Worship: Living & Singing

When you hear the term worship, what comes to mind? Do you think about your favorite worship song? How about the atmosphere of worship when your at church? When the band plays loud and all the congregations has their arms raised and hearts surrendered to the Lord? For a long time, that is what worship was to me. It was a time you set aside to sing songs of praise to the Lord, but it didn’t go much more beyond that. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit showed me what worship truly is; not just the songs we sing in church, but it is a daily lifestyle of obedience that is glorifying to the Lord.

Matthew 15:8-9 says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Now, I want to explain why I included this verse into the blog today. It is something that I used to notice in my own life, as well as the lives of those around me. We would go to church, sings our worship songs, then go home and things would go right back to normal. When I was growing up, it was almost routine that after we got home from church, at least two people in the house would be arguing. Didn’t matter who, like clock-work, it was always someone. The worship felt amazing to sing and experience, but as soon as we left church, inevitably there would be arguing. The enemy saw our worship and fought to keep our eyes off the Lord. This heart issue is not new, this battle we face with the enemy is not something that is new to the world and Jesus knew that. He knew then that we would still struggle with this, and He gave us instruction on how to keep from doing these things.

I have since realized that worship is so much more than singing songs and raising hands in church. It is a real, genuine experience between us and the Lord and it needs to be revered in our hearts. Worship should be reflected and should shine from within you. I have learned that in order to truly worship Him and praise Him, we must value who He is and what He has done for us. We are reading in the book of Romans in church and we just recently went over Romans 12, which begins as “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Reading through this, the section “this is your true and proper worship” made me really start thinking about how I can worship the Lord, even when I am not at church. It is living and breathing and doing all things for the Lord. When we surrender our will, our desires and our life to the Lord, we live as a sacrifice to Him. When we share the good news of the gospel, that is worship. Being there for someone in need, showing forgiveness, loving your neighbor, praying for others… These are all forms of worship! But it is not just something done publicly, it is also the intimate time spent with the Lord; in prayer, in studying the Word, in communion with the Lord. Our actions and behavior are what worship is.

I want to remind you that God is all-satisfying, all-sufficient, and all-satisfactory. He is due the ultimate praise and glory, and ought to be the most valuable treasure in our hearts. Now, I do want to remind you all that when I say renewed, I mean completely transformed, from the inside out. Not conformed, which is a term I have heard used often. When you conform to something, we keep our existing self and add on the attributes of the other. When you transform, it completely changes the very make up of who we are. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2. When we submit to the Lord, He will completely transform us from the inside out, and your mind will be renewed and rejuvenated by the Holy Spirit.

One of my favorite verses is Matthew 5:16, which says “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” All things that we do in our lives are being watched and observed. So when we are living for Christ, we are worshiping Him and giving Him glory without singing and raising hands in church. Everything we say and do is a direct reflection of our hearts and what we believe, cherish, and value. Dedicating our lives to Christ and making Him lord of our life allows Him to renew your heart and mind, and shapes them to be more holy. When our hearts and minds have been renewed, you will see a desire, cherish and treasure the things of the Lord. All of life is worship, and it is up to us to choose whether we worship God or something of the world.

Life of Praise ~ Casting Crowns
“I will love You, Lord always
Not just for the things You’ve done for me
And I will praise You all my days
Not just for the change You’ve made in me
I’ll praise you for You are holy, Lord
And I’ll lift my hands, but You are worthy of so much more
For You are awesome, God of the Nations,
Lion of Judah, Rock of the Ages, Alpha, Omega
You’re worthy of all praise
More that these hands I’ll raise
I’ll live a life of praise
I will serve You Lord, always for You are my strength
When I am weak
I will never be afraid for You are my rock and You protect me
But I’ll praise You for You are holy, Lord
And I’ll lift my hands, but You are worthy of so much more”

I would like to end today’s blog with some song lyrics that I believe are beautiful correlated to the topic of worship. I pray you all have a wonderful rest of your week and I hope that the Holy Spirit spoke to your hearts today. Believe me, He uses these blog posts to change and shape me to be more like Him too. I need these words as much as anyone else does, and knowing that we have fellowship with one another and that we are all doing this together brings me so much joy. I also want to ask you all what you think about have some blogs here and there that go over christian movies, books, and songs? I have recently watched an amazing movie and I am halfway done with an incredible faith-based book and I would love to share thoughts and opinions with you all. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about that type of blog post. Thank you all so much! God bless!

