Our Focus

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~ Colossians 3:2 NIV

For the last year, the topic that comes into mind quite often among my friends and I is when pursuing a job/career or the next step in our lives, are we keeping in mind that our desires and society have influenced our decisions to be more worldly or to be attentive to the direction that the Lord could be potentially leading us to. That is a long sentence and I am aware of its complexity but I could not think of a simpler way to put the situation we are in into words. The verse mentioned above in Colossians is a simpler answer to our complex situation.

For example, one worldly desire and need that influences a lot of my friends’ and my decisions is money. We have left jobs that did not financially support us in the amount we wanted and have been without a job for some time because we refused to apply for a job that would not pay enough. Initially, our intentions were not of greed and selfishness. We were only thinking ahead—able to pay off loans and bills, save money for when we have a family of our own—which is why most of us went to college. But as time goes on, we no longer have eternity in mind but instead allow the pressures of society and our own negative thinking to become the main priorities in our lives.

Setting our minds on things above opens up so many possibilities and gives us hope when we need it. But when our minds are on earthly things…well…my friends and I are already struggling with a lot of stress right now and it seems like there is no end. We continue to listen to advice that can potentially lead us into trusting man more than God. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (NIV). In other words, we run.

Whatever cloud of earthy things that has trapped our minds and our thinking, we must throw it off. Whether it is our desires, media, even the people around us, we must overcome its affect on our lack of focus. How? Hebrews 12:2 provides the answer: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This verse coincides perfectly with the verse in Colossians. Moreover, Hebrews 3:1 also repeats a similar message: “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus.” In other words, our eyes, our thoughts, everything, we must fix it on Jesus!

When we focus everything on Jesus, the earthly things will not affect us like they do now. If my friends and I would just look to the Lord—trusting in Him—we could see so much more and experience so much more: hope, joy, peace, trust, faithfulness from the Lord. So much more! Therefore, what we focus on can greatly impact our lives and our walk with Christ.

The Lord’s Presence

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” ~ Psalm 27:4 NIV

I have talked to many people and friends on why they hate being single. Simply put, they hate being alone. It’s a fact that people need people. We are created for community and for many of us, it’s a daily struggle to be alone. I have a family member who has lived alone for almost twenty years and I know a friend who has never lived alone. She either has always lived with family and friends or has been in a relationship nearly her whole life. In both cases, how can the Lord’s presence be known?

When I went to go visit my family member who has lived alone for almost twenty years, the ambience of her house was amazing. Everything was so clean, well organized, beautiful, simple, and healthy. More importantly, there was a presence I sensed: a presence of comfort, peace, and security. This family member has lived alone after immigrating to the States when she was in her thirties. She has been a Christian for most of her life and has made it a necessity to pursue the Lord with all her heart even if it meant for her to be in a foreign place alone. We have kept close communication throughout the years and has been one of my most loyal mentors and an inspiration to my faith.

When I lived with her for three months, the Lord revealed to me the struggles she has been through, what her life is like alone, and how her faith has grown. Whenever I talked to my family member about her living alone, she never acknowledged she was alone. She would always say things like, “When the Lord and I went to the store,” or “The Lord woke me up,” (she doesn’t use an alarm to wake up in the morning), or “I scratched the Lord’s car” (referring to the new car that she bought). The Lord was always on her mind. And although my family member worries a lot, especially living in a large city, she seemed very content and at peace when I was around her.

The Lord says to Moses in Exodus 33:14, “’My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest’” (NIV). After that, Moses replies by saying, “’If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up there’” (NIV). In other words, Moses was going to stay put until he knew for sure that the Lord’s Presence was going to be with him. For most of us, we don’t even think or acknowledge the Presence of God. It’s quite easy to not think about it. But for Moses, he would not take a step forward without Him, and my family member does not forget about Him when she steps out of her house.

The amazing thing is that even if we don’t think of the Lord’s presence, He is there. Maybe not always in the way we imagine, but He is still there. In other words, when we are alone or with people, He is there! David says in Psalm 139:7-10, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle to the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (NIV).

