Amazing Grace

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8 [NIV]

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There is an Indonesian’s proverb which says, “Milk is being repaid by toxic water” which means “Goodness is being repaid by evil.” Yes, our world perhaps has given so many examples on such practices. When we do good and don’t get the appropriate response from others, it will naturally discourage us to do good to them at other time. It is natural for us to feel that way because we are still human in flesh and live in a fallen world.

But, Jesus doesn’t think that way. He died at the cross not when we were good to him, but when we were sinning against him. His love doesn’t depend on our performance or our spiritual life. He loves us just because of his glorious mercy. Grace is a gift to the undeserving ones (unmerited favor). God’s principle is indeed “Toxic water is being repaid by milk” which means, “Evil is being repaid by goodness.” Isn’t it weird? But that is how amazing God’s love for us!

A sinner will never change when we keep showering him with critics, condemnations, and bad behavior towards him. A sinner can only be changed with a touch of amazing love. The song of “Amazing Grace” was created by John Newton, who was raised in a good Christian family but he left his faith and live according to worldly ways. He became a sailor, was involved in slave trade and gambling, and had addiction to alcohol. One day when he sailed, at midnight, his ship was shaking hard against the storm. He ended  up saying a prayer to God to save his life. Miraculously, as soon as he finished praying, the sea went calm. That incident was his turning point of his repentance. He then surrendered his life to be God’s servant for the rest of his life.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my fear relieved

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares

We have already come

‘Twas grace that brought us safe thus far

And grace will lead us home

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years

Bright shining as the sun

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun

 

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We are all sinners in front of God’s eyes. But God decides to love us and adopted us to be his precious children. We can do the same thing to people who mistreat us if we realize also how bad we are in God’s eyes. Pray so that God will enable you to love your ‘enemy’ as he loves you. Sow love or ‘milk’ in ther lives. One day you will be amazed by the results.

Sinners do not need condemnation nor judgment.

They need grace expressed in unconditional love.

Love,

Leticia

Photos by Whiskers & Willow Photography

I Will Never Forget You

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” –Isaiah 49:15 [NIV]

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There are moments when you may feel lonely. There are times when you lose people whom we love dearly or perhaps you feel that no one loves you. You may have memories and experiences that convince you all the more that you are alone and you need to depend on yourself in order to survive. But is it true that way? No. God never leaves you. He never forgets you. You are so precious to him.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” -Deuteronomy 31:8 [ESV]

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” -Hebrews 13:5 [ESV]

On our verse today, Isaiah 49:15,  it is written that God’s love is deeper than the strongest bond of love between a mother and her newborn child. Though it is very rare, there are some mothers who abandon their children; but God will never do that. I don’t know what happened in your past. You may never know who are your biological parents. You may feel your parents don’t love you. You may feel that no one cares about you in this world. But today, God wants to speak to you specifically, that he is the one whom you have been looking for. He is always beside you and even inside of you, but you just don’t realize it.

God is always in control of your life. “The LORD directs he steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24) God uses all things either good or bad to finish his plan for those who love him (Romans 8:28).  If you love God, then this promise is definitely for you.

God never allows problems come into your life without your capability to overcome it (1 Corinthians 10:13). If you learn to trust and surrender into God, he will strengthen you in the broken areas in your life. Someday you may serve others who experience the same like you did by God’s strength.

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There is a true story about a young woman who love and serve God with all her heart. One night after she served in her church, she walked down the street and almost arrived at her home. Suddenly, a group of men trapped her, they ripped off her blouse, kissed her in may parts of her body. At some point, they abandoned her on the street. They didn’t completely rape her, but inside she was destroyed. When she arrived at home, she took a shower over and over again and cried loudly. She had just served the Lord, but why did it happen to her? She was still a virgin, but she was full with disgust and hated herself a lot. She didn’t understand at all why God allowed it to happen.

Praise God, the woman did not run off from God. Fifteen years later, after enduring a long process of healing, she finally recovered from the pain. She was empowered by God to release forgiveness unto those men. She was married and already had children. She dedicated her life to serve women who were raped. The women she served often yell at her, “You don’t know what it’s like! How disgusting that your body is being touched by stranger!” But this woman answered, “I know what it’s like.” She was almost raped and she had the same feeling before as those women feels now. God uses her all the more in this area of ministry.

