May 02, 2014

Be Content

The reason I wrote this is not because I have mastered in being content in everything. But in opposite, I would like to share my struggling with contentment issue and what I have learned so far. I am too, still growing in this contentment area. But what encourages me the most is, as I learned the truth about God's words and applied it in my life, my world has started to achieve its balance again. I do not struggle as much as before anymore. And I hope you can experience the same :)

So this is what I am struggling about. I love flare skirts. I always love wearing dresses and skirts. But these months lately, I love them even more. I also love many colours. Mostly I love pastel colours such as blue, pink, yellow, mint green, and even white, grey, many more. So I found that one flare skirt with one colour was not enough. I started to order another skirt with the same model with another colour on and on [one day if I have taken pictures for all of it I will show you here and I bet it will be beautiful pictures :D] I kept reasoning with myself how 'useful' are all my flare skirts. I like it first because it suits my body figure. I have small waist but long torso. So wearing flare skirt (which its waits usually about 5 cm above belly button), can cover up both of my strength and weakness. It enhances the look of my small waist, but also shortened my torso so that my feet looks longer (better if I wear high heels). I also reasoned that flare skirt looks modest. So I can wear it when I teach the class, I can feel 'beautiful' without having to display too much of my skin. Those are good reasons, right? But God knocked on my heart and reveal the real truth inside me. This is not just a matter of I love to buy flare skirts, but this is a matter of discontentment and always finding what I have not enough (whoa..)

For information, I spend a lot to buy flare skirts. But I never spend more than I earn (which made another reason to reduce my guilty feeling about buying more flare skirts haha). But God showed me this: "Although you can buy it, doesn't mean you have to." Which is a very good principle that can be applied anywhere in our lives. Hey, although you can do sin, doesn't mean you have to sin. Although you can spend more time in playing game, doesn't mean that you have to play all the time. God is showing that the real power is not releasing our abilities in any way we can, but the real power in self-control. Like people who are strong is not people who show their anger to anyone they meet. The true strong people instead are those who can withhold their anger and still able to speak in gentle tone. That is self-control. That is gentleness, power under reserve.  So my problem is the lack of control which take roots on discontentment. I never feel enough. I always want more. And biblically saying, that is my flesh which is at work

You perhaps think, "Why are you taking this so seriously? C'mon it's just buying skirts.." No, I'm telling the truth God spoke to me. When I was 'on high' to buy flare skirts, I spent a lot of time searching on instagram for good skirt makers, I compared the prices, I consulted the materials (I even became smarter regarding clothing materials now), and many more. It has became distraction for me. It was time consuming and I can say also 'brain' consuming. For these few months, I constantly think about this. Some of you may don't understand why do I so obsessed with flare skirts, but just look at this discontentment issue generally. I believe each of us face it in different form. We perhaps have different struggle but the roots is still about discontentment. Some of us perhaps are discontent about their family situation, financially, and relationally. God wants us to be content in everything.

Apostle Paul said how he has learned to be content no matter what his situation is. "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern of me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through God who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:10-13 [NIV]

How do I know that the root of my problem is discontentment? Because  being discontent is feeling that we don't have enough. We don't have enough clothings to wear on, we don't have enough money, our families are not good enough, our achievements are not outstanding enough, and so on. So to be content is deciding to feel that we have enough right here right now. It is a matter of shifting our focus on what we already have rather than what we don't have. We are rich when we can be thankful for our present situation, but we will always be poor when we keep feeling as if we are lacking of anything. Paul had mastered contentment because he decided to be content wherever he was and whatever he had. Knowing this truth, I learn to be content in what I already have. Have the courage to say to yourself, "What I have is enough."

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul was writing to Timothy regarding the love of money. There were some people who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. Then Paul continued, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." -1 Timothy 6:6-10 [NIV]

Paul said, "Godliness + contentment = great gain [abundant gain]" I believe Paul was saying this because if our walk with God doesn't accompanied by contentment, our heart can easily be distracted with worldly things. For example, I spent some money for flare skirts. And since, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," (Matthew 6:21) then as I buy a lot of flare skirts, it became an indication that some parts of my hearts were in flare skirts. For some, it can be the money you have spent for your hobbies. Something we like, but we don't need. Something we feel like we don't have enough (If we want to be honest with ourselves, we can know what it is..) That is why, I realise the importance of nurturing contentment in my life. I know contentment while enhance my productivity as God's ambassador on earth. My mind becomes no longer occupied on worldly things, but on things for God's Kingdom. Imagine if each of God's children do the same! The Kingdom of God will be shown greatly through our lives :D

