Monday, April 27, 2009

Hope for a New Day

I think it's imperative to start each day and each week with a positive attitude. It is in my hands and in your hands to choose how we will live out this day today. I was inspired by the historic opening of the new Yankee Stadium by none other than Pastor Joel Osteen. The Yankee Organization invited a man of God to inaugurate the new stadium. God is great!! In his message, he stressed that we are fully loaded and equipped as we are to face the day ahead of us. He said that God has already given us what we need for today.

It's a simple choice that's ahead of us today: choose to live your day truly believing who you are or live your life today with a defeated mentality.
Now the question arises as to who you really are.
I believe the truth shall set you free. In this world that we live in, truth is very relative. I'm not talking about that kind of "truth." I'm talking about the truth which God testifies to about you. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, the Bible says that you are "more than a conqueror." So it's up to me and you to live our day today knowing the truth that you and I are indeed more than a conqueror. The Bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is a word of truth from the one who created you.

I just want to speak a word of hope and encouragement to those who haven't known Jesus Christ as your friend and as your Lord.
You were beautifully and wonderfully created by Him.
He has the most incredible plans for your life.
He gave up absolutely everything and became absolutely nothing in obedience to his Father, so that you and I may have life.
He died, he rose up, and he conquered the grave so that we may have life through him.
He did all this so that we may have access to the Father and to a life of purpose down here on earth and to an eternity that is far beyond our most creative imaginations.
He loves you so much.
If you invite Jesus into your heart and into your life, your life will have meaning and purpose and your life will change for the better.

And for those of you who have lost that closeness with him, please know that he is closer than you think.
He never left your side.
He is ready and willing to embrace you and hold you in his arms.
You and I know that any time we have lived disconnected from God, no matter how thrilling the ride was, it wasn't worth it. It was just eating us alive. We lived with no hope or no joy or any sort of fulfillment. Each day we lived separated from Christ, we were becoming more dead inside.
It is time to come back into his loving arms, where life makes sense again. He will forgive all your sins and take you back just as you are and love you unconditionally.

We need hope more than anything else today.
Hope to dream.. hope to live.. hope to be....
So, let's live this day and this week with a renewed sense of hope and faith.
Let's not forget the truth about us.
Wake up each day and say, "I will have an incredible day today.Great things are going to happen to me today. I am in the palm of God's hands. I will see the Lord's favor in my life today."

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Significance of Good Friday in My Life..

On Good Friday, April 10, 2009, I'm reflecting on many thoughts that are racing through my mind.

What does the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ really mean to me? Has it made a substantial impact on my life? Has it changed me for the better? Am I bearing fruit because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior?

I was reading from the book of Habakkuk the other day, when I came across his statement to the Lord in Habakkuk 2:13, "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong." So that literally means that Father God cannot even bear to see the evil in me. It's not even possible for him to do it, because he is so pure and holy. So there was only one way to look past my sins - - through the death of Jesus Christ. When I try to come to some kind of a very, limited grasp on this mystery, knowing very well that I won't even scratch the surface to understanding it, I try to picture just myself in the eye of the storm. I try to picture just my sins and just the evil that I am capable of doing and being. I guess it's more tangible to do that than to think of the world's crimes. So just keeping in mind the debt that I have piled up, I'm blown away by the enormity of it! Where does it start? Where does it end?
So just imagining my sins alone on his back, I'm forced to wonder how he endured it? Now take that and multiply it by the sins of all of the earth's inhabitants in the past, present, and future.

I still remember to this day when I was 6 years old, sitting on my daddy's knee, on Good Friday. My dad had my baby sister on his other knee. He was telling us a story; not just any story, but about the most controversial and heartbreaking story of all time. He was trying to explain to his girls the significance of Good Friday and Easter.
I absorbed everything my dad said like a sponge. I was eagerly anticipating his every word. I remember my cheeks being burnt by hot tears rolling down, while I tried to make sense of it all. I was infuriated over the injustice my Jesus had to suffer. How dare they spit at him! How dare they humiliate him! How dare they put a velvet robe on him to showcase him as a clown! How dare they flog him and tear his body to shreds! How dare they put a crown of thorns on his head! How dare they soak a sponge with wine vinegar for him to drink, when he complained of thirst! How dare they bleed him to death on a cross! I was inconsolably outraged. But all the while, humbled and thankful for what he was willing to do and what he had done in obedience to his Father. Little did I know that my dad was sowing seeds in my life then, which would later take root and grow into a loving relationship with my heavenly Father today. I thank God every day for that moment of truth I had with my earthly Father and with my heavenly Father.