Whatever you are going through now, God never forgets you. Psalm 8:4 says, “What is a man that you are mindful of him?” God’s mind is so filled with you just like a man who keeps on thinking on the woman he loves. That is how much God loves you.

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God will make you so strong at the broken places of your life that you would minister to others out of that hidden strength.

Blessings,

Leticia

Photos by Axioo Baby Photography

The Seeds, Soil, and Rain

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”

–Psalm 126:5-6 [NIV]

Jesus once described the heart condition of men as soil. There are soil along path (hard soil), rocky places, soil among thorns, and good soil. The same thing actually happens inside our hearts. Many people do not guard their heart well so that when bad things happen in their lives and hurtful words came, they let their heart’s soil becomes dirty. That is why the Scriptures warn us to guard our heart above all else, for everything we do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23) What happen to the unguarded hearts? They become hardened. They are unable to respond to spiritual matter and being led astray to many other directions that will never give true satisfaction.

Jesus himself taught the Word of God in the midst of hardened and stiff-necked nation, Israel. The Pharisees and the scribes who had learned the Law the whole of their lives were indeed had the hardest hearts. Nevertheless God still love people like them.

Are you having difficulty to witness about Jesus in the midst of hardened people? Are you feeling that it’s hard to love them? The seeds of love are actually is in our hands. God has waiting for us to sow the seeds unto their hearts although it seems useless. As written in Psalm 126, we may sow with tears. It is not easy, but we sow as our act of faith by saying that nothing is impossible to God.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” –Ezekiel 36:26 [NIV]

The hardened heart is like the desert. The rainfall level is extremely low in the desert. Each time the rain falls can be regarded as miracle to people who live on it. One day, the rain (miracle) will fall unto the hearts of the people you have reached out and the seeds you have sown will have a chance to grow. But if you never sow on their hearts, even if the rain falls, the soil will only be merely empty soil without seeds. Nothing will ever grow out of it.

Many people wait for God’s miracle. They long for their family members to be saved, the bad characters of people we love to be changed, circumstances turn out to be better. But the miracle we actually need actually begin with the change of our hearts. Perhaps the person whom you pray for so long will never change until they die. But it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t work. He has worked in your heart so that you can have a heart full of love and forgiveness no matter what.

Keep waiting in the Lord with hope. There is no heart too hard for God to soften. But he wants to use your hands first to sow his seeds of love.

Sometimes the greatest miracle of all is the one that happens in your heart –Priscilla Shirer

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 Blessings,

Leticia 

A Matter of Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” –Proverbs 4:23 [NIV]

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Have you ever felt that you were going through a bad day? Nothing was seemed right. From the sun rises until it sets problems keep coming through, people upsets you and disappoint you, and many more. Even a moment after you just have your quiet time there can be something happens that robs your peace immediately. We know that God teaches us to be joyful in all circumstances. But we also know that to put it into action is a whole another level of difficulty. How to guard our hearts to be in harmony with God’s will in practical means?

Let us look what guarding truly looks like. If you have the highest end gadget, what would you do? You will not put it carelessly, won’t you? You will not put it on the public toilet’s floor because you know it will make the gadget dirty and even in danger to be trod upon by others. If you are a typical of person who loves cleanliness and neatness, you probably did not open the plastic cover on your gadget’s screen for some time to keep it clean for a longer time. The thing is, you will treat it more carefully because the gadget is costly and precious for you.

So does with our hearts. Our heart is the place where Holy Spirit lives. Since Jesus has redeemed our sins, our hearts belong to him entirely and he becomes permanent resident in it. Remember that our heart is as expensive as Jesus’ blood! But often we don’t realize how precious our hearts are. We put it carelessly to vain things like wealth, flesh desires, boyfriend/girlfriend. We also feed it with inappropriate movies, gossips, and many more. We put our hearts in places where it shouldn’t be and no wonder that in the end we get dirty hearts in return. But today we have learned this truth, so we can do something with our hearts.