I learn to be content not just regarding what I have on my closet. But I learn to be content on the season where I am in now. The season of waiting. Building marriage and family has become a longing for many years in my heart. I was kind of expecting it. I don't want to be in a rush to it, but I also don't want to wait for too long neither. I have learned and prepared myself for marriage and family life for years. But God showed me that perhaps I can enter that season about three years from now. #deepsigh When I found out that plan, I was a bit of paralysed. I thought, "Then what am I going to do these three years? Is there anything I can still prepare?" But God gave me such a huge comfort. This singleness season is such a blessing from him that perhaps one day I am going to miss. It's really an opportunity where I can serve God freely without distractions and responsibilities which housewives and mothers have. So I learn to embrace it anyway. No matter how long I should wait, I need to be content. And I am sure, three years from now, I will become more mature woman to serve my future family. 

So that's my story. What about you? Are you having discontentment in any area of our lives? Thank him for everything you now have and what you are now going through. It is just for a season. It will pass. For how long I do not know. And I learn to not care either about the timing. Why? Because God is always with me right here, right now, and for the future to come. As long as he accompanies me, all things will be well. I pray that your lives will be filled with contentment so that we can be more focused on Him as our source of contentment and not on worldly things or even other human beings.

"And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need to be self-sufficient (possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation)." -2 Corinthians 9:8 [AMP]

Being content is the very key to continuous happiness.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, they prayed and sang. It isn't troubles that make saints, but their response to troubles 
-Elisabeth Elliot

Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son -Elisabeth Elliot

God knows very well what happens to people when they are caught up in envy. What God really intends for us is that we would be content with who we are and what we have. Content with Him -Ron Mehl

When Christ becomes our central focus, contentment replaces our anxiety as well as our fears and insecurities -Charles Swindoll

Love and Blessings,
Leticia Seviraneta

Some photos are in courtesy of Axioo and Jennifer Phelps Photography

April 28, 2014

He Holds Our World in His Hands

As a common human being, it's easy for us to be worry for our future. We worry how can we meet up our daily needs, we worry for our health, we worry for our future spouse who haven't showed up until now, we worry for danger surround us as news broadcast it everyday, and many more. Yes, worry perhaps is inevitable in our lives. Yet when we allow worry to be permanent resident of our hearts, we allow it to cripple our faith and blur our eyes with fear. Someone says that worry means that we are praying to the wrong God. Our loving God surely doesn't want his children to live in worry and fear. He wants us to be victorious over all of concerns in this world. Why? Because he holds our world in his hands. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He knows you before you were born and he also knows your future. So chill out and take a deep breath. Your future is safe in his hands.

"For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile." -Jeremiah 29:9-14 [ESV]

In this passage, God gave Israelites assurance and comfort in Babylon. Many people lost their hope when they were far away from their promised land. But God assured them that their exile in Babylon would only last for 70 years. After that, they would return to the promised land. God did not plan their exile for evil. If you read the context, God had sent his prophets to warn the Israelites to repent from their sins over and over again. Their exile was part of the consequence of their generational sins. But even in their transgression, God still have mercy on them and promised that "this too will end." 

Isaiah foretold that, "I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but for for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty." (Isaiah 45:13) What is so interesting is Isaiah made this prophecy 150 years before Cyrus was born, 180 years before Cyrus performed any of this feats, and 80 years before the Jews were taken into exile. 

And yes 180 years later, it was recorded in Ezra 1:1 that King Cyrus of Persia whose heart was stirred by the LORD to allow the exiles to return to Jerusalem and even rebuild the temple!

God knows the future. That is why it is easy for him to predict someone who even has not even born yet to become tools to achieve his purpose. He knows all the decisions you even have not made yet. And yes, he is more than able to guide you to walk in his plans. What a comfort! We need not to worry of worry of tomorrow, because God has been there already!

