How To Win Life’s Battles

When faced with trouble, how many of us drop on our knees and inquire of the Lord instead of acting on impulse? How many of us turn to friends first or drugs or alcohol before turning to God first? How many times have we exhausted everything in our might only to turn to God as a last ditch effort?

God is no second best, not third nor last. He is our first line of defense in battling life’s circumstance. The God we serve is not just the God of good times, He is most of all the God of bad times.

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When fear and doubt hit us, we hit the prayer closet and inquire of the Lord. Sadly, it is not how it is with most people. Even believers sometimes fall for the enemy’s trick that God doesn’t care about our troubles. The lies Satan perpetuates may seem legitimate at the time and we accept it because our human nature is to throw a pity party with whines. The intoxication makes us doubt our Father’s power and love and we stay hungover with bitterness and fear.

We can learn from the biblical saints who displayed wisdom by trusting in the Lord, seeking Him first, trusting and waiting expectantly. Our Heavenly Father is madly, deeply in love with us and is always available to save us from our woes.

When they call to me, I will answer them;
    when they are in trouble, I will be with them.
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 I will reward them with long life;
    I will save them.”
-Psalm 91:14-16

Stephen and the Stoners

Stephen had a face of an angel. He was wise and very articulate. Yet, he died a senseless death (not in the eyes of God though) for offending the Sanhedrin, for telling the truth.

Oh well, no one wants to be told how to live their lives and be reminded of their mistakes, right?  Instead of accepting the truth, they acted like bratty kids (Acts 6:57), and mind you they were supposed to be learned council members  who constituted the supreme court and legislative body. They were mean, arrogant and full of pride. Not wanting to accept the fact that a lowly disciple could be so brazen as to speak in front of them and claim authority in Jesus, they stoned Stephen to death.

Stephens still exist today. Sanhedrin still exists today. A different version from that of the bible’s but the oppression and persecution is amplified just the same. Christians speaking of truth and preaching in the name of Jesus, standing by what they believe is right, holy and moral, get stoned.

Sadly, Christianity is unpopular, sometimes even to the Christians themselves. Playing it safe and sugar coating it is the way to escape persecution and belittlement. Those who stand firm are labeled, harassed and stoned.

The hostility of those who oppose Christianity now is as great as the Sanhedrin’s hostility in Judea and the reasons haven’t really changed since then:  Hatred of Jesus, entitlement, pride, arrogance, disobedience, sin.hand-holding-a-rock-cropped-shutterstock_39356899-400x400

Are we able to pull a Stephen act?  Are we really able to speak the truth in the midst of popular, desensitized culture? Are we able to say to those who oppose, persecute and spit on us “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  Can we really find it in our hearts to speak gently and lovingly to those who hate us? Forgive and remember them at the throne?

What would you do when a stoner threw a stone at you?

Times of Refreshing

My devotion reminded me of a sermon from years ago about exposing your wound so it heals faster. As a child, that was always true. A scratch or a cut after washing with soap and water would be left uncovered as my mother would say it would heal fast. ( I thought maybe we just didn’t have the money to buy band-aid.)

The word refresh is defined as “to revive”, “to become fresh again”. One definition even described it as to undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one’s or its original nature.”  One perfect example is waking up refreshed after a rough long day. We are rejuvenated and recharged.

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Sin has a rotting effect on us. Like certain wounds, if not properly cared for can just eat away our flesh and cause infection and can potentially kill as well. It is like having a parasite living inside of us, slowly eating us from the inside. We get sicker and weaker and could be slowly dying.

When Peter noticed onlookers were amazed after healing a beggar (Acts 3), he took the opportunity to remind people to REPENT and to make things right with God. He urged  the people to turn to God so that their sins may be wiped out, “that the times of refreshing may come from the Lord”.

How many times have we heard of people feeling relieved after disclosing a secret kept for a long time?  How many times have we heard of people feeling the weight of guilt lifted off their shoulders after confessing or forgiveness? How many times have we nurtured a wound by keeping it covered only to find out that concealing actually made it worse?

