Hannah’s Desire, God’s Plan

Hannah’s desire to have a child wasn’t selfish ambition. It was God’s plan all along despite all the pain and agony that it caused her. 

Hannah was a wife to Elkanah who has a second wife Peninnah. Having children in those days would have been part of the identity and the purpose of a married woman. While most women still choose to have children, nowadays there are others who opt not to have any. Women have other interests that they can build their identity around, rather than just having children. Some choose to delay the process because they have other goals that they would like to achieve before having children.

What do you do as a married, stay at home woman with no children in ancient Israel? Poor Hannah had insult added to her injury since her husband’s second wife Peninnah had many children. While Peninnah was a busy mom with purpose and honor from those around her, Hannah was humiliated and in pain for being barren. The fact that Peninnah provoked her severely certainly didn’t help the situation either.

We don’t know exactly how long Hannah was barren, but we do know that the scripture tells us that the Lord had closed her womb. When God closes doors, there isn’t much anyone can do. You can’t cast out any devils. You can’t get mad at someone else.  One is even depleted of the idea in knowing how to get out of this tough and frustrating situation. There is nothing you can do.

Hannah’s husband tried to console her by giving her double portion of offering because he loved her so much. When you think about it, her husband really loved her for her. In those days, marriages were just functional agreements, for the purpose of forming a family and raising children. The fact that he didn’t look down on her, but he loved her for who she was made a great statement on her husband’s part. Elkanah even asked’ “Am I not better to you than ten sons?” (1Samuel 1:8b)

Elkanah was happy to be married to her, but Hannah had more in her heart. She deeply desired to have a child. The scripture tells us that she remained in faith and continued to go up to Shiloh to make the sacrifices and bring the offering. However, she was not in celebration mood. On one of the these trips, Hannah found herself at the entrance of the tabernacle. She was in bitterness of her soul and prayed and wept in anguish.

When Eli saw her weeping and her mouth moving with no words, he thought she was drunk. So he accused her falsely of being drunk and told her that she should put her drink away. Hannah, with great humility, told him that she wasn’t drunk, just sorrowful. Once Eli understood this, he blessed her and spoke prophetically that the God of peace would grant her petition. (1Samuel 1:9-18)

Hannah was in desperation for what only God could do. Her husband couldn’t help her. He loved her very much and if there was anything he could do to make the situation better, he would have done it. Her priest misunderstood  her at first thinking she was drunk. He made his judgment based on only outward appearance.

There are times in life that the Lord orchestrates the events, so no one can help us. It is in those times that he is cutting off confidence in our abilities, and weaning us away from man and his solutions. The only place we can go is to the Lord. All other roads have come to their logical, dead-end conclusions. Unless the Lord shows mercy and opens a door, we cannot move. We are hemmed in behind and before.

Thank God for His divine provisions and divine frustration because they lead us into a deeper commitment to the purpose of God. Hannah dedicated her baby before he was born. If she just had a baby like any other woman, he would have been her son. However, after all the waiting, agony, & pain the baby was the Lord’s and he was dedicated for his purpose.

Hannah’s son Samuel was a prophet in Israel. He learned by hearing the Lord clearly in Eli’s house having been brought and dedicated by His mother for the work of the Lord. He had a pioneering ministry. He was the one who anointed the first two kings of Israel to the office and made the transition from period of judges to the kings in Israel’s history.

Thank you Lord for all your wonderful works which surpass our understanding! Fulfill those desires of our hearts which have been in your plan all along.

Ruth, Better than Seven Sons (Part IV)

Boaz acted as a kinsman redeemer by marrying Ruth after ensuring that one closer to kin did not want to marry her (Ruth 4). He did it in decency and in God ordained order.  Ruth and Boaz were blessed with a son named Obed who was the grandfather of King David. Ruth is also mentioned in the lineage of Jesus (Matt. 1:5). God honored Ruth and exalted her name!