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The practical way to guard our hearts is to guard its cleanliness with guarding our thoughts and make sure that our thoughts are directed to matters which are pleasing to the Lord.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8 [NIV]

Sins always began in our minds. When we let dirty thoughts creep into our minds, at the same time, we open our hearts to sinful behavior. Hence, the first step to guard our hearts is to keep cleansing our minds with God’s words and good thoughts. If negative thoughts or worries creep into our minds, we have to shift it immediately to the truth, to what God actually says regarding that thought. We cannot never think of negative thoughts, but we can choose not to think about it continuously. Meditate on God’s words every time. You can make Bible verses cards or download Bible applications on your gadgets which you can read while you are waiting in the midst of your activity, while you are at break, etc. My current favorite Bible App are YouVersion and E-sword 😀

Besides guarding our thoughts by filling it with God’s words, we also need to fill our hearts with love. The signs that we have a healthy heart is a heart full of love and forgiveness. If there are still people whom you find it hard to forgive, ask God’s help to enable you to release forgiveness to those people. Know that this process happens throughout our lives. So don’t take it is as something too hard to do. With God, you are able! Keep deciding to guard our minds, to forgive, and to love day by day and we will find our burdens are lifted up. The situations perhaps haven’t changed, but our hearts which stays according to God’s will enables our lives to be filled with joy beyond words could express. God can work more in his children’s lives whose hearts are completely his. Are you willing to surrender your heart entirely to God?

God is the only place where your heart will be safe and unbroken.

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Cheers,

Leticia

Photos by Voir Pictures, Angga Permana Photography, Pinterest

When God Closed The Door

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” –Psalm 20:7-8 [NIV]

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There are moments in our lives when it’s hard to see hope and when faith fights with doubt. These moments of life can be called the darkness moment, the dreary winter, etc. It feels like everything we have planned so carefully is destroyed by unpredicted distraction. Or perhaps there is a chance that was opened widely before but suddenly the door is slammed right on our faces. Ouch! In this season, it really makes sense for us to think that God is unfaithful to his promises. Perhaps we are tempted to think, “God is so mean to me!” “If God is really good, he won’t let this happen to me.” But is it truly God mean for us? What is actually his plan when he suddenly closes a door in our lives? What does God really think when he makes us waiting for quite some time?

Firstly, we need to plant the truth into our minds, that God is forever good to us. Even when the circumstances try to convince us the opposite, we need to believe that God is good. The whole Bible can give you many testimonies regarding his goodness.

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” -Exodus 34:6-7a

“And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” -Mark 10:18

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Other times, we are too comfortable in our comfort zone that we forget to seek his face. In fact, most of us only seek him when we are in trouble which makes us grow the most in suffering. Thereby, the difficult times are times when we are called the most to seek God through prayer. Just like the sincerest gratitude often born when we have no reason to be grateful, the sincerest prayer usually is born out of adversity when we acknowledge how desperate we need God.

Sometimes God closes the door so that we can stop depending on humans’ strength whether our strength or other people’s and fully depend on him. Some other times, he closes the door to redirect our heart so that we place it at the right place. It is easy for us to love other things more than God in our good times. God knows that the safest place for our hearts are on his lap. He wants to protect us from things that can hurt us when we place our hearts at the wrong places.

God can close the door so that we learn to wait for his time. As the unripe food will taste not so delicious, people who are not ready yet to handle his blessings can only invite troubles. Even the right thing at the wrong timing can become the wrong thing. God always put attention more on inside of us rather than our circumstances. He concerns more to our characters rather than our look. Our holiness, than our pleasure. He loves us so much so that he won’t allow the right thing becomes the wrong thing simply because we are not ready yet.

There is no fix and absolute formula to explain what God is doing in our lives. God works in such a unique way in everyone’s life. But one thing for sure is that if it is God’s will, even the present closed door can one day be opened. Keep fighting and keep waiting for it. But if it is not God’s will and the door is opened for us, it will not be wise to keep going there. Not all the opened door is a chance for us. We can differentiate them as we maintain intimacy with God. God will show us his way step-by-step according to our ability. My prayer is that you might have longing to seek his face and his will in your current circumstances. Trust in the Lord, trust in his goodness. The dark moments is only a season, it will pass …

 

Don’t ask, “Why God?” but ask instead, “What do you want me to learn in this situation?” “God I don’t understand what you are doing now, but keep doing what you want to do.”

“The darkest moment is the biggest turning point in your life.”

Blessings,
Leticia

Photos by Voir Pictures

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Fear Not

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10 [NIV]

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Is there anything you are afraid of? Fear can be directed to various things, such as fear of heights, fear of poisonous snake, fear of darkness, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of making wrong decision, and many more. We have natural tendencies to live by fear. But for some of us, the level of fear is so intense until it hinders and paralyzes us. Someone who has fear of failure may not be willing to try new things. Imagine how many opportunities would never be achieved unless he is bold enough to try. But on the other hand, the right amount of fear may help us on certain area. For example, fear of having car accident will motivate us to use seat belt and drive safely all the time. Hence, the problem lies not on the presence of fear itself, but its level of intensity and whether the object of our fear is right or not.

