Perfect Love Casts out Fear

In my personal study, God has been speaking to me a lot about love through the book of 1 John. The title of this post is inspired by 1 John 4:18. I love how the Amplified Classic Version states this. It says, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection]. ”

This is a very loaded scripture, and I encourage you to read 1 John 4:7-21 for more context. This passage talks about the nature of God and emphasizes the fact that God is love! When we accept Jesus into our hearts to be our personal Lord and Savior, God abides (lives) in us, and we in him. This is evident through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us as a guide and to help us know the mind, will, nature and character of God. (see vs. 13-14) If God’s nature is love, this means that whoever lives in love lives in God! As we continue to grow and mature in our faith, our ability to love like God does also grows and matures. This is because we are being renewed in our hearts and becoming more like Christ.

So how should this truth affect us? Well, going back to verse 18, it says that “full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror.” That is a very powerful statement! It means that as our love is maturing, fear has less and less of a stronghold on us until its power is completely broken. The rest of the verse goes on to say, “For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”  So this shows us that fear is not our portion. God has not subjected me or you to condemnation; in fact, he has redeemed us from the realm where that rules. So we have no reason to continue to operate in fear. I know that naturally, I am someone who gets afraid quite easily: from people, things, and scenarios. But this reminds me that God does not want fear to have a hold on me anymore. And the same applies to you as well! God’s love expels fear, and because God is love and we dwell in him, the spirit fear is not allowed to try to rule over us. So the next time you are in a situation that causes you to be afraid, remind yourself that you abide in love, and the spirit of fear has been expelled from this realm. It has no place to torment you.

I highly encourage you all to read the book of 1 John. I have truly been blessed by it and the book has brought me new light and understanding of the truths which build the foundation of the Christian faith.

God bless!

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The Joy of the Lord is your strength.

This statement was made by Nehemiah in the book of Nehemiah 8:10b, as the prophet admonished the people of Israel. Paul also makes us understand in the book of Romans 14:17 that we have access to the joy of the kingdom through the Holy Spirit. So what is this joy to you? Is it a feeling of elation when things go well, or happiness when the father answers your prayers? Well all these could fall under the feeling of joy in happy times or day time. But what about the dark hours, when life seems to be throwing all sort of challenges at you? There surely has to be provision for Joy in difficult times. David makes reference to this strength in difficult times when he said, the lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 KJV). The joy of the world is fundamentally emotional and subject to life’s cares at best. But the joy we have in Christ is an ever dependable source of life grounded in the hope of the word of God through the Holy Spirit.

The joy of the Lord is brought about when the Holy Spirit quickens his word in our heart, and rather than just changing our emotions, it strengthens us with new life in the dark times. The joy of the Lord is like a well or river in our belly and the Holy Spirit is our fetching mechanism. David described this blessing in Psalm 46:4-5 “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” We see how the streams of the word bring about gladness and establish us in strength when times are hard. The strength we get from the word of God is brought about by the revelation of hope and love through the help of the Holy Spirit. David resounds this in Psalm 119: 162, I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. The worldly joy lacks in its ability to satisfy a man’s soul because, unlike the word of God, it doesn’t guarantee rest. The joy of the kingdom is ignited by faith in the word of God. For example, some weeks ago I was down and having a troubling challenge, but most confusing of all was the lack of clarity in the quest for answers. But my strength came in a moment after seeking God as the father whispered, “You shall come out as fine gold”, referring to Job 23:10, and there was it, an instant burst of life with thanksgiving in my heart and new strength by the word of God; such is the joy of the Lord! It is in the presence of the word (Christ in our heart), that there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Through the word of God, joy is reserved as waters in our belly to be drawn out by the faith. Our Lord sums this up in John 15:11 as he comforts his disciples: that he has first spoken that your joy(strength) will remain and he is still speaking by the word through the Holy Spirit so that your joy will be full (paraphrased). So what has God said to you by his word? Because this is where our strength lies, even a strength that overcomes. Even when we are not sure of what God is saying or he remains silent, remember you are called by his name (Isaiah 43) and all things work for you good (Romans 4:28), so we must lay hold on what he says about us in his word so we can joy in his love for us. A good habit that is proven and can be adopted in the hard times is to write his words down (because it’s very human to forget in dark times) and meditate on it until it is written on the plate of your heart. It is true that the joy of the Holy Spirit can be manifested and felt in the physical place of worship, but much more than that, the joy of the Lord is established in our hearts as the love of the father is revealed through his word. The truth is, we are guaranteed to have good and bad times as we go on in life, but be encouraged daily in Christ and feed richly on what God says about you and is saying to and of you.  We acquire joy and strength in difficult times by resting and believing God’s word, and this builds our faith as it also pleases our father.  May the joy of the father continuously rule our hearts in Jesus name.

