The Antidote to Idolatry

Idolatry
My heart is full of shame in front of God! The more I saturate my heart with His Word and learn of His attributes, I feel more and more reverence for Him while I see more of my wickedness.

As I seek His evaluation of my heart by meditating upon His Word, I feel more and more guilty of a sin punishable by death–idolatry!

No, I didn’t mean that I carved a golden god, arrayed it in multihued garments, prayed to it and kept in my room!

I didn’t mean that I have posted photos of a model or a celebrity on the walls of my room and spent money on collecting her magazines!

Yet, I realize that I am having an idol.

In Christian lingo, an idol is anything that takes the place of God in our hearts. It can be a job, self-image, relationships, possessions and anything that diverts our attention and worship from Him alone.

Sadly, in this computer age, there are many things that can easily take God’s  stead in our hearts and this rivalry between God and idols around us goes on and on each day. It is a daily battle.

I have been reading the Bible without thinking whether I follow my reading plan or not. All I want this year is to read and meditate upon God’s word and eventually know Him experientially in a much deeper level.

This month, I have chosen to focus on the book of Deuteronomy. Reading through the chapters of this book, it is simply convicting how God reminded the Israelites through Moses how He hates idolatry!

“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” ~Deuteronomy 4:23-24

 Over and over, this type of reminder was mentioned and the greatest of all commandments is also written in this book. It says:

Deut. 6-5

And this verse encapsulates the antidote to idolatry–loving the LORD our God with all our being.

Now, how can we love the Lord our God with all our being? Let me give you a very short list of  what it means to love God with all our being. These are easier said and read than done.

1. Loving the LORD our God means  learning His word daily.

“It is simple.”, you may say. However, it’s one thing to read God’s word and it’s another thing to meditate upon (i.e. chew on, ponder upon) His statements.

Let’s revive the lost art of meditation! These days, it’s easy to like and follow Biblical Facebook pages but let me tell you this, there’s nothing much better than discovering jewels in God’s word by ourselves.

Going back to the fundamentals of spiritual growth is never old-fashioned! We need to ask God to give us the grace that will enable us to spend quality time with Him early in the morning and before we sleep.

Let’s remember that the time spent with God in meditation of His word and in prayers is never wasted! It doesn’t end in reading God’s word. We also need to think about how we can practically apply His word in our daily life and this leads to our next item.

2. Loving the LORD our God means living out His word daily.

Jotting down the important points that we learn from God’s word in a journal is priceless. We can look back to them and eventually, teach them to others. More often than not, we can use them when we are tested on what we have just recently learned about God and His Word regarding areas of our life. And here’s what’s awesome: God is glorified when we pass the test while claiming His grace through our testings! He is pleased and glorified when we are not just readers of His word but also doers of His word and will!

Now, how else can we manifest our love for God? That leads us to our next practical item.

3. Loving the LORD our God means longing to fellowship with Him daily.

When our hearts is filled with love for God, it overflows with a desire to seek Him. And here’s the promise to those who long to be close to Him.

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Deut. 4:29

How are you and your relationship with God? It’s only you and God who can give an honest evaluation of your heart’s condition. Is God still on the throne of your heart? Is He still getting the time He deserves from you?

Do you continue to learn His word, live out His word and long to fellowship with Him daily? Oh that the Lord our God would speak to your heart as He spoke to me!

Here is the antidote to any form of idolatry, my dear friend: loving the LORD our God with all our being!

Advertisements

Day 7: Bible Lands Exploration 2016

One of the highlights of our Bible Lands Exploration 2016 happened on Day 7.

We came to see Jerusalem, a very controversial city these days!

While on the bus moving closer to the city, the first thing that captured our eyes was the “Dome of the Rock.”

As we got off the bus, we posed to take our group photos. All of us were excited to walk where Jesus walked on that day!

Our itinerary list included:

  • Mt. Olives
  • Palm Sunday Road
  • Gethsemane
  • Bethany
  • Tower of David
  • Ramparts

Have a look!

14361306_10208977695052868_3425365639234755819_o.jpg

Striking a group pose in Jerusalem (Photo Credit: Bro, Kenneth Cheong)

After our picture taking, we walked towards a tree-shaded place facing Mt. Olives and had a short introduction about Jerusalem there.

