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A Vision and a Prayer

So, as I have walked through New York City, following a fairly steady route throughout the winter, spring, and summer (between February and August, and less frequently starting in September), there have a few people who have become staple parts to my daily commute. One in particular is a homeless man named Bradley. Sometimes he’s more awake than others, and sometimes his words are more slurred than others, but no matter what kind of day he’s having he is easily one of the most personable people in New York. He might be filthy, but he is always smiling and always cheerful. He talks about his past with fond remembrance rather than bitterness, though he is from another part of the country and it’s been a long time since he’s had contact with any loved ones.

I don’t know exactly what happened in his life and what issues he’s faced that caused his decline from then, when he had a wife and a stepdaughter he still refers to as his princess, until now. We have a game we play, where he gives me a name, I look up its meaning on my phone, and he relates the meaning of the name back to the person they were. I don’t know most of the names he gives me or who these people were in his life, just a few snippets he’s given me.

I do know that the first day I met him I was hoping to pray for him, but before I could even ask he was expounding on how the government was a big conspiracy and how Jesus wasn’t real, His miracles were impossible and the whole Christianity thing was just a made-up story that people get fed today because the governmental powers that be think we’re dumb enough to follow it.

That was the one and only time I’ve seen him agitated. Suffice to say he was not receptive to the idea of prayer. But, That said, he has been heavy on my heart lately. I have been vaguely praying for him as God has led me, and praying into God’s plan for him, but the past few days God has gotten much more specific in how I’m to minister to him. Basically, He told me He wants me to do a bible study with Bradley, and gave me a specific place in the city where he wants this to happen. It’s near where I always see him, and it happens to be on some ground that I claimed for Jesus a few months back (possibly a story for another day, but long story short: God is pretty cool). He also told me in no uncertain terms that Bradley won’t willingly go there with me, and certainly won’t willingly read the bible with me (had God consulted me first, I easily could have told Him this part and spared Him the trouble of sending me the vision, but I digress). That being the case, my next direction was simple: if he won’t come with me, I am to go to him. Sit on the subway floor, by his side. If he won’t do a Bible study with me, I am to read my bible by myself, as I sit next to him. I am to simply talk to him. To seek God for wisdom and discernment on every word that comes out of his mouth. To seek wisdom and discernment over his heart. To let God fill my mouth with the words to minister to those places, and to supply the bible verses as needed. Eventually, there will be more direct bible interaction. God promised this, if I follow His guidance. In short, I am to go low and slow here.

I have never done anything quite like this before. But I’m game if Jesus is. Interestingly, I haven’t actually seen Bradley since this has been revealed to me. Either way, I thank Him for what He’s shown me, and I stand expectant and believing for Him to do a work here. And so today I just ask that you pray into God’s will over this man and my role in his life. That I would hear God clearly throughout and fully lean on Him to guide my steps. That most of all, He would move in this man’s life and do a work in him until he is walking in the fullness of the identity God has for him. Umm…..and also that if I am meant to move on this, I would cross paths with the guy. Or at least be told where he is so I can go find him. The city is huge, and there are lots of places where a homeless man might go when the weather cools – sometimes it would be so nice if directives from on high came with a GPS. Or a major clearing of the NYC smog so I could use the north star like the wise men, but honestly at this point I think dropping a supernatural Bradley-tracking device in my lap is the easier option.  Umm…..and since wherever Bradley is, it’s probably somewhere like the subway floor (where I normally see him – he even makes himself comfy and goes shirtless and shoeless down there) or an alley, prayers for my protection would also be appreciated. Though I have to say, there’s nowhere safer than in God’s arms!

I will keep you posted if, after all this subway-sitting and alley searching, I also need prayers to supernaturally boost the strength of my washing machine.

Meanwhile, thank you all very much, and God bless!

~Rebekah A

The Eraser

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  -John 15:13

As some of you know, I am in my last semester of Bible College. I still have a couple of months left, but I’ve been thinking about the journey God has taken me on during this time.

What an incredible privilege it is to serve God. As I look back over my last four years in Bible College I am awed at how God has moved. When I began I wasn’t even sure I could afford one semester, but He has provided for me to go through the entire program.

Much more importantly than that, He has grown me in ways that I could never have predicted when I enrolled four short years ago.  He has truly taught me that He is the God of LOVE. Four years ago I knew intellectually (through the Word of God) that He is love, but now I know through experience. It isn’t that He hadn’t shown it before; He has showered me with love all my life, but I couldn’t see it before because I hadn’t learned to trust Him. He is teaching me day by day that I can depend on Him. He will never leave me or forsake me.

