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You can consider this article as part II of my previous post, “Secure in the Everlasting Arms

God has already promised eternal security to those who have faith in Him and love Him. However, we must be willing to accept that security and let God have His way. Too often I find myself not going to God for security, and going to other things instead. I’m not regularly laying my life in God’s hands and telling Him “God, You know and do what’s best. Please have Your way in me. My security lies in Your hands and Yours alone.”

Some questions I ask myself include, “where does my security lie?” “Am I willing to lay everything I know on the altar?” “Will I forsake everything I have for the sake of Christ and take up my cross in following Him?” “If I lose everything, will I still say, Lord, I am secure in your arms?”

To have faith of this degree, I would have to have no other security than that in Christ. This is unconditional faith. It’s not something that can be found in every believer, but it should be. After all, we serve an omniscient, omnipotent God. We are told to not lean on our own understanding or strength, but to find our strength and ability in God’s power. We are to have God be our primary focus in life. If we find strength in God’s power, what are we afraid of? If God is our primary focus, and the only foundation on which we stand, why would we want to pursue anything else?

God is my security. That I have concluded. However, now I’m wondering what is keeping me from serving God whole-heartedly. What are the strongholds in my life that are obstacles on the path to Him? Why is it that I have not yet overcome these obstacles and run into God’s hands to give my heart and all to Him?

I believe that it is because of the fact that I still find security in these obstacles. They are a part of me, so to speak, and am allured by the familiar. I still idolize my obstacles and am determined to stay where I am comfortable. I want to have a pure, loving relationship with God, but I’m not willing to release my security in those obstacles. The obstacles are my “competing affections,” things that take hold of my love and keep me from giving it all to God. It is my pride that induces me to audaciously believe that I can do things on my own, that I can do everything I want on my own strength, and that I don’t need to fully surrender my heart to God.

What in insane idea! What could be better than being with God, to know that I am a helpless infant who can find security in the person who made me, the world around me, and the universe! What could be better than serving God with everything that I have, knowing that in joyfully and humbly serving Him, I will know Him more and more intimately.

Am I scared that if I follow God’s commandments, I will lose my reputation? Am I scared that if I will lose those closest to me, and that I will be left with nothing? Am I scared that I don’t have enough faith? Am I scared that if my pride is broken, I will be so shattered that there is nothing of me is left?

My identity is in Christ alone, as a child of the Lord Most High. I should place my loved ones in God’s hands and pray that He will gain them as well. It is not my faith that saved me and protects me, but God’s love and His grace. The Lord despises the proud but blesses the humble.

Tell me again… why have I not wholeheartedly given myself to the Lord?

He is more than enough.

He is everything good and eternal.

He made love.

He is love.

If I have God — if I have Love — what would I lack?

Nothing.

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Every human desires security. We want to make sure that we will always be safe, never go bankrupt, and always have family and friends by our side, no matter what happens. We desire security because of the way we have been designed. God ingrained in our minds a sense of helplessness. We need our Creator, because if we don’t have Him in our lives, everything would be in chaos and despair. Sadly, since we are a fallen world, we have tried to find our security in things other than our Maker. The most common example would be that of money. Money can buy you just about everything, and what it can buy, it tremendously influences. It buys you the basic necessitates, food and shelter. It may help you make and keep friends. It can definitely get you happiness in many situations. However, money is such a security for some people that when they lose their money, they may even commit suicide. They believe that all is lost, and that they have no more security and have nothing to live for.

I was at my church’s annual retreat this past weekend. The theme was “Counterfeit gods,” and we learned that idols, counterfeit gods, are anything that distracts us from loving God wholeheartedly. While being convicted by the messages, I found myself wondering whether our idols can usually be where we find fake security. For example, I believe one of my biggest idols is people-pleasing. I find security in knowing I can make friends if I act a certain way or say a certain thing. Sadly, this has never worked. I never experienced any true friendships, much less security, in trying to please people. If anything, I feel more insecure because I don’t know who I am anymore. Yet I keep trying over and over and over. I may find limited, infinitesimal security for a brief moment, but overall, my security is still false and nonexistent.