I like Israel Houghton song, titled "You Hold My World". The lyric goes below:

Take my heart
Lord will you take my heart
As I surrender to your will
I confess You are my righteousness
And until you move me I'll be still
And know that you are God

You hold my world in Your hands
You hold my world in Your hands
And I am amazed at Your love
I am amazed that You love me
You hold my world in Your hands
You hold my world in Your hands
And I'm not afraid my world is safe
In Your hands oh
In Your hands

Take my life 
Lord will You take my life
You are the reason that I live
I believe You have forgiven me
And by Your grace I will forgive
And know that You are God
And know that You are God

Isn't it amazing to know such a beautiful truth knowing that God already hold our world and future in his hands? We are not left alone in facing all of our problems on earth. We have him. We have God. And not just a merely 'god' but God of all created things. He is King of all kings. 

In order for us to defeat worry in our lives, we need a constant reminder which says, "God is in control". I was reminded about this truth about God as I made cross-stitch [a counted-thread embroidery in which X-shaped stitches in a tiled, raster-like pattern are used to form a picture]. I made cross-stitch based on the pattern given. So what I must do was simply follow the pattern, count the stitches before I stitch, change the thread with other colour as shown by the pattern. I realised that was exactly how God works in our lives. God has a beautiful plan (pattern) for each of our lives. All we have to do is to follow His guidance step by step. We don't have to figure out all things ahead today. Because mostly God's magnificent plan will overwhelm us. He is gracious enough to let us handle what we can handle for now.

It takes patience and perseverance to allow stitches formed clearer picture. There were times and I got bored  moreover when I stitch the dark threads. It's like the moment in our lives when we feel uncertain. But again, we must re-focus to the divine pattern and keep walking not. If we stop now, the picture will be still unfinished.

As I continued stitching, I often committed lots of miscounting the stitches. So often I found that what I had stitched and the original pattern were not exactly the same. I needed to improvise to keep up with the original pattern and hope that my miscounted stitches would not affect much on the pattern. But as you can see, when finally I had finished all the stitches, the beautiful pattern had transformed into beautiful embroidery. You won't notice anymore the mistakes I had made. So does our lives. We often make mistakes and deviate from God's original plan for us. But it doesn't matter that much as we always come back to him and continue walking in his path. Many of us are so afraid of making mistakes that we never take a step of faith. When God lead us on certain direction, we doubt that it is from God. We demand God to give us complete picture on what is ahead of us so that we have no doubt anymore. But when we do have all of God's plans unfold one time, we won't need him anymore to walk with us. We won't need faith anymore. And that is not what God wants. He doesn't only want to take you from here to your destiny, but he wants us to enjoy the walk with him, grow in faith and trust to him. 

"The LORD is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD do not abandon those who search for you." -Psalm 9:10 [NLT]

We can learn to trust God more as we know him more. Our level of trust in God will be in harmony with our knowledge about him. We say someone is trustworthy because he has shown his strong character constantly over time. He has proven that what he says, he will do. Our God deserves our 100% trust because for thousands of years throughout the Scripture, God has shown faithfully from generation to generation how faithful he is. What he says, he will do. So we can hold him at his words.

"God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?" -Numbers 23:19 [NLT]

Today, it is time for us to redirect our thoughts to pray to the right God and place completely our trust in the Lord. When each time worry comes to settle down in our hearts, attack it with words of faith through prayer. Instead of worrying, say instead, "I know this problems trouble me and I admit that I am worry. But I don't want to stay in anxiety any longer. I trust you Lord that you are in control. May you comfort my heart and let my heart remain in peace." For many of us, it takes discipline to change our habit to worry. We need to be discipline to guard our minds so it will only be filled with good things. 

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix you thought on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." -Phillipians 4:6-8 [NLT]

"Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength -carrying two days at once. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength." -Corrie ten Boom

"The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured." -Rick Warren

"Quit questioning God and start trusting Him!" -Joel Osteen

"You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat." -Joel Osteen

"My greatest comfort is knowing that God is in control." -Andry Panjaitan

Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Axioo Photography

March 10, 2014

First Thing First

One of my favourite TV Reality Show is Master Chef US. I love seeing people cook passionately as they pursue their dreams. After watching it, I was inspired to learn cooking by myself as well haha.. I started to watch some Youtube videos about the basics in cooking. What I love most is what Gordon Ramsay said in one of the episode of his Ultimate Cooking Course: "When you cut your ingredients, use your three-fingers-rule to hold it and start to cut it slowly. Don't worry about the speed. If you get the basic right, speed will come along."

