Surprise!

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7)

How many times have you told God “God, I don’t understand what you’re doing!”?

I find myself being impatient from time to time asking God, what. is. happening! But Jesus said, later we will understand. There is only one who can see the big picture, everything from the beginning and the end, and that is God. He knows everything, and therefore he knows what’s best for us, and what’s not.

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)

Not only does he know everything, but he also has a plan for us. Plans to give us hope and a bright future. But contrary to what the scripture say, we often say “Why GOD! Why!” We blame God and we question his goodness.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? (Matthew 7:9)

Will God give us a stone instead? Absolutely not. He is our good father 🙂

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:11)

My husband’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been racking my brain day and night to think of the most perfect gift. And because we live together and our packages get delivered to the same spot, I was afraid that he might pick it up and find out what it is before his actual birthday. And I had to do some prep work and wrapping the gift without him knowing or seeing! So I told him if he can just go somewhere for half a day LOL! He asked me “What’s wrong? why?” I said “I need some space!” Hahahahahah (and I never say this kind of stuff) and he was puzzled and also seemed sad/disappointed. But I know that he will be more surprised that way!

I wonder God does that with us sometimes, he only reveals so much to us at a time, but save the best for the last.

Once we enter through the gate of heaven, he’ll be standing there with his arms wide open welcoming us back with the most radiant smile and say

“Surprise!”

Do what makes you happy?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

All my life I was told to just do what makes me happy.

It was all about ME. Focus on my feelings, focus on what brings me pleasure. Live for me and myself only. But this left me so empty and unfulfilled.

It was when I experienced the love of Christ, that flipped my world upside down. I feel like there was a hole in my heart that nothing else could fill. But only Jesus could fill that gaping hole. When Jesus embraced me, and encountered me through holy spirit, I truly felt what it is like to be loved by my creator. We are created in his image. We are created to worship him. But the world will tell you otherwise.

For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36)

Apart from God, there is no meaning, no life, no purpose.

All the advertisement we see on social media / TV, tells you a certain type of message. Once you buy this car, you’ll be happy. If you wear this kind of clothes, people will love you. If you live in a place like this, you will feel fulfilled. When you go on certain type of vacation, it will bring you all the joy and purpose in life. But did it?

I believed in the lies that owning certain things, or filling my life with certain experiences will bring me the ultimate fulfillment, but it never did. You just end up feeling like you are chasing after an illusion.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Don’t let the world get to you, but turn to the truth. I pray that I don’t conform to the pattern of this world, but by the power of Holy Spirit, I’ll be transforming the culture from the heavenly perspective.

Letter to a neighbor

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

I’m gonna tell you about the beef jerky story.

So me and my husband, we have obsession for this one brand of beef jerky, so we ordered some to our place (we usually do bulk orders) and also decided to bless some of my church friends in NYC. (I’m from NY, and I recently left the church there so I can serve at a smaller church in OC as we moved here) It was a farewell gift to all my previous small group members =)

My friends got the jerky in NY but the shipment that was supposed to come to us (in Cali) got sent to the wrong address! So I was patiently waiting and waiting, then I called the jerky company to confirm the address, so they sent another shipment. But again! it somehow got sent to New York again! So we had to do this 3 times, and I was getting a bit frustrated lol. So the company felt bad for us, and sent us an extra bag of jerky. (which melted all my frustration)

But the crazy thing is the boxes of jerky KEPT ON COMING! All the wrong shipments somehow got re-routed to our address and we ended getting 300 dollars worth of beef jerky FOR FREE. So what do we do with this? I felt the urge to share this blessing with others, so I posted under “FREE” category on Craigslist.org and titled it “Free 1 lb Beef jerky with Prayer” LOL

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:8)

I am such an internet troll, but I was in the mood to just do something a little ridiculous today. Of course the Craigslist posting got flagged immediately and taken down after 10 mins or so (I was surprised at how fast it got flagged!) I can’t just offer some free jerky and free prayer in this day and age? But in that short window of time, someone contacted me and said he could come pick it up.

My husband is such an amazing human being, because this was entirely my idea and I didn’t really tell him about it until later. I just told him “A stranger is gonna come to our place today to pick up some jerky, can we pray for him?” And he was SO confused. 🙂 But he agreed after I told him what happened.

I went all out and me and my husband even wrote a letter to him and created a care package including a pound of beef jerky. I truly felt like this person who was about to come and pick up a jerky is someone who stands up for justice and has a lot of courage. I included a verse in there as well.

