I’ve just been hit by a tsunami of homework. I know, I know, I shouldn’t make any excuses to write. But still God is good in the midst of my excuses. And that’s what I want to focus on.
You know it’s so easy to complain about school, about how annoying some of our teachers are, how the sweater-weather won’t come fast enough that we forget to focus and remember that God is good. Huh.
I guess complaining is due to worrying and I consider myself kind of an expert on that. But in Matthew chapter 6, as so beautifully portrayed in this children’s animation, Jesus says not to worry. That there’s no need to worry because God’s got our backs.
It’s easy to justify working more so that we have a little more money and sense of achievement to feel comfortable. It’s easy to stock up on food or clothes or just stuff that we think we think we might need in a few years but don’t actually need right now. It’s easy to read a few chapters ahead or study until you get a headache instead of taking a much-needed rest -trusting that you’ve done enough.
It’s easy to worry. But Jesus calls us to freedom in faith, not worry.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!”
“Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And I will tell of Your greatness. They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful.”
“How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”
2 Samuel 7:22
When was the last time I truly, really, completely, consciously celebrated God? When was the last time I really got happy and excited like a child at a birthday party about my Jesus? And why isn’t gratitude and praise my first response to everything that He has done for me?
No matter where you’re coming from, I have three ways to help you celebrate God’s awesomeness today:
Spend time with God
Naturally spending time with God, whether in His Word or in prayer aligns us to see God for more of who He is: Our Loving Saviour who deserves and is worthy of all praise. And seeing God rightly helps us joyfully celebrate Him.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Find celebration in spending quality time with the Maker of the Universe.
2. Use your Gifts
God has given each and every one of us a gift. That might be a talent, passion, or maybe a spiritual gift. Whatever gift God has given you, a great way to celebrate that gift and the Giver – is to do it!
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
So think about what gift(s) you have. Pray about it. God wants you to know your gifts – that’s why He gave them to you!
Maybe it’s dancing – so get up and move! Maybe it’s the spiritual gift of encouraging people – so go text your friends how much you appreciate them! Maybe it’s singing – then turn on the worship music and start belting!
Whatever it is, go out and celebrate God with the skills and talents He has graciously given you!
3. Tell Someone
Whether it’s your life testimony, or a just a simple way you have seen God working in your life lately – go share it!
The Bible says our testimony is POWERFUL.
In Relevation 12:11 it says:
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.”
So get talking to your friends, family or even strangers if you have the opportunity to share God’s glory. It help you feel more grateful and proud of God in the process. Be like the kid who can’t keep quiet about their new bike or their new video game.
We need to let others know how awesome God is.
Did I miss anything? Comment specific ways that have helped you celebrate God when it’s hard to be thankful.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
God assures us that He will 1) forgive us and 2) purify us when we confess any an all of our sins. What a promise!
Here are three ways we can confess our sins:
Spend time with Jesus
It doesn’t matter how long we choose to spend with God, but just that we go out of our way and make the time to talk to Him. He wants to be with us and He wants to cleanse us from our sins so that we can live the free life He intended us to live.
I also find that when I spend time with God, I notice He reveals sins I didn’t recognize before. It’s the most wonderful and challenging thing in the word – but something that I know for sure to be worthwhile. Whenever you privately encounter Jesus, it’s like a spiritual deep-clean takes place in your soul.
And He’s longs and looks forward to spending time with you!
2. Confess to Others
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16
I know that this is probably a more unpopular one, but I believe that it does have its place. Not to say that asking God for forgiveness doesn’t bring peace and forgive, but there is something to be said for getting open and vulnerable with other supportive Christians. Especially with “bigger” sins that have a more profound hurt on your life, I believe that in order to receive that full healing James 5:16 talks about, we need to bring it to a community of believers.
3. Prayer Journalling
I know this one might overlap with the first point, but this is a discipline that I’ve found really beneficial to clearly articulate my thoughts to Jesus and give me something to look back on when I need to remember God’s faithfulness in a difficult season.
Specifically I’ll write out what I say with a “Z” and write down what I hear from God with a “G”.
Z: Hey God, please forgive me for _________
G: It is forgiven. Go and sin no more.
What are some specific ways of confessing your sin that you’ve found peace and healing in doing?
“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I’m that kind of person who will (sometimes) do the exact opposite of what you tell me to do or what seems the most natural to do.