~Chaya

~ Competition & Comparison ~

I want to talk about a rather difficult but vital subject today that the Lord has really been laying on my heart the past few weeks; competition and comparison. This blog will have the same underlying subject but I really want to use it in 3 separate areas of conversation. Competition and comparison within the church, between us and the world and how the bible teaches us to combat such a destructive and addictive habit. This is something that I believe is so important to talk about, not only for the body of believers, but for us as individuals on a personal level.

Before we start, I would like to talk about the definition of comparison and what it will lead to if it goes unchecked by the Word of God. Compare means to estimate, measure, or note the similarities or dissimilarities between. To compete is to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. These are both things that are done on a daily basis by almost everyone around you. Especially in this day and age when social media is such an prominent addition to the daily lifestyle. This leads to two things to take place within our hearts; one is that we become arrogant and filled with pride and the other is being insecure and losing our sense of worth or value. Neither is righteous nor honoring to the Lord, and He does not want us to be in either of these situations.

Competition and comparison did not just all of a sudden start when social media become a worldwide adaptation. When we read throughout the bible, there is evidence of this going all the way back to before time began. When you read in Ezekiel 28, it describes that Satan became so full of pride and love for himself, that he desired to have the honor and glory that was belonged to God alone. In his arrogance, he sinned. He compared himself to God, the Holy and righteous and perfect God, and it lead to his fall and defeat. There are many more stories throughout the scriptures that talk about comparison and how it corrupts the hearts of so many people. Leah and Rachel, Joseph and his brothers, David and Saul….. It is not only found in the Old Testament, but when we look at the Pharisees throughout the New Testament, their love for comparing themselves to others caused their hearts to be full of pride and they became self-righteous and judgmental.

Just the other day, I was learning about spiritual gifts and how God gives us each individual and unique gifts that He will use to further His kingdom and share the Good News. It is so common in the body of Christ for people to have a specific gift from the Lord and then look at their brother or sister in Christ and think “Why can’t I have their gift? Mine is so useless, but theirs is such a good thing.” You may not believe me, but this is real. This is a real struggle within the body of Christ. Our focus and the things that we think are so important are so far off from where they should be. I am not just saying this to put down my brothers and sisters, this is a struggle for me as well.

A passage in scripture that resonates in my heart on a very deep level is Jeremiah 12. Jeremiah looks around at the world and the ways of the wicked, and is pained because of their prosperity. He begins to compare his life and the results he was experiencing with the people around him who did not follow the Lord. “You are always righteous, Lordwhen I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. Yet you know me, Lordyou see me and test my thoughts about you.” Have any of you ever felt this way before? You see others around you seemingly so happy and prosperous and yet your life seems to be filled with struggle and heartache? I can tell you honestly that I have felt this way many times before. 

Both of the examples I have mentioned above are far from where our hearts should be. As brothers and sister in Christ, we are called to build each other up, encouraging one another, rather than becoming jealous and comparing with who they are or what they have. This causes such a rift between the body of believers and it gives the enemy an upper hand. Rather than comparing ourselves to the people around us, we ought to place our focus solely on Christ and serving Him. So what can we do to stop this from spreading throughout the Church and corrupting the hearts of Christians? Turn to the Lord first, then to Scripture and then to prayer. Relying on Christ to fight this battle is the only way to beat this ugly reality that has over powered who we are today.

The Word of God is sufficient and will sustain us when we are in most need. The Lord has give us the armor and the tools to battle the habit of competing and comparing. Satan will come at you full force and will tempt you and try to persuade you that you need what they have, or that you deserve what they have. He will be battling with our hearts because he wants us to be divided. But that is not God’s desire for His children. He wants unity, strong relationship and fellowship with one another… The reality of competing and comparing with one another is tragic and heartbreaking.