He has manifested His love a thousand different ways throughout these last few years. He has revealed it to me through His faithfulness, His encouragement, and especially through His chastisement. He cares about where we are as individuals. We are never beyond His reach.

Where I used to doubt love, His love erased doubt. Thank You, Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Two Sisters

In Ezekiel 23 (read it here for NIV or here for KJV), the chapter talks about 2 sisters – Oholah and Oholibah. Oholah is, metaphorically, Samaria, while Oholibah is Jerusalem. Getting deep already, aren’t we?

To summarize the chapter: They weren’t the most well-behaved ladies, and this chapter refers to them repeatedly as harlots. They ‘played the harlot’ in Egypt, getting fondled and caressed even as young girls. They became children of God eventually, but didn’t stay faithful to Him. Instead, they lusted after and gave themselves to all kinds of other men from all different lands. The younger sister is worse than the older, not only lusting after the men who crossed her path but also the ones she saw drawn on the wall. In fact she went out of her way to send for them, based on these pictures, so she could give herself to them too. Naughty, naughty. Eventually, the things and people they lust after turn against them, expose them for the bad girls that they are, and destroy them. Painfully, I might add.

Admittedly, this isn’t the most uplifting chapter, but God spoke out to me about a couple of things. First, these girls started doing sexual things at a young age. The bible mentions them being young girls, and the men of Egypt ‘fondling’ ‘their virginal breasts’. On the one hand, this certainly isn’t demure behavior. On the other, how much control over their environment do young girls have? They may well have been forced to do this. Or perhaps, if they did indeed enjoy it, they enjoyed it only because it was all they knew. But then things changed. They went from living in the darkness to being children of God. Daughters of God. Knowing God, they now knew better. Yet, they didn’t change. They had a chance at redemption and forgiveness, and had they taken that chance this might be a very different chapter. The Bible, after all, is full of redemption stories. But they didn’t. The older sister, Oholah, upon becoming God’s, lusted after new men. The other, Oholibah, lusted after both new men and her past in Egypt.

The message is clear: once you know God, you know better. Yesterday’s events, however traumatic or beyond your control, do not justify today’s sin. Your environment is not and will never be an excuse – not once your environment also includes God (which it already does, thanks to a little something inside of us called the Holy Spirit). Have you made any excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”?

Then there is all the men they lusted after: idols. False idols. You know the list – money, attention, notoriety, material things. Maybe you lust after them too. And Oholibah lusting after her past life – the life before God entered it. With God is great freedom, but also great responsibility to uphold His standards and righteousness. There is joy in Him, greater than any joy that this earth can provide, but to the casual observer it looks like a lot of rules. To someone who hasn’t experienced Him for themselves, the list of standards is long and the payoff is short. To someone who doesn’t know God, Oholibah’s life before Him probably looks a lot more fun. And that was her line of thinking too. The things of her past that were sinful, were fun for her. And she missed them.

This is why Christianity goes so far beyond saying the words. We can’t just pay lip service to the idea of belonging to God. We need to actually abide with Him – to desire His heart as our own. When a person lives completely led by the Holy Spirit, they can do anything they want. Why? Because their genuine and deep desires line up with the pure and righteous desires God has for us. If you desire things outside of Him, you need to seek Him out a bit more and let Him draw you closer. Oholah and Oholibah clearly failed to do this, ,and so their lusting continued. They remained spiritually immature. They never grew. Growing in God means realizing this: there is a cost to walking with Him and belonging to Him. The cost is great – but so worth paying. And as soon as you pay it, you realize just how “worth it” it is. That IS partly why we call it faith, no?

But Oholah and Oholibah missed the boat entirely when it came to actually growing in God, and so they floundered. Without seeing the Glory and Majesty that were right in front of them, they chased after other things. And random calamity doesn’t befall them. Lightning doesn’t strike them down. What happens is that the things they were chasing turned against them. The men weren’t who they seemed to be at first. They looked better from a distance. Up close they didn’t make the girls any happier or more satisfied than they were before. In fact, they caused a lot of pain and torment for these ladies. Again, the message is clear: these other things just aren’t worth the chase. Where God is eternal, these things don’t stand the test of time. Where God is more beautiful and more miraculous and more faithful and just better the more you get to know Him, these other things don’t even stand up to close scrutiny. Where God is constant and dependable, these other things are fickle and untrustworthy. They just aren’t worth much in comparison to God.