Sometimes when we enter a house or meet a person, we might sense the absence of the presence of the Lord. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Lord is not there; He is omnipresent. But let me tell you, not only is it easy to not know He is there, but it is also easy to reject Him. And if we sense that the Lord’s presence does not dwell in an individual or household or anywhere, that is an open invitation for Satan to come. No wonder my family member’s house is a holy dwelling. She has made no room for Satan but for the Lord and the Lord only.

Whether we are “alone” or not, make it a priority to not only allow the Lord to dwell in our household or within us, but also to dwell in His house. When our eyes are fixed not on us and the people around us, it is the perfect time to seek the Lord and to open our doors for Him.

I Am

I Am

“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” ~ Exodus 3:14 NIV

For God to introduce Himself in that way… Out of all the names He has, He used “I Am.” If someone were to ask me who is the deity I worship, well I’d obviously respond with “God.” Jesus, Lord, Father, Yahweh. I mean there’s a whole list of names that we can choose from. But “I Am” encompasses much more because God is so much more.

I majored in English so my English grammar nerdiness came out during a life group study on the book of John. John came before Jesus to make way for His coming, and the way Jesus would be revealed was that the Holy Spirit would reveal the Son of God. John the Baptist says in John 1:31, ”’I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I cam baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel”’ (ESV). Later he says in John 1:33, ”I did not know [Jesus], but [God] who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit”’ (ESV). In order words, we see here that God sent the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit revealed who Jesus was and if Jesus is God based on the trinity, then the Holy Spirit reveals who God is.

(Trust me, I didn’t come up with this all by myself. This is something that my life group thoroughly studied and most of them are either theology majors or studying theology.)

So, if God calls Himself “I Am”, we can change the pronoun and verb but not change the meaning of the phrase “I Am.” I would then become God—a proper noun—and am would then be is—another form of the being verb. Now we have “God is.” And what does the Holy Spirit reveal who God is?

”God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:8

”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with the hope by the power of Holy Spirit.” ~ Romans 15:13

”The Spirit of the Lord will rest on [Jesus]—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—.” ~ Isaiah 11:2

”Then [God] said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”’ ~ Exodus 3:6

”Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”’ ~ John 14:6

”’I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!”’ ~ John 8:58

(There are so many more verses that share who God is but this is just a small glimpse.)

So who is God? God is I Am. Therefore, God is God.

What am I lacking in?

“Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.” ~ Job 6:24 NIV

On Sunday, I was strongly convicted on what I have not been doing in my spiritual life, and that was prayer. I grew up praying consistently before eating, in the morning or at night before bed, and before big events that were about to happen like a soccer game or a surgery. I stopped praying consistently like that when I found my prayer life to be very legalistic. Only recently, during the sermon in my church, did I realize I rarely pray.

It hits me hard to know that I am lacking something in my spiritual walk with the Lord. Many of us try so hard to pursue God in many ways not knowing Satan is only one step ahead in pulling us into a blinding path. Josiah, for example, was a king who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:2) after a few kings ahead of him did not. Josiah took action as king immediately after the Book of the Law was found and read. He ”tore his robes” and acknowledged the lack of obedience among past rulers, the people, and I’m sure even himself (2 Kings 22:11-13). It is a shameful thing to know this, but we should also be grateful that the Lord reveals this to us. And like Josiah, we should also not hesitate to take action as soon as possible.

It’s also so much easier to spot what others lack than what I myself lack. I find it very easy in noticing what a Christian needs to work in their lives. In fact, the day I was convicted about prayer, I was actually pointing out flaws of some people in church. (Trust me, I feel so ashamed talking about this.) Within my own family, I also can’t help but confront them about what they should be working on in their lives whether it’s communication with the Lord, Bible reading, or patience. Moreover, I don’t always mean to judge but it comes out that way. Either way, I walk in dangerous waters.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:3, ”’Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”’ (NIV) Don’t get me wrong, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should not ignore the speck in each other’s eyes. But remember, it’s just a speck that we see in others while we are unaware of a large plank in our own eye. We don’t know the whole picture. Overall, it is God who judges, not us. We need to discern between judging and confronting, what is our role as a brother and sister in Christ and what is the role of God in that matter.

