Biblical Reflection

The true test

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

2 Corinthians 13:5 

Here’s the thing: when everything is going good, it’s super easy to follow Jesus. But when the going gets tough, will you stay when all the odds are stacked against you? When friends and family have given up on you, will you continue to stand with and for Jesus? When you’re broken and your life is coming apart by the seams, will you still trust Him? If you are faithful and stand – even if it’s just you by yourself – the crown of life that the Lord Himself prepared for us is waiting for you (Revelation 21:4-5)

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We live in a world that can hammer fear into our hearts, thus shaking the foundation on which we stand. In the midst of suffering, pain, testing, sorrows, we ask God “Will You be there?”, but are we listening for His answer? He says “Fear not”. No matter what you’re facing, be it sickness, unemployment, or death knocking on your door, He says not to fear for He has not given us a fearful spirit (2 Timothy 1:7). We are the ones that allow fear to squeeze faith out of our hearts and fear is not of God.

We’ll be a threat to the enemy before we’re attacked. Welcome to the Christian experience for it’s not all about smelling the roses leaving yourself vulnerable allowing the enemy to pounce. We shouldn’t bend to the rhapsody of the world no matter how melodious and harmonious it might sound and look. 

Will You Be There" Is A Song By Michael Jackson Which Was Released ...

It’s super easy to follow Jesus. The true test is when the going gets tough, will you stay when all the odds are stacked against you? When friends and family have given up on you, will you continue to stand with and for Jesus? When you’re broken and your life is coming apart by the seams, will you still trust Him?

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Biblical Reflection

Into the Spiritual Desert 🌵

The spiritual desert is not a nice place to be in. You can get agitated, lonely, and even anxious, but to be properly prepared and equipped for battle, this is the place that we eventually come to.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Spiritual Desert, but I’ve been to that place at some point in my Christian walk. I felt doubtful; as if I was alone navigating through this vast desert as a stranger in a foreign land.

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And I continue to aimlessly wander around the Desert, deep in my emotions wondering where was God in all of this. Knock, knock, God, where are You? Are You still there?

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See, my experience was not even bad, but at the beginning, I aimlessly walked around in circles acting as if “Woe is me!” when in fact, God was there with me all along. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

God doesn’t forsake us, but we’ve forsaken Him. Time after time again. It’s like we trust Him with the minuscule matters, but not the big ones. The Desert is a place of testing and training. It’ll determine how weak or strong we are. We’ve seen Joseph go through his Spiritual Desert period in the form of training/tests while in prison for God was preparing him for a BIGGER task, and he couldn’t get there overnight. Moses spent his first 40 years in Pharaoh’s palace learning how to be a student and solider. The next 40 years of his life were spent in the desert taking care of his father-in-law’s flock of sheep. It was in this Desert, that the demoted Moses (from prince to shepherd) learned the qualities that he’ll need as Israel’s future leader and emancipator. He entered into the Desert as a dry cactus and left as a blooming one after his apprenticeship with God.

Everything cannot be perfect for then you won’t grow.

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As I said at the beginning of this reflection, I used to go around the Desert feeling sorry for myself. Now, I don’t look at trials and tribulations in the same way anymore. Whenever I encounter them, I look towards God asking Him what He’s teaching me here. What lesson does He want me to learn? I’ve learned to trust Him even more during these times thus growing through these lessons. There is no need to fear these hardships when we go through them with faith in God for this period produces a quality we all need: patience (James 1:2-3)

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To be in the desert is part of the Christian experience. Come on now, you can’t want the sweet-smelling savor without experiencing the bitterness! When we’re in the desert, we’re actually going through trials. And even if you don’t feel God, don’t think that He’s left us to face these battles on our own. He’s actually refining and sharpening us. He’s molding and humbling us to be more like Jesus. He’s strengthening us to weather these storms so that we may emerge not only victorious but stronger.

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And then the tests that God wants us to pass are passed with flying spiritual colors and there’s rain in your Desert! A beautiful outpouring of rain that washes away the stench of the battle that you just been through. And you feel elated and happy, but most of all, you feel stronger because of God, for it is in the Desert that God teaches people Who He really is. It is there that we learn to trust a Known God to an unknown future. 

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Now, how does that feel?

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Note: It’s weird that of all the things I could be inspired to write a post from, it steams from an MJ GIF for “Stranger In Moscow” (the 3rd one) again recalling Romans 8:28. This topic was heavy on my heart, but I kept putting it off until one night when it was past midnight and the house was quiet and God said that it was time to get the weight off my heart.