If we look back at the beginning of Ruth’s story, we find a broken, poor, & a young widow. This young woman acted selflessly and followed her mother-in-law to her Jewish homeland. She was sincere in her devotion to her mother-in-law and her God. The scripture tells us, ” Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel!  And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Ruth 4:14-15

What a huge statement by these women to Naomi! I grew up in this kind of culture where sons were the only ones valued. Families looked to sons to be their provider and protector in old age. For these women to recognize that Ruth not only took the place of a son for Naomi, but that she was better than seven sons clashed against all the stereotypes and wrong mindsets about women! They considered Ruth’s son, to be Naomi’s son as well. Naomi gained heritage because of Ruth’s faithfulness to her.

Ruth fought every battle with love and sacrifice. The bible doesn’t mention Ruth having dreams of success or calling.  She just loved and she gave. In the midst of a hopeless situation she did what she could. She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She didn’t seem to have been in depression. She didn’t have high expectations in life, but she knew even in the midst of her bad situation, her mother-in-law was in a worse situation than her. This allowed her to stand and be a hand and a voice for the one who was in greater need than herself.

The disappointments of life have a way of sifting us like nothing else can. It is in those times that we find who we are and where we’ve placed our trust. The more we trust man instead of God the more disappointments we will face in life. If we use the disappointments as opportunities to reaffrim our trust in God above all else, we have just made a major progress in our spiritual walk with God. Our identity becomes stronger and more deeply rooted in Him. He is patiently waiting for us to come to Him.

Today, as we look around us, we have a choice: to concentrate on those who seem to have it all in life, or to focus on those who have greater needs than us. If our eyes turn to the right place, our compassion will move us beyond our situation to places where not only we can bless others, but at the end we can be richly blessed as well!





Ruth, Humble & Bold (Part III)

Is it possible for a poor widow to flourish in the ancient rural Israel?

Well, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”. Praise God for his orchestration of our life events that even the most disappointing and hurtful situations don’t derail His plans for our lives but continue to move us in the right direction if we respond well.

Boaz generously allowed Ruth to glean in his field to provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Now that Ruth and Naomi’s basic needs were met, Naomi told Ruth, “Shall I not seek security for you,  that it may be well with you? Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until has finished eating and drinking. Then it shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.” (Ruth 3:1-4)

The idea of Ruth washing herself, anointing herself, and putting on her best garment reminds me of us preparing ourselves as Jesus’ bride. He is coming back for His bride, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle, or any such a thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27) Ruth, as a widow, had stayed pure and clean before her God, and had selflessly given of herself to her mother-in-law even at the risk of staying single for the rest of her life!

Ruth did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.  By going to the threshing floor and sleeping by his feet, she was asking Boaz to marry her. What a mixture of humility and boldness. Culturally, a man proposed to a woman; for a woman to humble herself that way took a great risk and courage. I am reminded of two other women who approached Jesus with humility and courage.

One was the woman who had the flow of blood for twelve years. She desperately needed a touch from Jesus, and if she had to get down to the ground to touch the hem of His garment, she was willing to do it to get her healing. (Luke 8: 43-48)

The other woman was a woman who was considered a sinner. She brought an Alabaster flask of fragrant oil and anointed Jesus feet with the oil and washed them with her tears at a Pharisee’s house!(Luke 7:36-39) This woman had such humility and boldness that she didn’t care about those who could kill her with their condemning looks, for she had found refuge in the one who had given her true life! Their judgment didn’t matter anymore because she was before the one who was going to judge the living and the dead.

I hope we all desire to live a life that is potent with a mixture of humility and boldness. Jesus himself set the example for us. He never looked for attention from man, nor tried to brag about his miracles and healings. However, when he saw a man bound by physical or spiritual blindness, he didn’t shy away from speaking life into that person and setting him free.

