I see evidences of God giving me the pieces of the puzzle to complete what he is trying to teach me. He is using snippets of the norms of day to day life of what I’m learning in school, church and in my leisure time. Everything I am learning in my English class this past semester has been stretching me Spiritually in the most unconventional way. We would have open discussions on topics of redemption, grace, forgiveness, challenging the status quo, freedom and identity. These opportunities to voice myself are lessons taught by the Holy Spirit have been counselling me in my relationships and ministering to me in my personal life. I never knew how present God could be in a secular college classroom setting.
I’ll share just how the Spirit would speak to me in regards to helping me analyze a short story presentation that we were doing very halfheartedly, I’ll admit. It was a difficult story to grasp and honestly we were dreading the thought of the teacher asking us in depth on what this was all about with all it’s imagery and deep symbolism. I felt like it would be in parallel to a passage in the bible on Isaiah 53, but as a group we had to mutually agree on it together so we went a different route. While attending a revival meeting, I felt like what the speaker said about Jesus and Barabbas had triggered an answer to the missing piece to convey the portrayal of the characters. As we were to discuss with the class the next day, it wasn’t my intention to go off my notes that I prepped beforehand but I felt the desire to talk about Jesus and how the character was a portrayal of the unjust suffering Christ had to go through in order to be a sign of believing in the unseen. As we were in front of the class, the teacher asked us a question on the issue of exploitation, I raised my hand and felt the Holy Spirit come on me to speak with authority and the class was listening intently. It felt like I was back in ministry. I explained how the main character in the story represented Christ and the exploitation that the people inflicted on him when they did not get their expectations met.. even though they knew he was innocent. They beat and crucified him and the crowd was so disillusioned that they let go of Barabbas, a notorious murderer instead. A classmate of mine whom I shared with about the difficulty of being a Christian in school was intrigued, nodding his head in interest and contemplation. I then added that the antagonist symbolized Barabbas, as a representation of our humanity and instant gratification. The teacher said it was very interesting what I said about Jesus and that I could make a thesis for the part about instant gratification. For the first time, while discussing religious themes, I felt a peace and my anxiety disintegrated as I felt conviction and authority in my words. It was like I was a witness put on trial to testify the innocence of Jesus and his intention to redeem us from our sins, along with those committed against him.
The story which seems to be so similar in theme with the one we analyzed showed our weak humanity and how the people were so oppressed by an evil spirit that they would let a murderer go and kill their own Saviour instead. Little did the people know this humble Saviour was in disguise because they had put their trust in their eyes. In the end, he proves true and the very people that despised and rejected him, he ended up dying on behalf of their sins. The followers of Jesus were told that these things had to occur as part of God’s plan yet in the moment of seeing their King in the worst possible state, it’s only human to doubt when things don’t seem to be looking like he knew what God was doing was for our own good. It represents our selfish desire for instant gratification instead of waiting and trusting God with the future results.
I find myself struggling, as well as many others do, with believing in the unseen. Especially when circumstances seem to get the better of us… The enemy attacked me once again in my relationships just after submitting the last blog post in testifying of God’s goodness. He’s not very creative and I shouldn’t be surprised that he loves to mess with our weaknesses. Mine would be the fear of rejection. I had to learn to humble myself and submit to Christ be my vindication instead of trying to justify and protect my stance in my own weak state. I’ve come to realize that when trying to control the outcome of things I get caught up in pleasing man than pleasing God.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
I had an issue of unforgiveness in my last entry and it’s no surprise that Satan wanted me to stay in that unyielding state after just having let go of an offence… While discussing a short story in class, we talked about whose method was more effective: Malcolm X in the Black Power Movement or Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement. Since it’s a very interactive class, I raised my hand and said that Martin Luther King focused on “Forgiveness” and though it seems like a less effective approach, he thought about the future and how many generations would benefit from it. Whereas, the Black power Malcolm X just focused on getting “Justice” in the present but neglecting to see how the future would be effected by it, it stops right there and ends with them. The Holy Spirit tends to speak to me through my own words since I knew that I had unforgiveness and so I felt convicted. It takes humility and laying down of ourselves to forgive but it takes pride to take justice by force and retaliation.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
A couple of days ago, I attended a Persian church where my friend’s friend was a special speaker and he was asking if people needed physical healing. Lately, I’ve been a skeptic when it comes to “me” being healed physically because I knew that God was dealing with a deeper issue that perhaps caused that symptom to occur in the first place. I reluctantly went up to get prayer but after the service I got to speak to the guy and told him that God was doing some redemption in me at this stage of my life and he saw something from God, took me aside and told me that I had anger against a woman… This guy didn’t even know me or the personal issues I’m having yet he was so specific. I then chose to forgive her from my heart, this time with the affirmation that God met me in my pain. Now I feel the spiritual atmosphere had shifted and I could move on without a cloud of heaviness.
