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Jesus Is Our Firm Foundation

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug deep down and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Luke 6:46-49 (NLT)

Perhaps this story of the wise man building his house upon the rock reminds you of Sunday school. Maybe a song with hand motions is surfacing in your memory. Yeah, I’m humming.

Sometimes the familiar stories are difficult to learn from because we already know the lesson. Jesus paints a memorable picture by showing us what they are like. The song says they are wise. But who are they? So I ask you to read today’s story again.

They are the wise who come to Jesus, hear his words and put them into practice. (tweet this)

They don’t stay on the surface of scripture. They work hard to understand deeply how to apply Jesus’ words in life. They find solid rock in God’s unshakable truth.

Could they be us? Yes!

Let’s be the wise! Let’s seek to understand Jesus’ words and put them into practice. Let’s dig for the truth we can stand on when the torrents of life strike.

Where do you find truth?
What are the consequences of ignoring Jesus’ words?

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #Scripture #Truth #Jesusinaction #Godisourrock #firmfoundation

God Knows What Matters

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.
Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT)

Oh, how I pray for you!

I yearn for all of us to know God and the richness of life with Him. I pray that we could internalize God’s way of living into our minds and hearts so we understand what truly matters.

What does really matter? Do our lives reflect what we believe truly matters? We should step back now and then to observe and adjust.

There’s not enough time for all the good things that matter. We must choose what matters most. How? Is a nutritionally balanced meal more important than pizza if it means connecting with your teenager?

These are hard questions, but I believe God has the answers. We learn what really matters by growing our knowledge and understanding of God’s word. That’s exactly why I write this blog – so we can hear what God says.

Do we know what God values?

We can only know by digging in to God’s word. If we give any value to the idea that God might know what’s best for us, we have to heed His instructions. When I do this, I usually discover that His way works after all.

The Apostle Paul’s beautiful prayer is a yearning for all of us to grow closer to God, to flourish in life, and to pour love out into the world.

God’s way of living leads to a flourishing life overflowing with love. (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #Scripture #Truth #whatmattersmost #spendingourdays

On a personal note: I’m so excited to be writing about God’s word again! If you haven’t already, head over to my newly redesigned website to dig into posts about a particular topic or to learn a little more about me and why I write. There’s a free gift for subscribers which are some images with my most useful verses – my ‘go-to’ verses – that you can use as screen saver backgrounds on your computer or phone. If there’s a post that speaks to you, please share on your social media page. God can even use Instagram to speak to us!

God’s Home is With Us

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. John 14:23 (NLT)

God will make His home with us – each of us. Doesn’t that sound good?

Because homes are never perfect, ‘home’ doesn’t always evoke a positive image. But our desire for home feels like family, love, acceptance, comfort and safety. Home is where we settle and put down roots. It’s a place where we can be ourselves.

Jesus tells us that He and the Father will make their home with each person who loves Him and does what He says. There’s the catch. There’s always a catch. God loves us unconditionally, but He settles in with those who love Him and follow His way of living.

Our relationship with God feels like home when we love Him.

We love God with gratitude and praise. We love God by loving others. But Jesus says we love Him by doing what He says. And in this conversation with his disciples, Jesus repeats this instruction 4 times: If you love me, obey my commandments. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. (John 14:15, 21, 24)

We express our love for God by following His way.

How do we know what Jesus says? The Bible. Period. We need to know Scripture. By following God’s instructions we develop better relationships with others and experience joy. We see the good world God created and manage problems with wisdom and strength. But the Bible also reveals God’s heart and His love. And as our love grows, God settles in and makes Himself at home.

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #Scripture #FollowJesus #Bible #LoveGod #Home

Making Space for the Kingdom of God

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

I’m steeped in 3rd century church history right now and learning how monasteries got started. I’ve always found this simple life of devotion appealing. Had I been Catholic, I’d have considered becoming a nun. My brother still teases that I could be Amish, and I admit being attracted to their lifestyle.

Surprisingly, this highly devoted lifestyle started because Christianity was legalized. When worshiping God was illegal, every Christian was highly devoted because identifying with Christianity was socially and physically costly. Anyone refusing to worship the plethora of cultural gods was odd and sometimes faced arrest, torture and death.