The Bible tells us that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6b). Today, if you have a need the Lord is ready/available to hear your prayer and supplication. He is near, and He will give you grace and revelation concerning what is on your heart. At the same time, we need to stand boldly on those things that are already settled in our lives. We don’t need to rehash the past and wonder about our identity. Sometime we need God’s reaffirmation on certain issues He has spoken to us in the past but not ever allowing doubt to take ground in our hearts. We have fought too many battles to get to where are at, we will not lose ground in Jesus’ name!






Ruth, Poor Yet Rich (Part II)

The story of Ruth continues as she and her mother-in-law returned from the country of Moab to Bethlehem,  Naomi’s homeland. Ruth’s main concern now was to provide for her mother-in-law and herself. With her mother-in-law’s permission, she went to the field of Boaz to glean heads of grain.  Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s late husband,  and he was a wealthy man.  Gleaning was the Lord’s instruction to the Israelites to leave some un-harvested fields for the poor and the strangers (Lev.19:9-10, 23:22).

Poverty in spirit opens the door to heaven’s resources

Ruth was willing to do the hard work of gleaning and didn’t expect any special treatment from Boaz. She was willing to be treated as a poor person and a stranger. When Ruth came to Boaz’s field, she had no expectation except for the simple opportunity to glean in the field just like all the other poor people and strangers.

When people followed Jesus, the poor and the needy were much more appreciative of His ministry and teachings than the rich, or the so called spiritual ones. Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount said, ”Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) 

Jesus’ followers were happy to be fed by Him and get a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven. The religious people didn’t necessarily feel the need to be taught by Jesus; as a matter of fact, many times they criticized him for His statements. These indviduals saw themselves as kings in their little kingdoms. There was no need to search for the kingdom of heaven. They were more concerned about their position and their seat of honor, than being fed by the Savior and having an encounter with the King of heaven!

A settled identity is richness in the spirit

When Boaz noticed Ruth, his first question was, “Whose young woman is this?” (Ruth 2:5b). This is a powerful question.  What is the first question we ask when we want to learn about someone? The questions may be, “Who is she?” or “What does she do?”, “Where did she come from?” but we don’t ask the question, ”Whose is she?” This is a question of identity. All of us have to have the question of our identity settled.

They told Boaz that she  was the young Moabite woman who had come back with Naomi. Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not touch you? And when you are thirsty,   go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” (Ruth 2:8-9)

When we come to the Lord, the Lord gives us His identity and calls us His son or daughter. His desire is to protect us and provide for us just as Boaz did with Ruth.  Boaz called Ruth his daughter and did what he could to protect and provide for her while she was on his field. He also told her not to go to another man’ s field.

When our identity is settled, we become secure in who we are in Christ. We don’t have to have a foot in His Kingdom and a foot in the world. We don’t need to be church hopping either. We have recognized the field that the Lord wants us to be established in and then we settle down.

Whose are you today? Can you boldly say you are His son or daughter? Have you found a church that you can call home?

Do you still have poverty of spirit to see the kingdom of heaven? Has the busyness of life or even ministry created its own little kingdom for you that you don’t think much about the kingdom of heaven?



Ruth, God’s Redemption (Part I)

The story of Ruth is a story of God redeeming those He loves.

If you have ever had a major loss in your life, you know how Ruth must have felt. When the winds of change blow and you lose a person or people that you loved for years, life has a way of reprioritizing itself.  Suddenly, all those little annoyances and hurt feelings don’t bother you anymore. Your thoughts travel through eternity and then come back to the here and now, and then you ask yourself, “Now what?  Where do I go from here? How do I do life now? Who is with me in this journey called life?”

Ruth must have gotten married with excitement and expectation of a new life with her husband. She probably dreamed of having children and a home with her husband. Just as any new bride has hopes for her future with her husband, Ruth would have had her own hopes and dreams for her marriage.  However, all those dreams came to a dead-end when she lost her husband. She even had no children with him to give her a purpose and focus to raise them.

Losses come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes. The loss could be a divorce, death of loved one, death of a dream, a major move, or a church move. Whatever the change may be, it challenges us to the core to find out who we are and what is important to us.

