Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

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.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

One question that weighed heavily on my heart tonight was why so many Christians emphasize digging into God’s Word. Why should we crave the Word? What does it even mean to crave it? Why should we read the Bible every day and hide it in our hearts? As I pondered the questions, God brought to my mind several thoughts.

We desire the Word of God because it draws us closer to His heart.

When we hear the Word of God, it inspires and rejuvenates us, sparking life within us and opening our eyes, heart, and mind to receive a refreshing drink of God’s Spirit.

When we read the Word of God, we become allured by God’s thoughts: what He desires, His joys, and what saddens Him.

When we memorize the Word of God, it becomes ingrained in the constitution of our mind and being; imprinted upon our spirit. It transforms our mind to be synoptical with that of the Lord’s; it convicts us of evil, inspires us to love, and equips us with the courageous faith God grants those who relentlessly seek after Him.

The irresistible longing for God that drives us from the inside out to seek His face and know His thoughts comes from His grace.

So take freely of it, receive it, process it, and dispense it.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

The end of my junior year in high school is rapidly approaching. During my search for potential colleges, I came across Biola University’s application form. The personal statement prompt is as follows:

At Biola University our common foundation is our faith in Christ and becoming transformed into His likeness. In light of this fact, please describe: a) the circumstances surrounding your decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ, using various Bible passages as the framework for your salvation and eternal life in Christ, and b) using specific examples, describe your process of spiritual growth over the past three years.

This prompt is probably one of the most difficult I’ve seen. It forces me to reflect back on my years as a believer, and determine where I have grown since being saved. Though slightly intimidating, I believe that working on this prompt (provided it isn’t changed with the next year’s application), will prove beneficial in mapping my spiritual growth.

A few thoughts that I’ve had concerning this process:

  1. I am reminded of the situation I was in before and after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. It humbles me to remember that without the grace of God, I would never have experienced the relationship with Him that I have now.
  2. I am encouraged to reflect on how I’ve grown spiritually in the past few years. As a believer, my salvation should spark some fruit in my life that are evidence of my transformed life in Christ. It also makes me ask myself: If I’m not growing, why? How can I seek out areas to mature in, and actually address them?
  3. It forces me to look to the future, in that I am constantly striving to produce fruit through prayer, intercession, devotions, Bible studies, and/or any other methods of drawing closer to the heart of God, with the grace of God.

Only with God’s strength can I produce any evidence of His work in my life, but I also have a responsibility of my own to constantly submit to His will, so that I may live a transformed life.

Read Full Post »

I’ve attended many, many conferences over the last few years. I’m thankful for the opportunities to mingle with believers of all denominations (or none) and of all backgrounds and walks of life. What strikes me throughout these events, however, is how close our Christian beliefs — especially in the same God — can bring everyone so close together. And this not only happens at conferences, but in churches as well.

I can honestly say that nowhere else in this world have I seen such close relationships between older and younger believers. I love watching the older, 20+ year old brothers and sisters playing, talking, and giving advice to those half their age.  It definitely has a strong effect on how fast and properly the younger ones grow and mature.

There is such joy in being with other believers. My youth group is very close, as most of us grew up together since we were kids, and have interacted with our youth leaders since they were teens.  It has become easier over the years to join the youth group (ages 12+) and the Bible studies, challenges, and retreats/conferences such a membership includes.

Honestly, my church is where I grow the most. If I need to be with or talk to  someone, usually I can find them here. The majority of my friends are also from here.  (I attend a very small private school so there aren’t too many friendship opportunities). If one is really known by what company they keep, then I’m pretty sure I’m on the right path to properly reflecting the image of God. 🙂

With the positive aspects addressed, I now come to the problems that plague and undermine true Christian fellowship.

Perhaps the foremost problem is hypocrisy. I know some people who live differently at church events/weekends and at home/throughout the rest of the week. I am guilty of this behavior myself sometimes. I hit a sort of spiritual high during church services or events, then fall apart in sin for the rest of the week, neglecting my relationship with God. Then when the weekend rolls around, I pull myself together and attend church to once again reach that spiritual high. It’s an unhealthy habit that harms not only me, but also people around me. They’re fooled into thinking I’m what I’m not, that is: a strong believer who maintains a close relationship with God every day. I’m not saying I never have a close walk with the Lord, but there are times, many times, when I don’t.

Living in hypocrisy also prevents you from learning lessons God may have wanted to teach you. For example, the ability to understand scripture. The more you read the Bible, the better you get at uncovering truths in the words. It’s a matter of time, habit, and practice. But when you neglect regular Bible study, it’s a bit hard to contribute to group Bible studies and other such gatherings when they roll around. You just become rusty, so to say.

Hypocrisy is also fooling yourself. You think you’ve got it all together with God and your walk with Him, but really you’re only connecting with Him every so often. You miss out on so many chances to encounter God, to embrace what He has to show you; to hear what He has to say.

In relation of this with fellowship: you won’t be able to give as much to your fellow brothers and sisters as you could have. There are unique truths that God reveals only to certain people, and you could have been the one to share God’s message with your Christian community. Also, people may be fooled into thinking you’re a stronger and wiser/more knowledgeable believer than you really are. You may also unconsciously act this way. This is detrimental when it comes to helping other believers with spiritual problems and struggles. If anything, you may be bringing more harm to them than helping them move towards the light.

Hypocrisy will eventually come to light. And when something bad is revealed, problems and conflicts tend to arise. People feel cheated and fooled, even ridiculed in some cases. Your image and reliability will falter, and no one knows if they can really trust you anymore for a while. Relationships may fall apart, and mending them will prove difficult and many times painful. Of course, this all depends on the severity of the hypocrisy, but there are always consequences nevertheless that harm you and those around you.

A good resource I found on the topic of hypocrisy is a sermon by Ed Allen for Gateway Community Church, entitled “The Dangers of Hypocrisy”. The message outline can be found here.

Read Full Post »

I attend the youth ministry at my church, and like many youth groups, we play contemporary Christian music. I notice that these songs can often be much more stirring to sing than the old hymns, and more heartfelt at times.

One big problem, however, occurs when we sing new songs or get too focused on singing a song well. Personally, I find it difficult to sing from my heart a song I’ve never seen before. I’m unfamiliar with the tunes and the lyrics, leaving me to stay silent as I try to get used to the song. Also, there are times when I’m conscious of my singing or my voice – such as those times when I have a bad cold and a hoarse voice – where I get too distracted trying to sing well. The rest of the time I’m so busy singing, I actually forget what I’m singing in the first place – because I’m so used to the song. It then becomes easy to lose focus of what worship is truly about: standing before God, acknowledging His presence, and letting my praise flow to Him in music.

However, new songs can be excellent at times. If the song is really well written, you can read the lyrics – not busy trying to sing – and understand the songwriter’s motives behind writing it. Often times when I sing a very familiar song, I kind of forget the whole meaning of it… unless of course I know the words really well and sing them as an extension of my thanksgiving to God, experiencing the words in their full power.

Every once in a while, I find it extremely helpful and encouraging to just be silent as the music plays. Read the lyrics and meditate on them, and try to figure out if there are any subliminal, deeper meanings between the words. Silently pray ad talk to God, acknowledging the words and presenting them to God in prayer as your praise. It’s a completely different experience than from singing the words. Your worship might become more real, with the knowledge that you aren’t simply singing… you are actually giving to God all the praise and glory He deserves.

With that, I urge you to give this a try. Whether you sing hymns or contemporary songs, take a minute or two to really think on the words, and honestly present your praise to God in full adoration of who He is.

If you do so with a heart full of thanksgiving, you will surely reap heartwarming results.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: