A reason for hope.

The black eyes staring back at him are a reminder of all he had to surrender, 
He wakes up again at 3 a.m.; this makes it the third time this week. 
Not again, get out of my head. Get out of my head, the thought echoes. 
But her translucence takes him back to a time of bliss:

I want to win souls for the Lord. That’s what I want to do, he said.
“You win souls by loving people.”
__________________________________________

This season is a time for hope. I’ve been listening to a band called Issues lately. In their single “Princeton Avenue” the opening lyrics go: “It’s time for a change! This generation needs a hero!” In a world that celebrates self-destruction, millions are unaware that this generation has a hero, and he came as a baby in a manger 2,000 years ago.

The month of December has to be the biggest celebration of the year on the Christian calendar. Rather than get bogged down with the craziness of holiday shopping, we need to remember the gift we didn’t have to buy: salvation from God. This month represents the birth of a new hope for the world. I was blessed to be able to hear a sermon from Pastor Daniel Sweet at MRBC this weekend over Isaiah 9. For the first time in my life, I understood how important this time of year is. Even 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah received the prophecy of a Messiah who would rewrite salvation. Isaiah 9:6 highlights the coming of our Savior: 

6For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

1) The baby born from a virgin will be our Wonderful Counselor. He guides our steps and comforts us in the times we are in pain, confusion, and chaos. He rescues us from ourselves.

 “I love you, Lord, You are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior. My God is my rock in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and He saved me from my enemies.”–Psalms 18:1-3

 

2) The son of a carpenter is our Mighty God. He fights for us when we don’t have the strength to anymore. He celebrates with us, who, being created in His likeness, are loved by Him.

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”–Zephaniah 3:17

 

3) Jesus is the Everlasting Father. It’s important to remember that when we were broken and defeated, he was there. You may be broken and defeated now, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is here now. The Everlasting Father wants you to join him in heaven eternally one day, and he has made himself available to all. Just like a father would never guide his child into dangerous waters, our Everlasting Father is urging us to follow Him and has given us all that we need to have everlasting life.

“40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” –John 6:40

4) Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. Pastor Sweet pointed out a great point. In the times of Isaiah, peace literally meant “survival,” people laying down arms and not wanting to kill each other, not a moment of silence or a day at the park. In the same way, Jesus is the means to our spiritual survival. He is our peace in the times of our own warfare, difficulties, and trials.

“Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”–John 16:32-33

 

This day is a day to remember everything that we have been given. The world was given a reason for hope when that sweet baby laid in a manger. While many of us are blessed to have family and friends to share this hope in, many have lost hope a long time ago. I am a testament of a new life given to me. I remember when my life had no hope. I remember the days when I was a slave to sin, drug addiction, and the word “hope” meant nothing to me. Those days were only 4 years ago and very dark. I always tell people that I didn’t go looking for God, he went hunting me down. I can never repay the debt I owe him, and He doesn’t need me to; He has given me a reason to live and to hope. 

In the words of For Today, “He is here, He was there, He is peace, He is faithful.”
From Zion came our glorious hope. Thank you, Jesus. 

Redeemed,
Abraham

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11/18/13–Counting it all as lost.

Phillipians 1:29
29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ
you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.

The process of being transformed by God’s word is a slow painful death to self;  death to the old life you once lead, death to your desires, death to old thinking, death to being in control.

The last few months have been filled with a lot of doubt, heartache, and more than anything, a sky fall of grace. The maturation of living a Christian life can be emotionally taxing, but I have found that it is in the times that we feel far away from God, challenge Him, and even backslide to our old ways, that He is the most faithful. The problems often arise when in the midst of trial, we don’t consult with God, instead, we go off on our own path to find answers. We tend to run to people seeking answers to questions, comfort, even putting our faith in them instead of Him. We buy into the lies we’ve been fed our whole lives from others and the enemy: “You’re not good enough,” “You won’t ever change,” “You’re too weak.”

Jesus never promised that following Him would be painless; it is quite the opposite. In our walk with God, we will share moments of triumph, periods of spiritual decline, times of suffering. When we pursue Him, we begin to sacrifice all the things that we want in order for Him to be glorified. When we decide to drop ourselves and pick up the Cross, we not only wage war on our flesh, we begin to wage war on the world and the ideas that have corrupted it. The closer we draw to Him, the bigger the X on our back gets drawn from the enemy each morning. But we don’t need to fear, instead, we should welcome them because they strengthen our faith.