I was disappointed and almost gave up on writing this post as the page crashed twice and most of the words I wrote weren’t saved and I had to start all over again. But with the Holy Spirit, I persevered. When MJ wrote “Will You Be There”, I believe that he was in his own Spiritual Desert at the time and that’s the song I identify with most, but “Stranger In Moscow” was an eye-opening song for me where it concerns the emotional human heart.

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Bible Study

Exodus: a short introduction

Meaning: Exodus is a Greek word meaning “exit”, “departure” or “going out”.

Author: Moses

Penned: 1445-1404 B.C.

Position: the 2nd book of the Bible, Old Testament, and Pentateuch 

Chapters: 40

300 years separate Genesis from Exodus.

In Exodus, we’ll read about the freedom for God’s people from slavery and the beginning of national identity. This book gives us an insight into Hebrew customs and it emphasizes God’s covenant. The deliverance from bondage is a beautiful analogy of the sinner’s redemption from the bondage of sin. God is presented as:

^ The great “I AM”;

^ The One Who controls history;

^ A holy God;

^ The God Who remembers, and

^ The God Who speaks.

Exodus records the 10 Commandments, the 10 plagues, the beginning of the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea and the building of the Tabernacle.

 

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Soon, I’ll be uploading the study for Exodus and I invite you to join me. Until then, study the Word and continue to look heavenward for we need to hold onto God more than ever given the times that we’re living in. The coming of our King draws near.

In case you missed it:

Bible Study Guide 

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Bible Activity/Discussion

What is the Bible?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Why is the Bible so complicated to read? Who wrote the Bible? I’ve heard these questions time after time again. Some of us are too lazy to sit down and actually read and study the contents of the Bible, but we rather spend time reading unholy, lustful, over-sexual content that the Word warns about.  

The word “Bible” comes from the Greek and Latin words meaning “book”. 

The Bible is the Word of God, not mythology material. Mythology was inspired by it and not the other way around. It was written by men that were inspired by the Spirit of God and it contains 66 books that were approved by God (2 Peter 1:16). There are books of law, poetry, history, letters, gospel and prophecy. These inspired authors were kings, prophets, priests, farmers, doctors and shepherds. What diversity! 

It was written over 1,500 years ago by about 40 different authors. The Bible was the first known book to be translated and distributed in so many languages.

Although the Bible was complied and written so many years ago, it’s not to be treated as a classic for God’s Word will NEVER pass away (Matthew 24:35). The Bible tells of prophecies (all that was and yet to be fulfilled), salvation through Jesus Christ and of the coming eternal kingdom. 

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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

The Bible is divided into two main parts: the Old and New Testament. In the OT, we see the establishment of Israel as a nation, and we’re promised salvation through One Man. It sets the stage for the coming Messiah. In the NT, we see that promise fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 

Themes such as hope, redemption and salvation are littered throughout. God created man – and woman – and placed him in Eden, the most perfect environment. He was stress free and worry free, but it didn’t stop him from rebelling against God. Because of this great sin, the Creator had no choice but to place the world under a curse. However, God had planned to restore humanity and creation to its former glory and His beautiful plan set off a chain of events from Genesis to Revelation. Despite what many people may think, the OT was never done away with. Spending time in the Word can help us to become better fruits on branches.

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The Holy Bible is my guide to living in this cruel and corrupted world. I’ll just leave a few things I’ve learned about the Bible while reading/studying the Word:

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

^ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

^ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

^ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

^ Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

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In the comment section below, mention which person you identified with the most from the Bible or your favorite book.

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Who is God

Who is Jesus

Who is the Holy Spirit

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Books & Reviews 📚

Books #162 – #164: Christian lit

These reviews might be shortish… 

Book #162: Mi Casa Uptown: Learning to Love Again by Rich Pérez

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The book is part memoir, part sermon; a good blend of uptown and faith, but in all honesty, I couldn’t bring myself to love it. I partially liked the book for I like a few of the messages, but I didn’t like that lyrically or musically, Mary was compared to the likes of Kendrick Lamar. What does Lamar spiritually and positively bring to the table? Yes, I might be petty, but I didn’t like it. The author loves his city so much that he’ll have a hard time believing that God would want to call him away to another city. 🙄

Final Verdict:

love coffeelove coffee

Book #163: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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This book was first published in 1942. It’s a Christian Apologetic novel that has been dedicated to Lewis’ then good friend, J.R.R. Tolkien. What even is the purpose of this partially self-help, satire book? This book consists of 31 letters and in the very first one, we see Screwtape advising his nephew Wormwood (named after a star in Revelation) on how to tempt his human, “the Patient” into sin and hell.

