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One reality of living is that we sin. No matter how hard we try to leave a godly and clean life, there is always an imperfection creeping in. Needless to say, we are not perfect beings. We are only human. God, alone, is perfect. However, as a person, I have always tried to be perfect. To control what I can control. I try to avoid sinning. I try not to do to others what I don’t want them to do to me. I try not to gossip, not to lose my temper, not to dishonor anyone and a whole lot more. But that’s pretty much what I can do by myself…to try.

Have you ever been frustrated with a recurring bad habit? How many times have you beaten yourself up for always “falling into a temptation”? Have you reached the point when you absolutely hated yourself because you have repeatedly failed to stand firm on your resolution to live a clean life? Were there times when you feel that you are already abusing God’s forgiveness and because of that you just don’t ask for forgiveness anymore? The reason why I am asking is that I have been there and most of the time…I still am. The fact is that the enemy is everywhere and he is present in every temptation and circumstances in our lives. He exists for a purpose: to steal, kill and destroy.

Everyone has his own “demons to battle” and it is mostly manifested by your weakest areas. It may be a blatant sin such as sexual perversion, lust, rage/temper, greed, pride or lying. It may also be subtle like cheating, gossiping, people pleasing, and procrastination. In every battle, the most important thing to know and understand is your enemy: to identify and pursue it head on. We have been given a natural alarm if something we do is wrong. Most sociologists and psychologists may identify them as the feeling you get when you act outside of the norm – when society, in general, does not accept what you do. I have a different view. Our natural alarm is that queasy feeling, that troubling whisper, that nagging and persistent feeling that bothers you every time and causes you to repeatedly ponder on what you have done. It is simply…GUILT.

Like most people, we try to justify our actions. We make logical analysis and worse, consider these “demons” as part of our human nature…our natural built. If we believe that we were made in the image and likeness of God then it should not be hard to understand that we were not designed to sin. To sin is not our natural make-up…rather; it is something that we need to conquer. This explains, then, the reason why we feel guilty…because sinning should not be natural to us. Similar to injecting a diluted or impure fuel to your car engine…sinning will not only bring troubles in your life but damage your soul as well.

I’m pretty sure you will agree with me that we can’t shake off guilt…that is why we feel the urge to recompense our misdeeds with good actions. The best way to remove guilt really is to conquer the cause. In my personal experience, the only effective way to conquer sin is to draw near to God. It is not a one-time solution. Never is. It is an unending process.

James 4:7-10 says,

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

I realized that I am most vulnerable to making wrong decisions and give in to temptations and even unintentionally sinning when I am far from God. You see, the enemy seizes every opportunity big or small to attack us and being near God (in my case through prayer and devotion) enables us to be totally dependent and guided by Him. Our battle then is not ours alone to face since God is our ally!

I would like to share the following passages which inspired this entry:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12: 1-2

Romans 12 is replete with Paul’s admonition of living right but it all starts with his basic instruction (paraphrased version):

“By the mercy of God, present yourselves as a living sacrifice: a sacrifice that is holy and acceptable unto God.  This is your reasonable service to God. ”

How can we do this?

“Don’t follow the ways of this world but transform yourselves into God’s glory by renewing your mind so that you will show what is good, acceptable (by God’s standards) and perfect will of God in your lives.”

God’s Word is clear. Listen to your “gut feeling”, acknowledge that “guilt”. It is your signal that what you are doing or about to do is NOT natural…it is NOT God’s design for you and by all means…you have to end it.

I like the way how Paul ended his lesson:

Do not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.     Romans 12:20

I don’t know with you but to me, it is an assurance that yes…it is hard to break sin…to be free from your bondage but it can be certainly done!

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

I had a recent battle of faith these past few weeks.  It has been difficult and agonizing.  If I had my way, I would have treated that chapter of my life like how you would remove a band-aid from a wound…quick and painless.  However, like most of us, I wanted to decide based on God’s will for my life and it has really been a roller-coaster ride (to say the least).  Actually, I always prayed that God would increase my faith and I sense that this is just one of His mysteries in dealing with what I ask for.  I am glad that phase is over and I came out of it with a lot of life lessons.

One of the Bible references that really inspired and kept me sane was Hebrews 11.  This chapter is the “honor roll” of the men and women of faith and as a “student of faith”, I realized that it’s necessary to understand them to fully realize what faith meant.

Faith, first and foremost, requires an understanding and acceptance that God holds all things and that our very limited knowledge of God will limit us to see what He sees. Therefore, to live in faith requires full surrender to God.  Faith defies human logic.  But then again, it is really difficult to fully surrender to God.  I know that since it is in our human nature to fulfill our personal interest.

Too often, our idea of faith is centered on the hope that God will provide us what we want or what we desire.  To be honest with you, I have claimed Psalm 37:4 in my prayers too many times: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

I, personally, don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking God for our wants and needs.  He is God – after all.  Also, I have seen Him work and fulfill my prayers.  However, we often get stuck on this idea that we fail to see how God works.  We often ask God for the reason for unanswered prayers:  Why didn’t He give that job to me?  Why didn’t I get that A+ grade?  Why wasn’t I considered for the promotion?  Why, why, why.  In other words, we actually do not hand over the steering wheel of our lives to God.  We just want Him to warn us of the bumps and traffic along the way and give us the direction of the destination.  When faced with a seemingly nice road and a more convenient short-cut, we get confused or decide for ourselves which road to take.

