Lucia's Blog: February 2015
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, February 23, 2015

THE NARROW WAY- DYING TO SELF

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."  
John 12:24


The Way of Christ is so narrow that it is not only hard to walk but even impossible unless we die with Christ.  Let us consider the counsel of our wise Lord that makes us fruitful in His service.

Jesus is our greatest example of walking this path of life doing the Father's will.  He modeled it and obeyed it by walking the path of the cross for us.  He was indeed as He Himself said a grain of wheat that fell, died and bore much fruit.  His life was a message of serving, dying to self, and living the message of love.  Let us not take His life of sacrifice lightly.  Likewise, let us not ignore His path of life.  For us Christians, it should be the WAY of life, the narrow way.

"For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old  self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;  for he who has died is freed from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,  knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."  Romans 6:5-11

Nowadays Christianity is by no means focused on dying to self, serving and loving our neighbor, our families and the church.  I perceive there is a hyper-focus on attending "leadership seminars," "camps for all ages and for all activities," "self-improvement classes for being your authentic self,"  "women's retreats as well as men's treats for improving self," and various other activities that activate strong emotions but leave no lasting or deep effect in the heart of Christ and His kingdom.

We live in times where everyone is divided into groups according to their ages and goals.  This is terrible for the church but also for our culture as well.  It leaves us as broken and confused as ever.  It will not satisfy our souls.  This is not the WAY to nourish our souls.  We deceive ourselves, looking for the wrong sources or activities to heal us.  We forget that Christ died to heal us and help us put away the body of sin, that we might no longer be slaves to sin.  Why not turn to Him and Him alone? In His time, He will do His marvelous work in us, leading us into paths of righteousness.  But we must let Him and turn to Him alone.

"He must increase, but I must decrease."  John 3:30

As Jesus is working in our lives, healing us from sin, He is showing us through His everlasting Word, areas in our lives that need mending.  Areas where the flesh must be crucified with Him.  Areas where the primary focus must be on Jesus and His kingdom of righteousness, shifting the focus away from the old self.  This will render us more productive, bearing much fruit for His kingdom's sake. There is plenty of work to do for Him.  The work that He has for us is selfless and often difficult.  Yet as we die to self and become the wheat that falls to the earth, then we begin to bear much fruit for His glory.  Our fleshly selfishness dies with it, and Jesus reigns in our hearts as we do only His will.  Our actions begin to reflect Christ in us.  And the old self of sin with all its sinful habits and thoughts begin to die away.  Is it not marvelous that the Word of God can penetrate our soul and spirit and judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, changing me and you into vessels of righteousness for His glory!

"But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."  Galatians 6:14

Let us remember that God's ways are perfect and holy.  His ways lead us to a peaceful and righteous way of living.  But we must focus on Him alone rather than serving ourselves, our wants, needs, and goals.  We must avoid the hyper-focus on our own accomplishments and image.  These are the idols that we have made for ourselves.  This golden calf must be torn down.  Focusing on ourselves leads to our soul's destruction.  It robs us of true fulfillment and peace.  It will never satisfy that thirst and hunger for righteousness that we ought to strive for.  It is dangerous to focus on ourselves and not Christ.  It renders us weak because we will never be satisfied.  It will rob us of joy and peace.  We are vulnerable when we build up our own idols and make them bigger than before.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  2 Corinthians 5:17

Jesus' death on the cross is the meaning we are searching for.  He is our meaning; He is our guide for godliness.  He is our counselor, comforter, and our source of life.  As we abide in Him, we find the real and lasting meaning for this life having the hope of eternity. Dying to self, living in newness of life, learning to serve in His kingdom and walking the narrow way with Christ involves crucifying and dying to our man, our old self.  It is in dying to self that Jesus becomes Lord of our life, living only for Him.  It is here that we begin to walk the narrow way, walking with Christ as He walked here on earth.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."  John 15:4-5

As we diligently seek and abide in Christ, we learn total surrender, doing the Father's will.  This becomes our primary focus and goal in our life.  Everything that was of high esteem for us before:   power, fame, fortune and accomplishments start to fade away.  We are focusing on Christ more and more, wanting to live, love, and serve.  We want to be used as God's instruments of righteousness.

As we walk the narrow way with Christ, following Him, we become more confident in our hope, and the joy promised to us.  A hope and joy that is lasting and that never fades away.  Sadly this kind of joy and hope is mostly hidden and unknown to the world of darkness.  The world tells us to seek after everything else that is false and offers a fragile happiness.  There is so much healing, abundant life, joy, and wisdom when we live the narrow way, God's way.  Don't forget that this same God set the WAY for us so that we may find life abundantly.  Why search for a path that feels right that even after years and years you are never able to find?  Let us not be blind!  The Way is free and available to anyone who desires it.

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.  If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."  John 15:9-11

The path to abundant life is the one that abides in Christ, walking the narrow way, listening to His voice and dying to self.  It is there that we learn to serve others and to know the fullness of what it is to believe in our Lord.  The One, who died to self and was resurrected triumphantly.  Why not purpose to seek Him earnestly and strive to enter the narrow way through the narrow gate? Why not follow God's ways which are wiser no matter the cost?  The reason Jesus never said that the "gate is wide" is because His ways were not the world's ways.  Many do not want to find God's ways.  They don't care and don't wish to make the effort.  They are foolish!  The gate of selfishness is broad, and many enter through it finding death and decay for eternity.  Jesus' WAY leads us to the only true life there is.