When Ruth lost her husband, she also lost the security of an income, the privilege of having a home, and the possibility of having children. Ruth not only lost her companion, but she also lost the chance of becoming a mother and raising children to take care of her in her old age.

Ruth was a Moabitess, which meant she must have learned about the God of Israel when she married her husband. When Naomi, her mother-in-law, lost her own husband and her two sons, she was planning on going back home to Judah. She wanted to send both of her daughter-in-laws back to their mother’s house, but Ruth refused to go. She desired to stay with her Mother-in-law.

There are three things that are significant in Ruth not going back to her mother’s house, but instead staying with Naomi.

  1. She was giving up the idea of getting married again. Being a widow and a Moabitess in a predominantly Jewish community would have made her chances of remarriage almost non-existent.
  2. She was selflessly willing to not only take care of her mother-in-law by working and providing for her, but she was also risking not having someone to take care of her in her old age.
  3. The most significant part of this is when Ruth says to her mother-in-law,” Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.”  Ruth 1:16b What a statement of faith!  She was coming in as a foreigner and a stranger to a new land, and she was already willing to love Naomi’s people. Did she know whether they would accept her or reject her?  Being a Moabitess, the most likely scenario would have been for her to get rejected, but Ruth trusted her God. She also trusted Naomi. That’s a beautiful picture of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship with one another.  Would you like your daughter-in-law to trust God so deeply because she has seen you trusting God so intimately?  Naomi was certainly enjoying the fruit of her faith in Ruth!

Ruth’s Statement to Naomi reminds me of what Jesus said when a Pharisee asked  him, ”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:36-39

Thais is what Ruth did!! She loved Naomi’s God, and she loved Naomi’s people. That’s a lesson for all of us. When it all gets stripped off of us and we think we have nothing left, we always have the opportunity to love the Lord and love His people!

Losses come to strip us of identity, purpose, peace, and belonging; but love overrides the sting of loss! If we choose to love in the midst of the pain, we shut the door to the enemy and open the door to the grace of God to redeem our pain.


God’s Purpose (Part II)

God’s purpose is fulfilled over generations

The Lord spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and promised them increase of descendants and that they would become a great nation. While each of those patriarchs had their own long waiting season, it took centuries for God to fulfill all his promises to them. Ultimately the true fulfillment of God’s promises came through His son Jesus who was from the line of David, the lineage of Judah, and the son of Jacob (Israel).

God’s purposes are much more profound: they are deeper than we can understand or figure out. We must guard ourselves and not read too much into God’s promise or try to lean on our own understanding to see how it is going to look like.

God’s promises know no bounds of time or generations. Some of those purposes are going to only get partially fulfilled in our generation, and they will continue in the next generation. The more we take a long view of God’s promises, the more immune we are from discouragement, disillusionment, and disappointments.  It also protects us from taking matters into our hands and trying to make something happen before time. For Abraham, Ishmael was a child of his carnality, not of the promise.

His Kingdom not our purpose should be the focus

We’re here to enjoy our relationship with the Lord and walk with him. If we become promise driven or purpose driven, we are in danger of falling into selfish ambition!  As the scripture tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) God’s promises and purpose are “all these things”. God will add them and develop them in our lives. Our job is not to seek them, but instead to seek God and His kingdom.

God’s purposes are multi-dimensional

but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

As we love God, love people, and serve in His kingdom, our lives unfold before our own eyes. We find ourselves connected to the body of Christ, and in time we grow to function and flourish.  The fulfillment of our purpose is connected to others fulfilling their purpose as well. We are not islands to ourselves. We can’t function independently and fulfill God’s plan on our own. Just as a body needs each part to function and support the other members, we as the body of Christ need each other. Regardless of our purpose, position, gifting, or calling, if we are not connected properly to the body of Christ, we can’t be fully effective in our purpose!

Our Purpose is fulfilled as we support others in their purpose

We need others to encourage us and supply us with what we need as we do our part to do the same for others. In this process God will grow us, and like a beautiful rose bud that opens up, we start seeing the color and the fragrance of our lives and we can marvel at what God has done. At the same, we contribute to the body of Christ fulfilling His purpose on the earth and God is pleased!!