14362688_10208977700973016_2746263881338826292_o.jpg

On Mount of Olives while listening to an introduction of the place (Photo Credit: Bro. Kenneth Cheong)

14409435_10208983800325496_6200283639200015136_o.jpg

Our view of the Golden Gate from where we were having a short orientation about Jerusalem. (Photo Credit: Bro, Kenneth Cheong)

Our walk where Jesus walked started as we trod the Palm Sunday Road, which eventually led us to the “Garden of Gethsemane”. The garden you are seeing in the first photo in the collage below shows where Jesus is said to have agonized in prayer before His crucifixion.

DAY 7 BLE 2016.jpg

Beside that garden is a huge church called Church of All Nations” or “Basilica of Agony”. There, pilgrims can observe mosaics portraying a few scenarios in the Garden of Gethsemane before Christ’s crucifixion. Here are a few shots of what pilgrims see inside.

DAY 7 BLE 2016 (1).jpg

14445054_10208983796645404_2035000968449945735_o.jpg

Getting out, we all gathered together to read Mark 14:32-52. We overheard another group of tourists singing a moving hymn “We’re You There?” (Photo Credit: Bro. Kenneth Cheong)

Before heading to have lunch at Genesis Land, we attended a Baptist Church pastored by Rev. Atif Himadeh. It is a 30-plus-year-old church which continues to thrive by God’s grace.

DAY 7 BLE 2016 (2).jpg

After our fellowship with the church people in FBBC, we finally arrived at Genesis Land, the place that became one of my favorite stops. There, we had a sumptuous lunch after having a camel ride guided by Actor Eliezer, Patriach Abraham’s assistant!

12832427_10209461164991074_8379874352650040084_n.jpg

Sadly, I can’t find our group’s photo with “Eliezer”.

14500500_10154119927463732_9075853135127188848_o.jpg

Here’s one with Patriarch Abraham. (Photo Credit: Bro. Jacob Lim)

Our tour continued in the Western Wall Tunnel. We were oriented on how this structure was connected to Jerusalem’s history. Inside, we were told and shown the archaeological findings like large stone arches, water pits, ancient aqueducts and so on.

Soon after finishing the tour in the Western Wall Tunnel, we treaded Via Dolorosa to get to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

We headed back to our hotel after that and made sure we had a restful night for our next day’s journey.

Our itinerary on Day 7 was a humbling reminder of God’s humbling story of love toward mankind. You can guess that the Garden of Gethsemane was also my favorite highlight on Day 7.

Indeed, places around the world are full of reminders of God’s magnificent glory. What did you realize from your recent vacation? Share them with us in the comment box below!

Enjoy your journey in life with God.

4 Life Lessons from Joseph’s Journey with God

All of us are treading a journey. Some are just beginning one and others are almost done. Many are at a point of success while some are still recovering from a life that was in shambles. Some are pretty sure of the direction they are heading while some are facing a crossroad. Some may be like me–at a point of relearning to follow God’s direction because life is simply full of the unknown.

Our journey will be totally pointless if we are not sure of our purpose in whatever route we are taking.

For our journey to be significant, we need an understanding of two key things–our purpose for living and an understanding of God Himself.

We can learn about God best from His inspired written word–the Bible.

At the beginning of year 2018, I started following a different Bible reading plan. That is, the chronological one. Whether I follow the traditional or the chronological one, nothing has changed. God speaks to me through His word.

In the book of Genesis chapters 37 and 39-50, I read of the detailed account of Joseph’s journey with God. I assume that you all know that Joseph (a.k.a. Joseph the Dreamer) received a colorful coat from his father because he was his father’s favorite. Once, he told of his dreams implying that his brothers will be under his authority someday. This resulted in the anger and jealousy of his brothers and him being sold by his brothers to Midianite traders. Lo and behold, Joseph found himself in Egypt serving Pharaoh.

God impressed upon my heart a few life lessons worth-remembering from Joseph’s journey with Him.

