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I will still love You

[Sorry for the long post, but I hope it reaches out to you 🙂 ]

I was unfortunately diagnosed with a benign chronic illness after multiple, multiple tests. I did not personally mind, but it had inserted its awkward, ugly nose into my life, my academics and general well-being. As I lay down on a stretcher ready to enter a noisy dome for an MRI, I silently previewed the hectic past week. I had missed a whole lot of university hours and having to make up for it felt quite overwhelming. Unlike what most people would expect, I did not question God or show defiance. I did wonder why this had to happen to me, but I generally strung closer to God. For all my symptoms, most near and dear said it was all in my head, as I had all my previous tests return negative. They said that I was probably hiding something that was mentally disturbing and I had to defuse it so that it would relieve me of my illness. So, unbelievably, instead of being relieved that the tests were all negative, I was secretly hoping that one of the tests would show something – anything to explain how I felt, that it wasn’t all in my head. Of course I didn’t care what the others said – they weren’t experiencing the pain, the discomfort, the difficulty that I was facing. But I still had to know why I felt this way.

It had been a long two weeks. Every day was the same; I left early in the morning after a forced breakfast, in spite of the nausea. They said I was ill because I skipped breakfast. Yeah, right; perhaps you’d like a doctor’s degree to go with that piece of advice. Mostly I ended up throwing up that hurried meal. Then I’d be queued to meet the doctor, and those waiting rooms were not entirely pleasant. It just felt so unproductive to waste so many precious minutes in a doctor’s waiting room. And then I would meet the doctor, tell him my symptoms got worse everyday, and he would prescribe yet another test, bewildered as ever. By now I had lost most of my strength, I felt like a walking zombie and surprisingly enough, I still had good spirits.

So, as I was pushed into the MRI chamber, I told God, “This machine might be really noisy, but you know what? My mind is really calm. It’s really silent inside. I don’t care about any of this, Lord, I just want You to talk to me. It’s good enough over here.”

And as I looked into the piercing bright lights, I suddenly recalled a verse I came across about a month ago. It was Psalm 18:1. I had read most of the chapter but it was just the first verse – just one line that struck me then: “I will love You, O LORD, my strength.”

It’s just a small verse, which many would overlook. If you picked up a study Bible, it would have probably left out the explanation for this verse too. Perhaps, if I would have quoted the second verse it would have made more sense to some: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” But in that moment, I felt I could have spoken volumes and volumes on that one small line alone. When I told someone else, they weren’t all to excited about it, they couldn’t understand the depth of such an ordinary verse. Guess it takes one to go through it to understand what it means.

The Psalm was written by David, and if you saw the context, the subtitle to the Psalm reveals that it was written ‘on the day that the LORD had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.’

But overlooking the context, at that moment, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the tense that David chose to use. “I WILL love You…” It doesn’t take a grammarian to realize that one would normally use the word ‘I will’ in that context to indicate future tense. David could have just said “I love You, O LORD, my strength.” The fact that he chose to use this tense struck me hard. It was like a choice he was making even when he didn’t have to.

David was essentially saying – God, I will love You. Although it feels hopeless now, and I am a fugitive being chased around the wilderness by the King himself, with no security for my life, I will still love You; Because You alone are my strength. I have been dodging and scuttling about for weeks now, and this little army of men here, they have put their trust in me and I feel responsible for them too. I have to feed them too, even it means I go without a meal. So, Lord, I might be physically exhausted and weak, and on my own, King Saul can squash me like a little bug, but You are my strength. And I will love You because I know that You will get me through this. You called me when I was a nobody chasing sheep through the pastures, and You anointed me; I know You’re not going to leave me here, hanging on for life. You helped me beat Goliath, there is nothing You can’t do. I will love You.