God cannot be put into a box on how he wants to heal us. At first, I wanted instant results and got jealous when He would heal people’s physical ailments instantly but what I needed was an inner healing to get to the root of the issue…
We can all be guilty of being a “Martha” when it comes to desiring to control the outcome we desire by striving for the Lord’s affections. But we should all be like her sister, Mary, who sits at Jesus’ feet and knowing that he just wants us to confidently rest in his love.
Click to read along: Luke 10:38-42 At the Home of Martha and Mary
Here is an example of both sisters wavering in their faith when their brother Lazarus, was sick and they sought out Jesus to come see him. Read: John 11:1-43
Although Jesus loved Lazarus, he waited 3 days until he came instead of rushing to his side and healing him for the purpose of glorifying God and strengthening the people’s faith. Like Lazarus, they had to “die” to themselves and trust in God’s deliverance to be raised to life again. We need to come to the end of ourselves to see the goodness of God in our lives. In our human nature we base so much of what we feel with the truth. But God wants us to know the truth to set us free from feelings that change constantly.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” 1:17
Circumstances change but God’s love is constant even in the storm. What will be our anchor in times of trouble if we haven’t experienced testing of our faith? Jesus proved himself faithful to the faithless when he wept for Lazarus and then raised him from the dead like he said he would. It’s like a father who disciplines his child for our good, not that he is trying to punish us. I’m going to be lazy and save myself from quoting and paraphrasing like I’m writing an essay and just take photos from a book I’ve been reading called, “The Sacred Search” by Gary Thomas. (Cause I write too much as it is) Just click on the photos to read it. The title sounds like a new age book… but it’s talking about marriage and the godly standards to look for when the world has perhaps confused our perceptions of an ideal partner, the reason for marriage etc… I recommend it to anyone who isn’t married yet. This section of the book shifts our paradigm of how we relate with God and one another on the basis of what it means to be a true friend. Proving that true love waits as Jesus demonstrated.
In the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from the land of Bondage. , they were sentenced to wander in the desert for 40 years when they could have made the journey in 40 days. All because they failed to trust God even after all the miracles that occurred… They were blessed to see it happen so radically like it did back then, yet they still struggled with the issue of unbelief.. I don’t want to have the same slave mentality when God is in the process of redemption and we are impatient to see the promised land that is right ahead of us if we could only hold on.
During my discipleship training school with YWAM, it was prophesied to me: “Don’t settle for second best, God desires the best for you.” And I don’t know if my pastor has read my diary (which is now my blog… ahem) but he kept repeating it recently. I know that there is something to be learnt here. God has been dealing with my insecurities of rejection. In my life I have run away or gone to other methods of coping like I have in the past that gave me temporal solutions but it was not what I truly wanted. For example, when I was training in the acting studio, I felt like I was trying to gain affirmation of who I was based on my performance but I wasn’t fully being whom God intended for me to be… which is to be set free in my identity. My foundation wasn’t set on Christ alone but the approval of man, therefore, my soul was in constant battle with my Spirit. I kept delaying on getting an acting agent because I feared that it wasn’t what I truly wanted. I actually didn’t want success cause in my gut I knew it would end in disappointed. What I did didn’t put value to my identity, it only covered it with an illusion of freedom through self-expression and I only “sensed” temporal freedom on stage. Instead it made me feel like a slave to seek affirmation from people rather than please God.
Being performance oriented stemmed from when I was a child, feeling like my biological father left because somehow I was not worth being sought after and loved. I still feel that way as an adult with not meeting my dad’s expectations. It is a thing of the past but it helps to look back to see where that “enslaved thinking” came from. You see it in history where the persecution and oppression of the marginalized corrupted generations ahead of them. It matters what has happened in the past but it’s up to us how we handle it now and how it effects our children’s children in the future. Hopefully it’s for the better.
A part of me had felt like I’m never good enough and although there have been countless times where God has used me and radically shown his love, I still doubted when “there was no catch and no strings attached” His love is dumbfounding and disarming because it goes against our culture of when given a gift you are expected to offer something in return. I battled this thinking of wanting to have “all my ducks in a row” first and have things on my terms first before I am used by God or acquire any blessings to justify that “I have earned it”, as proof that I am worthy enough. But God wants me to understand his grace and it is not based on how worthy I think I am.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:7-9
He is honored by our obedience more than what we can do for him.
