All posts by Joseph

Seeing God’s Gifts in Our Lives

Recently, God has shown me once again how He uses His children to help one another. I am deeply thankful to God for opportunities to be able to fellowship with my dear friends and opportunities to show love to other in many ways. I thought of several friends I hold dear in my life as I write this blog, and I am deeply thankful for their friendship, support, and love. I wanted to share how much that means to me, and to show how beautiful love can be when shared both ways. We’ve encouraged each other in the good times and supported one another when one of us has fallen into a difficult situation. It’s a rare gem in this fallen world where darkness and selfishness reign.

In a way, it allowed me to see a reflection of God’s character in people despite human shortcoming. Just think of how moon reflect sun’s light to illuminate the night. Christians filled with Holy Spirit and God’s enduring love are able to reflect His light onto other people, so people can understand better and learn more about God’s character.

God gave us His children for each other in our lives – for friendship, fellowship, support in difficult times, to care for one another, and the list goes on. In doing so, we are able to reflect God’s love to other people, both believers and unbelievers. Our actions can make a huge difference in someone’s life without realizing it. It might be the only opportunity that person might witness God’s love, possibly planting the seed in that person to eventually come to God later in life. Therefore, we are to make the best of every opportunity in how we interact with people, being able to reflect God’s love onto other’s lives.

I’ve experienced so many times when God spoke through a dear friend of mine, encouraging me and helping me grow ever more in Christ. When I see love, gentleness, kindness in a person, I am seeing a reflection of God’s character and thus this helps me understand Him in a deeper way.

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

I do believe many things in our lives do happen for a reason, if not everything. There are people who builds us up, encourage us in many ways that made an impact on our lives. There are also difficult people or situations that make our lives challenging, but in a way these situation can push us out of our comfort zone and develop new tools/skills for dealing with difficult situations. Regardless, God is always with us in every situation we face, whether good or bad, and He will never abandon us even in the darkest moment.

Once again, I wanted to write to show my appreciation for friendships I had in my life and I look forward to continuing to make new memories as time go along. Praise God for giving us wonderful things in life! He is truly a loving Father and loves to bestow gifts upon us.

God’s Children and His Divine Protection

As I was waiting in the supermarket line, I saw a small child holding hand of what seems to be her older brother. It was a beautiful scene, to see them eagerly exploring the world together! Then I thought about how small and vulnerable the child was, especially considering that the world seems so big to her. Yet the child is probably unaware of so many dangers out there. As I was thinking about her vulnerability, my focus then shifted to a spiritual perspective. In a sense, we are like that child when it comes to our lack of awareness of the dangers in spiritual realm. There are dizzying array of dangers and threats that exists in spiritual realms. The evil forces are extremely determined to steal, destroy and kill us. They are full of hatred against God and His children. But God doesn’t give them full authority to do what they want. The evil forces are limited in what they can do.

Thankfully, we have a very loving and merciful Father who is very determined to watch for us and seek to protect us with His fierce love. It is important that we walk close to God, embrace His protection, leading, and love. Assuming that child had a loving parent, she probably didn’t realize the full extent to how much her parent has protected her all these times. It’s the same case with God. I’m confident there has been so many times when God has prevented danger or bad situation from happening to His children – both believers and non-believers. I can personally attest to that in my life! He has protected me on so many occasions, and even when something bad did happen to me God didn’t let that bad situation run its full course – in other words, limiting the impact of bad situation on my life. In hindsight, I found that God has used these situations to help me grow.

Truly, if one chose to walk away from God, they are choosing to reject His leading, love, and protection in their life. It’s as if a child chose to runs away from a sheltered and loving family to cold, harsh world lacking much in love.

But remember that God doesn’t give up on us, He will keep trying to reach out to us. The prodigal son story is a reflection of how much God loves us and waits for us to come back.

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Overcoming our shortcomings with Christ’s love

A while ago as I was heading out after finishing a long day of work. It was dark and there weren’t too many people around. A young stray cat (around a year or two old) came up to me and meowed repeatedly. The cat was trying to tell me something. It kept on trying getting my attention. As a cat lover, I knew instinctively what the cat wanted. I was carrying a water bottle so I tried pouring the water on the ground but the cat didn’t seem to want the water. I didn’t have the food on me, so I struggled to figure out how to get the food close by and the stores were close to closing time or were already closed. The cat kept on following me, meowing loudly. I kept at a slow pace as not to abandon the cat. The cat stirred my heart with great compassion.