For instance, just yesterday I had a friend who asked me to hang out. I knew I had reading to do for school, but I decided to go anyway. Then I figured out a bunch of other things I could do in town as well. And I also said “hi” to my mom too. Then I decided to hang out with my fiancé too.
By the end of the day, I had done everything except my reading my disappointed textbooks.
I find that God will often speak to me in simple, almost obvious instructions. When He encourages me to focus on one thing and just rest, I find that I’m already out the door with a list of a hundred different things I think I need to do.
As a person who loves keeping busy, I sometimes get frustrated when God tells me to rest and just know that He is God and I am not. That nothing I can do can add or take away from that fact. But I know deep down that rest is something that is going to help me grow. How do I know this?
Because God told me to do it.
We can’t live life on our own – whether that’s with God or with others. I believe we need people outside of ourselves to help refine and instruct us so that we can become better people.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
And on top of receiving benefits from having others give you their advice and thoughts, the second part of Proverbs 10:17 warns that when you don’t follow this instruction from others, you can be leading other people astray. And I believe that honestly is one of the worst things a person can do.
Paul warns about this in Romans 14:13,
“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
Again, not to say that everything that everyone says is always truthful but to take what someone’s saying and put it up to God’s litmus test – the Bible. And if it adds up, we should gladly go about applying and refining that advice or discipline into our lives so that we can grow.
But in order to grow, I believe this first step lies in humbly opening ourselves up to God and others.
Sorry didn’t post yesterday, but thought of posting something quick today.
“Give glory to the Lord your God before it is too late. Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you, causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains. For then, when you look for light, you will find only terrible darkness and gloom. And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile.” Jeremiah 13:16-17 NLT
Yes, God can be a bit extreme sometimes, and often our first response is to skim over these kind of aggressive and serious passages, but I thought I’d glean the applicable goodness from these challenging words anyway.
Pride is destructive – I think more for the individual than for those around them. I wonder if when God is talking about the destruction of pride, if this destruction is a NATURAL consequence to someone being full of themselves and not Gods natural response to our sinful nature.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
From all the commentaries I read on this, it seems that there is a theme on taking the first initiative in helping others. To me, that gives the sense that helping people is difficult and uncomfortable. It reminds me that I can’t help other people unless I first break the ice of generally interacting with them.
And I LOOOOOVVVVVVVEEEEEEE helping people.
The difficult part, I know for myself at least, is in STARTING THAT.
Like I’ll pass by someone struggling with their groceries on their way out of a store and I’ll 100% want to help them, and I’ll feel the Holy Spirit nudge me to go do it, BUT then I end up overthinking the whole thing wondering “What if they don’t need help?” or “What if they get offended with me trying to help them?” or “What if – ?”
And then suddenly the moment passes me by.
I’ve overcomplicated the whole situation and now I’ve done absolutely nothing.
I wonder if it isn’t just me. I wonder if people in general overcomplicate the simple act of helping people, both strangers and friends alike.
But Romans 12:10 calls us to be DEVOTED to one another in love.
The Greek word of this is philostorgos (pronounced fell-ost-ta-gros) is used when talking about the love between a parent and their child or a husband and his wife. So it seems like Paul wants us to show the same urgency of devotion (not necessarily the same TYPE of devotion) to others as we are to those closest to us. Wow.
So if I imagine that person struggling with groceries needs my help. I need to help them with that same urgency if my (hypothetical) kid was struggling or if my spouse was struggling with groceries.
“The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forever.” Psalm 121:7-8
In other words, God’s got your back.
I wanted to check out the Hebrew root word of “watch over” or “keep” in the Blue Letter Bible to get some more understanding on what it really means to have God watching over us.
“Shamar” pronounced “sha-mare” is mainly used to mean “to keep, guard, observe, give heed”. Other definitions of it describe its use for watchmen trying to look after other’s lives.
That’s a comforting thought.
And you may have thought that was an obvious definition, but nonetheless, but I think it’s good to slow down and rethink what I initially think.
We may understand what “watch over” means right off the bat, but do we actually apply it to our lives? Not always.
If we don’t choose to dig deeper, the reading this verse may just simply trigger the classic good feelings of comfort, warmth, and security. The danger of that is that we think we are done without any real challenge towards growth.
So here’s a challenging thought:
Now reminding ourselves that God’s got our back, are we actually letting God be God and do His job of looking after us, or are we trying to live a self-sufficient life without Him, without acknowledging and appreciating all the work He truly does do for us?