‘But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”‘
1 Samuel 15:22
Part of a prophetic word I received from a student at Samuel’s Mantle school of ministry in the beginning of the year: “You sometimes feel like you cannot meet people’s expectations of you but God wants you to know that you don’t have to try hard to get people to accept you. Just rest in His love… He wants you to know that: You are valuable. You are worthy. You are to focus on being His daughter.” Before we got prayed over by the students, the teacher of the school asked us to envision the secret place on where we would like to meet Jesus and what armour of God we felt like he wanted us to have. I chose to be beside a still and quiet lake and chose the sword. He then asked us where we believe Jesus wanted to meet us. I had a picture of meeting at the edge of a mountain top overlooking an area during a blizzard but I am safe with Him. When 3 students came to pray for me, one of them confirms that she sees a picture of me with Jesus meeting at a crevasse or an edge of a mountain overlooking the land. Saying that he is bringing me to himself to higher ground in order to survey the land at this season before you come down to claim it. It confirmed to me that certain things are not going to be how I want it, what was ideal and convenient for me but God knows what he is doing even though I feel completely tossed around by the winds he is there with me. Another lady also said that Jesus wanted to give me the sword and that he was fighting the battle for me where there have been obstacles that kept me from fulfilling my destiny and that I would help others fulfill their destiny.
It’s the feeling of a poverty mentality when the Israelites were given manna from Heaven they complained and began to crave the food back in Egypt when they were enslaved rather than press on to the promised land flowing with milk and honey living in freedom. Another incident (they complained a heck of a lot!) was when the Israelites grew restless and impatient when Moses left them to meet with God. He came back to find them worshipping an idol, putting their trust in something man-made, which they created, compromising their relationship with God. Personally I can relate to that lie thinking, “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.” We can begin to go back to our old habits and crave things that God has redeemed us from. He wants us to have a victorious mentality. Like in the Philippines, with victim and survival mentality so rampant, it’s difficult to envision getting out of poverty if you have gotten comfortable in it. It’s easy to go back to the safe and more travelled route than to venture out to the unknown that requires a step of faith. There are so many stories from the bible that teaches us to wait on God instead of returning to old ways because we feel uncomfortable and hopeless in the moment.
Christians can struggle with a religious mentality and not know the cause of it. But the root issue is in not settling in themselves that they are unconditionally loved by Him and trust that he has good intentions for them even if circumstances are not how you envisioned it to be.
In a revival meeting, the evangelist spoke on how Jonah, the prophet was sent by God on a mission to go to the land of Ninevah to warn the people to turn from their sinful ways. But he disobeyed God and escaped on a boat and was thrown overboard since the men saw that his disobedience was the cause of their lives being in jeopardy during a storm. He had to go through a belly of a whale for 3 days and get puked out right where God wanted him to be to give the word to Ninevah. Very graphic imagery but it makes a point that even though we are disobedient to God he will still use us and we may have to get “swallowed up” and “spat out” in life in order to learn from our mistakes. We may be a stinkin’ mess like how Jonah literally was, having been vomited onto the mission field with all our imperfections but God is still able to use that for His glory. The bible didn’t even say that he had a place to clean himself off and get a new set of clothes… ugh. Straight away, he was given a second chance to obey the Lord and as a result, the people turned from their ways and repented and the mission was successful. Yet Jonah was angry that God had spared the people perhaps because of a personal resentment based on past injustices. I felt that God was showing me how I can fail to recognize when good things are right in front of me cause my heart may be hardened like Jonah’s and not letting go of the past to make room for the future. I admit that certain things were out of my control in the Philippines, I have had to let go of and learn from hardships and to focus on all the amazing things that God has done through it all and to not be a resentful Jonah. Challenges were not made to weaken us… they are made to strengthen our character and our faith in a trustworthy God.
Love is not based on a feeling, it’s based on His character. So put away the stereotypical romantic movies out of your mind cause in the end the guy has an epiphany only after getting over his ego and pride, realizing that he has lost something he valued. Love by the world’s standards is based on fleeting emotions, which doesn’t sound so appealing after all… We need a paradigm shift on what God’s love is. But God doesn’t change his mind even when we fail. He relentlessly chases us and loved us before we even came into being.
“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. By this love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
1 John 4:16-18
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I probably repeated these verses over and over again… But it’s good to beat the human reasoning out of your head and let it sink into your heart so that you start living it out. I just attended an Awakening to Love revival conference and got radically set free in the area of experiencing God’s tangible love. It will be a great followup to this post that is so related to what God has been showing me this weekend.