  1. Intimacy with God leads to earthly success.
    “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.” Genesis 39:3

    If you were to read the account of Joseph’s life in Genesis 39, the first few verses describe Joseph’s notable success in Egypt all because “the Lord was with Him.” It is an implication that Joseph had an intimate relationship with God. The result? Effective execution of his tasks and a visible success in the eyes of men. In light of that, we realize that whatever career we are pursuing or whatever calling we are fulfilling, people will notice when God’s blessing is upon us. God’s blessing is evident upon a person who keeps an intimate relationship with Him

  2. Intimacy with God leads to spiritual success.
    “And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’… But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.” Genesis 39:7-9

    Immorality is an abomination in the sight of God. Definitely, Joseph understands that principle and the holiness of God. In Joseph’s reverential fear of God, he ran away from the situation that tested his morality and chose to honor God and his earthly master even in his absence! Unless we fear the holy God, we cannot flee from temptation and achieve victory in our spiritual battles.

  3. Intimacy with God doesn’t exempt us from life’s tests. We read of the integrity of Joseph and yet he was falsely accused by the wife of Pharaoh (Genesis 39:13-18). Imagine Joseph’s stabbing pain in his heart caused by her false accusation and an unjust verdict from Pharaoh who once trusted him. Undeterred, Joseph kept his steadfast faith in God. We don’t see any record of Joseph’s complaints to God. You might be facing a trial you feel like you don’t deserve. It may seem to be beyond your understanding. Take a look at the example of Joseph and remain steadfast in believing that God knows what He is doing.
  4. Intimacy with God gains people’s favor.
    “So Joseph found favor in his [the Pharaoh’s] sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had….But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.” Genesis 39:4, 21-23 (emphasis added)

    Teachers, classmates, bosses and colleagues are not blind to God’s blessing upon His children who are walking closely with Him. In fact, they are confident that whatever task they give to faithful followers of God will be accomplished successfully.In the case of Joseph, Pharaoh was pleased with Joseph’s attitude toward work and so was the keeper of the prison.

The bottom line is intimacy with God brings both blessings and testings but we need to remain steadfast in clinging to our God whether we are on a mountaintop or valley on our journey. Let’s remember the life lessons from the life of Joseph.

Bangladeshi-Inspired Money & Time-Saving Hacks Worth-Trying

Time, as the cliché goes, is gold and a valuable commodity. It is something, that once lost, cannot be brought back. Baby Boomers, Generation X, millennials and iGens know this well.

It is why many of the best-selling books ever are the ones that aid people to manage their time wisely.

Now, I am not gonna sell anything that will help you save time. I want to share with you some of the precious time-saving hacks I have been learning in my journey as a wife while in Bangladesh.

1. Make a stash of garlic and onion paste using a blender.

Prepping ingredients for hearty and healthy meals can take up so much time and this hack is indeed a lifesaver. Yes, especially if you have unexpected guests! 😉

2. Cut the raw ingredients of your dishes for the next day the night before.

Remember to store them in your fridge to secure freshness.

3. Kindle stove fire using strips from carton boxes.

Save your matchsticks by using carton strips to kindle fire on your stove–that is if your stove knob isn’t working properly anymore.

4. Take your wrinkled clothes to a dry cleaning shop.

Here in Bangladesh, you can find laundry/dry cleaning shops that provide ironing service. We pay just a small fraction of money per clothes. Doing so saves me a lot of time and money!

5. Eat out less.

Generally, my husband and I have agreed not to eat out often. It is because of the rumors that some food stalls in Bangladesh don’t secure hygienic ingredients (e.g. fast food chains buy double dead chicken and use old oil to fry them). Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? This makes me wonder why they sell them at expensive prices.

Needless to say, it is always much cheaper to cook your own meals at home! 😊

6. Hire a part-time help.

This may not sound practical in some countries but it is possible in Bangladesh. Hiring a part-time help is quite a common practice here. We can pay one to wipe our floors, cut ingredients good for a week or so or make them do whatever is necessary. We pay a certain amount per task.

In my experience here, hiring a full-time help can be more expensive and stressful. You may guess the reasons. 😉

7. Buy things in bulk.

Do you realize how much money you can save by buying things in bulk? This makes shopping less time-consuming and less expensive.

What items among the list have you tried? What are the time and money saving hacks have you been practicing? Please share them in the comments box below!