I wanted to buy food for the cat but was afraid that I would look foolish for doing so with people around. Also, I wasn’t sure if the stores were open then. As much as I hate to admit this, but my heart wavered between avoiding looking foolish and giving the cat what he/she needed. In the end, my immense love toward cats in general won out.

So I walked quite a distance, to the point where the cat eventually stopped following me. I then bought a can of chicken from a small mart I found to be open at this time. I felt blessed to find them since I wasn’t sure if I would find something suitable for the cat to eat. So, I walked a while back to where I last saw the cat, hoping that he was there. Lo! He was there. At first, I hesitated because there were people around but then I stopped caring how it appeared to others. So therefore, I opened a can of chicken for the cat. He ate them all! The cat must’ve been very hungry. He seemed happy and relaxed after eating.

Why and how is this relevant to God? I think looking back, out of all people who was around – the cat came to me, the very person who are experienced in dealing with cats and understanding what they needed. It shows that God still cares greatly about small creature which tends be overlooked by others. I also feel blessed that God used me to help feed this hungry kitty. Secondly, as my inner struggle showed, the sheer power of Christ love is enough to overcome our own shortcomings as long we allow Christ’s love to flow though us.

A Marathon with the Lord

jogging

Our walk with the Lord can be like a marathon. Some start strong and some start slowly. A marathon is not about how well or poorly we run, but rather that we are able to finish the race. We are to have a similar mindset in our walk with the Lord. We must remain steadfast in our faith, devotion and to have our heart continually affixed on Jesus Christ. There will be obstacles in the way in attempts to derail or distract us from reaching the true goal which is to keep our faith in God’s promise of everlasting life in Christ.

What good is if a person starts really strong and had done many impressive deeds in Christ but only to end up departing from the faith (as in not believing in God anymore). That person wasn’t able to finish the race. I’ve read different accounts about how pastors and devoted Christians decided to stop believing and speak critically of God (or against religion). These accounts leave me scratching my head and makes me wonder what caused them to lose faith. It is very disheartening when I read accounts like these. It reminds me of a parable about sower and the seed.

Luke 8:4-15 (ESV)
The Parable of the Sower
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

We must be vigilant since the evil one is extremely determined to cut us from God.

Let us make an important commitment to remain faithful to the very end, to be able to finish the race. God will always be with us, guiding us and encouraging us. Remember we still have free will, we can either choose to align our will with God’s will or choose our path apart from God’s will. It takes courage and huge commitment to remain faithful to the end!

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Priceless Treasures

God had been so merciful and generous with bestowing gifts among His children.

The other day when I was walking home, in addition to being filled with God’s fiery love, I realized God had also deposited a great measure of courage and immeasurable peace of Christ within me. Love, courage and peace! I am so grateful for these priceless treasures within my heart! They are worth much more than what earthly treasures could offer.

Just a little personal background to help you understand how much this meant to me and how it’s a powerful testimony to God’s mercy, generosity and love! I have often struggled with feeling unloved, overcoming my shyness and anxiety throughout my life. But all that changed when He deposited love, courage and peace within me! I didn’t realize it fully at first but eventually I realized what God had done in my life. I still feel like I’m myself but yet I feel changed for the better. I didn’t receive these treasures because of anything I’ve done, but out of His everlasting love and generosity, He chose to deposit these treasures in my heart .

It is such an amazing feeling. The fierceness of love, like mother bear protecting her cub, and yet it’s so gentle/peaceful at the same time. I am trying to put words to it!!

And lately I had been feeling the allure of world receding quickly away from me, even though they were far off in the first place to begin with. And it’s becoming harder for me to understand why people get attached to money, social status, drugs, career, big house, etc.. All of these things will pass away like a breath and doesn’t give true satisfaction in life. And it’s nothing compared with intimacy with God!!

Walking closer with the Lord makes me more aware of the contrast between my own human weakness and His pureness. At times, I peer into my heart and see the flaws so I give these over to God, allowing Him to take charge and help me in my weakness. I confess my weakness to Him and then after that, I take in FAITH that He’ll heal me completely by the power of Christ’s blood! Before I would be horrified to even think about the seed of sin that lies within human’s heart, not anymore since God has given me the assurance and peace that Christ has defeated SIN and DEATH for good! Basically just giving up the corrupted old man over to Him and becoming a new creation in Christ. I think the baptism of water and Spirit was a major milestone in my life that helped me become a new creation in Christ and allowed God to display His powerful works mightily. Praise God!!

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.