The Perfect Gift

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

I spent a long time researching what to get my husband for the first ever birthday of his we’re celebrating together. When I asked him “What do you want for your bday?” He said, “You are enough!!!:” but then also “But I also like nice things.. lol”

The first gift that came to mind was actually a bible-study kit. Broken down book by book, main summary, bible characters, authors, historical timeline, geography etc. LOL Some might think that’s a gift no one would ever want. (Brian definitely did not ask for a gift like this) But I really wanted him to dig deeper into the word of God, and I wanted to do the same. So I made him 10 binders of bible study books and wrapped it with a pen + a journal. 

What would be “beneficial” for him and his spiritual health, was the utmost important thing to me.

But then again, I also wanted to get him just something that’s “nice” to have. So went on a hunt for the most perfect leather sneakers that would fit him. (and some coffee) 

The whole process of finding gifts for him, I began to understand God’s heart. A lot of times what he gives us as “gifts” are what’s beneficial for us. He knows us best, and he gives us something that we would need (but not necessarily “want” or “asked for”) Just like how God gifted me with a beautiful apartment GYM. (Which I would never ask for in a million years) God knows how much I sit around and need to work out to keep healthy. But also at the same time, he blesses us with just “nice” things as well. These things I call “cherry on top” Like the beautiful honeymoon suite in Ohio I didn’t even book but God just gave to us. 

The best part was I was having more fun in preparing these gifts for him. It was SO joyful thinking about how Brian will be surprised and these gifts will bring a smile to his face. It was not a “chore” to get his gift or a “difficult task” but it was just pure joy. I bet God prepares our gifts with such joy too.

Thinking, “You just wait and see!”

I bet he smiles looking down at us when we find the gifts from heaven. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)

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.

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.

Depth of the Pit

I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you,

and you said, “Do not fear.” (Lamentations 3:55-57)

I’m a designer, and the latest project I’ve taken on was this children’s book design with illustrations. I’m working with a girl (I think she’s 12 or 13) who wrote a book and gave me hand drawn sketches for me to turn it into a well-designed book that she can potentially publish. There was a part in her book that shocked me at mature her writing was.

One day, I’m gonna escape your clutches and leave this suffocation

And for the illustration, she wanted me to draw a girl crawling out of a pit. I mean is it just me or does this seem super biblical? I don’t think this girl is Christian, but her book made me think that Jesus might already be talking to her.

We all have been in the “Pit” of our own, really. Whether it is self-hatred, depression or addiction that bounds us. But more than that, simply a life’s trial without God’s help, I think that is the Pit. I remember as a teenager growing up, I thought the “Pit” was a cool place to be at. Where no one bothers me, I can wallow in my own sorrow and depression. I wanted to tune out everything so the isolation in the Pit was my choice of coping mechanism. I refused help, refused love, and refused everything good in my life, because I did not know God. There is no water in the pit, (but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14) no life, only a glimmer of light at the top of the pit if you decide to look up.

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. (Psalms 40:2)

But Jesus, my savior brought me up and out of the miry clay that was engulfing me whole. He showed me that there is a life that could be filled with joy and love of God. God wants to save us, he wants all of us out of that dark place we’re stuck in, all we need to do is open the door when he knocks, just let him into your heart.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20)

I said “Come in to my heart” and there he was.