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God Answers Unspoken Prayers

And four great beasts came up out of the sea…
Daniel 7:3(ESV)

Warning: I can be one of those beasts.

The following story is evidence that God answers even unspoken prayers.

For me, Holy Week is the most meaningful of the whole year. I’ve been complaining (not praying) that I will miss Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday services due to travel. I had given up on connecting deeply with God this Holy Week. But God knew my disappointment and answered my unspoken prayer with a podcast.

It’s a long story…

Before my daughter’s wedding I was an exercise fanatic. Vanity is a great motivator. The very next day, ‘poof’ went my reason for healthy eating and toned muscles.

The upward creep of the scale pushed me onto the treadmill today, the first day of Holy Week. I often explore podcasts while walking, but I needed to make a phone call. When my call went unanswered, I searched for an interesting podcast. The paper I’m writing about Revelation drew my attention to a podcast about the book of Daniel – they are closely connected through weird dreams, visions, beasts and destruction and I need to understand Daniel 7 for my paper. Bonus! Instruction from a favorite biblical scholar and exercise simultaneously!

This was already answered prayer because I’m stressing over Revelation but the real answer came through the speaker’s fresh insight about Good Friday.

Only God could turn a weird Old Testament vision into an incredibly meaningful message about Jesus’ victory on the cross, convict me as one of Daniel’s strange beasts, and time this answer to unspoken prayer in order to connect me deeply to the message of Holy Week.

Curious? Have a listen:

We can all be beasts. Thankfully there’s Jesus. (tweet this)

#SeedsOfScripture #Jesusconquers #HolyWeek #answeredprayer #unspokenprayer

Will We Follow?

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

Have you ever felt the joy and energy that results from listening to God, following His guidance, and doing something beyond your own capabilities? There’s nothing more exciting than seeing God’s indisputable work in your life! Can you remember such a time?

Why don’t we follow God’s guidance and tap into His power more often?

The Romans forced the convicted man to carry his own cross to the place of crucifixion as a symbol of complete submission. God won’t force us to submit, but rather asks us to give Him control. God has plans for our awesome, fulfilling life, but He needs our cooperation. Instead of death, (daily) submission to God yields a flourishing new life in Him!

Why don’t we let God lead even after we’ve experienced overwhelming results?

I believe we want control of our life. We’re afraid of the unknown direction God wants to take us. We don’t trust His goodness enough to risk uncertainty.

Here’s Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message:
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.

How might you be missing out on life by maintaining firm control?

#SeedsOfScripture #fear #takeupyourcross #followme

Three Small Words

God has saved us.
2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

We’ve heard it a thousand or more times. God saved us.

Or maybe the phrase we’ve heard over and over is ‘God loves us’ and it just seems like the same idea.

Let’s consider the meaning of these three small words ‘God saved us’.

This statement separates Christianity from every other religion. No other god saves. They set a standard that followers must attain in order to earn approval. Not so with God.

2 Timothy 1:9 continues: not because of anything we have done.
God did the work in Jesus. His sacrifice guaranteed our acceptance.

Christianity is unique because the one who set the standard also did the saving.

This gift is freely offered to all who acknowledge two beliefs. The first is its truth. We must believe that Jesus is God wrapped in flesh because only He has the authority to forgive sin and grant acceptance.

The second is to admit we need saving, that we are incapable of meeting God’s standard on our own. While a humble confession might feel like failure, it’s a beautiful admission because it allows for a Savior.

A humble confession might feel like failure, but the beautiful admission allows for a Savior.

Our God saves. Have you considered the uniqueness of Christianity?

#SeedsOfScripture #salvation #confession
This post first appeared on Seeds of Scripture Oct 12, 2016

The Privilege of Faith

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.
Philippians 1:29 (NLT)

Are we privileged?

No matter our position in this world, as believers we are distinctly privileged to trust Christ and claim all God’s promises. Do we forget our place in God’s family as beloved, chosen, adopted children? Do we lose sight of His promised presence? Do we appreciate the confidence, peace and joy that come from trusting that Jesus paid the price for us?

Yes, we are privileged.