for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬b KJV‬‬

New Beginnings

“New year, new me!” How often do we hear people say this phrase? It’s become so overused that people have started to make a joke out of it. We often plan to change our whole life in the new year, coming up with a variety of different goals, but after a week, we’ve gone back our old ways. I’m not saying this to point fingers at anyone, because I, myself, am guilty of this.

In the past few years, I have made many different kinds of goals, but I usually end up accomplishing only a few of them. I was tired of falling into this cycle. As the end of 2017 came to a close and we entered 2018, I began to reflect on the year that had passed and the change I wanted to see in my life. I realized that in order for me to see true change, I had to pray to God about my goals, I had to be specific about what I wanted to do, and I had to focus on one thing at a time.

2017 was a roller-coaster ride of a year for me, and in all honesty, I’m glad it’s over. I went through a lot of change in my life. God had to correct me in a relatively severe manner over an issue I chose to ignore, and it was an extremely painful experience for me. It forced me to sever ties with someone I had grown fond of, and I had to learn how to cling to God as my source of joy and peace. When I came back to school, I went through even more changes as I saw some of my friends stop associating themselves with me. I also had to adjust to more difficult, demanding classes and more responsibilities.

Looking back, I think God was teaching me that I cannot rely on anyone else but Him. At the beginning of the year, I felt like I had everything, and those things that I subconsciously relied on for happiness and security had to be taken away from me so that I could truly put God first in my life. Yes, it was a painful process, but it was also necessary for growth.

The word “new” holds much more meaning to me now. When I look at some of the mistakes I’ve made over the past year, I am so thankful that God has given me a new beginning. His mercy is something that I don’t deserve, but I continue to receive it anyways.  Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” This verse is such an encouragement to me, because it reminds me that every day, God gives me and you a brand new start.

God is always doing new things in us: he is transforming us into new people, he is bringing us to new levels in him, he is testing us in new ways, he is giving us new gifts, and he is handing us new responsibilities. As I ponder what I want to see in my life this year, I realized I want to make the most of the things God is doing in my life. By God’s grace, I’ve made it to see another year, and I want to give myself to him in return. I want to honor him with my life by walking in his footsteps, and I want to honor him in my ministry by taking the time to develop the gifts he has given me. Most of all, I want to discover new things about him and reach new levels in this journey of life.

I pray that God will answer your prayers in this year, and may his will flourish in your life. God bless you all.


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I would like to thank Latoya at PowerfulU for starting this 30 Day Blogging Consistency Challenge! My blog is part of my ministry, and I want to take it more seriously. I’m excited to see what this challenge holds for me, how it will help me develop in my writing, as well as what the Lord has in store for this blog!

 

Give it Up to God

Hello, everyone! Long time no see!

As we celebrate Our Savior’s everlasting sacrifice, it reminds me all the more of the suffering Jesus Christ went through so that we don’t have to pay for our sins. I thank the Lord for triumphing over death so that we have the wonderful gift of eternal life, and that we can finally communicate with him freely.

This morning, as I was praying, God spoke to me in a way that touched my heart. Lately, I have been really busy. As a student, I strive for academic excellence, which is great. But it means that I am always doing work and sometimes doing extra for better marks. I also have some vocal competitions I am preparing for and I am working on accomplishing other goals that I have set for myself. Now, these are all good things, but when they choke out our time with God, they become stumbling blocks. This is what happened to me. I was so busy with all of my other activities that God was no longer the priority in my life. At the end of each day, I would be so tired that I would just go to sleep without praying, and in the morning, I would spend barely ten minutes with God, rushing through it all just to start my day.

One thing I’ve noticed every time I do this is that I become incredibly stressed. Why? Because all of the things I want to do cannot be accomplished in my own strength. God is the one that gives us the grace to do things excellently. When we allow ourselves to become proud, we begin to think, “I can do this on my own.” That thought is a recipe for disaster because we are not the ones who have control over anything in life. God is the all-knowing one, therefore he knows the steps we should take for success. We must continually put Him first in order for us to receive the benefits.