There are ways to combat this and conquer through the help of Christ. Like mentioned above, the Word of God is alive and active. It is there to help us prosper and to give us the ability to fight the spiritual battle that takes place all around us. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Christ has given us the tools we need! But it is not enough to just read it a few times and then think that you will be equipped to fight on your own. Being in the Word daily is vital to the spiritual warfare we endure on a daily basis… Something my dad has taught me is that we cannot fight a daily battle if we are not training for it daily. This same thing applies to our walk with Christ. Here are a few verses that I have found go perfectly with this topic.

  • Galatians 6:4-5 ~ “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.”
  • John 13:35 ~ “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • 2 Corinthians 10:16-18 ~ “For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
  • Colossians 3:12-15 ~ “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 ~ “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
  • Psalms 138:8 ~ “The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever —do not abandon the works of your hands.”
  • Romans 12 ~ The entire chapter
  • Psalms 133:1 ~ “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
    For brethren to dwell together in unity!”
  • Philippians 4:11-13 ~ “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Another way that the Lord encourages us to battle these things with is to be in constant prayer. The only way that we will be able to succeed against the temptation and the struggle is to rely on the strength of Christ. He will help us when we are weakest and are in our greatest hour of need. The bible says that instead of worrying, we ought to be in prayer daily, and that our God, who is faithful, will hear our prayers and answer them. The constant communication with the Lord will help us to rely on Him with things get difficult and when we find ourselves comparing and becoming envious.

Might I also suggest taking time away from social media. The need to look at other peoples posts, photos, life stories, is a breeding ground for comparison, competition, and discontentment. I am not saying that social media is a sin to have or to be involved with it, but it ought to be in moderation. The temptation attached to social media is so hard to battle with, and I believe that rather than going onto the Facebook page of so-and-so or the Instagram feed or whats-their-name, we should use that time to spend with the Lord.

With all of this being said, I want to end with this; as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be encouraging one another. It doesn’t matter how lose we are with them or well we know them, we are a body of Christ, the children of God. Let’s pray for each other, take joy in one anothers accomplishments, come along side our fellow brothers and sisters when they are struggling. We are the Church.

Please know that I am speaking this out of desperation because I have witnessed the destruction it has caused. I want to encourage us all, myself included, to refocus our eyes on what really matters… Christ! Our everlasting Savior and comforter. The perfecter of all things! He desires that we have peace, and I can promise you, peace does not come from comparing or competing with one another, peace is found in Christ alone. I pray that the Holy Spirit moves with urgency through this blog, and that the hearts of Christians will be transformed again into the image of Jesus. Let’s encourage one another tonight and remember that our focus should be on Christ, the only one who can truly satisfy our hearts. Thank you so much for reading my blog. God bless!

 

~Chaya

The old has gone, the new is here! ~ New Years Special ~

Throughout the past month, I have thought and prayed about what the blog for New Years was going to be. This year has flown by so quickly and I am overwhelmed with the coming of yet another new year. Most people are completely obsessed with their New Years Resolution and the need to make one. They are ready to devote all of their time, heart and energy into making sure that they live by their new years resolution, desperately wanting a change in their life. But I want today’s post to be about the new beginning, revival and transformation that is found in Christ, rather than the New Years resolutions that we come up with every year.

To start, I wanted to go through a passage of scripture that resonates with me when I think about new beginnings. The story of Jesus healing the sick woman with just a single touch. It is a story of transformation, power, and renewal, and I believe that this has been brought to my attention completely by the influence of the Holy Spirit. This woman’s story is recorded three times throughout the Gospels, (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and each carries a little more information than the other.

  • Matthew 9:20-22 ~ “Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’
    Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.”
  • Mark 5:24-34 ~ “A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’  But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'”
  • Luke 8:42-48 ~ “As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'”

Now, you may be wondering, why on earth would you pick this story out of all of the stories in the bible to correlate with the New Year? Well, truthfully, I did not choose this, the Lord did. I am simply the one doing the research and writing this blog. I want to give a little bit of background on who this woman is, now that you have read all three accounts of her story. She was never named in the bible so there is no way to track her genealogy or how her life was. It does mention, however, that she had “been subject to bleeding for twelve years.” Twelve years straight of physical, emotional, mental, and financial suffering can feel like an eternity. Now, to be completely honest, I am still not sure exactly what kind of bleeding she was enduring.