The bottom line is that Lewis gives us a very black and white view of right and wrong. Whatever we think is good is Christian-based and whatever we think is bad is anti-Christian. Christians think deeply, but non-Christians don’t? War hurts people, but it’s better to die young than to live to 70 as a non-believer? 

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This is exactly the kind of book that can cause non-believers to run for the hills. The fear tactics employed in this book! The smugness that clung to the pages. I felt like I went to a sanctimonious church service and the preacher thinks that he’ll be a whole lotta funny to impersonate a devilish figure. He wanted to be funny without being preachy, but it didn’t work. 

Although this was satire, meaning that it was supposed to be funny, there was nothing to laugh about for it was too arrogant. Doing the Lord’s work is not a joke and this reverse Psychology of how to stay close to Christianity was not effective. Lewis said that he didn’t enjoy writing this book – I didn’t enjoy reading it – and he spent nights awake worried about this book. Well, one look at Ephesians 5:11 would’ve halt his anxiety and insomnia, and put a stop to writing this book. 

Not because a lot of Christians like it, doesn’t mean I have to like it. 

Final Verdict:

love coffee

Book #164: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

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I thought this book would’ve been redemptive from the Screwtape show, but alas! I was wrong. This book was adapted from a series of BBC radio talks between 1941 and 1944. It should’ve stayed on the radio. 

He calls Matthew 24:34 the most embarrassing verse in the Bible because: “Say what you like,’ we shall be told, ‘the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, “this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.” And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.’ It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement ‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.’ The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance.”

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Give. Me. A. Break! Lewis was in the wrong, not Jesus. Lewis probably didn’t understand prophesy when he called this verse embarrassing. Jesus wasn’t even talking about the Second Coming. This was Jesus’ most prophetic message concerning the end of the world. Where it concerns His Second Coming, Jesus addresses what we should do (watch) for no one knows the appointed time of His glorious Coming (Matthew 24:36-51).

After many so-call believers read this book, they flocked to atheism because they were looking for a sad excuse albeit a pathetic one to turn their backs on God Who gave them the gift of life. I’m a Christian and after reading this so-call Christian book, I’ll continue to stick with God for He is my EVERYTHING. I have no excuse to turn my back on Him. I don’t need any convincing.

C.S. Lewis comes across as pompous and after reading two of his books, I’ve come to the decision that they’re not my cup of coffee. If I do come across any more of his books such as these in my TBR, I’ll get rid of them. Lewis is canceled. 

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Final Verdict:

love coffee

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Musings, Yes, This Is Our World. 🗺

Thoughts from the lockdown!

Over the past few months, I’ve seen the world go from hoarding toilet paper to animals actually enjoying the open without people trying to invade their space every second. Look at how happy this crow IS to have the see-saw all to itself!:

 

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While the essentials got a pass to leave their homes for work, the rest of us were threatened to stay inside for our own good unless we really need to go to places such as the pharmacy or grocery. And boy, when some people got to the grocery, they bought things they did not need for selfish reasons!

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We were also warned to wash our hands and sanitize, and I wondered if people never knew about practicing proper hygiene before this pandemic. The public was also advised to social distance and wear a mask while out in public. 

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MJ made wearing masks couture before it was couture itself. 😆

The measures that were put in place by governments around the world made people angry that they were being imprisoned in their own homes for their good. This was not D’ 2020 they envisioned in their mind when the year began. 

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The tuning into the media caused panic within so many people that they seem to fear the virus more than God. This kind of fear only leads to anxiety and other wicked thoughts. Trust always in the Lord. Do not unravel or compromise with the world.

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Instead of running scared, we should be re-evaluating our priorities. What are we doing all day long? How are we using the time that God has loaned us? Are we praying? Are we reaching out to those in need?

In all of this melee, I threw my trust in God and just went with the flow. Over the past weeks, I’ve been enjoying my family, valuing my walk with God, engaging more with nature and trying new things in the kitchen. Yes, I said the kitchen. 😒

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Life as we know it is not over and this is not the new normal (at least not yet) for we’ll get to enjoy the sun again even if it’s for a little while. I hope you’re all doing well and leaning on God throughout everything no matter what.