I feel that the struggles that most of us face are choosing which actions to take and understanding how God works.  It figures.  I mean, if the great men of God like Noah, Moses and Abraham struggled, why shouldn’t we?

Faith requires full-obedience and action. Faith is just words if it is not put into action.  Looking at the men and women of faith, what distinguished them is that they have decided to take action according to God’s Word.  Noah was deemed crazy because building a huge ark in a dry season was absurd.  God’s Word did not make sense to men…I believe even to Noah himself, yet, he obeyed God and built the ark.  Abraham followed God’s instruction to leave his country without knowing where to go.  It challenged the human desire of stability and certainty.  Still, Abraham followed.  And as if that wasn’t enough, Abraham sacrificed his son, Isaac, because God said so.  Abraham obeyed even if God’s demand was seemingly contradictory to His promises.  Even Sarah, his wife, asked for strength to act in faith so that she will get pregnant at 90!

What I have seen in my life and in the lives of others is that, often, God calls for illogical and unimaginable actions so that only Him will be glorified. After all, our lives will only be used by God if it is a testimony of His goodness and mercy.

Oftentimes, we are called to act against what we think is best for us.  We may be asked to give up our dream job, our current luxuries, and sometimes…we are led to pursue an opposite direction.  My recent predicament pushed me to choose between two very different but both good paths.  I prayed hard for weeks and weeks asking God for His guidance.  I viewed it as a choice between a chance to pursue my dream or an opportunity to see what I could be.  As it turns out…it was a choice between a short-term and a long-term dream.  God’s answer was not immediate as I had hoped it would be.  It was not plain and clear.  It eventually ended when I shifted my prayer from claiming that “God will give me the desires of my heart” to surrendering that “Thy will be done”.

It is funny and borderline frustrating to understand how God moves.  But then, how can we develop the faith to make us grow further if we know perfectly how God would act in our lives.  How can we depend on God if we are as omniscient as Him?  The call for faith may require sacrifices and it may seem that God is asking for too much that we can handle but know that the Lord, Who promised and gave His word, is faithful. Who else to best exemplify the act of faith than Jesus?

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”                                                                     Hebrews 12:2

So, whenever you are confused, impatient, frustrated and on the brink on insanity…surrender.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”                            Isaiah 55:8

This is my first post so pardon me if it’s rusty.  I just want to share with you my thoughts from my quiet time and I hope that you could do the same.  Like most Christians, I experience constant struggles and I know how it would be extremely helpful to have someone along to share our pains, insights and stories.

As I was doing my quiet time this morning, I realized that my Bible reading centered on one theme: HOPE. I am just starting my annual Bible reading finishing the first 6 chapters of the Bible. I have read through the book of Genesis perhaps more than 10 times in my lifetime mostly due to my Christian school background. But this morning was different. It was as if I was reading the Scripture for the very first time.

First realization was – we were created for God’s pleasure. This is quite a revelation even after reading THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. Anyway, looking at the Creation and all of the processes and thought that came into it – there was really no reason for God to create man except that it pleased Him. I was just thinking – like a child creating a paper boat out of an old newspaper, the purpose of our existence is simply to please God. I could just imagine how frustrated God is as a Creator with all of the disappointments and hurts we gave Him. But more than that, I am amazed with how He fell in love with us that even with all of the pain and frustrations – He kept us and loved us.

I remember how I usually hold on to things because of memories. Even when I cannot use the object anymore, I would hold on to it because of the pleasure and memories it gave. However, no matter how attached the object is to me, I would eventually throw it or give it away. That is the normal relationship between the creator and the creation. Imagine how great God’s love for us to give up His Son to make us worthy to be saved from being thrown away. Rather than looking at our elaborate plans to fulfill our life mission, perhaps, it will be better if we just focus on our single, most important purpose and live it every single day of our lives and fulfill it on every single thing that we do: to bring pleasure (delight, joy, happiness, fulfillment) to God. Maybe it’s just as simple as doing our tasks the best way possible, making an effort to clean the environment, helping an elderly cross the street or just making our day as productive as possible.

One interesting story that I focused on was the story of Cain.  Most of us would remember Cain as the evil brother who killed Abel.  Well, Cain’s story can mean a lot of things.  When I read it today, I saw a beautiful and touching love story.

One revelation from Cain’s story is HOPE.  After murder, Cain’s life have turned upside down.  He was an outcast.  A murderer.  He can be easily judged with death.  But God offered him an alternative.  God offered Cain a new life – it may be a life outside of his old one but a new one nonetheless.  In a way, God might have said.. “Hey, we cannot change the past…what you have done in the past…but here’s a new life – take it and start anew.  Your life does not end here.”

Cain’s story shows many lessons.  But this morning – it showed me the reality of God’s immeasurable love. When God threw Cain from Eden – Cain pleaded that he will not be given a mark because the men who will recognize him will try to kill him for vengeance. God did not only command that no man should kill Cain but also gave a consequence – that if anyone should kill Cain, he shall be avenged seven-fold. This much work for a murderer!  God offered a new start for Cain! It is not only forgiveness but great love!  It’s as if God was saying, “Go ahead my child, start a new life with Me and I will guarantee that no man will harm you.”

If God can love us like that – then we have eternal hope. There is hope to change our bad ways, quit our vices, resist temptation, break our bondage, restore broken relationships and such forth. God has not only given us an avenue to do so through Jesus but has also shown Himself that He will love us no matter what.


July 2020