32 Life Lessons I Have Learnt So Far

The original title of this post was “31 Life Lessons I Have Learnt So Far.” Obviously, this has been in my drafts for more than a year. I was just inspired by a younger sister in Christ to finally post this because of her article I read here.  Is it too late to share with you the gems of life lessons I found in my borrowed 32 years on earth? Here you go:

  1. Drinking warm water on an empty stomach does wonders.
  2. Unhealthy food makes me feel lousy and healthy ones boost my energy.
  3. The purest joy I have ever known in life is having a personal relationship with God through Christ.
  4. I am a summary of how well or how poorly I use my time.
  5. My choices of words and actions reflect my view of God and the condition of my heart.
  6. Making decisions? Going ahead of God will hurt my soul.
  7. People come and go. Getting so emotionally attached to anyone is not healthy and wise. Jesus is the best friend I can ever have.
  8. Sin prevents me from enjoying an intimate relationship with God.
  9. Happiness doesn’t depend on my surroundings, but rather on the condition of my heart.
  10.  Primarily, God uses His word to give me an understanding of His character. He tests my knowledge of Him in the form of prosperity or adversity.
  11. My Heavenly Father wins me back to Him either through His lovingkindness or chastisement.
  12. Keeping a journal aids me in processing my emotions and helps me choose the right response to my situations.
  13. I have the ability to forgive others because God had forgiven me of my own sins.
  14. God hears my simplest prayers.
  15. Giving God the first part of my day enables me to complete my tasks at hand. Skipping my devotions is the best recipe for a bad day.
  16. “I can never outgive God.”
  17.  Colossians 3:23 is a great verse to live by. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men.”
  18. It is never healthy to surround myself with negative people so I should choose my friends wisely.
  19. I can turn my worry list into my prayer list.
  20. When I have free time, I should read books or do something that will draw me closer to my life goals.
  21. The cure to pride is remembering that God is good to all. That’s the same antidote to jealousy. God being good to all means He is good to me! (Psalm 145:9)
  22. The way I live, dress up, speak, and behave says much about whether I care about the unsaved souls around me.
  23. It’s never worth anything to run away from God’s will. Peace only comes from complete obedience to God.
  24. By helping others without expecting anything in return, I give God the opportunity to show Himself faithful in providing my needs in a special way.
  25. Increasing my financial literacy includes learning the right stewardship of the money God entrusts me. Grow in giving, saving and investing.
  26. Being treated negatively by mean people doesn’t entitle me to be mean as well. Gotta pay evil with good.
  27. Minimalism spares me from a lot of stress. Speak less, spend less. As the cliché goes, “Less is more.”
  28. Disappointments are meant to make me better, not bitter.
  29. The real blessed (happy) people are the ones who suffer a lot for righteousness’ sake.
  30. When God sends trials, He always has His glory in mind and the betterment of my relationship with Him.
  31. My failures give me a great privilege to try again next time. Giving up is never an option.
  32. I don’t deserve anything from God so I should stay grateful to Him for all the undeserved blessings He gives me.

Indeed, life is the greatest learning platform. As long as we are breathing, we have the opportunity to grow personally, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Isn’t it an exciting thought that every moment is a learning opportunity?

What are the lessons you have been learning on your personal journey? Share them with me in the comments below.

Leaning on Jesus, (1)

 

A Simple Trick to Shoo Satan Away

Photo-Grabbed-From-JEG

Did you read that? Isn’t that a beautiful thanksgiving prayer? This same prayer reflects what has been in my heart. I praise God that Satan’s attack on God’s submissive children will always end up frustrated all by HIS grace.

Yes, we may trip and stumble along the way but thank God for Psalm 37:23-24. It says,

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”

A PERSONAL TESTIMONY

I have observed personally that the more I make decisions to pursue godliness in my life, I find that Satan works his fingers to his bones to preclude me from fulfilling my goals.

It should not surprise me because as the Bible indicates, Satan seeks to destroy God’s children with busyness and all sorts of afflictions (1 Peter 5:8).

Continuing to tread my life’s journey this far made me realize one thing: I should talk with Satan as often as He tempts me to disobey God.

Yes, I do need to pray and put on the whole armor of God as the Apostle Paul suggests us to do in Ephesians 6:10-20 but I also have to shoo Satan away! That entails talking to him and making him stop as often as he annoys me with twisted truths.

One book I read in my college years says that just as one person is afraid of his enemy’s name, Satan is terrified by the name of Jesus. Hence, anytime Satan tries to attack us, we should tell him boldly something to this effect, “Get away from here Satan, in Jesus’ name! You’re a loser and hell will always be your future destination. You can never get me to your side!”