It is no wonder why Peter said repentance merits refreshing. It is the mercy of our God that gives us respite. The forgiveness of our sins rejuvenates us and make us look at our circumstance differently. Repentance enables us to undergo change. It alters our essence for the better, losing the original rotten state in the exchange of a revived one.

Do you feel drained and empty?  Do you feel like sin is sucking the life out of you? Take a moment and hang out with the Father. Confess and repent, and be refreshed by the grace, mercy and love of God through Jesus.

Spiritual Detox

There has been a rising awareness about GMO and its effect on our bodies. One doctor, I saw on TV a while back said that GMOs alter our DNA and one effect of consistently consuming food with GMO is sterilization  two to three generations down.

There are of course a lot of health practitioners telling us what to eat and how much, and what kind of food etc. It is practical and wise because we only have one body and we ought to take care of it. Not to go overboard though because  an imbalance in what we consume can cause certain deficiencies. So again, moderation and balanced diet is key.

There are certain religious groups advocating non-consumption of certain food because they are impure and they believe can cause them to sin, or certain rituals to be performed.

Jesus gave a succinct message to the hypocrites of his time when they questioned Him about letting the disciples eat with their “unclean” hands. They did not ask out of health concern, but rather to imply that the tradition they adhere to was violated and, therefore, made them unclean.

“Nothing outside a man can make him unclean by going into him. Rather it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean”-Mark 7:14

He further explained that the food goes to the stomach and not the heart. (This, of course, will prompt people to say that cholesterol blocks the arteries etc.) but the context of the discussion was spiritual. The Pharisees and Jews were so legalistic that Jesus even said: “Are you so dull”? (v.18)

So what makes us unclean then?

Verse 20 enumerates what makes us unclean: This might as well be the bible’s version of Mandatory Labelling. ( Disclaimer should read: excessive use can lead to death).

  • evil thoughts
  • sexual immorality
  • theft
  • murder
  • adultery
  • greed
  • malice
  • deceit
  • lewdness
  • envy
  • slander
  • arrogance
  • folly

All those EVILS come FROM INSIDE and make a man unclean.

In this world we live in where people are desensitized and value earthly principles than biblical ones, pushing and promoting ideologies that may seem popular and right but in God’s economy, traditions and religious practices mean nothing. They don’t impress Him at all. What we say out of the abundance of the heart is a rather accurate barometer of who we are-believer or not.

That Old Rugged Cross

The message of the cross is offensive, a fallacy, a fantasy and downright silly. No one believes in that story anymore. There is no God, no heaven or hell and definitely no Jesus who died on the cross to save mankind from their sins. That is totally some concocted story to control and threaten people to behave certain ways.

It is an old wives tale. It happened more than two thousand years ago and no longer applies to us now.  This is the generation and era of modern technology and self-sufficiency. We are able to achieve great things we never imagined would be possible. We can do anything we want, we take control of our bodies. This is the era of choice, of freedom, entitlement. We need to stay positive and happy.  We are who we are and we will live our lives unrestricted, to the fullest.

Is that weird?  It is to some, but not to many. No one wants to believe and follow God anymore because they look at it as a structured way to control. A distorted view of God is being preached and people run away with it as the truth.

The so-called religious gurus and preachers of today don’t preach about sin, nor the cross nor Jesus. “God wants you to reach your full potential and wants to bless you and enrich you”, is the common theme. No one preaches about being a sinner or calling out sin and asking people to repent and bringing people to Jesus for fear of offending them and leaving their churches.

The apostle Paul said:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”-1 Corinthians 1:18

It is not religion we are preaching. Religion sucks. One can have a religion and still be totally lost without a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not the wedding, it is the marriage. It is not the cross, it’s who died at the cross and the message of  the cross.

Don’t empty the cross of its power by not preaching Jesus and the message of the cross.