In addition, we have the privilege to suffer for Him. Privilege and suffering are seldom paired, but accepting the good gifts of God entails enduring the mockery, ridicule, and disapproval of the world – sometimes even physical harm. It’s an odd privilege to claim.

After contemplating this honor for several days, I’m unable to think of one way in which I’ve suffered for Jesus. I’ve ended an unhealthy relationship and turned off an inappropriate show, but nothing close to suffering. I’m ashamed to admit this because Christians in other parts of the world suffer for their faith. Muslims converting to Christianity sometimes leave their countries due to death threats. Countries prohibiting Bibles enforce severe punishment for offenders.

We can’t know how we’ll respond until faced with a difficult situation, but it’s worth considering the possibilities. Is my trust in Christ so solid that I would defend Him against verbal assault? Would I oppose the majority to hold fast to Jesus’ teachings? Could I stand firm in my faith in the face of physical suffering?

With the privilege of trusting Christ comes the privilege of suffering for Him.

Do you know someone who has suffered for Christ? Please share.

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #privilege #defendingthefaith

A Good Imitation

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.
Ephesians 5:1(NLT)

I’ve been told that I’m becoming like my mother. As a teenager, this was an offensive statement, but now I consider it a compliment.

As is bound to happen in a church community, I often teach my friends’ children and find it fun to see a parent mirrored in their student. While genetics determines their physical likeness, I’m amused by their facial expressions, hand movements, ideas and their choice of words. Without realizing it, or wanting to, children imitate their parents.

Children adopt characteristics over time by observing behavior.

This is the kind of imitation mentioned in today’s verse from Ephesians. Imitate God as a child imitates a dear parent. To do this requires spending lots of time with Him – living our lives in His presence.

We need to read scripture and observe His creation, which both reveal the Father’s character. We need to study Jesus’ life since He was God in human form. We need to spend time in prayer listening to His promptings.

Just as young children intentionally copy their parents, wanting to shave or cook, initially we must work at imitating our Father. However, as time goes on, these characteristics will become part of us and our actions, desires, and words will mirror His.

By reading Seeds of Scripture, you’re already learning about God’s character and expectations. Keep reading this devotion (or any other) regularly and stay in His presence all day by contemplating His Words.

Learning to imitate God means spending a lot of time in His presence. (tweet this)

What do you know about God?
How can you imitate that?

#SeedsOfScripture #InHisPresence #imitation
This post first appeared on Seeds of Scripture on 9-22-15.

Only the Best for Our Babies

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
1 Peter 2:2-3 (NLT)

Think about how we feed an infant. Our goal is to provide the healthiest nutrition to help their body and brain develop to its full potential while also protecting them from harmful chemicals and unhealthy foods. The result is a nutritionally healthy child with a preference for wholesome food.

Today’s scripture compares feeding a newborn to feeding a new or developing believer.

We are usually old enough to provide our own ‘nutrition’ when we decide to follow Jesus, so what does our developing faith need to grow? Do we have strong Christian role models who care deeply for our development? Do we have a regular schedule for feeding our mind and soul? Do we select the highest quality “pure spiritual milk”?

Also, do we protect ourselves from harmful influences that prevent us from growing into our best possible selves? Is anything that we consume stunting our growth?

Position yourself for spiritual growth with strong spiritual relationships and solid Christian teaching.

Just food for thought…

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #spiritualgrowth #babyfood

A Process of Growth

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence (goodness), and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)

This list makes my head spin. I gloss over the words, not absorbing their meaning. So let’s skip the list for now and focus on the statements on either side of it – the instruction and the goal.

In view of all this, respond to God’s promises so that your [full acquaintance with] Jesus will become productive and useful.

‘In view of all this’ summarizes verses 3-4: God has provided everything we need to resist the world and participate in God’s divine nature.

Here’s my paraphrase:
• Believe that God has provided everything we need to live out our salvation through Jesus.
• In faith, begin practicing the goodness (moral behavior) that Jesus modeled while also learning more about God (adding knowledge).
• Exhibit self-control in transforming old thought patterns and behaviors to align with this new knowledge of God’s character.
• Even if these challenging adjustments don’t yield immediate benefits, be patient and persist in godly behavior.
• Increase godly, brotherly love to be love that includes everyone like Jesus did.
• As you grow through the process, your increased awareness of God and deepening relationship with Him positions you to be truly useful and productive to spread His Kingdom.