God knows His purpose for us, but that doesn’t necessarily mean He plans to share it with us entirely. Let’s lay aside our ideas of God’s purpose for our lives today and just worship Him in the beauty of His holiness! We are accepted in the beloved already! As we walk closely with Him, He will guide us in our journey and allow us to reach His destination for us. Praise God!



God’s Purpose (Part I)

Is God’s purpose always clear to you? When it is clear, do you see it coming to fruition quickly?

God has a purpose

We as Christians talk a lot about God’s purpose and plan for our lives. We even encourage others, including unbelievers, that God has a purpose and plan for their lives. The scripture backs this up;

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 speaks of this beautifully, and so does Ephesians 2:10.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

God gradually clarifies His purpose

While God has a purpose in everything He creates, His purpose is not always clear to us! God spoke to various individuals through dreams, vision, and prophetic word. In the case of Abraham, God told him that he was going to have a child. It took 25 years before Abraham had his son Isaac. The Lord spoke to Abraham a few more times and finally just a year prior to him having a child. This last time, God was more specific. In the past, Sara tried to help God by asking Abraham to sleep with her concubine, but this time God specifically said that Sara was going to have this child.

Was having a child all of Abraham’s purpose in life? Of course not. For most people, having children is not an issue at all. They could have them in the first 5 years of marriage and go on to raise their children and venture into other things for decades to come. For Abraham, having his son Isaac wasn’t the end of the story. Having a son was the seed that through it, all the other promises that God had given him were going to be fulfilled.

God uses our attention to shape us during this time

God promised Abraham that he was going to be a great nation.  How could God make Abraham a great nation, if Abraham couldn’t even have one child? While Abraham and Sara’s purpose may have looked like it was dormant, God was still working on both of them; shaping them, and building their faith. There was a bigger test down the road! God in time will ask Abraham to sacrifice His only son!!

God’s purpose takes years to be fulfilled

As we look at the scripture, we see that God promises Isaac to increase his descendants (Genesis 26:23-25). The scripture tells us that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebecca and he was 60 when he only had Esau and Jacob.  We also see God promises Jacob that a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from him (Genesis 35:9-15). Jacob had 12 children. In a time span of about 100-120 years, the descendants of Abraham are one son, two grandchildren, and 12 great grand children. While that makes a nice size family, it is not anywhere close to being considered a great nation!

God uniquely used various Biblical leaders, prophets, kings, and ordinary people to fulfill His purpose on the earth. We also observe that God worked in each life and each situation differently than in others.

Through the cross, God fulfilled His ultimate purpose to bring us to glory through His son Jesus. This opened the door for fellowship and intimacy with a holy God, and enabling us to fulfill God’s purpose under His leadership.

Do you have some outrageous things promised to you by God that you have no idea how God is going to fulfill them in your life? Well, you’re not alone! We will continue with this subject in the next devotional, but for now you can study a Biblical Character and see how long it took for God to truly fulfill His promise in this individual’s life. What was this person doing in the meantime?

Pursuing Integrity (Part III)

Honesty is a critical factor

To pursue integrity, we must continuously walk in honesty. We are expected to speak truthfully; we cannot twist words to our advantage by exaggeration, drama, or concealing important information that could shed a different light into the situation. An honest person avoids even the slightest appearance of evil because they don’t want any shadow of doubt over them!

Honesty cannot be a compartment in life, neither can it be followed only when it is convenient. To be honest requires a commitment to the Lord, and it takes courage. There are going to be times that we will be tested in life; in our finances, and in our relationships, and honesty will cost us something.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

The picture that this scripture paints is beautiful. Besides having our wedding rings, a necklace is another jewelry item that represents what we love or what was given to us as a gift from someone close to us. Truth should be seen as precious jewelry that we get to wear around our neck. The Lord himself is full of truth and honesty, so when we have truth around our neck we show that we belong to him and we look like Him! To write truth on the tablet of our heart means that anything that is not the truth will not have permission to enter.Truth and mercy are the gatekeeper to what comes into the heart and what comes out.