It was such an awesome thing to bless someone like that. When he got the care package, he blessed US as well and said he was so very touched by what we were doing. He started to recite Proverbs 3:5

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

which was actually the verse my husband gave me when we got married. It’s inscribed in my engagement ring.

How good is our God? Afterwards me and my husband went to dinner, and as we are praying for our meal, I just started to cry, because I felt the overwhelming goodness of God. I pray that I live each and everyday overflowing with the joy of the Lord and filled with thanksgiving. That I’ll be able to love on strangers and our neighbors more than I love myself.

Die to ourselves, live for Christ

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Galatians 2:20 – when I read it, my first impression was

“Huh?”

Bit of an oxymoron: I’m dead (I no longer live) but still I live. I live by faith in the son of God. The whole upside down principal of God’s Kingdom always was a bit of an enigma to me, until I started experiencing them in my own life. For example, Loving your enemies. (Instead of hate)

 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)

Why do we even have to care about the enemies, when we can’t even love our own neighbors? But Jesus loved and prayed for the ones who persecuted him. Even when he was on the cross, he uttered “Father Forgive them” It’s almost a mind-blowing concept, especially if you don’t know the person of Jesus. I remember the first time I loved on the person who was cursing me and hating on me, I think I was half-curious, if I can even do it. The key here is never using our own strength but using the strength of Christ to love them.

Day after day, loving on someone who has something against you isn’t the easiest thing, but you will see softening of their heart as Holy spirit works on them. It’s pretty fascinating. If you haven’t tried, please go ahead and actively try loving the ones who hate you. They’ll think you’re crazy, you’ll think you’re crazy, and probably everyone will think you’re crazy. But the Lord will see your heart, he will reward you.

What does it even mean to be crucified with Christ?

We talk a lot about dying to ourselves and our flesh daily. But I wonder if we really put that into action. When we are dead to ourself and our flesh, would we ever argue with others and fight? Would we throw fits and complain about how we are being mistreated?

When something’s dead, there is nothing but silence and stillness. (If you are dead, you usually don’t talk back)

It seems like my flesh is always talking back at me yapping and going “I don’t like this, and I don’t like that and I’m so frustrated and can’t believe so-and-so did that, blah-blah-blah..” It’s nuts. I want to know what it is like to truly die to self and to live ONLY for Christ. I want to empty myself of me and all my selfish thoughts and start living only for Christ.

God does not only want a part of ourselves, but whole. 100 percent of who we are. He wants full ownership because we belong to him. When we give him 99 percent but decide to hold back that 1% God cannot really use us. Whether it is an idol or secret sin. He is waiting for us to fully surrender ourselves to him. I need to search my life and see if there is even a small thing I’m holding back from him. “God, please you can take everything but this one thing” This will NOT work.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139 23-24)

Lord search me and test me. If there is anything that is offensive to you, please point them all out to me. I want to truly learn what it is like to die to myself and live for you and your glory only, Amen.

Rest, dear, rest.

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)

Few weeks ago, as I was reading through Exodus and Leviticus, God spoke to me about the Sabbath and rest. Genesis 2:3 is such a beautiful representation of “rest” that I had to meditate on this for a while. God has spent 6 days creating heavens and the earth, he created all the plants, animals and even us! But after finishing all the work of creation, on 7th day, he rested. My first, simple question was “Why did he rest?” Did God, after doing a whole bunch of creating for 6 days, get tired? Is that why he rested?

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary... (Isaiah 40:28)

No, I don’t think that’s it. He is an all-powerful God, he could have worked 7 days, 70 days and 7000 years if he wanted, but it was an intentional decision on his part to take a day to “rest’. I think there is something so powerful and key in this.

I used to think God “blessed’ he seventh day and made it holy, and that’s why he rested on that day, but actually it was the other way around. He rested, and because he rested, he blessed that day. It’s so interesting that from his day of rest, his blessing came.

A lot of the sermons lately I’ve been hearing about rest was mostly focused on the part of as human, we get tired and weary as we are ministering to others. So that’s why we need to rest in the arms of Christ. That is true, but I started to re-think about the order.

We work hard, and minister to others -> We get tired and weary -> We go do Christ for rest so we can recharge.

What if it was the other way around?

We rest in his presence -> We get filled with his spirit and we are overflowing in love -> We go out and minister to others from that overflow.

What if we rested in his presence more often and not wait until we get burnt out? What if everything we do came from the place of spending time with God? What if God created rest not as a rescue plan from being burnt out but as a way to bless us?

