We are Barabbas

A few weeks ago, friend of mine shared a video on her Facebook and tagged me in it. I had watched that video at least three times since, because it was absolutely lovely and made me think!

[Here is the video in case you missed my earlier blog]

I’d like to add to this video, with my own thoughts and discoveries – a short reflection and commentary. Here are the main points Judah Smith presented:

  • We are Barabbas; we are the prisoner being freed.
  • We did not deserve that freedom. Like Barabbas, we were “thugs” and “rebels” (according to Judah Smith).
  • Like Barabbas, we are not thankful to Jesus for this transaction (not realizing Jesus set him – or us – free). In fact, Barabbas did not even know who Jesus was.
  • Our salvation and help comes from God, not within ourselves.
  • Jesus died so Barabbas (we) can live.
  • God loves us more than we could comprehend.
  • Your greatest challenge is simply BELIEVING.

Jesus_or_barabbas2-1.57174557_std

Barabbas was the leader of an insurrection, or a violent rebellion, against the government and a murderer. 1 Samuel 15:23 says rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft. Many books in the Old Testament speak against witchcraft. Exodus 22:18 says “you shall not permit a sorceress to live.” Since the two are synonymous sins, then rebels DESERVE their deaths. Revelations 21:8 and Galatians 5:20-21 confirms this. Yet, here comes Jesus, the Son of Man and God in the Second Trinity, to take the place of such shameful sin and place it on Himself. This is love.

This is salvation. A free gift.

We were friends of this world and kin to sin; rebels to God and murderers of all things Holy. Daily we sin, grieve the Holy Spirit, doubt, turn our backs to God, leave un-repented sin, refuse to believe in God and accept His gift of salvation. These are enslaved free slaves. John 8:34 says, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” However, as Jesus traded places with us. “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36). “For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.” (Romans 6:20) Hence, we can not serve two masters – as we are free from one, we must serve one.

Yet, there are those who profess one and return to their old ways. As Judah Smith puts it, “You can not shake yourself free. There’s no answer within yourself. There’s only ONE – The One who TOOK YOUR PLACE.” God wants your sin. He wants you to live; He has plans for you on Earth (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11) and a life after this. His blood is sufficient; It IS finished.

Jesus is ENOUGH!

My love

If you feel bound to sin, if you haven’t given your life to the One who gave it to you. I want you to give me 60 more seconds – Just 1 minute. Turn off your television, surround yourself in quietness, clear your mind. Just for 1 minute. You don’t have to know God to pray to Him; you don’t have to be a Saint to seek Him as we all are sinners. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) With all your heart and soul say this prayer. Allow God to make Himself known to you; allow Him to break those chains on your feet and walk with Him; allow Him to love you.

 

God in Heaven, I acknowledge that I am Barabbas – a sinner who has rebelled against you. I no longer what that title, I want to be Your Child and a Brethren of Your Son, Jesus Christ. I am returning to You, Father, as a prodigal son, as a lost sheep and I know You are waiting with open arms and a celebration. I confess in my heart and with my tongue that Jesus is Lord. Jesus, please come into my heart and life, make a home in my soul. I accept You as my personal Savior and Lord. I want to be Your servant, and only Yours! Create a thirst in me to seek You, to do Your Will, to read Your Word, and share You with those I come into contact with. Though I may stumble, I believe and know You will be there to pick me up as You have already carried my burden on the Cross. These things I ask in Your Holy and Gracious Name. Amen.

Advertisements

Daily Devotion: Blessed are the MEEK

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. – Matthew 5:5

Image

This week seems to dive into an introspection of our speech and personality and how it pertains to our Christianity. You should not aim to change yourself for the sake of “appearing righteous” because this will only lead to disappointment, discouragement, and possibly feeling like you are a “Failed Christian.” Such a deep change will occur overtime and purely on it’s own; in the meantime, it’s important to aim to show certain qualities to the world. We are Christ’s ambassadors and our lives show if living for God and not this world is actually worth it. Make a change…

Starting with being meek. 

It is one of the Beatitudes, it’s a prime quality of Our Savior and it is easier said than done. Meekness. What is being meek? When I hear the word ‘meek’ I immediately envision a prophet or Christ Himself; a soft voice, a still tongue, and a modest attire. Those are prime qualities linked with being meek. According to Wikipedia, words/phrases like “God-fearing, righteous, humble, teachable, patient under suffering, willing to follow Gospel teachings; an attribute of a true disciple” better describes the attributes of a meek person. This surpasses my personal definition by a long shot.