Our walk with God is not meant to ever be stagnant, and so today I ask you to take a deep look at your journey with Him. Where do you stand today? Have you made any spiritual excuses lately? Justified something to yourself? Said ‘that’s just how I am’ or “that’s how I was raised”? Desire anything lately that went beyond God? More money, a better job, a big promotion? A bigger house? Missed your ‘old life’ when you were ‘allowed’ to do other things? Once we’re His we’re always His; sinning and desiring these other things is essentially cheating on Him. So ask Him today – are there areas where you’re cheating? Areas you hold back from Him?

Maybe you do have some of these issues and maybe you don’t. Either way, Ezekiel 23 clearly shows us it’s not worth it. So let Him in today, to examine your heart and show you all the little ways you can deepen your relationship with Him even more. It’s worth any price, and God is just – He’ll never ask more of you than you can pay. So take the plunge!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

If Ye Be Christ’s

I am currently in Taiwan, but I’m going to share my exciting story of what God did the other day when I was still in China! God is so amazing!! It was so hard to restrain myself from writing about it, but because of the way woman reacted, I felt it best to be a little cautious and not share what happened until I left. I was probably just being paranoid, but you hear all these stories of the Communist Party reading outgoing emails and blog posts so I decided not to take any chances.

Anyway, from the moment I stepped off the plane in the Philippines I had not had a minute to myself. Literally every moment has been spent with my co-workers or my host family, or my students, or the villagers. For an introvert who lives by themselves and is used to a lot of alone time, it’s a little difficult to always be “on”. I needed a few minutes to clear my head and unwind so when we finally got some downtime, I decided to take a walk. On my way out the door, something told me to grab my bag. I realize now that it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I had intended on pretty much just walking a straight line so that I wouldn’t get lost, but when I got to a fork  in the road I heard a voice tell me to go left. It was not a literal voice that I heard with my ear. I just heard it like a thought in my head, but it was the voice of my Chinese teacher (from my dreams)! Immediately, I remembered the lessons where he coached me to move left, or move right, or step back etc. without hesitation. Obedience. So I went left. I walked a ways further, and again I felt a prompting to take another left. So I did. Then I felt to just walk straight for awhile.

After a bit, I walked by a woman sitting on a bench. She called out to me, “Mei guo ren, mei guo ren” (American, American). I just ignored her because this has happened several times simply because people are surprised to see Westerners. But then she called out in English saying, “Miss?” I stopped. She spoke in a very thick accent so I had to strain to understand, but she said, “Miss, you are missionary or you are here for company?” I was surprised by the question, but just said, “I’m here with my company.” She looked really disappointed and just said, “oh, okay.” I started to walk away, but something about the disappointment in her voice stopped me. I turned  back and asked why she wanted to know. She said, “Your God told me to come to wait on the bench until the missionary come.” At this I was taken aback. The Spirit had also prompted me to go there by taking those left turns. I sat next to her on the bench. I figured she must have some Christian understanding because she used the word missionary. She also seemed to associate this word with Americans since she called out to me. And she said “Your God”. This woman didn’t know anything about me so to say “Your God” was interesting to me. It’s exactly the way that my ex-boyfriend used to refer to God before he came to know Him for himself. I asked her if there was something she wanted to know. She said, “Yes, did American take their God from Jewish God? There was a man Abraham. And Jewish God promise him a lot of children and promise him he inherit what God have, right? Why Americans think they can have this God when they not from Abraham. Doesn’t the Jewish God make this promise to Abraham’s family?” I realized this was a very important question because she wasn’t really asking me about Americans. She wanted to understand how the rights and privileges of a child of God got extended to gentiles. Somehow, somewhere she had some teaching, but it was incomplete. She was longing to be part of God’s family, but if Americans didn’t really have a right to this God, then logically she wouldn’t either.