David was thrown into a situation which would have left many questioning God and hurling their fist toward Heaven. David could have argued that he was such an innocent little boy who did nothing wrong, and while he chased sheep, he even spent the time to compose music praising and glorifying the great and mighty creator. He didn’t deserve any of this. But that day, he made a deliberate choice – “ I will love You, O Lord – even when I don’t have to.”

If you look into the second verse once again, you would notice all these different attributes that David bestows on God, but in the first verse, there is a very special quality that calls for emphasis which is recalled in the second verse again. Of all the features of God, David underscores ‘my strength’; Not ‘I will love You, O LORD, my rock’ or ‘I will love You, O LORD, my shield’, but ‘I will love You, O LORD, my strength.’ David realizes that the Lord was always a shield and a rock and a fortress. In the end, God would always save the day. But for David, his rock, fortress, shield and deliverer were all God. But when David called on God as his strength, it was not all God alone, but it was God through him. It was special because it revealed how God used him, and worked through him – David was empowered through God. The other attributes were all God – independent of who David was.

David was constantly pushed through life, belittled, and generally made to feel inferior. When the prophet Samuel visited David’s father Jesse, he asked to see all of his sons to select God’s appointed to be the next king. Even then, David didn’t qualify his father’s attention as king-material. Standing before the giant Goliath, David probably felt like a beetle. When confronted by King Saul, David said that he was merely a dead dog, a flea who was not worth the king of Israel’s attention. David was humble so much so that the thought of having the mighty Yahweh on his side was overwhelming.

Of all the ways he could have begun that psalm, David chooses his words from an overwhelmed heart: “I will love You, O LORD, my strength.” It was not just physical weakness that David was implying but the deep emotional and spiritual weakness as well. In spite of his close escapes and brushes with victory, he admitted that he was weak, and in need of His savior, who was the strongest. He understood that he was nothing without the LORD.

So as I lay there in that bright chamber, I did not have to be strong, I did not have to prove myself to anyone, God was on my side, and in all my weakness and my frustration, the LORD was my strength. And even if everything seemed hopeless and dark now, I would still love the LORD, my strength. And that was all that mattered.

When every step is so hard to take
And all of my hope is fading away
When life is a mountain that I cannot climb
You carry me, Jesus carry me.

You are strength in my weakness
You are the refuge I seek
You are everything in my time of need
You are everything, You are everything I need.
[Everything I need >> Kutless]


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Don’t Beat Yourself Up

“The hurt that broke your heart,
And left you trembling in the dark,
Feeling lost, and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow…”

Can sin cause heartbreak to the believer?

Do you know what AGONY is?
It is a constant struggle and wrestle with pain and suffering – specifically mental anguish.
Anguish is the reflection on evil that is already past, while agony is a struggle with evil at the time present.* Luke 22: 44 gives an example of the Savior Himself in such a situation.
“And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Jesus is borne up in His hour of greatest need, when He must intercede not only for Himself but for His followers, who are about to leave Him in the lurch. The AGONY he endures reflects the intensity of His struggle not so much with death itself, but with His destiny to be made the sin-bearer for all mankind for all the ages. The punishment that had to be borne for our sins brings Jesus to His knees in anguish.

But Jesus was blameless.

Then what does the word mean in our lives – as sinners?

In Romans 11: 16, 17, Paul uses an allusion to talk about the promise to the Jews and Gentiles. The root of the tree, in this example, is the covenantal promise to Abraham, which anticipated blessing to Jew and Gentile. Israel’s essential nature is Holy (despite all the sins they commit) because they are set apart for God’s purpose. They are the chosen. The allegoric first fruit is Abraham and the branches refer to Israel individually. When some of the branches are broken off, Israel is set aside but there is a remnant. The Gentiles do not displace Israel; they merely partake of “the root and fatness of the olive tree”. When God is finished with the gentiles, He will reinstate Israel. Israel was set aside because of unbelief. The Gentiles have favor because of their belief. Therefore they should not be proud.