Just give that some thought.
I know for myself, I often find doing work so much easier and actually more comfortable when I just do it myself without acknowledging God’s power and influence on EVERYTHING. But God has designed us to live in step with Him, so when I finally break and crash from the endless demands of life and that I put on myself, only then am I forced to finally look up and surrender. “Okay, God. Fine. I’ll let you do your job now.”
I love this quote from Elizabeth Elliot – which is actually my phone’s wallpaper at the moment:
“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”
Hm. It’s a good thing I’m forced to look at that one daily.
Thank you God.
To check out verses on your own time, I strongly recommend checking out Blue Letter Bible. Happy Verse Dissecting!
I think forgiveness is when someone does something that hurts you and then you respond by letting it go. Not that what they’ve done was okay or anything they shouldn’t learn from for next time, but you are choosing to not dwell on it.
I think that when you dwell on something, you can end up making a grudge against someone. It’s like always being mad at that one person.
But it’s no fun to be mad at someone, is it? No.
Think about a time you had to forgive someone. How did that go?
And when you forgave that person, did it make things better or worse afterwards?
On the flipside, when do you think you should NEVER forgive someone? When is it not okay to forgive someone because what they’ve done is something you can’t ever forgive?
Well actually that is a trick question. And trick questions are kinda mean. So I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me.
In Matthew chapter 18, right after Jesus is teaching the disciples about how to deal with sin in the church, Peter has a hard question for Jesus about forgiveness. Because the old way of forgiving people had a limit – they could only forgive each other 3 times and then after that too bad! – they couldn’t be forgiven anymore. So Peter wanted to double check with Jesus that this was really how they should be doing things.
In Matthew 18:21-22 it says,
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
“Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
77 times?! Now that’s a lot.
And just to clarify, when Jesus says “77” times He really means ALL THE TIME. I know, why didn’t Jesus just say that? But Jesus loves using His metaphors and exaggerations emphasize a point, so even though He only said 77, Jesus meant as many times as that person needs forgiveness – not a certain number and then when that person hurts you 78 times, too bad, you can’t forgive them anymore. Jesus says that we need to forgive everyone all the time and no matter what. There are no exceptions.
But Jesus…what if someone says something mean to me, what if someone posts negative things about me on social media, what if… (fill in the blank).
Again Jesus’ challenging words remain, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Now why on earth would Jesus say that?
Well in Ephesians 4:32, Paul says “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
So since God has forgiven us, Paul is saying that we need to forgive others. If God does it, we should do it too. We have messed up against God (who is absolutely perfect) more than anyone could ever mess up against us. So we need forgiveness from God more than others need forgiveness from us.
We have hurt God more than we could ever be hurt from someone else. So it seems fair that we should forgive other people, right?
That’s what God would want us to do.
So, here comes the hard question: who do you need to forgive? Or on the flip side, who is that someone who hurt you that you need to go talk to about?
Maybe the person you need to forgive is yourself.
And if you’re bold enough, how could you make things right with that person today?
Wow, what if we lived like that.
What do think your relationships with others, especially those who you don’t like would change if you said “I forgive you” to them instead of staying mad at them? Would things get better or worse because of that?
As promised, I’m dedicating this blog post to the two different views on whether speaking tongues is something relevant today or merely a thing of the early church’s past.
Cessationalaists and Continualists. Let’s start this off with Cessationalists.
These guys believe that some of the more charismatic spiritual gifts of the Bible like speaking in tongues, prophecy, and miracles were very much relevant and did happen in the early church, but no longer happen today.
They still believe in the spiritual gifts, but not all of them.
Some Cessationalists use 1 Corinthians 13:10,
“but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.”
Meaning that the spiritual gifts also passed away at the apostolic age (early church referred to in the New Testament). Or some explain it as the spiritual gifts stopped when the writing of the Bible stopped.
Now these guys believe that all the spiritual gifts (including speaking in tongues) have been present since Pentecost (Acts 2) and is still being used today. That although we are not Peter, Paul and the other apostles, we as Christians are still able to use these gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Unlike the Cessationalists, they believe that since there isn’t any clear biblical evidence for why the spiritual gifts should no longer be relevant today, speaking in tongues along with the spiritual gifts of administration or evangelism still happen today.
BUT there is an unfortunate extreme to this belief. And many Christians have been hurt by this view.