Years ago when I was single, my brother and I decided to purchase a house for our parents. We were hoping that purchasing a house in the U.S. would help them to settle down and live comfortably after having immigrated here for a couple of years. My brother was already married, so this would have been considered a second house/rental property for him, meaning a higher interest rate. I didn’t own a house at that time, so my two options were to either declare it as my primary residence or declare it as a rental property which, just like my brother, was putting us at a higher interest rate. Since the house was about 100 miles away from my home in San Jose, I knew there was no way for me to commute during the week, so calling it my primary residence was not the truth. I was encouraged by some to just call it my primary residence so that I could have a better interest rate for myself and my brother. I had a resolve to go with the higher interest rate; to be truthful and just pay the higher rate although we weren’t charging my parents any rent.

As we were getting ready to sign the escrow papers, I got laid off from my job. I was disappointed, but I knew that the Lord was going to provide for me. As a result, we went ahead with signing the papers and purchasing the property. I was laid off for a few months before I found a similar job I used to do. There were some tough moments, but looking back at those few months the Lord did not stop providing for me through a temporary job and severance pay. The great report about this house was that my brother, his wife, & I owned that house for 13 years. God’s provision was always there. Nothing broke, or required fixing and remodeling. We did not have a single argument or disagreement over this house. It was finally my father who asked us to sell it. After the loss of my mother and my father’s aging, he wanted to move into a senior community. Doing it right was worth it all the way and God blessed it!

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Job 1:8

Job was an upright and blameless man that God knew he could trust. When his own friends were giving him so called “counsel”, they accused him of sinning & wickedness. They said a lot of things, but they couldn’t pin point what he did wrong because he hadn’t done anything wrong. On the other hand, when Nathan came to David, Nathan was direct with David’s sin and David did not deny his sin.

When someone is upright and honest, there may be accusations swirling around them. Many times,  these are gray and generic accusations. At the end of the day, nothing can stick to the person because they are upright and honest.

Honesty is about doing it right and being right with the Lord all the time. Whether someone watches us, or catches us is irrelevant. This is an important character issue!

Pursuing Integrity (Part II)

Develop Personal Convictions

To pursue integrity, we must establish personal convictions. Our convictions will keep us steady in life!! This will result in our actions matching up with what we profess, and people will see wholeness and integrity in our lives.

A conviction is “the quality of showing that one is firmly convinced of what one believes or says”  according to Oxford dictionary.

In order to avoid hypocrisy, we must firmly be convinced of what we believe!! There should be part of us that does things unto God and out of obedience to God that no one will ever know.  We simply want to live in integrity before God and not have a need to advertise our uprightness before people!!

Sometimes if we live or work with a person who has a strong personality, people find it easier to go along with that person’s ideas/convictions rather than wrestling to find their own!  Some people don’t even know what their convictions are because then it means they have to verbalize them to someone who could overpower them. It’s easier not to go there. This is especially true for those who have a great need for man’s acceptance and don’t want to “rock the boat”.

If we are the one with strong personality, we have to be careful not to overpower people with our convictions. We can share the scripture, and pray for individuals, but there needs to be room for the Holy Spirit to do the work that He can only do!! He is the one who changes the  hearts and minds of people and has the power to transform any of us!! To try to speed up the process, we foster Christians to stay babes in Christ. They may feel pressured to conform, but they are not transformed inside out!!

To establish our own convictions, we have to ask more tough questions from God and not be so quick to have an answer for everyone. We read the Bible, pray, and ask the Lord to show us where adjustments are necessary in our beliefs and perspectives.  This requires work, and it takes longer.  Some are not willing to do the hard work for themselves; they would rather eat the prepared meal that someone else has made!!