Look back at those attributes and ask yourself if you think you’re up to par yet.

God-fearing: the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 110:10) A complete understanding of who God is and what He can do will put things into perspective, thus roots wisdom.

Righteous: there are no righteous, sinless people on Earth. We must aim for righteousness by aiming to be sinless. By relying more on God and not on our own understanding we will yield less and less on our sinful desires.

Humble: Have you ever been boastful, prideful or show-offy? It happens to us all at times but we must aim for humility. Be modest in speech and dress, if you do then chances are you won’t have to apologize or swallow your words in the future.

Teachable: This means you must be able to take advice and criticism: a hard pill to swallow. Learn to simply nod and smile when someone advises you before speaking. If you continue to do this you’ll form a habit of accepting criticism without throwing over a table or arguing.

Patience under suffering: Patience is a virtue. I’ve had a lot of practice becoming more patient while waiting for government offices to handle any important documents I may need. Sure, you can take patience into your own hands by acknowledging that God is always in control… and you can always visit a government office as a cherry on top.

Willing to follow the Gospel teachings: Being willing and simply doing are completely different. If I am willing then I will not feel hampered by following God’s Word, I won’t feel self-deprived because I don’t mind being abstemious. Maybe this comes from growth in your Walk with God or simply your love for Him.

Remember that being meek does not mean you must be dull, lack-luster in personality, and lose all your characteristics. It is an addition and modification to your personality and is a blatant illustration that God is working within you by humbling you! In becoming meek, remember: to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2)

Prayer: Father, I thank You for all that You continuously do for me. I want to be more like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Please, help me and guide me to become more meek in a world that is boastful, prideful, and boisterous. May Your Holy Spirit fill me and humble my heart to Your likeness so that I may inherit the earth. This I ask in Your Holy Name. Amen.

Speak Like A Christian – Part ONE (with Tips!)

Lately, I’ve been thinking about doing this specific blog because this is a specific problem I have – my mouth. Our mouths are the most dangerous, lethal weapons in the world. We have the power to uplift, encourage, strengthen, enlighten but we also have the power to sadden, discourage, and evoke fear, hate and other negative emotions in others.

Usually, it’s responding to comments, criticism and concerns that tests our tongues. We are told such negative things at times and don’t know how to respond, even with constructive criticism. The Bible says “death and life are in the power of the tongue,” (Prov. 18:21) both physical and spiritual death and life.

What does the Bible say about speech?

 

1. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

 

 Our words should be acceptable to God; He should not be saddened or grieved by the words we speak. TIP: It helps many to count to 10 before speaking, and imagining how the other person would feel before responding. Remember to imagine the outcome and do this especially when altercations arise.

How do we know our words are acceptable to God?

  1. Bible-speech. As you grow try learning certain scriptures each day, and use them in your daily speech, adding them to your tongue as your life progresses. This is something I just started doing and it’s actually pretty fun! Using cue cards or a small notebook to hold these scriptures will be helpful throughout the day.
  2. Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Paul tells us we must think about things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report (admirable), and praise-worthy. I’m telling you to say such things.

  1. Complimentary. Giving someone a compliment makes quite a huge difference in the way they see you. Get into the habit of complimenting people, aim for giving out free compliments at least 5 times a day. Be careful not to appear as fawning, they’ll think you want something from them and possibly run away with their wallets tucked underneath their armpits. No, I’m not speaking from experience…

 

2. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

 

Do you just have those days when you’re in such a bad mood that even if a kitten crossed your path you’d feel the need to turn away and grunt? We all have bad mood days it’s when it affects others where these days become infectious.

Sometimes, I may be in a bad mood and one of my friends are walking around extra-jolly and peppy. It makes me want to strangle myself because I’m an envious Mr. Grinch. Because Mr. Grinch was so grumpy he tried to make others grumpy and he focused more on the negative than on the positive. We can all get like Mr. Grinch from time to time, we’re HUMAN but we can’t stay in that negative attitude, we’ll only bring others down with us.