The extreme side of the Continualists say that Christians can have any spiritual gift (tongues included) if only they have enough faith.
Now Paul doesn’t say that. Actually he understands that different people have different gifts. Check out 1 Corinthians 12:8-11:
“For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
So when dealing with spiritual gifts, especially with the more charismatic gifts (speaking in tongues, miracles, etc.) I believe we need to recognize that God has gifted everyone differently as the passage explains.
So what do I think?
I guess I’d call myself a Continualist. Not to that extreme where everyone can get every gift if they pray hard enough for it. Instead I support the belief that these charismatic spiritual gifts still happen today. I respect those who believe otherwise as Cessationalists or perhaps something else, but this is what I believe.
And the main source of my reasoning, as most people reason, comes from my experience. I’ve witnessed others speaking in tongues and I’ve also started to discover that I have the gift speaking in tongues just recently. But even my experience may vary from people who may see and have experienced the gift of tongues differently.
I believe that speaking in tongues is a relevant and powerful gift. I believe that it is more of a way of speaking with God, beyond words. When I speak in tongues, during my own private worship, I use it as a way to draw closer to God and allow God to uplift and fill me up, so that I can go out and bless others – not with speaking in tongues but with an overflow of God’s love and spirit. I do not understand what I am saying, but I’ve been asking God for the gift of interpretation of tongues so that I might better understand it. Because I do not understand it, I cannot speak in tongues in public since Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 14,
“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.” (v.26-28)
Why? Well because …
“Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (v.22-25)
So, in other words, it’s so unbelievers don’t stumble. It is better for unbelievers to hear prophecy (recognizable language) than speaking in tongues (unrecognizable language).
As Paul says earlier in the chapter,
“But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (v.19-20)
So that is why I don’t speak in tongues when I’m in public. And I’m okay with that. Until God gives me an opportunity to clearly do so, I’m perfectly okay to keep this gift between me and God – though, if I’m being honest, I do want to share it.
Thank you. And may God bless you on your journey as you draw closer to Him 🙂
So I’ve been doing some research on it and I’ve attached some sources at the bottom for further reading. With this series on Speaking in Tongues, which is a pretty controversial topic today, I do not say the following thinking that I have all the answers – only God does. My first intention of this series is to present how God has revealed to me how I interpret what speaking in tongues looks like today from my personal experience and through what I’ve researched. My second, is to see where others stand on this topic and how we can discuss these differences in a humbly inquisitive way.
Let’s begin 🙂
So, in the Bible, there appears to be two recorded versions of the gift of “Speaking in Tongues”.
1. Speaking in different RECOGNIZABLE language
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4 (NLT)
Later in the chapter (v.9-11), Luke lists specific people groups that understood what Peter was saying in their native language.
Now why would Luke do that?
Perhaps to give proof that this amazing feat really did happen. By listing specific people groups/languages in the book, it proves it really did happen because there is absolutely no way that Peter could have known those – proving that speaking in tongues is in fact “legit”. And also, it was as though Luke was saying “Well, if you don’t believe me, go ask the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, etc. They saw it too.”
So with this one, the speaker is able to speak in a different language that they did not know how to speak before.
2. Speaking in an UNRECOGNIZABLE or heavenly language
Though there’s no specific example used in the Bible, Paul suggests in Corinthians 14 that speaking in tongues is an UNINTELLIGIBLE language, or in other words, a language that no people can understand.
“So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.” 1 Corinthians 12:13-14 (NLT)
If this kind of speaking in tongues was able to be understood by others and the speaker themselves, Paul would not have a need to say it needs to be interpreted or that he doesn’t understand it himself. Therefore, there is also a type of speaking in tongues that cannot be understood – unless it is interpreted by someone who is gifted that way.
In this case, the speaker does not understand what they are saying and others don’t either (unless they are an interpreter of tongues).
So ultimately, the Bible talks about two different types of speaking in tongues. First, in a way that is in a DIFFERENT, thought RECOGNIZABLE language. And second, in a way that is UNRECOGNIZABLE by any people group and therefore cannot be understood by the listeners or the speaker themselves, again, unless there is someone is an interpreter of tongues (which I’ll cover more about later).
For my Speaking in Tongues Part 2, I want to talk how people have responded to those occurrences in the Bible and what they believe about it today. AKA: Cessationalism vs. Speaking in Tongues Today.