It is kind of reminding me about the basic of piano when I learned it few years ago. When I started to play piano, all I wanted was to learn new song every week. I disliked practicing for fingering (which is not in a form of song). It consisted of a lot of repetition  of tones that are close in its position to strengthen your fingers.  All great piano players started with that since they were very young. But what I wanted was skipping that part and learning difficult songs right away. As you may guess, it didn't work well. I might be able to play the song, but not as good as people who has more refined techniques and strong fingers. I think most of us who has a nature of being impatient struggle with this kind of stuff in many areas of life. We don't want spend a lot of time to learn about the basics, all we want is to to the advanced stuff so that we can be cool.

This happened also in church life. You may hear, "All we want is to get married, don't tell us to join pre-marital classes to be fed up with lots of theories. We want to just do it and let it flow. We love each other. We can get married NOW." Or you may also hear, "I can preach! I know lots of stuff in the Bible. I can preach NOW." Woww.. such impatience can really lead us to disaster! Why? Because it is like building a tall building without a strong foundation. It just cannot be. Even if it stand tall by now, it is only a matter of time, when trouble hits, it will be destroyed. Imagine if we start to cut the ingredients as if we are a Master Chef when we have zero experience with the knife. We tried to cut it as fast as we can just like what we watch in TV. We don't want to cut it slow like a snail. We ignore the bla-bla-bla rules of how to cut properly and all we think about is the speed. We may cut our finger accidentally as a result. Imagine, if we enter marriage without enough knowledge and skills about how to build a great marriage. Many failed marriages around us should make us think that marriage is not easy. There were things that they did that make their marriages failed. And there must be also things that we can do to make it work. How can we know? When we learn from those who has a great marriage! And the more we learn before it, the better preparation and the stronger we have to move ahead. As another example, imagine if we preach just out of knowledge without enough good practical example and character that we have lived in our own life. People will see our double-life and soon they will not listen anymore to our teaching. Why? Because people will respect what they see more than what they hear from us. So, if this is not the time for us to appear in front of public, call it a preparation phase to build our character, which will be our foundation in our future ministry.So, first thing first. Build the foundation of everything in your life, before you build anything. 

We have known that foundation is so important. Now, what does a strong foundation look like? The Bible always points Jesus Christ as the foundation of everything. 

"For by him all things are created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." -Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV).

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." -Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

We have seen many people tend to rush in building their dreams with least preparation or wrong foundation. For example,many people enter marriage with weak motives such as, "Because my age is already 29." Many don't realise that such weak motives can create cracks on the building of marriage they are going to build. The most common question which is being asked by psychologist when they face problematic couple is, "Why did you marry at the first place?" Weak motives are weak foundation and no wonder the road will get bumpier in days to come. So, first thing first. Find the WHY before you make every huge decision in life. And make the WHY become your strong statement so that each time you are tempted to give up in the middle, you can go back and be strengthened with it. If you ask me why will I choose to marry, I will give this answers:

1. Because I want to build a Godly marriage, family, and home. A marriage that will glorify God and become blessing for others. A marriage that will inspire others to love their spouse in the way God wants it. 
2. Because I trust completely in my partner and together we can build a stronger partnership for ministry.
3. Because I want to grow more in Christ-like characters. I fully aware that marriage will become the toughest school of character in life, yet it will also be the most rewarding. I realise that in order to make a great marriage, I have to die to self. I have to say goodbye to my ego, I have to serve, sacrifice, and prioritising spouse and others to bring harmony at home and glory to God. I also aware that marriage comes with a huge responsibility. I honestly feel that I haven't ready yet to do it now and I manage to focus on keep building my character as foundation later on so that once I enter marriage I am already a fully grown woman (cannot be perfect for sure!) and mature in Christ so I will be more equipped to be Godly wife and mother.

These reasons may sound so ideal. But as we have discussed before, we need to set up the WHY so strong at the very beginning so that when we are tempted to give up, we can re-focus again and gain strength for long haul. 