Israel was God’s first love, the apple of His eye. No matter what the Israelites did, how much ever they flouted God’s commandments, God still chooses Israel. National salvation will come to Israel. This is the ultimate fulfillment of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31: 31-34). And, this will be realized when Jesus returns to the Earth to set up His kingdom. God has set aside temporarily for the sake of the Gentiles, but He has not forgotten them because of the promise to the fathers, that He will deliver them from sin. That just shows the extent of God’s unconditional love. God has temporarily set aside Israel, so they are in constant “agony” (for the past couple decades).But God will never leave Israel.

For anyone who has accepted God as their Savior, He never forsakes us or lets us down. Even if we have backslidden in our faith or have sinned against God; if we repent, God is ever-willing to take us back into His loving embrace. But, He is a just God. Instead of leaving one to eternal damnation because of sin, He ensures that our punishment is fulfilled on our life in Earth. He gives us another chance at life, and best of all, we get to spend eternity with Him.

It is a difficult time to get over a sin even when we are committing ourselves to the Lord, begging for forgiveness. The guilt that we are overwhelmed with is easily misused by Satan into thoughts that God has forsaken us, and that Hope is an unachievable concept.

“When hope is more than you can bear,
And it’s too hard to believe it could be true.
And your strength fails you half way there
You can lean on me, and I’ll believe it too
And in time, you will believe it too…”

You need to remember that Jesus died on the Cross for your sins even before you were born – He died for your sins that you have already made and the sins that you are going to do. The reassurance of forgiveness does not encourage a lifestyle of sin. As Paul says in Romans 6: 1-3, “… Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?… so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” We are constantly encouraged to live blameless in the Lord and the Holy Spirit continues to convict us in our Spirit.

“I want you as you are, not as you ought to be
Won’t you lay down your guard and come to Me,
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks my heart to see you suffering

‘Cuz I am for you
I’m not against you

If you wanna know how far My love can go
Just how deep, just how wide,
If you wanna see how much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean”

Don’t beat yourself up. Everyone makes mistakes. Some can be life-altering. But give yourself a chance. I know God did.

* – Taken from M. G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897.

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Adam Cappa

Adam Cappa posted this as his Facebook status on 09 April, 2014 (Wednesday), and I just had to share this:

“Girls & guys, I’ve seen a lot of you talking about wanting a Godly relationship in order to learn how to follow Christ. I want to encourage you that it’s not a Christian man/woman you need to meet to teach you about who Jesus is and how to live like him. It’s Jesus himself you need to meet. No one can ever replace who Christ is or should be in our life’s. Place Him first above all things and he will honor you in that. We are told He will give us the desires of our hearts. Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” So if it’s a godly relationship you seek, then honor Christ first and let Him provide for you. Your identity can only be found in Christ; not in an unequally yoked relationship. 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Meaning, believers should date other believers; not try to date someone to make a believer out of them or yourself. “Missionary dating” will most likely, always result in heartache and drama. Focus on your relationship with the Lord and trust Him to provide for you. He knows exactly what it is you need and desire. Instead of trying to always find the “perfect” person to fix you, start working on being the perfect person. It’s starts with Christ. “ – Adam (Cappa)

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“I just can’t sleep. It’s way too hard! It’s impossible! Every time I close my eyes, I’m reminded of that horrible past… I can’t get over it! I have changed now but I can’t get over what I did… How could I?  And now it’s creeping into my waking hours as well – everyday, some small occurrence takes me back, traumatizes me! No matter where I am – a small incident, the look on someone’s face, a familiar location – everything reminds me of that! It’s way too hard for me to get over…
Dear Lord, I have surrendered my everything to you, I have come a long way from my sin but I still can’t get over it. The sins of my past keep haunting me and prevent me from seeking you wholeheartedly. Everytime I come into your presence I feel this weight in my heart – a weight of guilt and regret. Lord, I’m sorry for everything I have done. I’m trying to lead a new life in You and trust in You as my strength but the past is holding onto me like strong chains. Lord, please help me…”

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Or maybe you just continue to live in regret and have not sought the Lord yet. Well, the Lord has better news for you. You remember when Jesus Christ died on the Cross? He dies for ALL of your sins – even before you were born. What’s more – He died for the sins of all mankind – the sins of the past, of the present and those that were yet to be committed. That was the whole purpose of His sacrifice. When you commit your life to Christ, ALL of your sins are forgiven and forgotten. They’re on the Ocean Floor. They do not have to haunt you any more.