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it."  Matthew 7:3

May Jesus be the Lord of our life.  May we crucify self, sin, and all the wrong, selfish desires.  May we hunger and thirst for righteousness, the right path of life.  May we pray for discernment and wisdom to stay on that path, the narrow way, with only Christ.  May we not be swayed by the lies of this world.  May He continually show us the real way, the lasting one that gives us abundant life so that we may bear much fruit for His glory.

"and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him."  Romans 8:17

"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God."  Acts 20:24

Luci

The following song well expresses this thought of walking the narrow way:


Father God, Just For Today 

Father God just for today
Help me to walk the narrow way
Help me stand when I might fall
Give me the strength to hear Your call

Refrain
May my steps be worship,
May my thoughts be praise,
May my words bring honor to Your name,
May my steps be worship,
May my thoughts be praise,
May my words bring honor to Your name.

Here I am just for today
Live in me, have Your way
For my desire when this race is run
Is only to hear You say. "Well done!




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”  
Revelation 14:13


A TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER

Every year about this time, I am reminded of my mother's sudden passing.  It is difficult for me to decide which date to remember since she was on life support for 5 days.  The family was left with the difficult decision of whether to disconnect her when all evidence pointed to brain death. It was a bitter pill to swallow. It was a terrible blow, but the worst was still to come.  Each year I still remember her parting on the 17th of February, since it was the last time I spoke with her that she was conscious.  As I write these words, my eyes fill with tears as I miss her again profoundly and painfully.  Her death has left me feeling very much alone.  I find myself drifting back to those treasured times in nostalgia and reminiscence.  I do not expect anyone to read my tribute, but I have decided every year to praise her publicly on this day and to let everyone know how much I still miss her.  She left so many precious footprints engraved in my heart.

I have special memories of my mother serving others.  Oh, what a servant of the Lord she was!  Her hospitality, care, and compassion to meet the needs of others is hard for me to grasp and fathom.  I don't know if it was because she was an orphan as a child and raised by nuns that made her care so intensely for others.  Our home was like a hotel!  She took everyone in.  Oh, what a large heart she had!  She worked from early in the morning until she no longer had the energy to work.  One of her favorite proverbs which she repeated to us her children was:  “Tiempo perdido lo cobra Dios.” Which means, “If you waste time, God will surely make you pay for it.”  Give the Lord the best of your time!  

When it came to devotion to her family, she was fiercely devoted.  Not only was she devoted to her family, but she was also devoted to her neighbor.  I couldn't have asked for a better mother.  God, in His infinite kindness and generosity, provided me a God-fearing mother.  Even during her days as a devout Catholic, she taught her children the fear of the Lord.   She taught us to walk wisely and always to do what was right before the Lord.  I cannot count the many times she sat on the end of the bed, counseling us to make sure that our hearts were right with God.  In one of those long conversations, she deeply touched my heart.  It is then that I decided from the bottom of my heart to seek the Lord and do what was right before Him.  She is the reason why I began searching to find the Truth until I found it.  That alone would have been reason enough for me to always love her and treasure her in my heart.  She was God's instrument that brought me back to Him.  She supported my search for the Truth because she was also searching.  She obeyed the Gospel soon after I did. Today her husband and her children are Christians.  I cannot possibly repay, or even recount, the debt that I owe to my mother. 

My mother was not perfect, but one thing I know in my heart, she is and will always be the image and example of a sacrificial mother, a servant, a housewife, a soul-winning mom, a praying and godly one.  She was very focused on living a disciplined life and using discipline toward her children.  I owe that also to her. 

The one thing that consoles my grieving heart is the promise given to all those who died in the Lord.  The words of Jesus in Revelation 14:13 give me peace and consolation.  Like so many areas of life, even death takes on a different aspect when one views it from a Christian perspective.  How blessed are the dead who died in the Lord like my mother!  What a loving, gracious, and almighty God we have, Who has given us that kind of hope which reaches beyond even death itself.  What an exceedingly precious promise this is! A promise from the God who keeps His promises, 2 Peter 3:9, which is granted only to those who are in the Lord in their time of departure from this earthly tabernacle. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."  Ephesians 1:3.  We have many promises in Christ, but surely there is no greater blessing than that of eternal life for those who die in faithful service, Revelation 2:10.
"Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."

As hard as it has been to bear the loss of my mother, I know that death is necessary that we may change from this corruptible body into an immortal one and receive the crown of life.  The good and comforting news is that death is swallowed up in victory through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  His saving gospel is glorious, I Corinthians 15:53-57.  Death has no power over us since we have died and been buried with Christ in baptism, and we are forgiven, Romans 6:3-4.  Therefore, the second death has no power over those who die in the Lord, Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:6. 

"For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;  but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  I Corinthians 15:53-57

I know in my heart that as time passes by, more and more swiftly, it will not be all that long until I am reunited with my Lord Jesus, the Father and those who have gone before us, like my mother and all other faithful brethren.  In the meantime, I will still miss my mother deeply every day of my life and will never stop loving her for who she was until we meet again in that fair haven of rest.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones."  Psalm 116:15

Luci


I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.  
Victory in Jesus by E.M. Barlett