I had a bible in my bag. I wanted to take it out and show her some things, but teaching the bible outside the government sanctioned Three Self Church is illegal. Granted, persecution is nothing like it used to be, but an American will be arrested (and likely deported) if they bring their bible out and publicly start sharing it. It is fine to bring your bible into the country for personal reasons, but you can’t share it with others. But then I had an idea! I pulled out my phone. I have an offline version of the Bible in English and Chinese on my phone. If someone were to see her looking at a phone, they wouldn’t think anything of it. I started scrolling through Galatians. I knew what I was looking for was in that book, but I wasn’t sure what the exact verse was. Finally, I found it. Galatians 3:29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” I read it in English and then switched it to the Chinese to let her read it for herself. I apologized that I only had a version with traditional characters. She excitedly told me that she knows how to read traditional Chinese.  I explained, “If you belong to Christ –to Jesus, then God sees you as a descendant of Abraham and you get all the same privileges and blessings. Anyone; American, French, Korean, Chinese, anyone can be a seed of Abraham. They just have to belong to Christ. I told her that belonging to Jesus is where the real blessing lies. “The point is not to belong to Abraham, it’s to belong to Jesus because He is the only who can save us.” I asked her if she belonged to Jesus. She looked around nervously and began almost to whisper. She said she had started going to a church in a friend’s house. She continued looking around nervously. She said the problem is that they only have a small portion of the bible and the part they have talks about Abraham and so she thought maybe we stole the Jewish God. She said, “I know they sell bibles in the city, but they are government bibles and people here can’t afford to go to the city and buy them anyway so we just read about Abraham over and over.”

Suddenly I knew why I was there! When my ex-boyfriend sent me my Chinese/English bible, he actually sent me two bibles. One is the Chinese/English parallel and the second one was a Chinese/Pinyin parallel bible. He thought that would be helpful to me because I could see how the characters were pronounced if I came across one I had never seen. The trouble is that knowing how to pronounce a character does absolutely no good if you don’t know what the character means. Therefore, since that bible didn’t have any English, it wasn’t of much use to me. My Chinese is not nearly good enough to not have an English translation so I never use that bible.  When I was packing for this trip, on a whim I threw that Bible (along with my regular bible) in my bag. I thought I might have an opportunity to witness to someone in Taiwan and then we’d both have a Bible to look at. It didn’t occur to me that this would happen in China because of the Traditional characters. But actually a Chinese/pinyin Bible is perfect for someone in China because in China they learn pinyin in school. If she came across a traditional character that she didn’t know, she could look at the pinyin, and through context would probably be able to figure out what simplified character it represented.

I hesitatingly told the woman I had something for her.  As I was reaching in my bag, she said, “no no, you don’t need to give me anything”, but when I pulled out the Bible and handed it to her, her eyes got wide. She snatched it and hid it under her shirt. Then she looked around to make sure no one was watching and pulled it back out. She held it to her face. She kissed it! Then she clutched it tightly to her chest holding it in her arms. She quickly hid it under her shirt again. With tears in her eyes she said, “oh meiguoren, I knew you’d come.” We talked for just a few more minutes. I briefly told her about the book of Acts and that she should be baptized in Jesus name. She said she’d study the whole bible and share it with the church.

She told me how when she was a kid her grandmother had forced her to learn the traditional version of every simplified character she learned in school. She’d spend hours writing out the simplified characters and then her grandmother would make her spend hours more writing out the same characters in traditional form. She said she had resented it at the time, but now she knew it was all worth it. Then she admonished me not to tell anyone in China that I had given her the Bible. She was quite nervous the whole time which made me pretty nervous too, but I was sure that God was in it!

Now that I’m safely in Taiwan I felt to share this amazing testimony. We seriously have no idea what a privilege it is to have Bibles so readily available to us. Watching the way this woman held the Word of God was a reminder to me of how precious the Word of God truly is! Pray for this woman and her church!

Reaching for Souls

“You have one business on Earth – to save souls.” — John Wesley

This past Sunday evening, my god-father had the opportunity to preach to a few Chinese immigrants. A pastor and pastor’s wife in our church district have been reaching out to these young men for a while now, but their English is extremely limited and the pastors don’t speak any Chinese so communication is difficult. Since my god-parents are pretty much the only Chinese speaking people in our little district, they were the logical choice to help assist in this endeavor.  I so appreciate the fact that they have a heart for God and are eager to serve in whatever capacity they can. They were more than willing to make the long drive for the sake of a few souls in need of the Lord.

The young men came to the church with trays and trays of food! So typical for Chinese to not come empty handed! 🙂 We were all blessed with dinner after it was over because of their generosity.

My god-father was able to share his testimony with them and my god-mother sang a Chinese worship song. We had planned to have several Chinese worship songs, but technical difficulties and time restraints prevented that. Never the less, there was a mighty move of God!

There were also quite a few Americans in attendance at this service.  Even though they couldn’t understand most of what was being said, their hearts were stirred by what they were witnessing. Their pastor and pastor’s wife were the ones who reached out to these young men even though they know nothing of the language or the culture. It was a powerful statement to the church not to be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know. Be available for Christ and He will use you! If you have a heart to serve, God will send people your way. If you can’t communicate with them, God has a plan for that! If you don’t know their culture, God knows how to handle it!