When we do something wrong, however, the Holy Spirit convicts us so that we realize our mistake and ask the Father for forgiveness. God’s grace and mercy is unlimited and they are new every morning. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [I John 1:9 (KJV)] In Romans 5:20, Paul says that where sin abounds, Grace abounds much more. But this does not mean that we should keep sinning so that God’s grace may keep abounding. It does not work that way. Whoever is baptized into Christ Jesus is also baptized into His death (Romans 6:4) so that just like Jesus rose from the dead, we also are raised to live in the newness of life. So when our old man (Romans 6:6-7) is dead, we are freed from sin.

What this all means is that, Jesus did not die only for “nice” people. He died for everyone even those who did not want Him and those who rejected Him. That was God’s amazing love speaking. No one who genuinely loves Christ would want to continue living in their sins – especially when those sins cost Jesus His life. How can any believer glory in what God hates? Before we came to Christ, sin was in control of us and we were its obedient slaves. However because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we obtain that power to live for God. One day, the sin that still dwells in our unredeemed bodies will be eradicated completely. Until then, we are to draw on the power of the Spirit to put to death the sin that still wants to express itself, and obey God for His glory.

Do not worry about your past sins, God has forgiven them! And when the creator of the entire Universe has forgiven them, who are you to hold onto them? Forgive yourself. Move on. Hold onto the Spirit to give you strength to continue living a life in Christ free of sin. Casting Crowns and Audio Adrenaline say it much better. Our sins are cast away from us as far as the East is from the West. How far is the East from the West?? From one scarred hand to the other. Truly. Beautiful Metaphor.

[This YouTube video was uploaded by user ‘TheGospelTrain]

The mistakes I’ve made
That caused pain
I could have done without
All my selfish thought
All my pride
The things I hide
You have forgot about
They’re all behind you
They’ll never find you
They’re on the ocean floor
Your sins are forgotten
They’re on the bottom
Of the ocean floor
My misdeeds
All my greed
All the things that haunt me now
They’re not a pretty sight to see
But they’re wiped away
By a mighty, mighty wave
A mighty, mighty wave
Your sins are erased
And they are no more
They’re out on the ocean floor
Take them away
To return no more
Take them away
To the ocean floor.

And that’s why we can say “I’m forgiven! I don’t have to carry the weight of who I’ve been, ‘Cause I’m forgiven”

“Well, the past is playing with my head, and failure knocks me down again. I’m reminded of the wrong that I have said and done and that devil just won’t let me forget.
In this life I know what I’ve been but here in Your arms, I know what I am!

I’m forgiven, I’m forgiven! And I don’t have to carry the weight of who I’ve been ’cause I’m forgiven!

My mistakes are running through my mind and I relive my days in the middle of the night when I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride, sometimes I feel alone and I cry.

When I don’t fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere…  When I don’t measure up too much in this life, Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ!”

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A Covering from the Storm

Just a couple of posts ago (Click here to view post), we saw the essence and benefit of Absolute Surrender. We saw how we need to adopt an attitude where we are ready to accept all the challenges that come our way so that we finally result in the masterpiece that God wants us to be. Sometimes, this may dampen the spirits of new believers, as they fear anticipating an outcome or the future. But, honestly, once we have committed absolutely everything into the Hands of God, we can be sure that He will take care of the outcome, and He will make sure that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8: 28 NKJV)

Even if we say,
Let the waters rise, if you want them to,
I will follow you, I will follow you.”