I also thought about the times in my life where I encountered terrifying situations. What is the first thing I cling to for security, or what stronghold do I run into to hide? Is it movies and music, which warp reality and plants me in a world that distracts me from what is happening in real life? Is it my bed, pillow, blanket and sleep? Is it hanging out with friends or talking to our mentors, believing that talking through our problems or other subjects will make us feel more secure?

What makes it so difficult to have faith that God can do more than any of our idols and give us the true security we crave? What disables us from reaching for the Word of God when we fall into despair?

I believe that it is because we have not depended on the word of God as much as we should, myself especially. I have not read it enough. Since the Bible is the Word of God, it comes from the mind of God and tells about God. If I read the Bible regularly, I should become familiarized with God’s heart and His power. I should know that God dearly loves His children and desires nothing more than for them to run in helplessness to Him and find security in His everlasting arms. I should know that God has the power to ensure this security. He made security itself! He made everything in the world… He can protect us from it all. Also, He can defend us against any evil that tries to overtake us.

“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“ For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:31b-39 (NASB)

Reading through this promise, and the list of things that can never separate us from the love of Christ, I am convinced of God’s sovereign power to secure us today and for eternity.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

– Romans 8:28 (NASB)

As God’s children, who have been taken into His arms, we have eternal security. Anything that happens in the world is part of God’s plan. All we need to do is love Him and have faith in Him.

Such a simple truth, yet to hard to believe. I am ashamed of my weak faith. Why do I fear man so much that God’s power is diminished in my mind? Why do I have “Plan A’s, B’s, C’s,” etc. that do not stand on faith and hope in the Lord? Why do I despair when my life on earth is infinitesimal compared to eternity with God?

God has the power. He has the love. But He needs our willingness to put what little faith we have in Him. He alone holds the only security that matters… Eternal security in His everlasting arms.

For further reflection, read and meditate on Psalm 91. Pray it to the Lord and rest in His promises!

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Alone

In the past few weeks, I’ve been dealing with a number of issues in my life. They concern, however, topics that I rarely discuss with people. These issues bombard my mind, and I find myself almost driven to tears over them.

A result of this struggle is constant loneliness. Sure, I feel good when I’m talking to friends and hanging out with people. I don’t feel lonely during those times. However, when I find myself in situations where I slip easily into the matrix of my thoughts, I become desperately lost. I can’t fathom how I will deal with these issues alone. I need to talk to someone, but I don’t know who. I feel like no one can understand how I feel, cliche as it may sound. I keep pushing the issues away. I’ll deal with them later. They haunt me. In a clash of my Christian faith and what the world says is ok, I’m afraid that I might just give up and give in completely to the world’s values (or lack thereof).

Honestly, I have no idea what’s keeping me going. Maybe it’s hope. Maybe it’s faith (though I personally don’t think I have that strong a faith). Maybe it’s the Lord’s mercy. Maybe it’s love. Maybe it’s fear.

I am given the constant reminder, however, of the fact that I can talk to God about my problems. I can choose to rest in His promises and power. I find it so difficult. It is almost like He is the last person I want to talk to about these issues. So I push Him away. I’ll go back when I solve all these problems.

To a certain degree, I hate myself for being such a good actor. I am not doing well at all inside. I’ve become insecure, scared, and inconsistent. On the outside though, I still look like the quiet “innocent kid” who is prone to excitement, laughter, and practical jokes. It shocks me sometimes how easy it is to fool the world of a person’s true emotional and mental state. The only good that resulted from this shocking revelation is the fact that maybe in the future, or even now, I should start asking people how they’re really doing. Give them a should to cry on, advice when they don’t know what to do, guide them when they become lost, minister to them when they feel broken, reconcile them with their anger, and calm them when they feel upset.

I just wish someone would do that for me.

I know I should talk to God, but I just can’t. I don’t know why this is happening; if this is a trial I’m supposed to go through. All I know is that these issues are driving me to tears, and I need to talk. If I don’t let everything out, I fear I may explode. Some verses and hymns give me limited condolence, as does being with fellow believers. But they aren’t enough.