TIP: Start thinking about all the things that make you happy. Reminisce on the good ‘ole days, you know, before you turned into a green frowny face. Lastly, learn to react based on facts instead of emotions. (This one is especially for me!)

 

3. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. – Colossians 3:8

 

There are four things to focus on here – anger, hatred, gossip, and cursing. Of course, even if you’re a Christian you will still have remnants of these. It’s important not to materialize and vocalize these. You’re expected to be angry at people, but hatred should be highly avoided. Remember that God rules over everything and everyone; if someone has done you wrong, leave it to God.

Gossiping is addictive. Women and men are guilty of this (yes, men are great gossipers). Remember to build up your brothers and sisters, speak to them directly instead of speaking about them to other people.

I was never too big on cursing, although at some point I had started to adopt some curse words. Fortunately, I don’t curse anymore. It’s a habit that may be hard to break, but it is breakable. TIP: use substitutions for curse words, it helps a lot to break the habit.

 

Try following these tips this week. Next week I will post Part Two which focuses on specific responses to questions/insults common these days.

Daily Devotion: “So, who did you bring with you?”

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

– Matthew 28:19-20

Picture this: you just took your last breath on Earth and now inhaled into Heaven. You made it! You are amazed by the sights, the sounds, even the smell! Wow, this place is the bomb, you think to yourself. And then the best part, you bow before Our Father. He smiles and greets you by name but He looks over your shoulder and slight disappointment occurs; He smile reappears as He asks, “So, who did you bring with you?”

This is a crucial L. I. L. I. C. (Lesson I Learned In Church). Jesus’ last command was to make disciples; He wanted us to share the Gospel with those around us and teach them to “observe” or “obey” His Word. Have you been doing that lately?

Sometimes, we pay too much attention to our own salvation. Me, me, me. How am I supposed to get myself into Heaven so that I won’t burn in Hell? Sure, we may not say this aloud but Lord knows our hearts. If we have this kind of mentality then we resemble the false prophets with their selfish ambitions (Read: Matthew 7: 21-23). Our Walk becomes somewhat lonely. Why when we can invite who we meet alongside our paths?

Think: When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone who is a Christian and is not a Christian? (For those of you who have Christian blogs, try remembering the last time you shared it in person or directly with someone.) How many people, can you guesstimate, have been Saved or decided to take their Christianity more personally and seriously because you were involved?

We want to make Papa proud! He would be satisfied to see that You helped bring others to Christ. Let everyone know about eternal life, tell them about the Good News, show them how God worked in your own life! Remember, that your job is simply to share. There will be people who will not accept Christ even if He came to them in the flesh so don’t be discouraged if someone does not give their life to Christ.

I’ve got a question for you: What do you plan to do now that you read this? (Keep me posted! Message me or leave a comment!)

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank You for this life You’ve given me but I also thank You for the life I will have after this earthly one. I await the day we meet face-to-face. In the meantime, I will continue to improve daily for You. I want to bring others to You, Lord. My family, my friends, my co-workers, my enemies, and even strangers on the street! I understand that You are “with [me] always, to the end of the age” and, therefore, I have Holy assistance. May I do this for Your sole glorification! This I ask in Your Name. Amen.

My Testimony ‘Love from my Papa’

I could never quite tell “my story” right without feeling I’d forgotten something extremely important but if I didn’t remember, then it couldn’t have been that important. I’ll be turning 19 in August; for most of my life I had a perforated heart waiting to be substantially filled. When I came into this world I had so much hope, heart and happiness. That was until I realized where I was.

From around age eight to fifteen I suffered great depression. All of my hurt and anguish was at the hands of my father. My father was an abusive man. He abused his family in more ways than one – sexually and physically towards my mother, physically towards my eldest brothers (twins) and, generously, verbally toward us all. I grew up thinking I was the “problem solver”, I grew up believing that my father wanted, finally, a girl after 3 boys. I grew up believing he had wanted me. The drinking, the abuse, the tongue-lashing – it would all stop because I was wanted and I had arrived. So I thought. At first things seemed well, but nothing had changed. My father neglected his family and cheated on his wife, he’d be missing for hours and sometimes days. My mother would cry; my brothers would seek refuge in his absence. Years later he had another daughter, and just like that I was replaced.