We can be assured that:
Though the waters rise
They will not pull me under
When the mountain slides
And crashes to the sea
I will lift my eyes and call out to You, Father
Be my covering”

God is always on our side. He will immediately come to our rescue and be our covering. You can count on Him. Bebo Norman’s ‘Be my Covering’ strikes the nail right on the head; with a moving combination of his modulated voice, soul-stirring message, and amazing music, this song can raise your spirits or move you to happy tears. It will increase your confidence in the power of our Lord, and best of all, it reinforces the message: “DON’T GIVE UP, OUR LORD IS COMING TO HELP YOU!!”
You are deeply, sincerely loved, with an unconditional love that passes all understanding. It’s true.

[This YouTube video has been uploaded by user ‘joelmnoah’]

“This was written as both a really personal song and as a sort of global prayer – it tells a story that I think people who live anywhere in this broken world can understand. We wrote this at my lake house down in Georgia – a peaceful and quiet place. There’s so much unrest today, so much turmoil, from natural disaster to war, so we’re praying in this song that the peace we felt in that setting by the river – the peace of Christ, really – can truly become something global. I think that’s one of our primary calls as believers – to hope for hope for this world.” – Bebo Norman    [Source: JesusFreakHideout]

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At the Center of It All

In the early years of our faith, we usually are boosted by our pure untainted ‘first Love’ to the Lord. But as we grow much more in faith, we tend to get complacent. It happens to most of us, most of the time. Besides, you are not alone if you say that you have always thought back to your first love and wished things could be the same as they were then. You probably say that you miss the closeness you had in your relationship with the Lord.

Then, you probably begin to voluntarily involve yourself in as many church ministries as you can – Helping out in Sunday School or providing technical aid support at your church; or you sponsor some popular minister or volunteer to join the Worship team at your church or probably involve yourself in one or other Church-related activity.

That’s all perfectly fine – but how many of us actually involve ourselves with the attitude that it is going to bring us closer in our relationship with the Lord? Or do we merely do these things in order to prove something to ourselves or put on a ‘holier-than-thou’ masquerade in front of others? Indeed, some of us do want to be seen as a better and much ‘holier’ person than the next. But in the process, are we not destroying our purpose of getting closer with the Lord?

Jesus calls us to different things. And the Lord always has His own timing. In due time, we will all be pushed towards our calling to fulfill our earthly obligations. However, we often aim for these higher things and bigger obligations that appear more glitzy and glamorous, thinking that we are doing this for the Lord. But are we faithful in the small things in our life – our smallest callings?

Jesus says, in Luke 16:10 (NIV), “Whoever can be trusted with a very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Let’s reflect… Do we read our Bibles daily? How much time do we spend in the presence of the Lord – giving thanks, praising and interceding for our brothers and sisters who have yet to find the Lord… If we are not faithful in these little things, how could we expect God to use us for bigger things?

We sing a lot of songs and most of the time we just say things that we don’t mean. We need to get down to the basics – until we are faithful in these little things, it is too far-fetched to expect God to use us in a much higher calling.

When we talk about being faithful in small things, this does not mean that we only read our Bibles regularly and pray regularly. It means that the Lord becomes so engrained into our being that it would be impossible to imagine existence without Him. It is the kind of childlike faith where God is always on our mind. God should be at the ‘Center of it all’. And the best part is this: Once we are honest and faithful in our calling and interest, God automatically becomes the center of it all. When God feels the passion within us to Love Him and serve Him more, He automatically becomes the center of everything we do. We will spontaneously put God into all our actions and the decisions we make. Chris August’s ‘Center of it’ portrays that interest where God becomes the center of everything we do.

[From ‘chrisaugustmusic’ on Youtube]

God is more than just a priority. He should be the very heartbeat of all the things that we do, think and say. God is the reason why we still move and breathe. He is at the very core of our existence. Don’t you think He deserves more than what we have given Him today?