I have heard from scholars that it was a hemorrhage of some sort, and others say it was a rare condition of constant menstrual bleeding. In both cases, the constant bleeding was considered to be impure in the times she was living in. She could not enter a temple and if she were to sit somewhere that chair was considered impure. She was made an out cast and was shunned from most things she needed to be involved in throughout her day to day life. It also says in Mark’s account that she spent all she had and endured much suffering under many doctor’s care. She was trying to find a cure because she was in so much pain, and think, this pain and suffering had continued for over a decade.

This is why this story is so beautifully correlated with the New Year. When this woman heard that Jesus was passing by, she knew and believed in her heart that He had the power to heal her. Jesus, the Messiah, had been talked about from town to town because of the miraculous encounters the people had with Him, and upon hearing and believing this, she was determined to find healing through Christ. She even went so far as to say “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Her faith was so strong that even after many treatments and doctors that did not heal her, she still believed that she would be cured. Now this is something that brings me to tears, reading in all three accounts that “She was healed at that moment.” Her suffering had been relieved instantly and completely. Imagine, suffering with her condition for twelve years, which I’m sure most of those years were spent trying to cure her sickness, and then in an instant being healed by the power of Christ.

When this woman made herself and condition known to the Lord, He told her “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” The bible tells us in Matthew 5 that “‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” When we believe that the Lord is mighty enough to heal and restore, He will indeed restore.

So let me ask the question again, why am I comparing this woman’s story to New Years and new beginnings? Because her story of revival is what our stories can become when we live for Christ. We struggle with sin and painfully endure heartache when we are separated from the Lord. We seek counsel and assistance from people who are not able to save us or help us. Before Christ, we are sick and in need of a cure. Just like this woman, it takes faith to believe that Christ is powerful enough to cure our pasts and our sin. When we come to a realization that Jesus is the only cure for our condition, we will see an immediate renewal in our hearts, just like her physical healing. And when Jesus told the woman to go in peace, and be freed from her suffering, it is the same way He sends us out after being saved. We are to go in peace, knowing that He has set us free from the bondage of sin and suffering.

The title of this blog, “The old is gone, the new is here!”, is because of the verse, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” When we give our lives to Lord, our old self has been healed and transformed, renewed and revived. So, I want to tie everything together and come right back to the New Year. Know that, if you have already given your life to Christ but have backslid and are struggling with sin, Christ is merciful and compassionate. He desires your heart to be steadfast in Him, unable to be shaken by anything the enemy has to throw at you. You are not alone! Believe me, I have allowed myself to fall backwards in my own personal walk with the Lord. But I ask that the Lord strengthen each of us and gives us the ability to live completely on fire for Christ.

If you have never given your life to Christ, I pray that the Holy Spirit uses this message to gentle speak to your heart. Only you and the Lord know where you are in life and where your heart is. Let me tell you from my own personal experience with Christ, He will completely restore your life. I know how it feels to be longing for something that you just cant seem to find the answer to, but let me just say, He is. I can tell you with sincerity that I am praying that you take that leap of faith and that the Lord reveal Himself to you in ways you would never have imagined.

I pray that this was encouraging and meaningful to you, just like it was for me. Thank you all so much for reading my blog today, and I hope you know that I am humbled with the opportunity to be here and able to communicate these things by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Please know that wherever you are in life and whatever this New Year brings your way, Christ is waiting there and is ready to see you restored and healed. Feel free to leave me feedback in the comments, or you can email me as well. Thanks again, so much! God bless!

 

~Chaya

~ Christmas Special: Contentment ~

Merry Christmas everyone!! I pray you are all doing well. Today, I thought it would be the most appropriate time to talk about contentment and the real meaning of Christmas. This blog is intended to encourage others to be content with what God has given you, even if you desire something more or different. I want you to know before I get started that God has used this blog as a learning tool in my own life. I cannot even begin to explain how He has used writing this to awaken my eyes and heart to the reality of trusting in Him and being content with what He has given me.