Hebrews 3:7-15[ESV] says,

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

The part of this passage that struck me the most was verse 15, which says, “…Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”. God had been speaking to me for a while, trying to tell me in subtle ways to draw near to him and spend time with him in prayer. But I wasn’t applying it to my life, and when the rubber hit the road, my own strength was inadequate to get the job done. God wants us to enter into his rest. But the only way to do so is to let go of life’s burdens and give them up to him. We must allow him to work in our lives. We cannot have happy, fulfilled lives on our own. God is the only one who can do this for us and bring us to a place of rest.

Hebrews 3:19 says, “So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” May we not be people who cannot enter God’s rest because we refuse to believe in what he can do. Amen.

What is my Purpose?

When I was younger, I used to think, “I can’t wait to grow up so I can do whatever I want, when I want.” However, this is not the case. As we get older, we have more responsibilities, more environments to interact in, more engagements, and a lot more pressure. Once we leave elementary school and enter high school, there is the pressure to know what field we’re going to study and to make good grades for the university of our choice. When we get to university, it’s about making good grades to go to graduate school and/or enter the workforce. Once we begin working, it’s all about making money, climbing the corporate ladder, getting married, starting a family and becoming comfortable enough for when retirement rolls around. It can become quite easy to wonder, “What is the point of life on earth?”

It becomes very easy to become overwhelmed with the things of this life, but it’s imperative for us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. God did not make us for this life, but for eternity. This means that life on this earth should not be our focus. Instead, our focus should be on how we can prepare ourselves for eternal life.

Think of our whole lifetime as a long, dark tunnel. When we are inside of a tunnel, it seems like it is extremely long. But in reality, the tunnel is only a section of the journey. At some point, it will end. In the same way, our life on earth is like a tunnel. It seems like it is very long and there is lots of time. But in reality, we will only spend a short while on this earth in comparison to heaven. This is why it’s important for us to develop our faith while we have the time.

God has put each one of us on this earth to fulfill his will. Long before we were born, even before we were conceived or thought of, God had already thought of his plan for our lives and how we are going to contribute to his kingdom. However, because he has given us free will, it is completely up to us to choose to follow his plan or to make our own decisions. There is only so much time for us to do what is asked of us on earth, and if we wait until the last few years of our lives, it may become harder to achieve those goals and we will be full of regret. In the end, we will be held accountable for our own choices. May we choose to accept God’s will for our life and follow it until He calls us home.

In order to know and fulfill our purpose, we must:

  1. Be in tune with God.  We must know his unconditional love, accept it, and receive it for ourselves, and we must be willing to let his will be done in us.
  2. Remember that our days on earth are finite.  We are only on this earth temporarily, and so that means that we must be willing to put our own goals aside if they don’t line up with God’s goals. It also means we need to look at life with a different perspective. Not everything that the world deems as important is truly important. If it doesn’t benefit us in eternity, it’s not something we should chase after. God’s word says, “‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is edifying.” [1 Corinthians 10:23 BSB]
  3. Accept God’s idea of success. – The world believes that success is achieved by the number of materialistic things we have, or how popular we are, or how well we are doing compared to others. But God measures our success by how we are doing now compared to the fullness of our own potential. It might not seem like we are successful in the things we are doing right now, but God knows that we are in the right place at the right time. As long as we are fulfilling God’s purpose, we are successful.
  4. Stop comparing ourselves to others. – Everyone’s purpose journey is different. Some people know their purpose right away, and for other people, it’s a longer journey. This is why it’s important to avoid comparing ourselves with other believers. God walks with each person differently.
  5. Be fruitful with what we have. – It’s important for us to cultivate the gifts we already know we have, as we continue to ask God to reveal more to us. The Bible says, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” [Luke 12:48b ESV] God expects us to be fruitful with what he has given us. We cannot be begging for God to reveal his full purpose to us when we haven’t done anything with the things he’s already shown us! We need to be active with the gifts we are given while we wait for God to bless us with more.