There are 365 verses on Bible which said, “Fear Not.” This is surely not a coincidence. God has designed His Words for every day in a year to be applied. But of course it is not something we can do instantly. But if we are willing to decide to get out of our comfort zone and face the fear day by day, God’s word will set you free eventually from fear.

We can be relax by knowing that God never gives us a command without sending the strength to do it. His command is accompanied by promise that he will always be with us.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” –Deuteronomy 31:8 [NIV]

You are never alone. God is always with you. God will fight for you, and what you need to do is enjoying his presence [Exodus 14:14].

One of the sources of our fears is because we depend more in ourselves rather than on God. Those who are mature in the Lord will learn to depend their lives more on him instead of their own. Fear is actually the situation where we are lacking of the right faith unto God. Today, God reminds us that, “I am with you, why should you fear?” Nothing is impossible for God. Whatever now that seems impossible to you, God is able to change it. He sends you this message only: “Fear not.”

As you walk with God, you will find that the more you trust in God, your fear will be more directed to the right things. God is faithful. When he gives you his guidance, he will also give you the strength to do it. Do not be afraid with enemy’s intimidation, but be afraid that the enemy has no fear to you because you do nothing to expand God’s Kingdom.

We cannot expect to have no fear at all, but we can press through the fear whenever it shows up and choose boldly to do the right things.

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Fear not the attack of Satan,

but fear that you never make his hit list.

Fear not the unknown, but fear that you never learn what is beyond the unknown.

Fear not trials and tribulation, fear a life of ease.

Fear not the God haters, but fear the God himself.

Fear not that your messages are not good,

but fear that your messages are not of God.

Fear not what men say about you,

fear what God would say about you.

Fear not attempting something great for God and failing,

but fear rather attempting little things for God and succeeding.

 

Do not live a life free from fear, but live a life fearing the right things –Richard Crisco

Blessings,

Leticia

Photos by Angga Permana Photo

Not A Fairy Tale

Bedtime stories are usually being opened by, “Once upon a time …” and ended by, “… and they lived happily ever after.” Happy ending is everyone’s dream. But here is the good news: happy ending doesn’t belong only to the fairy tale world. Our beloved God also has promised us a happy ending. The Scripture has conveyed the ending of all incidents that happen in this world.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” –Revelation 21:4 [NIV]

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When you cry, God cries. He understands your present sufferings. But keep on hoping, because you have assurance that all these things will pass away. Do not give up with the problems that life offers to you.

“Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” –Isaiah 59:1 [NIV]

Many people ask, “Why did the missionaries who lived for the Lord died tragically? Why didn’t they experience a happy ending?” The truth is, what we see as ‘tragic’ may not be ‘tragic’ in God’s eyes. Jim Elliot was a committed missionary who always aimed to please the Lord, not people. His soul was utterly on fire to share the gospel to those who never heard of it. His enthusiasm found interest to reach the Aucas in Sourth America who had never heard the gospel at all. After carefully planned everything, in January 1956, Jim and the other four missionaries landed successfully on the riverside of Curacay, east of Equador. But two days later, they were speared to death by the very own tribe they would minister, Aucas.

Didn’t it seem like a sad ending? But their death becomes like seeds, which died but at the end produce many fruits for the gospel to spread. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth Elliot, together with the other missionaries’ wives, forgave and came to minister to the tribe who killed their husbands. Many people of Aucas eventually received Christ as their own savior.

Perhaps you are not called in mission field as some people do. But today, God is speaking that wherever you are, no matter how difficult is your situation, God is not finished with you yet. There are a lot of things God wants to work in your life. If you are not satisfied where you are ended now, then it means that it is not the ending. There is always a hope to those who wants to hope. What you are going through now can become just like the seeds die but at the end they become much more fruitful and become blessings for many. Endure the current process with God and God will reveal his beautiful plan for you step by step.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” –John 12:24 [NIV]

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The happy ending we long for is not just what has been reserved for us in heaven. God is also able to create happy ending on this earth. For those who walk in God’s ways, happy ending can happen. But keep in mind that it may not happen as what we think of, but as what God intends to be.

If it is not happy, then it is not the ending.

God is not finished with you.

Love,
Leticia

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography