God’s Name- I AM- Also Reveals Something about Us

I was reflecting on what God told Moses when Moses asked God what his name is. It had been about 400 years that the people of Israel had been slaves in Egypt and God was calling Moses to be their deliverer. Moses wanted to know what to say if they asked what God’s name is. We see the answer in Exodus 3:

“Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God name is- I am-meaning he is the eternal self sufficient God. He is eternally present. He has no boundaries of time.

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As I reflected on the name of God, I also thought about what God said to Moses when he first started to talk to him in Exodus 3:

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” 

There is a second truth that is revealed here. Yes, God is the eternally present God. The other aspect that God’s revelation to Moses shows me is that by God saying I am the God of you father Abraham, God gives us hope.

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When we enter into relationship with God, it is an eternal relationship. Abraham lived some 400 years before Moses. Abraham had died. But God says, I am the God of Abraham not I was the God of Abraham. If Abraham had died and that was it, then God would have to say I was the God of Abraham, but God said I am the God of Abraham indicating that Abraham still existed in relationship with God.

When Jesus said in John 8:

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

Jesus was saying that he is the eternal God. If we have relationship with Jesus, it is an eternal relationship. Death does not end our relationship with Jesus. He is eternally our Lord and we are eternally in relationship with him

God is the great I am. Jesus said of himself-I am. Because God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit- is eternal, those who have relationship with him have an eternal relationship. Therefore, death is not the final answer for anyone who comes to Jesus. For those who have trusted Jesus, death is only a transition to heaven for eternity.

The older I get and longer I live with chronic illness, the more the reality of eternity with God means to me. I hope this thought today encourages you too.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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Music Mondays- Because He Lives by Vickie Winans

Because He lives
I can face tomorrow

I love these lyrics from Because He Lives. Jesus lives and because he defeated death, we can know he is always with us. Because he lives, we can face tomorrow. We can face the problems of life knowing he is with us.

We can also know that his resurrection can empower us as Romans 8 says:

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”.

God can and will empower us to overcome. He will give us life. For some it can mean healing. For some it can mean his grace is sufficient for us as we press on in the face of difficulties such as chronic illness, depression, anxiety, family problems, past abuse, addiction or any other difficulty.

I have experienced his grace sustaining me as I live with chronic health issues. God has helped me to overcome the effects of growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a mother with mental health issues. God sustains me as I deal with the daily effects of depression due to chronic illness. Because Jesus lives, I can face those things knowing that Jesus is always with me and has all power to help me and in the end of my earthly journey, he has a place waiting for me in heaven.

This week my post will highlight other bloggers who have overcome or are being sustained by God’s grace because Jesus lives.

I love Vickie Winans recording of Because He Lives. I hope it blesses you today as it has me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Happy Easter- Let’s Celebrate

Happy Easter to all of my followers and readers 🙂

Easter is my favorite holiday because of why we celebrate Easter. Jesus is alive and seated on his throne in heaven. Because he defeated death for us, we have hope in any situation.

Today is a day to celebrate our Risen Savior. It is a day to remember his victory over death. It is good to celebrate to refocus on Jesus, not on ourselves and our problems. So I would like to share two videos with you in hopes they add to your celebration. 🙂

My favorite thing on Easter Sunday is worshiping at church. I love songs that celebrate Jesus being risen from the dead. An old classic song about the resurrection of Jesus is by 2nd Chapter of Acts-The Easter Song. I wanted to share that with you.

Ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus, there have been numerous forces that have tried to stop the message about Jesus from going forth. One such force was communism in Eastern Europe. I traveled to Romania seven times and heard their stories of life under communism, so I am well aware of the brutalities committed against Christians under communism.

In 2011 in Budapest Hungary, a former communist country, a church organized an Easter celebration dance in a public square. The first time I watched the video, I thought about how the older people who joined in would remember when they did not have the freedom to do so. I want to share the video with you.

What are your favorite Easter songs? How do you celebrate?

Happy Easter. Jesus is Risen. Thank you for reading. God Bless. 🙂

Hope Even in Death Because of Jesus

It has been 10 years already, but sitting with my father while he died is an experience I will never forget. I had spent most of his last weekend on earth with him. It was the end of a year I will also never forget with experiences such as helping him make peace with God through Jesus, and him asking me to read the bible to him and pray each time I visited.

The morning that he went to his eternal home with Jesus, I woke up early with a song in my spirit-Life Goes On. It is a song about how our lives go on in heaven after we die. Waking up with that song in my spirit, I knew what God was telling me. I had already gotten ready and was driving to his nursing home when they called me to tell me he was unresponsive and to get there soon.

He was an avid rose gardener, so it was fitting that as I read about the resurrection and our promised resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 that he breathed his last breath and died as I read:

“When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.”

That passage is in reference to when we die, it is like our bodies that have died are like seeds planted in the ground. The seed then grows to new life. It is an analogy for the resurrection.

I had such peace about the fact that he had gone to heaven to be with Jesus that the afternoon of finalizing details for his funeral was calm. I had so much peace that I taught my class that evening.

Going through that day, evening and the funeral week made a passage from the bible very concrete for me from 1 Thessalonians:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

As I celebrate the resurrection of Jesus tomorrow, I will be thankful that those who have died we will see in heaven and we will know them. Death has been defeated by Jesus.

So yes it has been 10 years, but it has been 10 years since I told my father, “see you again” not goodbye.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Forgive Them???

I have been reflecting on the things Jesus said while he was dying on the cross.

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He showed care and concern for his mother, Mary, by giving her to the care of John his follower. In that culture and time, Mary would have depended on Jesus as her eldest son for her welfare.

In a moment of agony, He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.”

He told a thief dying in a cross next to him that the thief would be with him in Paradise after the thief professed faith in Jesus.

One of the things Jesus said really grabs me. It shows his heart for all people even the worst of us, even the ones who tortured him, conspired against him, mocked him.

Jesus cried out to God our Father, “Father forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Even while dying an agonizing death on a cross, Jesus interceded for those who harmed him with God our Father.

Let’s let that sink in.

Romans soldiers nailed him to the cross and Jesus’s response was, “Father forgive them.”

People were mocking Jesus while he was dying and his response was, “Father forgive them.”

Religious leaders conspired against Jesus and his response was, “Father forgive them.”

If Jesus could ask the Father to forgive the soldiers who nailed him to the cross, what could we possibly do that would cause Jesus to not want to ask the Father to forgive us? Think of your worst sin, failure, mistake. whatever and compare it to nailing Jesus to the cross.

The love of Jesus for us is so deep and so strong that no matter what we have done or will do, we can never be separated from his love. That is what we remember today as we remember Jesus dying for us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Who or What Put Jesus on the Cross?

A question I like to ask when I teach about Jesus is, who or what put Jesus on the cross?

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The Thursday before Jesus was crucified sheds some light on the answer. Before Jesus was put though a rigged trial as part of the conspiracy of the religious leaders, soldiers came to arrest him.Jesus knew what was going to happen, but he went out to the soldiers anyway and asked who they were looking for. We can see the drama unfold in John 18.

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”

When Jesus told them he was the one they were looking for, he manifested his power by knocking them to the ground. He then permitted them to arrest him.

So the conspiracy of the religious leaders did not put Jesus on the cross nor did Pilate and the Roman soldiers. Jesus has all power. He could have stopped the whole thing with a few words just as he did when he calmed a storm by simply saying, “Peace be still.”

Jesus died for our sins but he had no obligation to do so. God has no obligation to do anything for us. The fallen angels rebelled against God too and there is no provision for them to be forgiven.

So who or what put Jesus on the cross?

Jesus gave the answer before it all happened. In John 15 Jesus was talking with his followers and told them they were his friends. He said:

” Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.

It was Jesus’s love for us that put him on the cross. It was his love for us that caused him to endure the torture before he was nailed to the cross. It was his love for us that caused him to let the Roman soldiers nail him to the cross. It was his love for us that kept him on the cross to the point of dying for us. It was also his love for us that motivated him to take on death and defeat it for us.

So as we go through this Good Friday and Easter weekend, let’s remember that it was the love Jesus has for us that made and let it all happen. He loves us that much. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Because Jesus Knew…….

One of the experiences that will be forever etched in my mind and soul was spending time with my friend from South Korea from the time he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in February 2006 to the day he died in June 2006;

I will never forget the day he was diagnosed. I received a call asking me to come to the hospital. I went up to his room. His friends from Korea left the room, so my friend and I could talk. The first thing he shared with me was his concern for his wife, two children, and his third baby that he and his wife were expecting.

Up to the day before he died, he expressed his concern to me about the well being of his wife and three children. I was with him when he died. His wife, two of his little girls, myself, and several of his friends were there singing to Jesus and praying. Shortly before he died and while he was comatose, I leaned down and whispered in his ear that I would help his wife and children. He smiled. It was his last earthly smile.

Before people die. they think about their loved ones. Plans are made. Good parents do as much as they can to help their children prepare for the inevitable death of the parent.

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Jesus knew he was going to die. He knew that he would be crucified to pay the penalty for our sins, things we do wrong, so we could be brought back into relationship with God. Jesus knew what was going to happen. He shared with his followers to help them prepare. One such conversation Jesus let them know that he would come back for them in John 14:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus knew where he came from and where he was going to. Jesus knew how wonderful heaven is because he came from heaven. He shared with his followers that if he goes, he will come back, so they could be with him where he is.

Jesus is preparing a place for all who believe in him. That is the reason he came and died for us, so we could be with him in heaven.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Sunday with My Special Friends- Mandean People from Iran

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” Romans 12:15

Sunday afternoon I joined my Mandean friends in Lincoln for a memorial lunch. The father of two of my former students passed away in Iran. I wanted to go to show support for my former students. Losing a loved one is hard enough, but to lose a loved one and not be able to go back for the funeral is unbearable.

As I talked with one of his daughters, she teared up as she shared with me, “I couldn’t go see him” and “He was supposed to come here soon.” I could only listen and give her a hug.

I met her daughters who are young women. I also met her sister visiting from California and her daughters. We talked which was mostly me listening. There are no magic words to say in such moments, only a sympathetic ear.

There were maybe about 40 or 50 people there for the memorial lunch. I had a chance to see other former students and meet new people.

We had a traditional Mandean lunch when someone passes away of fish and rice. When they brought the dessert tray they told me which ones I could eat because one of my good friends there explained that I have Celiacs. With each food and dessert that came, they would say, “I heard about you. This is okay for you to eat.”

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I did not take any pictures of my Mandean friends out of respect for them and their privacy in such a solemn occasion. I went to be there for them, not for me. I love my Mandean friends and former students.

As we ate lunch, the thought occurred to me that fish is what Jesus cooked for his disciples to serve them breakfast one day after his resurrection. We read in John 21:

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

After lunch was finished, I had a chance to interact more with my friends. The little four year old girl of one of my friends came up to me to give me an apple. She was eating an apple and thought I should too. In the midst of the sorrow a little girl wanted to give something to her dad’s friend.

My Mandean friends came here as refugees because they were a religious minority in Iran and oppressed there for centuries. They are peace loving people who love their families and want opportunities for their children.

My hope is to show them the love of Jesus, help them with their new lives in America, and to be a good friend for them. I look forward to seeing them again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

Grieving Loss

I had planned to write about something else today, but as I was praying I felt led to write about grieving today. As I prayed this morning, I prayed for God to help me show his love when I visit friends from Iran this afternoon. A cousin of theirs died in Iran, so today they are gathering in a home to remember their cousin.

I will never forget a funeral I went to seven years ago for a teen girl from Vietnam who died. It was a Buddhist funeral. It struck me that for her family in their belief she is gone forever. They will never know her again. They believe she will reincarnated as someone or something else. They believe the daughter they knew is lost forever.

What a contrast for those of us who follow Jesus. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

Yes we feel sad over the separation but we are encouraged to remember that the separation is temporary because we will see and know our loved one again. Our guarantee of that is the fact that Jesus died and rose from the dead. So yes we grieve, but we grieve with hope, the certain hope of being reunited with our loved one because of Jesus.

Paul didn’t write so you do not grieve meaning we are not to grieve. He wrote we do not grieve like those who have no hope. So going through the grieving process is something we experience yet our experience is to be different in the sense that we have hope.

A blog I follow, the peaceful nest, is written by a mother whose son died. She shares her experience of how God comforted her and brought her through the valley of grieving. Here is a link for one of her posts. I think you will be encouraged by her posts.

https://thepeacefulnest.wordpress.com/2018/10/10/four-truths-i-have-learned-since-my-son-died/

Grieving is not something we should be in denial about. We should reach out to our friends who are grieving. If we are grieving, we don’t need to put on the ‘I am okay’ exterior all the time.

The difference for those who follow Jesus is that we understand death is a temporary separation. I understood that when my father died. He had prayed with me to receive Christ one year before he died. I was with him the morning he died. I had peace in knowing he was in heaven to the point that even though I was grieving, I taught my class that night.

With Jesus, there is hope in every situation.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

You Matter to God

(This post deals with the issue of suicide. If that is a trigger for you, please do not read it. If you are struggling, please call 1-800-273-8255)

A friend of mine on facebook posted a picture of an adult lion looking back at his lion cub with a caption of, “I thought about quitting but then I noticed who was watching.”

I loved it because it reminded me of myself. Living with autoimmune problems and persevering through other trials in ministry, there are times I have felt tempted to quit, but then I thought about those the Lord has connected me with.

This past June I experienced a flare up and prayed about it. In my prayer, I shared with the Lord that I wanted him to take me home to heaven. I was tired of pain, tired of many things, but then he reminded me of those he has brought into my life to share his love with and the truth of what Paul wrote in Philippians 1 hit me:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

I share this because I can understand the feeling of wanting to give up. I wasn’t suicidal myself, but understand the feeling of wanting to quit. I share this because September is suicide prevention month. People who contemplate suicide often feel there is no solution for them, no hope for them, and that they are a burden to others. Their emotional/psychological pain is so bad that they feel ending their lives is the only choice.

I will never forget September 2011. There was a group of about 25 young people from Vietnam that I helped between 2007 and 20014. All of them went on to higher education except one. One of them, a 19 year old girl, completed suicide in September 2011. I will never forget the pain her loved ones experienced. Her funeral was one of the saddest experiences I have ever had.  She is always on my mind. It is like what Jesus talked about regarding the lost sheep in Luke 15:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”

The lost one is always on our mind. I would do anything if I could go back 7 years and go to her house to stop her.

Dear reader you are precious to God. God loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for you because God wants to forgive you and come into your life as your heavenly father. There is always hope with Jesus.

You matter to God!!!

If you are struggling please talk with someone. Talk with a pastor, a priest, a teacher, a friend you can trust, a family member you can trust.

You can call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255 if you want to talk with someone anonymously.

I would like to share a video with you by a young woman who had thought about suicide and why we shouldn’t do it. Her name is Lizzie. She is a Catholic young woman, but for my fellow evangelical readers, please do not let that prevent you from watching. She has a beautiful story to share about why we should keep going.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.