Your marriage, your dreams in the end are not about YOU. It's all about JESUS. The question is not: "How can my marriage makes me happy? How can my dreams make me happy?" But instead, "How can God's name be glorified through my marriage and dreams?" Many do whatever it takes to reach their success in life, but do we do whatever it takes to please God in every area of our lives? First thing first. Behind everything you do, aim for pleasing God in every step of it. Thereby, we won't be confused of taking the wrong steps where God clearly won't guide us to do. If our role are as husbands and wives, aim to be the best spouse we could ever be. If our role are businessmen, aim to be the successful one while maintaining integrity in the eyes of God. In everything ... do as if  unto the LORD. 

"Whatever you do, work it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." -Colossians 3:23-24 [NIV]

When we have build strong foundation and aim for pleasing the Lord in everything we do, this doesn't mean that we are immune from calamities, suffering, and failure in the eyes of the world. The fact that we live in a fallen world will keep being our background of our daily lives. We will be different from the majority who do things in worldly ways. We may be considered weird, odd, 'holy', conventional, and many others. We may be even mocked or get into trouble simply because we are different from them. That's why we need to keep back on trusting the Lord day by day. First thing first. The whole journey of life is not about how many people you please. It is not how many achievements you get from the world. It is not about how much money you earn. It is a constant journey of trusting the Lord from the beginning until the end. Do we believe that the Lord will protect us from any harm? Do we believe that if I  refuse to do things in worldly ways, God will reward me? Do we believe that God's peace will abide in us in spite of our circumstances? Do we believe that God will provide for whatever we need? 

"For in the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
 -Romans 1:17

Our whole journey of live began with faith in God and will end with faith also. Steadfast on your faith in God. Believe that God is good no matter what. Because with such strong and steady faith, we can conquer every suffering of the world and every attacks from the enemy. Of course, it doesn't make any sense to our logic to believe the goodness of God when everything in our lives go from bad to worse. I have to admit that it is difficult. You know what I did when I face difficulties in life? I poured out my heart to God. My sorrow, my complaints, everything. I am honest with the Lord. I will tell Him when it is painful. I will cry. I live as a normal human being when facing difficulties. But after that, I will come back in track. I will seek what is God's will for me at that moment. I will find my refuge back in His faithfulness which has been proven for thousands of years in the Scripture. I learn to be grateful and to praise Him even though it is hard. And I believe, by then I grew. I grew stronger in my faith with the Lord and more intimate with Him. King David, a man after God's own heart, wrote so many complaints to God in the book of Psalms. But I like his attitude after delivering those complaints, he would go back to praise God and declared his trust on Him. 

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,

    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;

    they trusted and you delivered them.

To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame." 
-Psalm 22:1-5 [NIV]

There is nothing please God more than we trust Him. Trust will lead to obedience to His Word (because we trust that His Words will be a great recipe to solve ALL of our problems even it doesn't happen in our time, but His time!)

First thing first. Build such a strong foundation in our lives although it will require us to have a long preparation. Do everything as if unto the Lord and make it a purpose for us to pursue. And trust God's faithfulness and goodness no matter what. By then, we will grow strong in the Lord and live a life in a way that will give a meaning to God and others.

Leticia Seviraneta

Pictures in courtesy of Jennifer Phelps Photography, Axioo, and thePhotograph

January 04, 2014

Grace Isn't Just A Word

Hi! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! I have spent days to find some meaning to this year's Christmas. Would it be any different than the previous years or would it be just the same? I don't know. I guess our attitude regarding Christmas is the one thing that makes it meaningful or not. I did have some Christmas dinners with different group of friends, exchanged gifts, and even became a bridesmaid for a good friend of mine. It seemed a 'busy' month but at last I managed to spend some time for the birthday boy, Jesus :) I wonder what I need to know more about him. We spend a lot of time to know our boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse. But do we have the same intention to spend time to know our beloved God? I don't want to spend this year's Christmas with full of activities but miss the 'main thing'. So yes I spent time with Him through His Words. You may have heard about this before, I even thought I have known it already. But the unique part about God is you never arrived in knowing Him. There is always more. And here is what I find.. G R A C E isn't just a word. Grace isn't just some kind of doctrine of theology. Grace is not an abstract concept that we find it hard to understand. Grace is a person, and his name is Jesus. We serve a God who is full of grace and truth.