I always knew that my mother loves me dearly, but even to this day I could never say the same for my father. When I was old enough to understand what occurred around me reality sunk in. I would cry a lot, I would be extremely suicidal – sometimes I would sit on the kitchen floor with the knife held to my heart, lights off, just wondering what would happen next. Could anything be worse than this? I’d thought to myself but God always stopped me. I tried hurting myself, I stopped socializing, I had dreams and ambitions but at the tongue of my father I knew it would never happen. Christmas, New Years, birthdays, and other special holidays came and went for years and my father did nothing; he wasn’t even there. Many times he didn’t even know what grade I was in or how old I was.

Because I was socially inept and withdrawn in school, I didn’t really have any friends until 10th grade. The few friends I thought were dependable said hurtful things to me or treated me harshly. I’d felt as ugly, unlovable, and grey in school as I did at home. There was no escape. I’d cry at school, I’d cry at home. I had cried so much I was left bone-dry and angry. Everything made me angry. The world was just a horrible place where beautiful people held ugly, selfish hearts; no one cared about anyone else and if they did, it was only temporary and a visage. Later I learned every trial was just a matter of perception.

I had heard about God, didn’t have any thoughts about Him. Besides, what kind of God would bring me into such an awful world? Somehow, we had reconnected. He intervened. At fifteen, while my brother was in Police Academy, my mother and I packed up and left my father’s house. That night the bills weren’t paid as usual, the electricity was off and my mother was tired. It was the best night of our lives. We didn’t have any money but God worked in our favor and my mother made $2600 in one day. We all moved in a 1-bedroom efficiency but it was like heaven at home. After that things went up hill. My grades improved, I made a particular best friend, “Limpy,” who I still cherish to this day and other friends, my mother’s business boomed, my third brother became a wonderful officer, and I was crediting God before even really knowing Him.

Slowly, I grew in my faith. I realized that everything was orchestrated so that I could be reconciled with God. Everything happens for a reason so that I may be drawn toward Him. I began praying, watching sermons, speaking to God. Through my life He’s also touched the hearts of some of my friends and family. I can see their lives changing. I’m also proof that praying for Christ to come into your heart is powerful even if you don’t completely believe.

Fast forward to today, I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made with a purpose. I can encourage someone who is depressed; uplift someone who’s feeling down. I can never forget what my Father has done for me, and continues to. As I strive for my Forensic Accountancy certification – dual degree in Accounting and Criminology – I will implement programs for children and adolescents in abusive homes, making sure to tell them about the Gospel. I can be an inspiration to those who never felt good enough, felt unloved and alone. I can be a miracle to them.

My relationship with my earthly father has also improved. I still can’t trust him completely but I know I don’t have to; I simply must trust in the Heavenly Father who never abandoned me, never forsake me, never stopped loving, and thinks I’m a Princess. My name is Philly, God saved me from a life of grey. He gave up His life so that I may be Saved. To Him be all the Glory!

 

If you want to give your life to Christ right now, maybe you don’t fully believe but you want to experience His love, please say this prayer below:

Dear, Lord Jesus I accept Your gift of salvation. I believe You are the Son of God and died for my sins. I have not been living my life for You but from now on I will. Please, come into my heart and life. I accept You as my personal and only Savior. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Daily Devotion: Big Faith, Little Works

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” –James 2:26

 All our Christian lives we hear words encouraging us to have faith, to cast our cares upon The Lord, to not worry because God is handling our problems. We are told that He may not completely diminish our headaches but rather soothe our pain so that we can adjust. Throughout all this God is doing His part as our Heavenly Father and while sometimes having faith is hard, it is not the only thing we should be doing.

In the statement, “faith without works is dead,” there are two important interpretations:

  1. Our faith should be displayed by our good works, just as the type of our fruits and tree (good or bad) is determined by our actions (Read: Matthew 7: 15-20). “Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
  2. Our faith is accompanied by our actions. We do not simply pray and cast our cares to God, we also take action illustrating that we know God will fulfill His promises. (Read: James 2:21)

Introspect: Which of these do you have the most trouble with? How will you aim to improve today?