In the times we feel separated from God, lose our jobs, or suffer losing the person we love the most, God is there just waiting for us to run to Him. Paul says, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Indeed, we should count it all as lost, because there’s so much more to be gained. The good news is that we don’t have to fight the battles alone because they are His, we just have to stop choosing to do so.

In Him,
Abraham

2nd Cor. 12:10
10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses,
insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak,
then I am strong.

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“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Matthew 5:7
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

I took a whole month off to really re-calibrate my focus on the good Lord, to really find a way to speak to those whose faith is either empty, or just not there at all. As I said before, this blog has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Christ, whose love is more than enough to save us all from ourselves. That being said, this entry is going to deal with the mercy that God has shown us and handed down to us through his son, Christ Jesus.

All throughout the Word, the mercy God has handed us overflows graciously. God’s biggest example of His abundant mercy came in the form of our one true Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave us his only Son to show us “the way,  and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Other examples can be found when he spared Noah and his family from the flood that rewrote humanity’s existence, the mercy God showed upon Abraham and Sarah when he blessed them with their first son, Isaac, and the mercy He handed the Jewish people when he delivered them from Egyptian slavery. These are some of the biggest stories that center around God’s mercy, and there are many, many more to be found in the Word. In the midst of our biggest mistakes, God’s heart is built upon his everlasting mercy and grace, which all leads back to his overflowing love for humanity.

I struggle in showing mercy to others. To be completely honest, I can be so quick to receive God’s mercy without thinking to share it with others. This isn’t because I am bad person, but simply because I am a sinner who just doesn’t know any better. If I don’t take the time to realize that God’s mercy is in the Holy Spirit, that is in me, then I can easily begin to focus on me, and not God, or extending my hand to others.

Mercy is extremely important in our walk with God because when you realize God didn’t have to save us, he chose to save us, you will realize what a beautiful gift salvation is. Jesus didn’t have to die on the Cross for our sins, at any second he could have literally been like,”Yeah, I think I am going to just go home now,” and a beaming light from Heaven could have lifted him to Heaven. But he chose the Cross for us. Jesus Christ so loved us that even in his last moments dying on the Cross, he cried out and screamed, “Father, forgive them for they know now what they do.”

I bring this example up to point out how easily we crucify others for their lives’, their beliefs, their actions without taking a second to think of the mercy God has so graciously rewarded us, despite all of our sins and transgressions.  How many times do we speak before thinking of how our words can affect others feelings? How consistently do we rebel against our Creator to selfishly live out our needs before His will? When was the last time you thanked God for His mercy that has saved us from an eternity of suffering?

This idea of mercy has weighed heavily on my heart over the last month. I have realized that without knowing what mercy truly means in the eyes of God, I can not live a life of surrender to Christ, and more importantly, I will get in the way of my relationship with my Lord in Heaven. I pray that we all just open our eyes and truly let God work in our hearts, so that we can work for God’s kingdom by spreading the mercy He has shown us.

In Him,
Abraham

Ephesians 2:4,5
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ . . .

Pride: the Mother of all Sin.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18 ESV

I find it funny that this entire post is actually a result of my own pride. This whole week, I have been debating in my head about what I should continue to write on, until finally I realized, this isn’t my story, it is God’s story. I constantly have to ask myself, “Is my writing bringing glory to my Heavenly Father, or feeding my pride?” I make sure to set all my writings on here with that mission: to bring glory to my Lord in Heaven. I am nothing more than a growing Christian, who seeks God’s truth more and more each day, still, I will always be a sinner. Even in my short walk with the Lord, I have come to realize that accepting  your shortcomings is a huge part of reversing the sin that is pride, which in turn will become humility.

Pride is what started the Fall in the first place, right? Lucifer, God’s right hand man in Heaven, the arch angel of musical worship, took the liberty of trying to become just like God. What an idiot. Faster than he himself knew it, Lucifer’s pride took him over, the idea that it should be about him, and not about God. I truly pity this fallen angel’s poor logic. Quickly, Lucifer died, and Satan was born, the master deceiver upon which this Earth is haunted by to this day.

Let’s be real with ourselves for a moment. How many of our mistakes, failures, and regrets have come from our own prideful nature? How many times have we thought we shouldn’t fall in line with the standard because we were above the bar? How many times have we thought that we know more than everyone else, and that we are right, and the whole world is wrong? I, myself, am a victim of this poor thinking. If you can “be real” with yourself, then you will find that the answer to this question is in itself extremely humbling.