I have personally struggled with this on and off throughout my life, and I need to hear this blog just as much as anyone else. Please, don’t let contentment be solely in regards to Christmas because it should be echoing throughout the entirety of our lives. So, what exactly does it mean to be content? The modern definition is “to be in a state of happiness or satisfaction”. In Hebrew, contentment is defined as “to be pleased”. It seems to me that pleasure or satisfaction are very closely correlated to contentment, so I wanted to also add the definition of satisfaction. It defines as “fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.”

Have any of you read about Paul’s life in the Scripture? Throughout the New Testament, his life is recorded for us and described in detail so that we may use it as a learning tool. Philippians 4:10-13 says, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I have read this verse over and over, and I often think to myself “How can Paul receive the understanding of contentment while I still struggle with it?”

It has been mentioned throughout the Word that the things of this world are meaningless. They have no ultimate value because we cannot retain them after we die; worldly possessions and pleasures are temporary. And here is where it all ties back to contentment; when we desire something, we will often do whatever we can to obtain it. Have any of you noticed that once you receive what you want, you often still want more? It’s still not the biggest or the best or the perfect one? We cannot be joyfully content without Christ. When we place our joy in the things of this world, we will always be missing something. We will never be truly satisfied because in reality, these things will not last. We ought to place our joy and trust in Christ, whom is everlasting.

Praise God that He is not only patient with us, but also gracious in the way of desiring that we understand what the Word says. When we look at the root of contentment, or lack thereof, we can see that our joy is placed in something or someone. When that something or someone lets us down, is removed from our lives, or we find something else to take its place, we become discontent. Let me tell you something that I am still learning in my life; when we put our source of joy in Christ and we place our dependency in Him, we will be able to find contentment in any circumstance that may come our way.

I do want to emphasize what being discontent really is when we take a look at the condition of the heart. I have noticed that discontentment comes from a lack of trust. A lack of trust that God is in complete control, or that we are missing out on something bigger and better. It leads to worry, distrust and then eventually a heart that is not content. In order to truly overcome our discontent and lack of faith, we must understand who God truly is and how He has faithfully provided and supplied the needs of His children. When people continue to seek after the things of this world and of the flesh, there will never be true satisfaction, and there will always be a craving for more.

Trusting in God does not come naturally to us, especially when we are asked to trust that whatever we have or are enduring is exactly what you need is very difficult. But after if we look back at all the things He has done in our lives, we realize that He is the only one who truly satisfies. He knows what is best for us, even when we cannot see that yet. This beautiful reality alone is enough to bring me contentment and joy in situations, because I know my Lord is in control.

This Christmas season, I pray that we all may find contentment. Not just with physical things, but in every aspect of our lives. If you are doing very well and are finding increased success, or if you are really struggling and things are very difficult, God calls us to be content and trust in Him alone. As human beings, it is very natural for us to desire more, more more. More knowledge, more wisdom, more success, more stability. And it is not wrong to desire growth. But when we place our desires and delight in the Lord, He is faithful to provide and uphold those who love Him.

Is your joy, your contentment, based on the Lord? Is it founded on the Word of God? It is vital for each of us to place our trust in Christ, so that we may be content in all our circumstances. There is nothing wrong with wanting more or wanting gifts for Christmas. But let me mention something that resonates with me every year; rather than worrying about giving or receiving the perfect gift this Christmas, realize that we already received the perfect gift; Christ! He was a gift given to use freely that we did not and could not ever deserve. He became the light of the world so that we may be saved. I really want that to sink in today as we go about our Christmas celebrations.

I pray you all have a very Merry Christmas and that your hearts are filled with the joy we have been given when our Savior was born. Thank you all so much for reading my blog today, and I hope you know how much writing these blogs and receiving feedback from you blesses me and my life. So thank you for the gift of fellowship with one another! Have an amazing Christmas! God bless!

 

~Chaya

~ 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