A deepening relationship with Jesus positions us to spread His Kingdom. (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture #Godprovides #relationshipwithGod #transformation

Conform or Transform?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)

How do we know God’s will for our lives? Three key words jump out from this scripture: conform, transform, and able.

Conforming most often relates to external appearances – looking and acting like others in order to fit in. The scripture says stop trying to fit in to this world because we belong to another kind of world – God’s kingdom.

Transformation involves a fundamental change in our thought patterns which leads to character change. Shifting our thoughts away from the world’s set of standards and toward God’s perspective for living well initiates the ongoing process of transformation.

The world promotes personal happiness through popularity, possessions, experiences and body shape. God says real joy comes from sharing our material wealth and using our time to serve others. Jesus says work hard but don’t strive for status or recognition. He also says that while material wealth provides temporary pleasure, acts of service bring long lasting reward.

We are better able to know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will when we approach life with His perspective.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

In what ways are you conforming to the world?
How can you adjust your mindset to better align with God’s way of life?
Is there a cost to shifting your value system?
Can you foresee the benefit of living in God’s will?

#SeedsofScripture #Godswill #renewthemind #transformation

Do Unto Others – Jesus’ Final 24 Hours

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.
Luke 6:27-28,31,35 (NLT)

Do you see the ‘Golden Rule’ tucked in the middle of this challenging scripture about loving our enemies? My ‘be nice to others’ rule falls far short.

Did you notice the part that says ‘so that people will treat you the same in return’? It’s missing because you’ll probably be laughed at for showing compassion toward your persecutor and forgiving the unthinkable. Your only reward is from God. The ‘do unto others’ attitude will be difficult and unpopular. Matthew 7:12-14 describes the Golden Rule as the very narrow, difficult gateway to life – true life, flourishing life, the life God desires for us.

Let’s observe the Golden Rule in Jesus’ final 24 hours. Betrayed by one of his own, deserted by his closest friends, convicted unjustly, mocked by both Temple and Roman soldiers, spit on, stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)” He did not retaliate with threats or curses, but forgave their participation in his crucifixion.

‘Do unto others’ is the narrow, difficult gateway to true life that includes forgiving and showing kindness to our worst enemy. (tweet this)

How might you show kindness to someone who has hurt you?

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #loveyourenemy #forgiveness

Renovations & New Life

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)

My husband was recently baptized – the full immersion experience. With powerful symbolism, the believer dies to his old self through submersion and rises from water into a new life in Christ. His baptism prompted thoughts about this new life.

In Ephesians, Paul encourages us to embrace our new life in Christ by changing our attitudes about ourselves, ‘to be made new’ by seeing ourselves as God sees us – beloved, freed and forgiven by Jesus, never separated from God, filled with His spirit and power and strength, and many other promises. These attitudes don’t appear instantaneously as one rises from the baptismal water. Viewing ourselves this way can be a process.

The phrase ‘to be made new’ literally means to renovate. Have you ever renovated a room in your home? If so, you know it’s a process. You also know that demolition comes first and often spreads its mess to adjacent spaces. Slowly the desired result emerges.

Likewise, renovating the attitudes we have about ourselves requires some demolition. We need to remove the lies that we’re unlovable or unforgivable or not good enough. The ‘new self, created to be like God’ cannot emerge amid these attitudes.
Put off your old self & be made new. See yourself as God sees you. (tweet this)
What negative thought do you have about yourself?
Does it belong to the ‘old self’ that should be left behind?
Would God call it a lie and replace it with a promise?

#SeedsofScripture #anewcreation #bemadenew #renovation

Exciting news! I’ve been renovating my website and a new space will emerge soon.

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Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts.  If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.
Each post is a brief scriptural thought that will grow as you let it take root in your thoughts. If you have time, dig into one area of interest and plant a whole garden.

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