These trials from God are very much real. I’m just wondering if everything will work out in the end…

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The Christian faith demands a lot from believers. From moral uprightness to sharing the gospel, there is always something we can improve on or an area we can grow in. It seems, however, that the list is never-ending. For some, there is a “limit” to how upright they are or how many people they have evangelized. It is sort of like saying, “I’ve reached my goal. Now it’s finished. I’m done.”

The concern that I have, however, is this: Christ has called us to give all of ourselves up to Him, for only then will we reap the benefits of a relationship with Him.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels…”

– Luke 9:23-26

You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.

– Jeremiah 29:13

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

– Matthew 5:48

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

– Revelation 3:15-16

When I say “concern”, it does mean that I have a problem with it; the problem being the high standard. In my sinful nature, I cannot fully give myself completely to the Lord and submit to His will. I am still called, however, to live in holiness and obedience. In my interpretation, this means that regardless of my capabilities, I must continue to strive for perfection in Christ. Never stopping, never ending, for the rest of my life. In all this striving, I become more and more Christ-like, ultimately drawing closer to the heart of God.

If I stop striving and become lukewarm, I miss out on all the lessons God could have taught me if I remained in the faith. I also miss out on lessons that can be learned from prolonged persistence in my walk with Him.

In being lukewarm, which in my definition is still calling myself a saved believer, yet living like someone who’s unsaved, I set a bad example for younger believers, discourage peer and older believers, and misrepresent Christ and the Church. I should pretty much give up any claim on the title of a Christian, lest my actions become a stumbling block to others.

Hot or cold… which one will I choose to be? Will I give all of myself, or nothing at all?

In the eyes of the world, it may be two extremes; a black or white; however in the eyes of God, it’s simply a commitment I must keep.

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As today is my second day of Lent, I’ve had a few thoughts about what I’m doing.

I gave up movies/TV shows/other media outlets for Lent. However, I quickly found other sources of entertainment.

I noted, however, that my actions are sort of defeating the purpose of giving something up. My goal is to free up time, and by finding loopholes in activities, I’m still not opening up time to spend with God.

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”

– Jeremiah 29:13

I’ve loved this verse since I first read it. It’s a constant reminder to me that the point of laying aside distractions isn’t to be more “spiritual” in “separating” or “distancing” myself from “worldly things”, but it is to be able to seek the Lord with all that I am: body, soul, mind and spirit.

I pray that in this Lenten season (and afterwards), I will be constantly reminded to give God my all, and not just some activities.

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The Words We Speak

Months ago, I wrote a guest article that discussed the evil and damage profanity can do. It received a number of comments that dripped with the very words I spoke against, and like any person, the words wounded me. However, some of the comments offered advice between their critical words. I had not used Bible verses to support my argument, and therefore the readers assumed that I was speaking from my heart and not the Word of God.

I feel the need, however, to address the issue once more – this time on my own blog. Profanity and destructive language have always been a topic that has bothered me. Anyone can see the damage that words can do. What many don’t see is the fact that profanity can prove to be a stumbling block to other people, especially in the Body of Christ. Also, what we say reflects our own character, and not only that: as believers we are called to reflect Christ, and if unwholesome talk is constantly spilling from our mouths, what image are we projecting to unbelievers?

One of my favorite verses concerning this topic is Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

It constantly reminds me that whatever I say can either build people up or break and tear them down. Since one of our responsibilities as believers is to encourage each other and to lift each other up through prayer and fellowship, to constantly say negative words would be defeating that entire endeavor.

The Bible also discusses the strange fact that believers, who have been transformed by the blood of Christ, would still speak unwholesomely.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

– James 3:10

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” – Ephesians 5:4

We use our words to praise the Lord for what He has done. The same mouth we use to speak praise, we use to say filthy words that destroy people. The image that came to my mind is a faucet from where we draw clean, drinking water… and then taking the same faucet and drawing from it waste water. How revulsive would that be? What purpose does the faucet really serve; as a waste disposal or a dispenser of drinking water?

