Posted in My Journey

God Loves Us

God loves us so much that he was willing to give his son Jesus to save us from the penalty of sin. That through him, we could come before God’s throne and render our hearts and our minds to an omnipotent being who would do anything to have us sincerely call him Father.

One of the things one finds when reading scripture is the presence of intertwining thoughts between passages. There are interesting plays of words that a reader spots when viewing the bible as a complete text. For instance, Psalms 23:3 says:

“He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Then Matthew 5:10 says:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Both verses contain the words “righteousness” and “sake” and both verses present a beautiful message of hope for those needing God’s presence in their lives.

But aside from verses that complement one another, the bible is rich with verses demonstrating God’s love for us:

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:27)

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

Today’s simple message is this: with every moment God grants us breath, let us love one another as God loves us.

Posted in My Journey

Faith in God

God is leading me in everything I am doing. This recent discovery has led me to make many significant changes in my life that I would not have otherwise made had God’s spirit not been with me. The biggest of these changes is how I view Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins. No longer am I taking his suffering lightly, for I now weep when I read the prophet Isaiah:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

I become distraught by knowing just how much Jesus suffered for me, but then my sadness turns to joy when I realize that I will never have to worry about my past sins ever again. God has forgiven me.

How wonderful a God I worship because now I have hope for a future where I will be with him forever. That faith he imparted through the Holy Spirit is the delight I now have living within me. And this has brought to life the beautiful belief I experience and is spoken of in Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

For as I believe Jesus is the Christ, son of God, who has saved me from the penalty of sin, which is death, faith is my guarantee that my reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:12).

And knowing this, what an amazing God he truly is!

Posted in My Journey

God Is My King

God is great. I have learned that. When I pray to him, I am talking to him and when I am reading his word, he is talking to me. That tender and intimate relationship will always be there. I have learned he will never leave me nor forsake me. I may fall in utter despair but he will be there to catch me. His love for me will never fail. I let him into my heart knowing he would change me, and as I see him changing me, I am falling more and more in love with him. He is my savior. He is my king.

My prayers have changed, too. No longer do I come near enough to his throne room with expectations. I now come into his throne room sometimes not having anything to say but to be in his presence. His peace overwhelms me. His glory lifts me from my trials and gives me hope. He is not a million miles away. He is here always ready to hold me in his bosom, to remove anything that might come between him and me. He is my fortress. He is my king.

I have learned to forgive. I have learned to let go. When I realized he would be willing to fight my battles for me, I surrendered to him. Hatred soon disappeared and love appeared. If he could give his son Jesus as a sacrifice for my sins (John 3:16), I can forgive others what they have done to me. My sins are worse. His righteousness clothes me and is my comfort. He leads me beside still waters. He is my shepherd. He is my king.

God listens. If you need help, try approaching God’s throne with no expectation other than to be in his presence. He is there always, waiting. He wants a relationship with you, even if you feel he is a million miles away.

Posted in My Journey

The God

There really is no other god than God. He is the I Am, the First and the Last, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David’s God. And he is my God. I love him. He rescues me from this world’s trials. He shows me the way through the darkness. He has given for me his most precious son Jesus as a sacrifice so that I may live. I cannot fathom a moment without having him in my life. He is my joy, my comfort and my every desire.

I try so hard to do his will, but so many times, I fall short. I read how the apostle Paul grappled with the very same thing (Romans 7:19). I do the things I do not want to do and the things I want to do I do not do. Oh, wretched man that I am. How is it that I have his spirit living in me and I hurt inside for seeing sin that lives in me? How can I live one life while I live another? Why do I have to have this warfare tearing me up inside?

Then I think how wonderful it is to have his spirit living in me, that I can see sin clearly living in me, to recognize it, and to hate it for what it is, instead of walking aimlessly in darkness to the beat of the world’s drum.

Oh, how beautiful it is to know I am no longer in bondage, no longer in fear, no longer with regrets, to know God intimately with absolute pleasure and being satisfied with him always.

He is God. There is no other god besides him. All other gods are dust. They cannot hear, see, talk, smell, or taste. They are rot. God is the awesome God. He hears my cries in the night when I need encouragement. He sees my hands extended to the sky for him when I worship him with all my might. He talks to me through the bible, showing me the way to go. He smells my sincere offerings and tastes my love for him through my deeds, which honor him.

My God, the God, is real. And I love him.

Posted in My Journey

His Word in Season

After a very long, hard winter, it is a blessing finally to see some sun this week. I think spring decided to nap through most of the season, allowing the snow, wind and rain to have full reign. I had driven home from Pittsburgh last week, where it was like summer down there. What a contrast it was from our dark, gray skies here in Canada.

