always there to haunt me, to torment me, reminding me of how many times I have messed up. I really want to focus today on how the enemy uses this guilt to keep us from moving forward, into the abundant joy and peace God has for us.

There are two types of shame that need to be set apart from one another. True shame or guilt is what leads to repentance and is prompted by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Now, the false guilt, which the enemy uses against us, is when we have already repented and been forgiven of our sin but we still feel guilty or associate with our sinful past. That is where Satan likes to break us. He will plant seeds of doubt within you and you will begin to block out the beautiful promises God has already given you. Something that is often used against me is “You call yourself a Christian? A follower of Christ? When you sin like that??” The enemy will remind us of just how sinful we are, and just how much we dont deserve Gods love or forgiveness. That is where knowing what the Word says comes into play; when we arm ourselves against the lies that the enemy will use to knock us off our feet. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11.

Something that I have realized through my own personal walk is how allowing shame or guilt to take over even after being forgiven causes a rift in our relationship with God. We are pushing away the free gift of forgiveness when we continue to feel guilty for something that we have already been forgiven of it. Essentially, we are telling God that His forgiveness isn’t enough, that His power to forgive cannot take away the guilt that we feel. Well let me tell you something, His forgiveness IS enough! Not only is it enough, but God goes so far and beyond just forgiving. Throughout Scripture we are reminded of the beautiful promises God has given us, and that alone should be enough to lift the weight of guilt off of our shoulders.

  • Hebrews 8:12 ~For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
  • Psalms 25:7 ~Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.”
  • Psalms 103:11-12 ~ For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
  • Micah 7:19 ~You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
  • Isaiah 1:18 ~ “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'”
  • 1 John 1:9 ~ “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

We are made new in Him! He not only forgives us, but has removed our sin as far as the East is from the West. Think about that, you cannot take the East and bring it closer to the West. No matter how far West you go, you will never reach East. It is the same with our sin; God not only forgives our sin, but He completely removes it from us. From our past, from our hearts, from our very being. It is erased because of the sacrifice Jesus made. I do want to remind you though that shame and guilt is not sinful. Guilt is what brings us to repentance, when we are convicted because of something sinful we have done. Isaiah 43:18 says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Having a spirit of repentance is so important in order to change the behavior and moving on from our past habits. When we repent and accept forgiveness from the Lord, we are able to focus on the promise of freedom rather than dwelling on the past, allowing it to haunt every part of your life.

When the enemy pulls your past sins to the surface, when he reminds you that you are too sinful to be loved by God, that you should just give up now because there is no use trying to serve Christ, tell him this, “I know that i am sinful. I know that i deserve hell and punishment and separation from God. But i also know that i am loved regardless. Christ dies so that I no longer live in the shackles of sin!” There is victory in Christ, there is freedom in Christ! “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14. 

If the enemy is using your past to haunt you, to burden you with the weight of shame, rest in the assurance that when you truly are repentant, God is faithful to forgive us and He removes our sins so far that they are no longer known. He does not keep record of our sins, they have been blotted away and we are made anew in Christ. So if, like myself, you are also struggling with this, with the haunting of your past sins, mistakes and failures, please know that there is freedom for you. Jesus paid it all so that we may find rest in Him, and that the heaviness of guilt will be lifted off of us. Similar to how people dress up for Halloween, let’s clothe ourselves in the armor of God, so that way when the enemy brings up our past, we can stand firm in the promises that we have been forgiven and we are free from guilt.

I pray that you all have a safe night and that this blog was encouraging to you. I know that I’ve found encouragement just writing this and studying more about God’s promises. Please know that you are not the only one who is struggling with this, and that you have fellow brothers and sisters praying for you. Stay strong and remember that there is victory in Christ! God bless you all!

 

~Chaya

 

 

Beauty of uncertainty ~ Trusting God when we don’t know where He’s leading

Have you ever been in a situation or season in life where you are completely unsure about what God is doing? Where you look at the circumstances and cannot make any sense out of them? I was reading about Abraham and Issac in the Old Testament and it really brought so much light into my life and where I am in my walk with Christ. So, I hope today the Holy Spirit brings you clarity in the midst of our confusing and complicated world.

To give a little background before reading this passage, I wanted to explain truly how incredible this really is. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had been trying to have children for years, decades. During this time, people lived to be very old (Abraham lived to be 175 in total) and he was 100 years old, yet still had no children. Him and his wife began to feel hopeless, because they still had no children after becoming so old, but God promised Abraham that He would bless them with a son. After a short while of waiting, Abraham and Sarah did indeed received what God had promised, their only son Issac. Now, keeping that in mind, let’s to dive into Genesis 22: the story of when Abraham was tested.

Genesis 22: 1-18 ~ Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied.Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’ Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac,and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.

 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. 12 ‘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.’ 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’” 

I know that was a lengthy passage, but there is so much incredible knowledge to be found in it. Maybe this is just me, but I seem to be in a “transition season” right now. I seem to be through the season of heartache, and God helped me conquer the mountain that was before me. God has brought me out of bondage, He has removed things and people and situations from my life and I can see Him transforming me from the inside out. But I am sitting here still confused with where I am to go next. I know He has changed things in my life for a reason, but I cannot quite see what it is He is doing. I believe that is why this story resonates with me on such a deep level. Seeing Abraham’s complete and unwavering trust in the Lord is something that I desperately crave and desire to have with my Lord and Savior.

Abraham, no doubt, was so completely confused, even heartbroken that God would ask him to give up his only son, the one that God promised he would have. I am sure that it hurt him to look at his son and think that God would want him to sacrifice the miracle God gave him years before. But rather than allowing his fear and confusion to keep him from acting, he trusted that God knew what He was doing, and that nothing in this world could compare to the glory that awaits those who love God and are obedient to Him. I think it is the same thing with Issac. Now the bible doesn’t record much about Issac in this passage, but I could imagine him being very confused when he looked around and didn’t see any sacrifice. Issac willingly laid down on that alter, ready to give his life to the Lord, but imagine the immense confusion that surrounded these two men. Despite the confusing and pain, they both remained obedient and faithful to the Lord command. 

We ought to crave and seek a trust in the Lord that is like Abraham’s. We must be willing to give it all, lay it all down at His feet in order to obey and glorify Him. What about you? Are you willing to give up everything in your life for the Lord? If God asked you to surrender, your house, your job, your relationships, your dreams, your desires; would you? These questions have been running through my thoughts all week and it made me realize that I can’t say that my trust in the Lord is anywhere near as strong as it should be. There are still some things in my life that I still want to hold onto. It can be very hard, feeling near impossible to submit everything completely to Him, but please know you are not alone in feeling that way.

Philippians 3:8 says “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” I believe when we come to the realization that this verse is 100% true, it will make things so much easier to submit. Those things we cling to so desperately truly have no value comparing to what Christ has in store for those who love Him. Believe me, I am currently struggling with this and will probably continue to struggle with this. I don’t want to sound like I understand this completely, because in reality, I don’t totally understand how to give it all up to Him. But something I have learned through my walk with Christ is that anything is possible through Him.

God knows our hearts, and I think that is one of the most intimate and beautiful things about the story mentioned about Abraham and Issac. God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, and when both Abraham and Issac were obediently serving the Lord, He saw that they feared and loved God. (Do you see the fingerprint of Jesus here?? Abraham sacrificing his only son. Issac completely trusting his father as he was willingly being sacrificed.) Something that I have realized is that, just like Abraham and Sarah waited for Issac, we are often called to wait on the blessings that God has in store for us. It could be a short wait, it could be years and years of waiting, but when God has a plan for you, He will endure and you will receive what He has promised. Please also know that sometimes God will remove things at times that we think are good for us, so that way it will allow for glorious joy to come from it. “‘In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,’ says the Lord. ‘If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,’ says your God.” Isaiah 66:9.

So when He calls us to surrender our plans, or our job, or the country we live in or a relationship we truly want, what we should be doing is praying and then surrendering. There is nothing wrong with telling God how you feel. If you are confused, if you are hurt or upset, disappointed maybe, it is okay to feel those things. But we cannot dwell in them to the point of allowing distrust and doubt to settle in. Pray and seek Gods guidance, knowing that He is faithful to those who humble themselves before Him. Trust me, you are not alone in feeling lost or confused about what God is doing in your life. Please know that I am praying for you; praying that God will reveal His will in our lives and allow for a complete transformation to take place in our lives for the glory of God. Stay strong, my brothers and sisters! I pray this was encouraging for you. God bless!

 

~Chaya

 

 

Guest Blogger : ~ Focusing on Christ in our crazy, busy lives ~

So, I wanted to do something a little bit different today. I recently connected with another talented blogger name Mae and thought she would be perfect to do a guest blog today! She is a wonderful writer who loves Jesus as her Savior and it brings so much joy to my life to see her so in love with Christ. I would highly suggest checking out her Instagram account @rejoicinginhim as well to see more about her and her love for the Lord! Here we go, I will go ahead and allow her to introduce herself to you all and I pray you are encouraged by her blog this morning. Thanks so much everyone! God bless!

~ Chaya


 

Hey guys! My name is Mae and I am absolutely in love with Jesus. Here’s a little background on my life. I grew up in a Christian home and have always been taught to love God. Luckily I never had my faith just because of my parents! At a young age I accepted him on my own. Sure there may have been some ups and downs in my faith but I’m focusing on the now, not the then. In August I wanted a stronger faith and to share my journey on the narrow road with others so I made an Instagram account called @rejoicinginhim. I feel so blessed that God is working through me!! Basically I’m one of those people who are always cheerful no matter what because of Jesus! Sure, I have my moments but Jesus is my rock in those situations. I also love to run and paint!! It is definitely something that Jesus has blessed me with!
Now that I introduced myself let’s dig into some scripture!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
I don’t know about you but I have been so busy lately! It seems like everything is piling up and I have no time to do things I want.
Life can get busy, nothing can change that.
But how in the world do we leave time for God in this crazy life when he seems like the least of our worries?
How do we even remember he’s there when we are so preoccupied?
Here are some tips:
  • Have your phone screen or computer screen be a bible verse. This can simply remind you that God is with you, even if you aren’t thinking about him. He is protecting you and loving you every single moment of every day!
  • Listen to some Christian music while you are doing schoolwork or are doing things for work. This can help you so so much! I started listening to Christian music a lot lately while doing everyday tasks. Something about it gives me peace even when I am super stressed out!
  • Find some Christian friends. Trust me I know it’s hard but I also know that there are at least a couple welcoming Christians at your church, work, or school. Christian friends make a huge difference in your life!! You can easily grow in your faith together and bring each other up when life gets crazy!
  • Make some time for Jesus. It doesn’t matter when or where. Jesus will listen.
Above all know that Jesus is working in your life and he can give you a perfect peace in this time of chaos! You were put in this season for a reason!! Not just because God didn’t know what to do with you. He is doing something AMAZING in your life!! You may be busy but that doesn’t mean God isn’t working through you from this busyness.
Embrace the busy times.
Embrace the pain.
Embrace the love.
Embrace the joy.
Embrace the little things.
No matter how overwhelmed you feel right now Jesus is holding you.
He is a father telling his child to stop crying. To take some time to feel a peace only he can give.
Rest in him every free moment you get.
You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3
Much love,
Mae