(Lol!) It might sound funny and charismatic but I have been doing what the author suggested for years. And you know what? It is effective!

The bottom line is we can shoo Satan away using Jesus’ powerful name!

Have a victorious journey!

Leaning on Jesus, (1)

10 Powerful Quotes on Forgiveness

I don’t know about you but I find my fleeting days on earth extremely tough at times. I admit that my own journey as a sojourner in this world, that is not my home, can be trying and exhausting.

In our mission field, I meet extremely good-natured people and occasionally, I encounter difficult ones–ones who do not comprehend intentionally where I am coming from–the ones whom I expect to be apologetic for having said or done something that hurt me but are not. What am I supposed to do then?

It is undeniable that the Adversary (the devil) can tempt me to dwell in despondency, stir the bitter thoughts in my heart and make me sulk in one corner. I feel like this area of my life is what He attacks most often especially when I decide to be more committed to praying for people in my life (i.e. my family, friends, fellow-workers in the ministry and faithful life mentors). He knows that I find it hard to pray when I am hurt and when I hold a grudge against another.

The Holy Spirit, however, urges me to:

  • renew my mind, recall God’s forgiveness and commands me to forgive others as He has forgiven me (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:32). 
  • remember that Satan is simply using other people to distract me from my focus on loving the people Jesus loves dearly (1 Peter 5:8).
  • let go of the situation and let Him deal with the people who offended me. (Romans 12:19)

Since I am well aware that Satan’s goal is to play with an idle mind, which is his workshop, I made an effort to fill my quiver with ten powerful quotes on forgiveness. Along with the Scriptures, I hope that this quotes-filled quiver I am about to share with you will equip you to forgive others easier, just as it did to me.

  1. “It is nobler to forgive and let the offense pass. To let an injury rankle in your bosom and to meditate revenge is to keep old wounds open and to make new ones. Better forget and forgive.” – Charles H. Spurgeon.
  2. “We are to forgive so that we may enjoy God’s goodness without feeling the weight of anger burning deep within our hearts. Forgiveness does not mean we recant the fact that what happened to us was wrong. Instead, we roll our burdens onto the Lord and allow Him to carry them for us.” – Dr. Charles Stanley
  3. “Don’t get impatient with others. Remember how God dealt with you – with patience and gentleness.” – Oswald Chambers
  4. “Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.” – Dave Willis
  5. “Nothing in the Christian life is more important than forgiveness-our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us.” – John F. MacArthur
  6. Image result for elizabeth george quotes on forgiveness
  7. “If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” – Amy Carmichael
  8. “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” – Corrie Ten Boom
  9. “Choosing to forgive always honors God.” – Lysa Terkeust
  10. pablo (9)

Since forgiveness of our sins is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given us, forgiving our offenders is not only the best gift we could give them but most of all, to ourselves.

God knows the paths of our journey ahead of us. He knows that random people could offend, betray or hurt us. Let us praise God for Jesus has set us an example of forgiveness and prayer for the Father to “forgive them [our offenders] for they do not know what they are doing.”

How do you process your pain or hurt? What are the quotes on forgiveness you find freeing? Kindly share them with me and our readers so we could enjoy our journey with a peaceful heart.

Leaning on Jesus, (1)

Free Bible Reading Plan in Bengali for New Believers

Upon seeing people in our field profess faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, one of our desires as missionaries is to see their growth in their walk with God and to see them nurture their new relationship with God through Christ by studying the Bible systematically.

My husband and I cannot let it just be a goal or a burden. We needed to take an action to fulfill our desire.

I did my research last year and came up with a 60 day-Bible reading plan. My husband helped editing my translation.

In this post, I am sharing a copy of the said plan. Find your copy here and we will be delighted if you would share this to anyone you know who may need it. We hope and pray that this will aid new Bengali believers in their journey with God.

Indeed, as David said,

pablo (27).png

If we want a prosperous spiritual life, our delight must be in the word of God. As you would see, everything else will follow.

Let us all together continue to exalt God’s word and make God known to people we meet in our journey.

Belated Merry Christmas and have a blessed new year!

Leaning on Jesus, (1)