Oftentimes, I have horrible tendencies with number two; Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and ask God to help make my day productive and yet I sleep most of the morning away after Bible Study. God looks down on me and asks, “How can I help you if you’re sleeping all the time?! You can’t do anything whilst sleeping!” This can be likewise with a lot of us; instead we are sleeping on our actions – waiting for God to step in as if He is a fairy godmother. If a plan my day ahead, aim to nap maybe after I got a few important things done then I’m sure Papa will replenish my energy and even give me ideas on what to do next with my day.

 

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, I know You tell me that having faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains! May I also have works that signify my good fruit and good deeds. I ask that You may help me to become a Christian of action; help me to not only talk the talk but walk the walk so that You may be Glorified! In Your name I pray this for in Your name I can do all things. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Relations with the Father

Having a relationship with the Father is a foundational quality of the Christian life. Without a relationship, we are simply being religious. Then, how different are we from other people? Christianity is not a religion, it is a lifestyle that includes the Trinity in every way possible.

To clarify, let’s use an earthly example – your relationship with your earthly father. How do you two get along? Do you speak to him often, ask him for advice, lean on him? Whether you have the best father on earth or have never met him you can imagine the effects. If the answer is no to each question that means you lack a relationship with your dad. Thus, the answer to the first question is indefinitely No. Apply this to Our Heavenly Father and contemplate.

Below is a visual representation of the effects of having a relationship with God:

Image[Devotion kindles, or rekindles, your relationship with God. It fuels your spirit as you thirst for the Almighty. The result of an intimate relationship with God will lead to a stronger desires to do His will and better understanding of Him.]

“So… what kind of relationship am I supposed to have?”

Easy, a friendship, a parental relationship, and a devotional, respectful relationship. Thus, you must have an appropriate balance. Too much of a friendship means you may lack devotion, too much of a parental relationship means you may fear God but not love Him. You can’t devote too much of yourself to God, just remember not to forget your works. In adding all three types of relationships in one “I love You, God” gumbo, your result is a delicious, intimate relationship with God. Here, He is your Provider, Protector, Healer, Confidant, Best Friend, Lawyer, and above all else, Your Personal Savior and God.

“Great, I’ve got it! But how can I have a better relationship with My God?”

There are many ways to improve your relationship with God. That’s the best part. God just wants you to come to Him, surrender yourself to Him, pick up that cross you’ve got beside your feet, and show His love to the world! To help start you off, you can:

  • Focus less on appearing “righteous” and more on God. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard,” (Romans 3:23) therefore, no one can claim to be righteous. Show me a man who claims he is sinless and I will show you a liar. With that out the way you can focus on God who is forgiving, righteous and has boundless love.
  • Talk to Your Father more. You don’t have to pray for an hour every 4 hours each day on your knees with a rosary wrapped around your fingers. That’s a bit too much. Relax. Yes, this is the God who created Heaven and Earth, the God who knew you long before your mother’s birth, but He is also the God who simply wants to be your friend and Savior. Respect Him like a God but talk to Him like a Friend. Talk to Him while you’re driving, asking Him to help you find a parking space; talk to Him in the shower, let Him know how your day went; talk to Him in the morning after you’ve awoken or before you head out, telling Him of your goals and asking for assistance.
  • Another way to have a more intimate relationship with God is to fast and seek Him fervently. Having bible studies, fasting, and seeking His face [Here is an article on How to Seek God] are great ways to get to know Your Papa better. Also, go outside the box and keep up with the End Times. There are a lot of things news channels will not report concerning Christianity (for instance, the discovery of Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat – Do your research, brothers and sisters!!). Likewise, researching the signs of the Times as it correlates with the Book of Revelation is highly crucial. Our Savior will return sooner than you think! I hope you’re living as if He’ll return in 10 seconds rather than tomorrow! 🙂
  • Don’t forget your good works! It’s amazing how much closer you’ll feel after showing love to the world, spreading the Word of God, and bringing smiles to other people (and ultimately God). Don’t simply help friends, for the bible says “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” (Matthew 5:46)
  • Lastly, get creative. I can’t dictate how you should live your Christian life (and frankly, I don’t want to) I can merely make suggestions based on my own experiences and research. Have fun!

I’d love to know more about you and how you are doing on your Walk with God! Feel free to leave me a message. We can pray together, fast together, or have Bible studies together. I am your sister in Christ and if you’re ever in need, I’m always here and will help in any way I can! Yours truly, Philly ❤
 🙂