If the Lord is willing, there is a plan to have another Chinese service again soon. Say a prayer that these young men will come again and bring their friends and loved ones. The pastor’s wife also plans to invite a few other Chinese people that she’s been reaching out to to come to the next one. There is a growing Chinese community where they live and I believe that God wants to see them saved!

Don’t write people off just because you don’t know how to reach them. Keep a Christian spirit, be friendly and believe God for the rest. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Keep believing Christ for new souls and keep reaching, keep reaching, keep reaching!!

Working as for the Lord

Today at work I had a lot to do. I also had the ability, if I wanted, to be lazy and put off doing most of it. That’s because while I had a lot of things on my list, I didn’t have any pressing deadlines hanging over my head today. Also, both my boss and my supervisor were not in the building so there was no one looking over my shoulder or creating more work for me to do. In my flesh, I wanted to take it easy. I reasoned that opportunities to just relax are few and far between and that I deserved the break. I didn’t want to work hard today for the simple reason that I could get away with it.

It got me thinking about spiritual things. There are times when we could pray and we know we should pray, but we don’t because we don’t feel like it. We justify to ourselves that we can do it later, the deadlines just don’t seem that pressing. Likewise, we know that we should spend more time reading the Word, but we tell ourselves that we work hard for the Kingdom of God and we deserve a break. We often don’t give our best to the Lord for the simple reason that we can get away with it. We know we’re covered by grace and whether we consciously acknowledge it or not, we use the truth of grace to take short-cuts.

Thankfully, this train of thought convicted me and motivated me to work as if the boss were over my shoulder and I did have pressing deadlines. After all, Jesus sees all we do and tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Whether it is working for the Kingdom or working in a secular capacity we are to do all as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). And do you know what happened? When I determined to work as if Jesus were in the office with me, I didn’t just work hard, but I was incredibly efficient and productive. I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back, quite the opposite really. What happened is that the Lord multiplied my work! There is no way I could have accomplished all that I did today on my own. I managed to get far more done than I would on a typical day. It was really awesome and I found myself praising Him between tasks and singing worship songs while I worked. The more I did this, the more I got done!

You know there are so many times when we don’t feel like doing things. We don’t want to work hard, we don’t want to exercise, or read the Word or pray. It just feels like too much effort. The amazing thing is that when we do these things for the Lord (rather than for men), He rewards us for it. Think about that: we’re doing it for Him, and yet we reap the benefits! He is so incredibly good to us! He deserves all our praise and we should strive to give Him our very best.

Lord, forgive me for all of the times I took the easy way out. Help me to honor you with diligence and purpose to serve You. Thank you for helping me today. Thank You for showing me patience and for continuously guiding me closer to You. The flow of Your love is overwhelming; Your mercy and blessings innumerable. In Jesus’ precious name I give You thanks today. Thank You, thank You, thank You.

In His Love,
Rebekah L.

Sharing Our Testimonies

On Su720361_friendshipnday we had a guest preacher at our church. He gave his testimony about the incredible things that God has helped him overcome. He quoted Revelation 12:11 in his sermon. On my last post one of our regular readers (and recent guest blogger) left me a comment referencing this same verse. As a result, I asked God to give me some opportunities this week to share what the Lord has done for me.

Amazingly, in the last two days I have been able to share my personal testimony at work twice! There is a young woman from Shanghai who started working in my building recently. She has a passing understanding of many world religions, but was basically raised without any religious tradition in her life. She has never experienced the transforming power of Christ. It was so exciting to be able to share with her how He has transformed my life. Somehow God must have used what I shared to touch her because today she came in with another employee and requested I tell him what I told her! It is my prayer that this is the beginning of a walk for each of them that ends with them hearing our Lord proclaim, “Well done thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of the Lord” (Matthew 25:23).

Our testimonies are powerful. They have the ability to help us overcome, the ability to build faith in others and can be used to help open the door for their hope in the transformational power of a Savior. So get out there, be bold for Jesus and share your testimony. Let us know in the comments how God has used your testimony to touch others.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

The Word 6/21/13

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ~ Matthew 6:19-21

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. ~ I Timothy 4:14-16

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:1-2

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16

Being Isaac: StephenWhoElse “God is an Open Book”

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other.  “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. Thanks StephenWhoElse for submitting another great post reflecting on how transparent and open to us God really is. 