Bigger is not better

When Emperor Constantine favored Christianity over pagan religions, Christianity became popular. The increased numbers meant decreased commitment to faith. New believers often blended their old practices with Christianity. So those who wanted a deeper connection with God separated themselves from the watered down, tolerant, popularized Christianity to focus their attention on devotion and service.

Is stepping away from the hubbub of daily life necessary for deep connection? 

Is commitment greater when there’s a cost or consequence?

It’s impossible to measure the depth of spirituality in today’s world. However, I notice my own struggle to balance the pace of everyday life with my devotion to God. Sunday commitments keep me from worship. My schedule doesn’t permit space for consistent prayer and contemplation. I yearn for and recognize the benefit of spiritual retreats specifically designed to focus on faith.

How can we balance the demands of modern society and stay attuned to God?

Prioritizing concerns that are important to God ensures a day in the Kingdom. (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #KingdomofGod #modernsociety #spirituality

Believing ‘In’ or Believing ‘That’

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:17 (NLT)

I’ve been exploring the expansion of the church after the New Testament. All the church had to work with were oral accounts of Jesus’ teaching, the Jewish scriptures, Paul’s letters, and the Holy Spirit. From these teachings, certain universal beliefs emerged. The church was piecing together the rest.

• When and how should we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection?
• Was Jesus human or merely spiritual?
• Is Jesus the same as God or separate and subordinate?
• Is the God that Jesus represented the same wrathful God of the Jewish scriptures?

No one intended to mislead, but sometimes they incorrectly proposed doctrine that contradicted another accepted truth. They were careful to test every new idea against scripture and the teachings of those who knew Jesus personally.

Ultimately, the church denounced ideas that risked salvation.

An idea that described a Christ who could not save us must be wrong, because they knew Christ’s death and resurrection earned our salvation. An idea that described humans as not needing salvation by God must be incorrect, because humans cannot save themselves.

Why was getting it right so important?

Because the church wasn’t establishing rituals to perform routinely. It was true. They didn’t merely believe in God. They believed that God had acted in history to create the world, send His Son, die on the cross and rise to life again. It actually happened and it changed every person’s eternity.

  • How would you describe the difference between believing in God and believing that God saves us?
  • How does it impact your life?

We don’t merely believe in God. We believe that God acted in history for our salvation. (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #JesusSaves #Truth

I Didn’t Think I Was Lost

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.
Luke 19:10 (NLT)

This verse isn’t for me.

I’m not lost. I know where I’m going and what I’m doing and when I don’t, I Google it. I don’t need help – I can handle it. Sound familiar?

Nor did I feel lost before entering into a relationship with Jesus. Life was proceeding as expected. This stay-at-home mom hung out at playgrounds and playgroups, volunteered, carpooled, and managed life pretty well. Busy and sometimes stressed, yes, but lost? No way!

Until I admitted I was.

I’ve believed in Jesus my whole life, but my relationship with Him began during a Bible study class. I found a way to squeeze in (almost) daily prayer and quiet time and began to look forward to this personal time. Before opening my Bible, I opened my heart and shared thoughts I didn’t share with anyone – thoughts of guilt, grief, inadequacy, and unhappiness. Only by slowing my pace, becoming vulnerable, and allowing God to bring healing to hidden feelings, did I realize I was lost.

God’s promises of love, forgiveness, and guidance changed my life. God knew me and still loved me. Jesus was persistently seeking me but my self-sufficiency pushed away His offer to save me.

Saved from what? Saved for what?

Salvation isn’t about heaven after death. It’s about flourishing in this life, knowing our intrinsic value and security as God’s beloved, finding joy in following Jesus’ way of loving selflessly, and debunking the world’s lies about what’s important.

When we admit our need for Jesus, He makes a real difference in our lives. (tweet this)

Do you feel a little lost? Jesus can help you find your way.

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #quiettime #Jesussaves #Iwaslost

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

Spend a few minutes to plant a quick Seed. Or stay longer 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.
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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