Some people quickly understand what God has placed them on this earth to do, but others don’t have such a clear vision of their future. We must be patient. Sometimes God chooses to reveal his purpose to us in bits because he knows we may be unable to handle all of it at once. The way God chooses to reveal his purpose to us should not affect how we relate to him. God often reveals himself to us through his word. So as we wait to hear from him, may we immerse ourselves in his scripture, and worship in his presence daily. Let us not worry about the future, but instead, allow God to lead us day by day.

 

 

Verse: Matthew 25:21

A Word of Encouragement

Life gets busy sometimes. We are always trying to keep up with our commitments like school, work, social events, extracurricular activities, and so on. It’s easy for these things to overwhelm us and to take up most of our time. What do we do when it feels like there’s no time for God?

Lately, I’ve been neglecting my spiritual life in the effort to focus on my schoolwork and other responsibilities. I noticed that because I wasn’t spending enough time in God’s Word or praying, I wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be, and it was affecting my grades and my mindset. I was stressed, moody, and not fun to be around at all. When we don’t put God as our priority in life, everything is unbalanced. A strong connection to God is key to a life of fulfillment.

God is calling us to an intimate relationship with Him. He wants his people now, more than ever, to draw close to Him. The world is darker than ever, and the only place where we can find true peace and security is in Him. As we begin a new week, let us dedicate time each day to put everything aside and just focus on God. He sees our hearts and will reward us for our diligence in Him.

Verses: Colossians 3:16James 4:8

Song: Draw Me Close to You – Michael W. Smith

The Prophetic Calling

In the past few weeks, God has been speaking to me about spiritual gifts. Because we believe in God, he has placed the life of Jesus Christ in us, and he has given us the grace to use our gifts. All we have to do is ask God to show us our gift, desire it, and bring ourselves to maturity so we can be fruitful. In the parable of the talents, the ones who produced ten and five more talents respectively, were told, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” [Matt. 25:21 NKJV]. But the one who did not do anything with his talent was condemned. Let us take these things to heart and use our gifts to glorify Him.

God has especially been speaking to me about the gift of prophecy, and I was surprised to learn that in His eyes, we are all prophets, or said differently, we are a prophetic people. 1 Chronicles 16:22 says, “‘Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!'”

This was said about Abraham and his entire family, who were God’s called ones then. Anyone who accepts Jesus Christ today is called, and we are all anointed by his Spirit, so this means that God considers all of us prophets today. The spirit of prophecy works through everyone, no matter what our qualifications are. Anyone who speaks about Jesus by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prophesies. However, it is important that we don’t speak by our own intellect. Instead, we must speak as we are led by the Spirit. God’s Word says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” [Rev. 19:10] Furthermore, the Vines Expository Dictionary defines prophecy as “the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God.”[1] This means that prophecy comes from God’s Word.

Knowing these things, may we believe that we are all prophets and desire to prophesy. May we ask God to reveal more of these things to us in Jesus’ name.

 

[1] See Vine, W.E., et al. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1984

Staying Spiritually Bright

This morning, someone was speaking to me about some things God had put in her heart, and she said something that really struck me. As Christians, it’s really important for us to be spiritually awake. This means that we need to be aware of the things God wants us to accomplish. We need to set out times for fellowship with him before anything else in the day. Why? Because when we do other things first, we let our minds become filled with the cares and pleasures of this world. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but they should not be our priority. When we are focused on worldly matters, we leave ourselves open to the devil and he will use these things to numb us and make our light dull. For example, something I tend to do in the morning is to check all of my social media. Now, social media isn’t a bad thing. But when I do it before or right after prayer, my mind becomes cluttered with things that are at a lower realm than what we should operate in as Christians. Using my phone shouldn’t become something I do out of habit or sheer boredom; it should be something I use in moderation.

The Bible says, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap” [Luke 21:34]. Even though our daily tasks and activities are important for our well-being, we shouldn’t stress over them. Instead, we should rely on God’s grace to help us accomplish everything that we need to do. When we focus on God, he is able to motivate us and make us more productive than we could ever be on our own.

As many of us go into the school year, let’s take time after school to pray and study God’s word, or read Christian literature, because these kinds of things keep our spirit up. School is very draining, and we are surrounded by people who think and work in the flesh, but it’s important to keep that fire burning and not allow schoolwork and other things become all we spend our time doing outside of classes. May God continue to strengthen us, and may we be mindful to fill ourselves up with spiritual things, so we can be a light to everyone around us.