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters. (Psalm 23:1-2)

This is one of my favorite verse in the bible, and every time I read this, I picture myself on this green hill on a sunny day. I hear the water running ever so subtly in the background and my eyes are closed. My Lord, my shepherd, he is the one who made me lie down and he is the one who led me beside the quiet waters.

From the place of rest, he will speak to us. He will fill us with his spirit. He will bless us. Not just on a Sunday, or not only when I’m are tired, but always, I pray I will find rest in him.

Power of the Gospel

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. (John 8: 3-6)

Our pastor shared a story yesterday to demonstrate the power of Gospel. It was about this woman who was caught in adultery. When I read this verse a while back, I remember just nodding my head and going ok, and not giving it much thought. But I spent some time meditating this verse and the more and more I chewed on this story, I started to realize the true power of Gospel of Christ.

This woman, all she did was sin, and her sin was exposed to the world to see. Out of all the things, she got caught in the act of adultery. They (pharisees) basically dragged this woman (and the men she was having this affair with was not even in the picture, she was all by herself with no one to defend her) out into the crowd. I never really imagined this scene in my head before, but this might be the most humiliating thing you can ever imagine. She was probably half naked, absolutely mortified and filled with shame.

The Pharisees then ask Jesus, the Law says to stone her, now what do you say?

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  (John 8:6)

The first thing Jesus did was to bend down. Instead of answering their “trick” question, He lowered his posture near to the ground, and started to write something on the ground with his finger. I bet all the people who were staring at this half naked woman filled with shame with disdain, diverted their attention to see what Jesus was writing.

By doing this, people’s focus was no longer on the woman and her sin but on Jesus, and what he was doing. Jesus took her sin, her shame, and he consumed it. He took it away.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  (John 8:7)

and then crickets…

Is there anyone pure and blameless in this world? Not a single one. Even the Pharisees and whom they called the “Teachers of the Law” clearly had sin in their lives. (Some say that Jesus was probably writing down their names and their sins on the ground with his finger)

Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. (John 8:8-9)

The second time he stoops down again, the one and only one who’s truly blameless and righteous stoops down. Instead of standing on a high pedestal, he comes down and lowers his position in humility.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10)

Probably in the tiniest voice shaking with shame, she said “No one, sir,”

Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)

At the part where he said neither do I condemn you, tears welled up in my eyes. The gospel isn’t about you coming to God all holy and righteous after cleaning up your act to ask for salvation. The true Gospel is even in the midst of your sin, and you covered in shame, Jesus saying “I don’t condemn you.” I took your sin away at the cross, I paid the price for you, because I love you. Now Go and sin no more.

I bet her life was forever changed.

A Cheerful Giver

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Today being the 16th, I logged onto my bank account online to check if my paycheck has been deposited, and every time I do this, I feel a like a little girl getting paid for the first time on her summer job. Now that I’m an adult and earning my own money, I should feel more “meh” about getting a paycheck, but still after 5 + years of working in corporate, I still do an internal happy dance when they come in. I truly feel like I’m getting free-money sometimes. I thank God, because he allowed me to even have a job, and not only that but to let me truly enjoy what I do for a living. (I think that’s why it feels like I’m getting paid for nothing lol)

I have recently made a decision to quit my freelance job (but still keeping my full time gig) so I have 2 more weeks left on my freelance, but today the paycheck for both my freelance and my full time job has exceeded any amount I’ve ever gotten paid in my life LOL it was pretty cool to see how much God’s blessed me especially during this pandemic. In 2 weeks, my income will be cut down to half but I’m still trusting God and his faithfulness in his provision. I never want to stop pouring into his kingdom whether it is giving to church or blessing others.

I pray that I give cheerfully, always.

God loves a cheerful giver, and I think this says so much about who God is. God is literally the God of universe, heaven and the earth. He doesn’t really need our money, but what he’s looking at is our hearts. If you are giving just because you feel the need to, or out of pressure, it wouldn’t mean to much to God. He can see straight into our hearts and see where we are coming from. There was time in my life I gave to church because I thought it was the right thing to do, but over time, God has been teaching me about what a wonderful blessing it is to GIVE.

A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. (Proverbs 18:16)

Generosity, I found out over time, is key to opened hearts. Through even a small gift, I have experienced people coming into presence of the Lord. Through us representing God’s goodness and kindness, people turn back to God. It was never through harsh words and condemnation.