We are commanded: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Profanity and filthy language are associated with the world for a good reason. If Christians are truly transformed by their salvation, they turn away from worldly, evil things to the purity and holiness of Christ. If we speak as the world does, then we are conforming to it. This is dangerous because Jesus Himself gave a haunting warning to those who speak unwholesomely: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37

I believe this verse packs a whole lot more meaning than what it literally says. Words have power, as previously stated, but more so because the Word of God is made of, well, words. In John 1:1-14, Jesus is described as the Word that became flesh. It makes sense that we will be judged by our words, because through the Word – Jesus – we will be judged on Judgment Day. We have been warned, and have no excuse we can present to God for what we have said, do, and will say.

Therefore, I pray that in the days and years to come, we will be constantly reminded to say to God: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

All verses are taken from the Holy Bible: English Standard Version

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I have been studying the book of Proverbs for the last few weeks, following the ever-popular reading plan of one chapter a day, with the chapter number corresponding with the day of the month. I’ve been richly blessed by all the wisdom I’ve gleaned from the verses, however a reoccuring theme struck me with tremendous force and conviction.

If you read Proverbs, you will note that it has a lot to say about the right way of living. It also says a lot about how much the wicked will suffer. I’m fine with all these descriptions and “prophecies”, albeit the fact that I can sometimes be scared by the calamities said to surely overtake the wicked.

However, one important detail popped out at me, and that is the fact that only two types of people — two extremes, so to say — are mentioned: the righteous, and the wicked.

The righteous and the wicked.

Okay, that makes sense. There are those holy people who always think, say, and do the Word and will of God. And there are those who indulge in every evil that exists. I mean, that’s what righteous and wicked are supposed to mean right?

BUT WAIT JUST ONE SECOND: I feel discriminated against!! Why am I not mentioned in these passages? Sure, I’m not a holy saint. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a lying, thieving, sex-crazed murderer. I’m sort of in the middle, you know? Not that good, but not that bad. In fact, on the morality scale I think I’m a little closer to the point marked “Righteous” than the point marked “Wicked”. After all, I do read my Bible every day, pray at every meal, and go to church as often as I can! I’m a good person. :]

I strongly, firmly believe there is a huge reason why God only uses these two terms in Proverbs.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

– Revelation 3:15-16

God wants our relationship with Him to be brought to its full potential. He doesn’t want us to be “half in-half out” in our Christian walk and practices. He wants our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, our whole strength, our whole body, our everything to be given and consecrated to Him. He wishes we will either choose to be passionate, fiery followers after Him, or be cold and distant towards Him by falling back into the world and continuing in our sinful behavior. He hates for us to immerse ourselves in earthly pleasures, and when those pleasures disappear and storms come our way, run screaming to Him for help. It’s like we’re using Him in a continuous pursuit for happiness and peace with a secular twist.

God blesses His followers. He does so as an exhibition of His faithfulness, and also because He delights in giving us every good and perfect gift. We give Him our everything; He returns the favor by fulfilling our needs and wants — in His time and according to His will, of course. Therefore, He demands (in a good way) that we give back to Him as well.

You will choose to either be constantly pursuing holiness, or constantly falling into wickedness. God will not tolerate halfheartedness in serving Him, especially if you are easily swayed back into the world. It certainly is a large challenge, but taking up our crosses and following after Jesus is not meant to be a happy and trouble-free journey. It is one of suffering, of shame, but with a reward that will outshine (literally) anything we go through. We only need to stand firm, deeply rooted in the Word of God and an intimate relationship with our Creator.

When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,but the righteous stand firm forever.

– Proverbs 10:25

It’s hard for me to make that choice, and I’m probably hypocritical for writing this post. However, I don’t want to miss out on all the blessings He has in store for the righteous. And I certainly don’t want to have wicked calamities befall me. Therefore, I resolve to wholeheartedly pursue holiness and give God my everything. It won’t be easy, but with people pushing me forward and God’s ever-abundant grace, I’m sure I can make it through.

Will you choose the same?

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