Tag Archives: knowing God

{His}Story: Faith, Repentance, Joy…{Final Bite}

 

This post is the final part of ‘bite size’ portions of my testimony. If you would like to start from the beginning you can read:

Downsized. {A Bitesize Testimony} (Part 1); Building Facades & Chasing Mirages (Part 2); An Eternal Invitation (Part 3); A Christian Mary Poppins (Part 4)

***

Seven years ago today God was pleased to reveal Himself to me through His Word–His Son Jesus Christ.

I had asked God:

What does Anna have that I don’t? I talk to you God. I want what she has with you!

One month goes by and that’s when I ‘hear’ Him. It was not an audible voice. He spoke toimage my heart and He spoke through His Word….

He wakes me up at 2am on February 12, 2009 and I feel this prompting to get my Bible and journal and go to the guest room of our home. He speaks to my heart:

Arcelia, you want to know what Anna has that you don’t? I want you to go through the Ten commandments and don’t move on to the next one until you perfected the first”

I didn’t even know where to find the Ten Commandments but looking in the concordance I find it in Exodus 20

You shall have no other gods before Me…”

I respond.

I don’t have any other gods before you…then His Holy Spirit takes me to Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I tell God, “I do love You! I do love You with all my heart, soul and might and Anna is ‘diligently’ teaching my children Your word. She knows the Bible better than I do. Besides, this is the Old Testament anyway, what did Jesus say?”

Then I see what Jesus said about the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-40 as He quotes the Old Testament:

“ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

My heart drops…I say again, I DO love you God!! Then it was as if He spoke to my heart these words:

Arcelia, you are passionate about your job, you are passionate about serving in the Church, you were passionate about the military, you were passionate about creative memories….what about Me?”

God through His Holy Spirit began to convict me of all of the idols in my life.

I see for the first time. I did have other gods.

But I wanted to love God with all my heart mind soul and strength but how? How can I ‘perfect’ that? I wept and cried out to God. I cried because I was frustrated, how can I love? What was love? I read 1 Corinthians 13.

I saw my inability to love God the way He was asking me. I saw my sinful state in contrast to His holiness and I wept. That’s when I began to understand the good news:

I can’t perfect anything.  That’s why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He is the perfect sacrifice. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It is through Jesus Christ I have access to God the Father.

I was broken, my heart soft, repentant and ready to place my faith in Jesus Christ and receive the gift of salvation.

I sorrowfully cried because I finally understood! I understood I was a sinner, disobedient, unwilling and unable to obey God in my own strength. I asked for forgiveness for my sins and had a change of heart and saw my need for Jesus Christ. There and then I loved Him
as never before.

I didn’t get ‘it’ I got ‘Him’, His Holy Spirit and a new undivided heart devoted to God. Just as it is written in Ezekiel 11:19-20:

“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”

It was the beginning of my walk of faith with God.  I told God I am His and I would go anywhere He wanted me to go, do whatever He asked and I would talk to whoever He wanted me to talk to. It was more than just believing in Him, I told Him I would follow Him all the days of my life. I committed my life to Him. 

That was the day I breathed my last and began my life of surrender to God.

A life of a Christian is not perfect nor is it about DOING things for God but BEING in Christ.

A life of a Christian is not about religion but a reconciliation of relationships that begins with God through Jesus Christ and extends to others ( A reconciled Mom and daughter).

A life of a Christian is not without trials and tribulations but there is a blessed assurance and peace that comes from trusting and knowing God.

Eternal life is not about dying and living forever, rather eternal life is meant for NOW.  Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The more you know Him the more you love Him.

***This is my testimony of how God chose to reveal Himself to me. It was a process, a drawing.

It’s not the same for everyone, and not everyone ‘knows’ the ‘exact date’ of their conversion. God is so personal and knows our hearts. The only thing that is the same for all is: repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I realize it’s not how you BEGIN that counts…it’s how you end.  I know my salvation is not based on works, but in the finished works of Jesus Christ alone, however I want to run this race of faith well so that I may be found a faithful steward of everything God has given me, beginning with my faith and family.

God is the same, yesterday, today and forever….May God reveal Himself to you today if you do not yet ‘know’ Him. I pray you say, “no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

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The family God entrusted me 2009 {three months after my conversion}

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The family God entrusted me (2015)

“Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face continually.”  1 Chronicles 16:10-11

 

“This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior Jesus, all the day long…”

 

 


{in}perfection

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His shoulders slump and his head is down in defeat as he shares with me a repeated sin he committed. He looks frustrated, weary and condemned. I too am frustrated ready to pile on condemning words, until I felt a tinge of compassion fill my heart. I was reminded of the confessing cleansing conversation I had with a friend about my sins just minutes before.

By God’s grace, I knew it was most important to share with my son the spiritual heart of the matter, to tell him the truth about the Truth-Jesus Christ.

