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Archive for December, 2014

Dear Friends,

Another Christmas, another year. These last few days of the year, people usually take time to reflect on everything that happened during the past year and also think about the things that couldn’t get done. Some people lost a loved one during the past twelve months and this was the first Christmas without him or her. It was different. It was probably sad. Other families got a new addition, a new baby arrived, and this was probably their happiest (and probably the most tired) Christmas they’ve ever had. Yet other people got married and this was the first Christmas they spent together as a couple.

As the New Year comes along I encourage you to think of the happy moments you had during the year, the time you spent with your loved ones, and also take time to grieve those you may have lost. I personally lost two co-workers within the past thirteen months. That was hard. They were my friends and I miss them dearly. I also got a new nephew, whom I adore and my daughter got married. I got a new son-in-law, whom I love as my own son.

When we remember the happy moments in our lives, our hearts fill up with gratefulness, which helps us then deal with the sad moments we experienced during the year. When we focus on what we have versus what we lack, it gives us a different perspective in life. There will always be people who have more and who have less than we do. That’s ok. God meets our needs and blesses us immensely, each day.

So enjoy today and each day you have left of 2014. Then celebrate the New Year!

 

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Dear Friends,

Today most of you are probably doing some shopping either at the busy stores or online hoping your orders will arrive on time for Christmas. Some of you may already be done and enjoying family that arrived from various places. The busyness of Christmas often overshadows the reason behind the true meaning of the season. Every year you may say, “next year it will be less hectic, I’ll prepare with more time, or I won’t buy as many gifts…” But each year it seems we spend more money and the stress of the season continues unchanged.

I was talking with some friends at lunch yesterday about how difficult it is to buy gifts for some family members and even the little kids in the family because we truly don’t know what they want or need. The truth is, here in America, most people don’t need anything material, like more toys to play with. Most of the time, people make a list of what they want—their wish list. But true need? Only a few people have real need for material gifts.

However, there is a gift that we all need regardless of our material possessions, social status, or work success and that is forgiveness. Jesus gave us the gift of forgiveness that comes along with the gift of salvation and eternal life. Only Jesus can give us the last two but we can give other the gift of forgiveness. When we hold a grudge against others, we are the one who carry the extra burden with us. When we forgive, we let go of the extra weight and our load becomes lighter to carry.

This Christmas, if you hold a grudge in your heart against someone, it’s time to get rid of it. Give the other person the gift of forgiveness so you can move on with your own life.

Merry Christmas to all my friends and loved ones!

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The Love of a Friend

Dear Friends,

How much do you love your friends? How much do you love your best friend? Do you have one or several close friends? I was pondering today on the “love of a friend.” Friendship is something very special. The things we do for a friend are amazing. Sometimes we can love a friend more than our own siblings. Sometimes we love them just as a brother or sister. Many times we hurt our friends deeply too because we break the trust that is the foundation of any relationship. Many of those times when we hurt a friend, we never meant to. Words can be said, things happen, misunderstandings get in the way, and the relationship is damaged—sometimes beyond repair. Why does it hurt so much?

I am the type of person that gets really close to people. Because of that, I have developed many wonderful close relationships that have lasted many years through the course of my life. To me, friends are like a treasure. They are like gold. Every special friend I have is like a unique gift that God gave me, just for me to enjoy and cherish.

One of those close relationships I have developed over the years is with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Talk about the love of a friend and paying the ultimate sacrifice for a friend? Jesus did it for us, in the most painful way imaginable. I take Jesus with me wherever I go. I always say, “Don’t leave home without Him!” I talk to Jesus as if He were here with me… because He is. He is in my heart every day, each moment of my day. He knows me and loves me just the way God created me. He accepts me and approves of me. He also forgives me when I hurt Him. How do I hurt Jesus? Well, when I don’t share Him with others because I’m ashamed of saying His name or afraid of being judged by others. I hurt Jesus when I don’t help someone in need because I’m too busy to stop and help because it’s an inconvenience. I hurt Jesus when I hurt my brothers and sisters in Christ. I hurt Him when I take Him for granted and don’t even acknowledge Him for days because I’m too busy thinking about other things. I forget He’s there…

So today, I am purposed to be more diligent in spending more time with Jesus, just getting to know Him better, thanking Him for what He did for me as a friend. I will share Him more with my friends and tell the stories of how He has helped me in my life, how I know He’s real. I will also continue to nurture all my close friendships and love them with the love of God and with the love of a true friend. I encourage you to do the same!

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Dear Friends,

Someone asked me today, how do you know when you are led by the Spirit? What does it mean to be led by the Spirit of God? I think to answer this deep question, we need to start from the beginning.

When we accept Christ into our hearts and, by faith through the grace of God, we accept Jesus as our Savior, He then lives in us from that moment on and for the rest of our lives. When Jesus left this earth, He left us with His Spirit so He could be with all of us—at the same time. Because we were created in God’s image, He gave us a spirit too so we can communicate with Him via the spirit.

There are certain things that we just know are wrong to do. For example, we know it’s wrong to steal. We know it’s wrong to commit adultery or to kill another human being. We don’t need the Holy Spirit to tell us that or to remind us that those actions are wrong. Then we also have our moral compass based on our upbringing and our life experiences, we know certain actions are wrong. For example, we know that it’s not ethical to alter the company’s profits to show the shareholders better numbers. Yet people across time and generations do all of those things mentioned here. Why? Because they are human beings and humans sin—every day. We have the ability to ignore our own moral beliefs and ethical standards. Our flesh wins over our spirit. We do what we know is wrong. Like Paul said, “I do those things I shouldn’t do and I don’t do the things I should.”

In the workplace, when I don’t know how to handle a specific situation, I ask God for wisdom. I also gather all the information I can so I have facts. Lastly, I go with my gut feeling. If I have peace in my heart with a decision after I have prayed and asked God to give me wisdom, I go that way. If I don’t have peace, I don’t pursue until I do. That is one of the major clues to me to know if I’m being led by the Spirit.

There are other situations when we, out of the blue, have a sense that we need to pray for somebody, for no reason. In those instances, we should stop what we’re doing and pray for that person. Those are great examples of being led by the Spirit. We are to pray for one another and because God knows all of our needs, He puts somebody’s name in our hearts at the precise moment when that person needs prayer.

We also have heard of many stories when feel prompted to do something so strongly we have to do it. For example, we leave home and all of a sudden we feel the strong need to go back home. We don’t know why but we do it. We get home and find something on the stove that could have burnt down our house or we had left the house unlocked. Sometimes these situations are very small and other times, they could be catastrophic in our lives. Sometimes we feel the urge to call someone we haven’t talked to for a while and we follow through. We call them just to say hi. Then a week later, we hear that person died. How did we know to call that person? I believe those are small promptings from the Holy Spirit directly to our human spirit. I take those promptings very seriously and always follow through because I trust that God knows everything. My part is to do the small thing He puts in my heart to do.

Yet there are other times when some of us clearly hear words in our minds to do something or not to do something, to say or not to say something, to hug a person, to say a “word of encouragement” to a person in need. God manifests to us in many ways. Other times, we look to the Bible and the right passage shows up or the Lord reminds us of a specific Scripture at the right time when someone needs to hear those words of encouragement.

Lastly, in order for us hear the voice of God either in an audible way by hearing words in our hearts or by following a prompting in our spirit is to be in tune with the Spirit of God at all times. How are we in tune with the Holy Spirit? By spending time with God in prayer, just practicing hearing His voice, feeling His love, and being receptive to His promptings. This is very hard to do because we’re all so busy and have a hard time being quiet in front of the Lord. We can also be in tune by reading the Bible often, by studying and meditating on what we read, and by asking God to reveal to us what the Scriptures say. When we are constantly meditating or thinking about a specific Scripture in our minds, we become more receptive to the voice and promptings of God.

So, how are you led by the Spirit? How do you know it’s the voice of God talking to you? Because you are His child, you will know the voice of your Father. You will have peace in your heart. Stay in tune with Him and let Him guide your steps each day.

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