Lastly, to know where we are wrong, we must seek God and that can simply be to ask Him. James confirms this by giving an example of wisdom. He says in chapter 1 verse 5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (NIV). Believe it! We all lack in something but maybe it’s just a matter of asking the Lord, with faith of course.

The verse above in Job also states it simply. “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong” (Job 6:24 NIV). The Lord knows us more than anyone on this earth. Why not ask the Creator? We then acknowledge our humanness and give power and glory to God.

Walking by Faith

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

We walk by faith not by sight. Reflect on that for just a minute. What does that look like?

The news is full of bad news: shootings, the economy, rapes, etc. It can be overwhelming when we look around at the world. When we hear the gossip at the water cooler or face the rejection of a friend, it can be hard and can be easy to forget why we’re here.

We live in the world but we are not of this world. We’re outsiders and we don’t belong here, so as with all foreigners, we’re not going to fit in (or at least we shouldn’t) with the world. We’re supposed to stand out, but as representatives of Him.

Life here is temporary but it can be hard to remember that when unexpected bills come in or the car breaks down. We need to remind ourselves that no matter what our circumstances are, God is in charge and He is with us. This is not the end of our story. The size of our bank accounts don’t define us. We need to focus more on the eternal ending and what we’re working towards then our lives here.

Focusing on our ending and joining Jesus should bring joy and hope to you. No matter what, He has overcome death and forgiven us our sins. That is enough! That is enough to give thanks for every day.

I know I can get caught up in the here and now. I want a larger paycheck or a nice vacation or even just enjoying a simple Chai Tea latte but that should never be our focus. Our focus needs to be Him and to align ourselves with Him through prayer, reading and studying Scripture, fasting, serving, etc. I am a much better person when I focus on Him and walk in faith.

I have faith that God is with me always. I have faith that no matter what happens, I will end up in eternity with Jesus. I believe that even when bad things happen God is in control.

How do you live by faith? How do you remain focused on Him?

Watering with Words

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV

For a while now, I have been aware of my lack of Biblical knowledge and study. Moreover, I have not been using the Word like I should. Even my father gave me a book about proclaiming the Word of God, yet I still don’t. This morning, after much thought, I grabbed the book and read the first chapter. Within the first chapter, I got goosebumps while reading Isaiah 55:10-11.

Proclaiming the fact that the Word that comes out of our mouths should not return to us means we are speaking words of faith knowing that what we say will become. We are not God. We are not powerful. We are only human. But God has given us the gift of faith and proclamation; we need only to use it. In Derek Prince’s Prayers & Proclamations, he says that a proclamation is, “a confession that is made aggressive. It is a word that speaks of spiritual warfare. It is releasing the authority of God’s Word into a situation, into your own life, your family, the life of your church, a political situation, or whatever it may be” (p.14).

Moreover, Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NIV). We are thoroughly equipped! There is no excuse to not use the Bible. I know I have mentioned this topic in more than one post before, but I cannot stress enough how important the Word is and how difficult it is to put this into practice. Imagine one is in a situation of spiritual warfare. If we use the Bible as a weapon (Ephesians 6:17) and proclaim rather than let Satan get what he wants, it will accomplish what we say. As another example, picture an individual hearing lies all around them whether at work or at home. Seek the Lord and His Word, for the Bible is truth. Speak the truth!

Maybe for many us, we have already tried this method: using the Word. But faith and proclaiming the word must be used together. For example, if I water the plants in my house, I know they will grow. I believe it because it’s a fact. This is the same as proclaiming the Word. I need to believe that when the Word of the Lord leaves my mouth, it will accomplish what has been said as mentioned in Isaiah.