To be transparent and share my genuine compassion for his sin struggle because I struggle too. It was a holy opportunity to share the Gospel. To share the gift of forgiveness and mercy that comes through repentance towards God and faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. To share the freedom that comes by power of the resurrected Christ. To walk him to God’s throne of grace.
It was a chance to remind us we’re not perfect and we need a Savior. Any righteousness we have comes from Jesus Christ in us. We are to practice righteousness, press on to maturity, but only God will perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus.
I write this stone of memorial to remind myself, we must practice patience–with ourselves…and one another.

***

When I was a new Christian I was naive to think I would no longer make a mistake. I read  that I was a “new creation” and given a “new heart,”and though I “knew” I was not perfect, I made an expectation for myself that I should be perfect or I was a hypocrite.

This led me to great frustration and even condemnation because I couldn’t understand the continual struggle against sin I was dealing with, let alone the number of times I failed. What I see now is any holiness I have is CHRIST IN me. I have seen my flesh and it’s ugliness to the point I’ve doubted my own salvation! The redeeming part is that my flesh and sin remind me of my need for a Savior. This gives me compassion for those that struggle, beginning in my own family.

A fruitful life comes by a daily walk of abiding in the one who is perfection: Christ.

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Glorify God. Magnify Christ. Edify the brethen.


Burdened Beyond…

God knows every bird
Have you ever experienced a tribulation, distress or affliction that was so overwhelming it was beyond what you could handle?

Thlipsis is the Greek word for Affliction, which is defined as “a pressing, pressing together, pressure, oppression, tribulation, distress.

What a great word picture because it feels like “a pressing” weight when I’m afflicted.

Some of the things I’ve been learning are:

  • Affliction can lead to burdens beyond our strength
  • Affliction can lead us to die to self–humble ourself and admit our inability to change the situation and place our trust in God
  • Affliction can remind us:
    • God is above all things
    • God raises the dead
    • God will deliver us from the afflictions of this world
    • We need to set our hope in God (not man)
    • Affliction keeps us close to God
    • Affliction reminds us to pray for one another for deliverance of these afflictions
    • God delivered us from so great a peril of death through Jesus Christ
    • Affliction reminds us there’s more than this life…there’s eternal life

Eternal life can begin now with KNOWING God and Jesus Christ who He has sent. Unite yourself to the One that can carry you–Jesus Christ.

In whatever affliction you may be enduring, may you be encouraged BeLoved.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28-29

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11


Eternal Mission

One of the main reasons I joined the military was to be part of imagesomething bigger than myself. In June 1996 I saw the news report of the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia where 19 servicemen were killed, and it evoked a restlessness in me to make a positive impact on this evil world. As an ambitious 20 year old I was afraid I would miss my calling in life and was mobilized to join the fight of defending our freedom.

Five months later I stepped off a bus the dawn before Thanksgiving enduring humiliation and lots of yelling, and I began to understand just a small amount of what it means to sacrifice. God used the military in so many ways to reveal how He had uniquely designed and equipped me. I LOVED being in the military…the structure, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose of being part of a mission that mattered.

I see now WHY I felt that restlessness of wanting to make an impact on this world…

I was made to be a soldier–a soldier of Christ. There is a real spiritual war going on and many casualties are dying without knowing they have access to God through Jesus Christ!

All those years in the military I knew about God but I didn’t have a saving relationship with Him as I do now. Today I KNOW God and I KNOW my purpose: to Know Him and Make Him Known by bringing glory to His name.

I am so thankful for all of the Christians I met in the military that were lights shining, ambassadors for Christ, serving alongside me, asking me to be reconciled to God through Christ. You know who you are. You not only served our Country, but were on a spiritual mission which made an eternal impact.

I am still a soldier. My allegiance is to the only One who holds all things together, the only One who sustains freedom—His name is Jesus Christ.

The last orders He gave His disciples were:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

And so I go forth and obey Him knowing it is God who is at work in imageme, “to will and act in order to fulfill HIS GOOD PURPOSE.”

By His strength and Word I begin in my own home, neighborhood, and City remembering how a soldier is supposed to behave:

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Will you join me in this ETERNAL MISSION?

*Thank you my fellow Veterans of the U.S. Military you are LOVED.

God HAS blessed America–He has forgiven the world of our sins because of the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST.


Unreceived Grace

Her effort to be perfect is destroyed by her sin
Paralyzing guilt sets in
She weeps, sadden by the loss of ‘perfection’
She hardens her heart and tries to justify her sin

Enter in grace…

The one she sinned against forgives her, but her hands are clenched
He pleads for her to return to him
She wants to return, but doesn’t forgive herself
She knows she does not deserve forgiveness
She runs away into the dark to hide
She doesn’t think she deserves to live, and wants death
She begins to numb herself

Messengers come, reminding her of grace…
One day the one sinned against speaks to her again
He invites her to reconcile
She dares to believe reconciliation is possible
She dares to believe she could be forgiven
She steps out of the darkness and towards the Light
She takes his hand and walks on the road of reconciliation

Through this journey her hands open and her heart softens
She weeps a different type of sorrow
She weeps in humility and gratitude
She experiences a spiritual death and is rewarded a new life

She lives because her hands opened to receive grace
She lives a new life because she walks in the Light
She lives a new life because she believes she is forgiven

Today she is hidden with Christ in God!