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Devotional Nuggets

Devotional Nugget #14: Omakase

For all this I considered in my heart even to declare all this, that the righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in the hand of God: no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them.

Ecclesiastes 9:1

I love learning new and exotic words so when I came across the Japanese word omakase, I immediately loved the translation of it: “I will leave it up to you.” Omasake is the Japanese tradition in letting the chef choose your order. 

We can say the same when it comes to going to God with our prayers: “I will leave it up to You.” That is why when we pray, we ask for His will to be done (Matthew 6:10). 

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive. Before we truly begin to talk ourselves into doubt thus allowing us to spiral down a hole of anxiety, we need to take those thoughts captive. Over the years when I handed my worries and burdens off to God, I saw His hand in everything when I did not attempt to take it back. I saw His hand in health challenges, finances, job transitions, and even where my family was concerned. We should never be afraid to approach God in prayer for we’re His servants, and we’re accepted by Him (Isaiah 41:9-10). Faith unfolds when we leave everything in God’s hands and by witnessing His hand in all things (Isaiah 66:2). 

Truly learn to trust the Father, so when you put your problems in His hand, you won’t be tempted to steal it back. 

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Application

Whatever it is that you’re holding tightly onto, put it in God’s hand, leave it up to Him and watch Him work. Share with God what’s on your heart daily for He loves and values hearing from us.

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Bible Activity/Discussion

Who is the Holy Spirit?

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Zechariah 4:6 

Who or what is the Holy Spirit? Is the Spirit a personal Being? A separate entity? A part of God? To you, who or what is this Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit seems to be the least understood of God’s character. The scriptures personify the Holy Spirit at times, just as it also personifies wisdom, sin, and death. In John 16:7-15, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “He” for the Greek word for helper is a masculine noun and according to the Greek grammar rules, it requires a masculine pronoun. 

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250 years after the last of the apostles had died, the Trinity became a thing thanks to Constantinople in AD 381 thus causing division among religions. However, we know how God feels about taking away and adding to His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18). When it comes to the Holy Word, we’ve been led astray by men for we’re too lazy to sit and read/study the Word on our own. Besides, God promises that we’re never alone for we have a Helper to guide us (John 14:16;26)

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 2:4

Throughout the Bible, Jesus speaks of the relationship between God the Father and Himself (Matthew 26:39; John 5:18-22). In visions of God’s throne, we read recordings of the Father and Christ being seen, but not the Holy Spirit (Daniel 7:9-14; Acts 7:55-56; Revelation 7:10). In Revelation 21, we see that “a new heaven and a new earth” is soon going to replace this corrupted earth. Verses 3 and 22 explicitly states that God and Christ will dwell with men, but there is no mention of the Holy Spirit. I believe that this is because we’ll constantly be in His presence. However, I’ll admit that I’ll have to do some more study and research in this area.

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The Holy Spirit is a gift (Acts 10:45), it can be poured out (Acts 2:17, 33) and it can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We are baptized with it (Matthew 3:11), we can partake of it (Hebrews 6:4), drink of it (John 7:37-39), and be filled with it (Ephesians 5:18). This Spirit is ONE Spirit for it’s not only the Spirit of God, but also of Christ (Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19). This is the same Spirit that the Father imparts to true Christians through His Son the Christ (John 14:26; Titus 3:5-6) that enables them to be “partakers of the divine nature” (Peter 1:4). The Holy Spirit is represented by various symbols such as a dove (Matthew 3:16), oil (Psalm 45:7), God’s hands (Psalm 8:3) and wind (Acts 2:2). 

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The Holy Spirit is God’s active force or divine power and it shouldn’t be misunderstood. The Spirit is there to guide, teach, and comfort us. It has attributes of a Person and IS treated as a Person. I’ll just leave a few things I’ve learned about the Holy Spirit while reading/studying the Word:

^ Jesus began His ministry “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14-15).

^ We cannot gain a spiritual understanding on our own or through man; it is through God’s spirit within us that we gain spiritual wisdom and insight (John 14:26).

^ Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the power through which the Father begot Jesus as His Son. In short, the Holy Spirit is God’s divine power (Matthew 1:20).

^ Paul wrote many books, but only in 2 Corinthians 13:14 is the Holy Spirit mentioned along with the Father and Christ.

^ The Holy Spirit is the Source behind the books of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20-21) for ALL scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).

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In the comment section below, leave your favorite scripture or story from the Bible about our Helper/Comforter!

COMING SOON: What is the Bible?

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Who is Jesus

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