Sometimes we Christians also need a change in seasons. I know in my case, due to winter’s extended stay, I focused much of my bible studies on suffering: Jesus’ suffering and Christian suffering. I enjoy knowing that when God allows suffering, he does not allow it without a purpose; and most of the time, we may not know what that purpose is. I use the example of my autistic son’s recent hospitalization quite a bit to illustrate that point. As a family, we have no idea what brought on his catatonia just before Christmas. We know it was anxiety-related, but the purpose as to why he went into a catatonic state is still a mystery to us. I am sure that whatever the reason is, I trust God will one day reveal it to us.

With spring now appearing at our doorstep, I am finding myself reading Psalms of gratitude and memorizing the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6 and 7). Of particular interest is the one verse that has caught my attention this week and is not letting go:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

I always wondered what that verse meant; but as I am noticing spring unfolding, with the birds chirping and the first blades of grass spouting, it is evident to me that those who are trying to become more like God, are the ones who can also see God in nature.

Again, I am gleaning these tidbits as I walk the pilgrim’s path; and I am sure I will gain another level of understanding as summer approaches, too.

For now, let us appreciate what God reveals to us through his word in season, and let us move toward sharing that understanding with other believers.

Posted in Bible Studies

Memorizing the Bible

Bible memorization has been on my bucket list for years. It was only after my son took ill in the winter that I had decided to do something about it. It was then that I had memorized Psalms 23 fully. Moving ahead to today, I am in the process of memorizing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

The importance of Bible memorization

I am sure someone will ask, why is Bible memorization so important? After all, anyone can quickly summon the Bible on a device with a few simply swipes. What would be the benefit to committing God’s Word to memory?

The discipline of memorizing scripture produces fruit that will remain with a person for the rest of his or her life. First, it will draw the reader closer to God by establishing his word in the heart of the reader. Second, the reader will gain wisdom with the slow and labored act of ingesting biblical truths on a daily basis, wisdom that can only come with the passage of time. Third, and most importantly, when the reader needs help with life’s trials, and the reader will need that help, God, through the Holy Spirit, will bring into remembrance the learned words as a means to carry the reader through those trials.

Why I began memorizing scripture

When my son was in the hospital for a month, I had a lot of time by his bedside to think about life. I also had a lot of time to read what God had to say about it all. His words, especially Psalms, were a comfort to me.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” (Psalms 23:4)

As each day dragged into the next, I knew God was there with me in spite of my not having an answer as to why he would allow tragedy to strike my family as it did. Those words eventually became part of me, where now I can not only repeat them aloud without much effort, but also recall experiences attached to those words; experiences I would not have had otherwise, had I not gone through everything I did with my family at the time.

How I commit the Bible to memory

The way I commit the words of the Bible to memory is the only way I have found that works for me:

  1. Choose a book or chapter that has affected you on a personal level
  2. Learn a verse a day
  3. Recall the previous day’s verse before adding a new verse
  4. Read the text carefully, looking at each word of the text until you can picture it in your mind
  5. Write everything down that you have learned so far
  6. Meditate on the words and make them a part of you

It involves a lot of hard work

I cannot stress how important it is to understand that moving forward with the discipline of scripture memorization is going to be a lot of hard work. Some days will be more rewarding than other days, but recognizing that fact in no way diminishes the overall goal of knowing God’s truths in such an intimate way.

Ultimately, the reward will be God’s word living inside our minds and in our hearts, leading us in our daily walk with Jesus.

Posted in My Journey

God Restores My Soul

My prayer life has changed over the years. Some seasons have brought untold anguish where I needed to drop to my knees with eager fervor wanting to know God’s will in my life. And some seasons have given me nothing but pleasure where I raise my arms to the heavens in joyous praise for what God has done. Zealously do I thank him for his marvelous work. He really is the only and amazing God.

Psalms 23 has been my unshakable stronghold in prayer. No more notable passage of scripture comes to mind when I pray to God than the words King David penned thousands of years ago. Those words have somehow become so personal to me that sharing them would seem as if I were giving you a good portion of my heart. I suppose it is because when I pray, I say them so that they personally apply to me. I do that a lot with other bible verses, but not as much as I do with Psalms 23.

This is how I pray Psalms 23:

Oh, God, you are my shepherd; I do not desire anything else.
You make me lie down in green pastures.
You love me so much that you lead me beside still waters.
You restore my soul; I shall dwell in your house forever.

The words change from time to time, but the meaning is always the same. God quiets my spirit, blesses me with hope and shares his dwelling place with me. He is my love, my strength and my passion. I have joy in him. No one else compares to him.

If you find it difficult to pray, try opening the bible and apply the words personally to your life. Intimacy with God starts somewhere, and when we allow God’s words to cover us, his presence will not be far off.

Oh, God, you truly restore my soul.