Open Book

Christian books are a lot more popular today than they were a few years ago. Most major (and smaller) bookstores have a section dedicated to religious books. A couple even made it to the Paperback Nonfiction Best Sellers list. Looking at the selection of Christian books in a typical book store, it struck me how many books attempt to help the reader “figure out” our great and mysterious God. Here are some titles you may see:

  • What Is God?
  • Making Sense of the Old Testament God
  • How to understand God
  • God according to God
  • The God I don’t understand

There were lots more books like these – and it amazes me that there is so much time and effort being devoted to “figuring out” who God is! Surely our God who created us in His image, who loved us enough to sacrifice his only Son so that we can be close with Him again, wants us to know him intimately! If so, how difficult can it be to know God?

While reading Isaiah today, it struck me how transparent God is. He does not hide his feelings from us. He does not leave us wondering about His plans for the world. And how wonderful that He does not hide His love for us! God is completely open to us with His feelings.

God does not hide his anguish when rejected by His people:

The ox knows its master,
    the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand. (Isaiah 1:3)

God’s feels the pain when he punishes his people – he doesn’t want to punish them! And yet his righteousness demands it.

Why should you be beaten anymore?
    Why do you persist in rebellion? (Isaiah 1:5)

God’s frustration is clear to see, when he cannot get through to his people!

 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me. (Isaiah 1:13)

God feels disappointment when we do not live up to what we are capable of

What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?  (Isaiah 5:4-5)

God’s plan is to reconcile with his people, not punish them.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
    says the Lord. (Isaiah 1:18)

Friends, God is an open book. He hides nothing from us that is for our good. His love for us is plain to see. Continue reading Isaiah and you will see that despite an intense anger that is not satiated even by the most terrible punishments, (chapter 9), God is compassionate enough to help his people go through the suffering! (Isaiah 10:24-25)

Very soon my anger against you will end
    and my wrath will be directed to their destruction. (v 25)

Can you imagine that? Even in the midst of meting out terrible punishments on his people, God is compassionate enough to reach out to his people, to reassure them that it is temporary, to encourage them to bear with it!

Friends, God does not need to be “figured out”. The character of God is plain to see. We don’t need mountains of books to tell us who God is, because He has already revealed Himself to us through his living Word.

Instead, let us devote our time and energy to loving him. And how do we love an invisible God?

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – John 14:23

Let us spend time with God, listening to Him, abiding in Him and obeying Him.

God bless.

StephenWhoElse is a Sunday School Teacher and in his spare time he has a secular and less interesting job. He endeavors to write only what He reveals to him and gives all glory to God! See the original post at http://10seventeen.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/god-is-an-open-book/ 

Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.

Identity in Christ

Definition of Identity:

1) The fact of being who or what a person or thing is.Fingerprint

2) A close similarity or affinity.

I have spent the last few years on a journey of discovering who I am. It started with uncovering a family secret in 2009 that the man who raised me may not actually be my biological father. Worse than this discovery was finding out that the man suspected of being my father was the person in my life who had wounded me more deeply than any other human being on this earth. Emotionally this put me in a tailspin. As a result I started down a path to try to gain a sense of identity. In the last few months I have done extensive research on my family tree and a few days ago received the results of a DNA test to help answer some of these questions. The outcome of this test gave me more questions than answers.

The results of this test were not exactly what I wanted. In talking about it with my godfather he said that sometimes it’s better not to know. He is right, but it’s in our human nature to want to understand where we come from and why things happened the way they did. But I thank God that He has given me peace in this situation. The Lord has held me through every fear and comforted me through my tears. He is my true Father!

I Praise the Lord for His revelation to me that my identity does not lie in bloodlines and broken promises, my identity rests in Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Where I come from is not important, it’s where I am going!

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

When we are baptized in Jesus Name, we take on His name! We enter into a relationship with Him and from then on we get to use the family name. What a privilege it is to be able to call ourselves Christians! He is our perfect father. He takes care of us, provides our needs, He helps us to grow and even disciplines as we need it because of His enduring love. When we receive His spirit we are freed from the bondage of the enemy and we receive the “spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

I want to be so wraAbba, father, daddypped up in God that it is obvious to everyone that I meet that I belong to Him! I want people to know that I am His child. I want my identity to rest firmly in Him! I want to encourage all of our readers to embrace your Christian identity. There is nothing greater than the salvation He offers us, but beyond that we have received something so special from God; we have received the right to call him Daddy!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.