We can see the difference between someone who is convinced about an issue versus one who is only regurgitating someone else’s conviction. Those who are a mouthpiece for someone else, their statements have no substance or weight to them although they seemingly sound good. If you press for further examination of one’s beliefs within a couple of questions, they can fall back on what they learned from their mentor. Sometimes their words are just based on a book they read or what they heard a Christian superstar speak about!!

holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. Titus 1:9

If we are going to be prepared as an end time church, we are called to have a backbone that is established on the word of God and the word of our testimony. It’s a lot of easier to just repeat someone else’s convictions and a lot harder to grow in our own, but the test of time and the test of suffering will show us how we have been building.

Second hand conviction is just a belief and will not withstand the tests that will be coming, but when we develop our own, that’s gold and silver. When tested we will come forth more pure and powerful. We inspire others believers to grow in their convictions. We can also impact those who are against the faith and help them  see the light of Truth.

Let’s pray and allow the Lord to sharpen us in this area!!


Pursuing Integrity (Part I)

In a world of situational ethics and subjective standards, the pursuit of integrity is paramount for every believer!! God is a God of integrity, and it is His desire for His children to look like Him!

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands. Psalm 78:72

Integrity (G8537): integrity, completeness, fullness, innocence, simplicity,

The scripture tells us that God’s desire to shepherd us comes from the integrity of His heart. His intent towards us is in congruence with His actions. He has no hidden agendas. He has no ulterior motives. His heart is pure towards us. The Lord is complete in who He is; as a result He can love us without hypocrisy. He doesn’t just tolerate us or hope that we weren’t around, but He always has open arms towards us, to love and change us.

What is integrity?

Integrity (according to Oxford Dictionary): the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness, the state of being whole and undivided: the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction:

A person of integrity is one whose words and lifestyle match up. For a Christian, it also means that our words and our actions match the standard of the Bible. As soon as we claim we are a Christian, we’re declaring we are followers of Christ’s life and teaching.

People of integrity are not afraid to take an unpopular stance. They are not concerned whose agreement they have on a certain matter, but they will stand for their convictions. Joseph out of his integrity rejected sleeping with Potiphar’s wife, and that got him into trouble, false acccusation, and the loss of his job. Nevertheless, he remained a person of integrity before God and man!! What are we willing to lose to remain people of of integrity?

To pursue integrity, we must avoid certain things and hold on to some important character qualities. I will highlight some of them in this next couple of devotionals.

Avoid Hypocrisy

In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.  Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. Luke 12:1-3

 Hypocrisy:  the acting of a stage player

A hypocrite has good showman ship. He/she knows how to play the game and say all the right things to be accepted as part of a crowd or a group of people; but internally, their heart isn’t right, and they have no desire for real change!!

Hypocrites are divided in their behavior. They can be one way with one group and another way with another group, because to them how they are seen is more important than the condition of their heart! They can also act very much in agreement with a person, but gossip or complain behind their back. It is a division about how they really feel about things as opposed to how people perceive them. As a Christian, this affects the conscience of a believer, and if one is not careful we will ignore and suppress the voice of the Holy Spirit!!

A fertile ground for hypocrisy is a place where a lot of rigid rules are established and those that don’t follow them are easily condemned and judged. Sometimes those who set the rules don’t plan to follow their own rules, but they want to ensure that the behavior of others can be controlled by them.

As parents, we have to be careful to live lives that are full of integrity. Our children are watching everything, not just the things that we are intent on teaching them. If we speak about honesty yet  in  our next phone conversation we give a lame excuse to not attend a function, it shows that honesty is followed only when it’s convenient.

The good news is that we don’t have to be suspicious of people, but recognize that if an individual makes a life style of hypocrisy, sooner or later they will be found out. Their hidden activities will be exposed by God.

The Bible tells us that God delights in a person of integrity. It is His desire for us to be people of integrity and live a life that matches up with His truth and with our own words.

I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.

Lord, if there is any area of hypocrisy in me, please show me and change me inside out!!!