“So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (Romans 2:3-4)

As a Christian, I wonder if we are truly living in the way of the Lord, and being kind and generous to our neighbors, and I’m not only talking about our friends and family, but even the security guards, grocery store clerk, homeless people on the street…

After contemplating this for a while, I had a conversation with my husband on how we can demonstrate such love and generosity to people, and have decided to host a weekly dinner and invite those who are in need of prayer, encouragement, and love. Everything free of charge, because that’s how God’s love is. No strings attached.

Lord, I pray that you give me your heart of compassion and generosity. That I would be filled with your joy as I’m ministering to people who are in need, and is desperate for love. I pray that you bless these people at different dinner gathering and may your holy spirit be present at all of these meetings. Lord, both me and my husband want to be good stewards of the the resources you’ve given us. We love you, Jesus, and we thank you for your kindness and generosity, Amen.

A New Heaven and a New Earth

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Rev 21:2)

In a past couple of days, I’ve been hearing and reading about this “New Jerusalem” A new heaven and a new earth. I am a pretty visual person so whenever I read a part in bible that’s described in detail, I picture the image in my head. It was actually pretty magnificent how it was described in the bible, city like a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. I bet more than anything that city is full of purity and holiness.

source : Google

It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Rev. 21:11-12)

The reason why this city is so marvelous is because it was shining with the glory of God. Of course there it was built with all these jewels that sparkle but the only way to make any jewel shine is with “light” without light, even a jewel becomes an invisible dull stone sitting in darkness.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Rev. 21:23)

And this particular city did not even need the sunlight or the moonlight, but the light of the Lord was shining through, making all gold and jewel sparkle in it’s brilliance. I started to imagine the New Jerusalem not just as this future city to come, but as every one of us, after we’ve been born again and sanctified.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4)

God’s dwelling place is now among us, he is living inside of every single one of us, and he becomes our God. My God, my father, my comforter, my Lord. We don’t have to look for New Jerusalem too far away because we are being sanctified into becoming his holy temple. His light will shine out of each of us, that we sparkle like the true gem. Pure, holy and transparent like glass. In his perfect glory, there will be no more pain. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and it will be us going from glory to glory.

Yes, it is true that we live in this fallen flesh and body, but we also have holy spirit living inside us renewing us daily. Could it be possible that we get so close to God and empty ourselves daily to fill the space completely with God? Could we experience the New Jerusalem here on earth?

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Rev. 21:6)

He says it’s possible. Jesus has paid the price on the cross so that we may be victorious through him.

It is done.

Powerful Scripture Verses : Sin & Freedom

Here are collection of verses that I think could really help us to experience FULL freedom in Christ 🙂

  • No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
  • Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  • “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
  • and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (Psalms 50:15)
  • Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
  • It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (Titus 2:12)
  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3)
  • I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
  • You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)
  • “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
  • Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
  • For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

Love & Pray for others

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV)

Today’s Daily Bread was this verse, and as soon as I was reading this, my friend sent me a DM on Instagram.

“Hannah I need prayers

I was like God is always so timely! I totally felt the holy spirit was encouraging me and leading me to pray for her. (If you are reading this, love you Sandy!) This morning was so good, because my husband and I worshipped and prayed together for a lot of things. Everything from our friends and family who are struggling, to ministries we are supporting. We prayed for leaders in our church and for every single member in our church to be filled with holy spirit and passion for Jesus. There is such power in prayer & intercession.

In 1 Thessalonians, it talks about these 4 things.

  1. Warn those who are lazy or idle.
  2. Encourage those who are disheartened.
  3. Help the weak (care for them tenderly)
  4. Be patient with everyone.

Are we doing this in our daily life? I wonder if we are only so focused in ourselves and our problems that we don’t care to look around. Whenever my life feels busy or hectic, I lose sight of what’s really important. Spending time to love on our neighbors and the Lord. Someone once said this quote to me, and it really made me think.

“If the devil can’t make you sin, he will keep you busy.”

Enemy will throw things your way, all these busy-work to keep you occupied from advancing God’s kingdom. Lately I had to check myself a lot and make sure that I’m not just filling my day up with busy work. That I may have time to help, and encourage others. Or even gently rebuke the ones who are idle. It was such a great reminder this morning to do more of that.

Lord, thank you for reminding us daily, to love you and love others. We sometimes get so caught up in our own life, and focused on “me” and not you. No matter how busy our day is, we want to prioritize you as #1 and then spend time helping and loving on others. Forgive me for being so selfish from time to time. Help me to become more loving and patient with others, Amen.