Hallelujah!

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It’s Hard To Believe…

It IS hard to believe…

It’s hard to believe I need a sacrifice for my sins.
It’s hard to believe God would come down in the flesh and save me.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been forgiven of my past sins.
It’s hard to believe I have the power to overcome future sins.
Its hard to believe I can speak to God Almighty.
It’s hard to believe God can hear me.
It’s hard to believe I can hear Him.
It’s hard to believe God lives in me.

It’s hard to believe God loves me.

It IS hard to believe.

That’s why it takes a working of GOD to save us:
To save us from this of doubt Him.
To save us from this division from Him.
To save us from this depression within.
To save us from this darkness around.
To save us from our sins.
Oh what GRACE is HARD to comprehend!

Please LORD,
Remind me again how Your grace and mercies are new each morning.
Remind me how the blood of Jesus still cleanses;
Remind me of Your faithfulness and righteousness to forgive;
Remind me of Your presence within.

 

***

God saves
When I was first born again six years ago I was overly zealous for Jesus Christ. Though I shared Christ with those around me, I was trying to make others believe. I had salvation ambition and I came across as a ‘Bible thumper.’ I wanted so badly for others to be rescued out of the darkness and depression I once knew.

But what I didn’t fully realize then that I do now is this…I can’t make anyone believe, not even myself. Saving faith is a work of God.

So today I sow the Word implanted in me…I sow with my mouth, I sow with my writing, I sow with my living and I sow with my tears.

I pray and wait as God causes a growth.

May this God Friday be the day of someone’s salvation.

*Read Titus 3


A Change of Heart

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You begin life with a selfish heart.

Everything you say is right and everyone else is wrong. It needs to be your way, you hurt people with the things you say and do but don’t care. If they hurt you, you harden your heart and cut them out of your life pretending they don’t exist.

But one day after making another selfish decision it doesn’t “feel” right. You wonder what this “feeling” is about…maybe your conscience? You shrug your shoulders and ignore the “feeling,” sometimes escaping and using things of the world to numb your heart.

This “feeling” happens often enough you begin to see other things, like how your selfishness hurts others. At first you react indifferent as if you don’t care, but deep inside you do. You begin to see “ugly” in you. It comes to the point when you can’t handle it anymore and you wonder, “Can I ever change?”

You strive to succeed. You try to be nicer to people, try to say nice things, but your thoughts reveal the authenticity of your heart…”ugly.” You still press forward and begin to do charitable deeds to feel good about yourself but it never lasts.

But one day you’re introduced to perfection—Jesus Christ. You don’t know Him but you know about Him and You want to be like Him. He’s so loving, patient and kind, all the things you know you are not. You begin going to Church, reading the Bible and you try to be like Him but fail every time. In fact, the more you read the Bible, the more you learn about the Holiness of God and the more you see your “ugly” heart and your inability to love God and others.

You “pour” out your ugly heart and begin to “mourn” and weep about the “ugly” in you. You feel hopeless and doubt there could ever be a change in your “ugly” heart. and you want a new heart. You are overwhelmed on where to begin in this change…then one day you meet Jesus for yourself and are invited into a reconciled relationship to KNOW the One that heals hurts and hearts…the scales fall of your eyes and you see:

  • The only One that can change your heart is the one who created you–God the Father
  • The only Way to get to God the Father is to be reconciled to Him for all those times you cherished your “ugly” heart and hurt Him and others
  • The only Way to be reconciled to the Father is through Jesus Christ
  • The only Way to get a new heart is to be born again
  • The only Way to keep this new heart unstained by the world is to walk in the Light

The only Way to walk in the Light and be Revived is to place your faith in Jesus Christ:

  • Believe Jesus came to save you from your “ugly” not condemn you
  • Believe Jesus took the sacrifice for your “ugly” and it is finished
  • Believe Jesus reconciled you to God the Father
  • Believe you have been given the resurrection power to abstain from “ugliness”
  • Believe Jesus is praying for you
  • Believe God is faithful and righteous and will continue to forgive you of your “ugly” and cleanse you

So one day you give your “ugly” dark heart to God and He takes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh and puts His Spirit in you, telling you the way to go and you begin to walk in the Light.

You know you are not perfect but believe God will complete the work He began you until the day Christ returns.

As you walk in the Light with your new heart you sometimes experience that same “feeling” and see “ugly” but now you don’t ignore this “feeling” and instead you daily pour out your heart to God and turn to Him and experience a new feeling a “burning.”

This “burning” is God refining you, making you more like Christ….isn’t that what you wanted? To be like Jesus Christ?  That is what our Creator, your Father wills.

***
*The “ugly” is sin

*That “feeling” about sin is conviction

*That “pouring” about sin is confession

*That “mourning” about sin is godly sorrow

*That “turning” from sin is repentance

*That “burning” of sinful flesh is sanctification making you more like Christ

A change of heart only comes through God by turning from your sinful ways to God and placing your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Repentance towards God and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith…is the lifestyle of a child of God.

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“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22

‘”For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-21


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