Let’s analyze some Scripture together:

Proverbs 29:23 
23 A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.

This verse speaks volumes to me. Why? Because it as clear as night and day. Pride equals destruction, but humility brings mercy from the Lord.

1 Peter 5:5
5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Why do we, such young people, feel like we can go against our parents’ and elders’ commandments, wisdom, and guidance? Because we think we know everything, when in reality we are just seething in our pride and nobody is right but us. Our generation’s lack of obedience stems from the pride we carry in ourselves.

Obadiah 1:3
3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart,” Who will bring me down to the ground?”

Pride will bring suffering if it goes unchecked, and in many cases, it really doesn’t. To me, the biggest ego check in my life was God. The pride in our hearts will lead us astray from the mission of being in stride with our Heavenly Father, it will only continue to feed our selfishness and greed, but with a humble attitude we will reap the grace and mercy of God, which was already given to us a long time ago with Jesus’ sacrifice.

So where am I going with this?  Well, it’s really quite simple: pride will ruin our walk with God. So many times, we create shortcuts for our actions that blame God for our own destruction. We tend to think,”If God is real, why would he let these terrible things happen to me?” “If God is so loving, why must we worship him or be sent to hell?” “If God is real, why won’t He show me He is?” These thoughts are a result of  our corrupted pride.

I am not saying it is bad to be proud of a science project you spent hours on and received an A+ for, or being proud of a promotion you got from your job, or being proud of your child’s achievements. Rather, it is where our pride goes and how fast it can corrupt our hearts if we do not recognize who gave us these talents and gifts. God did!

When you take something that isn’t yours and make it yours, that is stealing. In the same way, our unchecked pride steals the glory from God’s mighty hand. Do not let your pride steal the amazing gift of salvation that God gave us, the opportunity to grow with Him each day, the beautiful relationship that we can have with Him.

In Him,
Abraham

Isaiah 2:11
11 The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low;
the Lord alone will be exhalted in that day.

God is the best friend you could ever have.

“Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God–all because of what
our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.”

Romans 5:11 (NLT)

It took me a while to decide what my opening post would be on this blog. After much deliberation, I realized that this was an important idea that we all need to know, and for some, to be reminded of: the fact that God desires us to be His friends. God is literally jealous for our friendship with him:

“…for I the Lord your God am a jealous God . . . showing steadfast love to
thousand of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Exodus 20:4, 6 9 (ESV)

Unlike social life or media, our relationship with God doesn’t come easy, and we must work at it every day. For most people, though, God is a forgotten friend. We tend to put him in the backseat of our lives, rather than the front seat, where He is meant to be.

How many times have you ever felt like you were forgotten by your friends, by your family, by your significant other? It hurts, right? The idea that you aren’t important enough to be asked to go hang out. It’s the complete opposite with God. For all the times that you were “ditched” or not remembered, God was there.  He is patient for our love, and for our steadfast attention to Him. I think we should all feel blessed and grateful to have such a loving God.

Countless times we are shown friends of God in the Scripture. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, and the list goes on. Here is a few examples:

  1. After deciding to start the world over, Noah and his family were the only humans God chose to spare from the flood because “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8)
  2. In James 2:23 it says “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness–and he was called a friend of God.”
  3.  In Exodus 33:11, the Word states that “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”
  4. After Moses died, God promises Joshua that He will always be with him:”Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
  5. David is known for being the man who “was after [God's] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:18)

The list doesn’t end there, and He calls us to join it each and every day. God is not a friend you lose when you trespass against Him, He is not an acquaintance, but He is our Creator, our Savior, our Rock.

God loves us so much that He came in the form of a man to show us. He gave us Jesus Christ, His only son, to come to Earth and show us how to live his Word. Eventually, because of our human nature, Jesus died for our sins, the ultimate sacrifice and gift to humanity. Romans 5:8 makes this very clear: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I can think of no greater love shown to me. The fact that God sent His one true son to die for my sins on the cross is breathtaking.  Jesus even says so himself in John 15:13:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

God gave us Jesus so that one day we can all be with Him once more in Heaven, and for eternity. While we continue to sin against our Creator, He patiently waits for us to give our lives completely to Him. I can’t say it enough, God loves you.

I really am excited for all the people who will read this, and I hope that you all may come to know the Lord our God as we are meant to.  We wouldn’t deny our earthly fathers love, so why would we our Heavenly Father, who gave us this life?

In Him,
Abraham

“So we have come to know and to believe the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and
God abides in him.”
1 John 4:16 (ESV)

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