I've a personal relationship with this Christ who once hung on a cross. I talk with him every day. He meets with me every day. He talks back to me through the Bible. We have conversations every day about everything in my life from how to be a better student to how much I miss my husband to how to stop being anxious all the time to why my hair has lost all its thickness. In response to my latter concern, he repeats to me what he said in Luke 12:7, "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered." That is a reminder to me on how involved he is with every detail of my life.

Albeit, I am convicted by the Holy Spirit to ask one poignant question on this Good Friday. How much of an impact does Good Friday or Easter have on me and my life today? Or the question I really should ask is what kind of an impact does he want me to have. That definitely brings me to my knees and to a place of increasing self-reflection.
  • Where am I failing him?
  • In which areas of my life am I disappointing him?
  • What in my life breaks his heart?
  • Am I living out his best for me or am I settling for second best?
  • Am I being his light in this very dark world?
  • Am I using my time efficiently?
  • Am I really loving my neighbor as myself?
  • Is my love sincere or is it mostly fake?
  • Am I doing the job I'm entrusted with faithfully?
  • Am I a forgiving person ?
  • Am I praising God in all circumstances: the good, the bad, and the ugly?
  • Do I gossip?
  • Do I trust him with everything in my life or do I pick and choose?
  • Do I bend the truth, when it's convenient for me?
  • Am I a person of utmost integrity?
  • Am I trustworthy?
  • Do I live a life of transparency?
  • Am I increasing in my talents?
In all of this, the biggest question I have to ask myself is if I'm bringing fame or shame to the cross and to the name of Jesus Christ. The only answer I am getting from the Holy Spirit as I blog is that the race is not over yet. I am a work in progress and as it says in Philipians 1:6, "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

I am a child of God because of the cross and not because of anything good I have in me or through me or by me. In Ephesians 2:4, Apostle Paul says, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved."
There is no way I can ever do anything to deserve this gift. Then in Ephesians 2:8, Paul drives it home by emphasizing, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

Although I am saved by the cross of Christ, I want to be compelled by the love that was shown on the cross for me to live in such a way that I make him smile when he looks at me. I don't want to be misunderstood here. I am not by any means alluding that I can win God's favor or grace or mercy by being "good" vs. "bad." The Holy Spirit has been working on me for a long time to help me realize that there is actually nothing that I can possibly do to make him stop loving me. This is confirmed in Romans 8:38,39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus." That being said, I don't want him to grieve over me. I don't want his heart being hurt over me in any way. Moreover, I don't want to miss out on God's best for my life. For example, I'm sure I can maximize my energy and my time and thus increase productivity in my studying, if I get the right amount of sleep and if I eat the right kinds of food and if I organize the hours of the day better. I correlate those positive changes with God's best for me. Another example could be to free myself of anxiety. I'm the kind of person who worries about not having something to worry about. Well, it's about high time I change from being that kind of a person to the kind of person God wants me to be. In Philipians 4:6,7, it says, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Now that sounds like a panacea to all problems!

This is just like a love relationship between a husband and a wife or a parent and a child. When you love someone so much, it won't hurt you to obey them or to respect them or to love them back. Jesus said while he was on the earth in John 14:15, "If you love me, obey my commandments." His words are curtailed by its simplicity and its immensity.

I want to live in such a way that I remember the cross of Christ not just on Good Friday or on Easter of every year, but in every waking moment. I want it to resonate through my being and through my life. On this day, I am convicted by the Holy Spirit to not be complacent in my walk with the Lord. The significance of this day can't be written about or blogged about or spoken about in any manner to contain it to a mere, few words or emotions. Its significance is of life and death. Because of the cross, I have life. Because of the cross, you have life. I want to remember his words, "If you love me, obey my commandments," and more importantly, put it into practice.