We may come from different background of belief. Some people believe that they serve an angry God who set rules that they have to obey and punish if they disobey them. These people can become legalistic (they try to follow all the rules as many as they can and look down on those who disobey the rules) or on the other extreme side they can live in constant fear of "not good enough". But the truth is, none of us can live perfectly, only Jesus can. So in effort to be flawless, we become helpless because we fail often. "Relationship" with God becomes an obligation or lists of things to do to make him "happy". But I want to present to you the Good News. I hope the truth may engraved in your heart deeply. Because it will set you free :)

1. God hates sin, but loves the sinners.

I beg your pardon? Do you say it correctly? How can it be? Yes, we as human, when we dislike what a person do, we also dislike the person. When your friend constantly lying to you, you immediately dislike him as a whole person. So this concept might be weird according to our human nature. How can we hate what he does to us but at the same time love for who he is?? But that's our loving and just God. God is holy. That's why he can't stand with sin. But God is also love. He is full of love to all human being who also are sinners. God is not mad at you. If you ever have confessed that you are sinners, you can't save yourself, and declared how you need Jesus as Savior for your life, God sees you now in the light of Jesus. At the cross, God's wrath to all sins  of mankind have been poured out to Jesus and at the same time, His righteousness has been given to those who believed, believes, and will believe in Him! Now, that's why we call Gospel as "Good News" because it really is a Good News! Call it as a beautiful exchange! This is what's being described on the song sung by Hillsong, "Beautiful Exchange."

You were near, Though I was distant

Disillusioned I was lost and insecure

Still mercy fought, For my attention
You were waiting at the door, Then I let You in

Trading Your life, For my offenses
For my redemption, You carried all the blame

Breaking the curse, Of our condition
Perfection took our place

When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange

My burden erase, my life forgiven
There is nothing, that could take this love away

My only desire, and sole ambition
Is to love You just the same

When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange

When only love
Could break these chains
You gave Your life 
In a beautiful exchange

Holy are You God
Holy is Your name
With everything I've got
My heart will sing how I love You

2. Nothing that you do could ever make Him love you more nor love you less.

Another weird truth, huh? To grasp this truth, put your feet on a shoes of parents. This is exactly the heart of parents (normally) to their children. They love their children no matter what. Even though their children messed up, no matter how deep their children fall into certain addiction, no matter how their children keeps making troubles wherever they go, they still love them. They love their children too much until they will feel pain whenever their children do so. They love them but at the same time deep down they wish that their children will stop doing those things that will eventually destroy their lives. The same thing goes to children who do everything good for their parents. Their parents may be proud of them, but that doesn't change the level of their love to them. It will always be 100% unconditional love, because the fact that they are their children. Okay, some parents may not be like that. Because parents are human with flaws. But our God is certainly not human. He is God, He is the perfect loving Father. You can be sure of His love to you will never change. 

You know, I feel my life feels so much lighter when I believe deeply how much my Father loves me no matter what. It encourages me all the more to do good things as a testimony for others to know Him as well. I don't do good things to earn His favor, as many 'religions' emphasise. No, God is already pleased with me because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. And knowing it's all because of Jesus, gives me no reason to boast. It's not because of my goodness, it's not because of what I've done. Because in human effort, I will never achieve the 'good enough' or even I feel I am good enough, that will be a lie. 

3. God is faithful, even when we are faithless.

Human's relationships are fragile. We cannot stand of betrayal, disrespectful attitude, and so on. We will choose not to be engaged in those kind of relationships because it brings a lot of pain. But our God is not like that. Although we keep rejecting Him, we keep disobeying Him, He is still faithful. He waits for us to come back, to repent with all of our hearts. He is a God of covenant. Covenant is an agreement on ancient times in which the people who involved in it cannot break the vows they have spoken. If they break it, the penalty will be death. God is a God who will bring out what He has promised. When He gave His covenant to mankind first to Abraham, and then to the nation that came out from Him, the Israelites; He will carry it to pass. Even when the Israelites kept disobeying Him, He promised that one day He will embrace them back. The time will come when Israelites will know that He is and always be their only true God. He even used Hosea to describe the love He feels to Israelites. God still loves you and waits for you to come back. Remember, He loves you but not your sins, because He knows it will eventually destroy you. 

By realising the depth of His love for us, how can we reject such kind of great love? The way God has done for us through Jesus is what we call as "Grace". Grace is a gift to the undeserving ones. It's a good thing if we realise that we don't deserve it, because it makes us qualified to be receiver of His grace. I believe it's not the fear of the consequences which can change us, but the love and acceptance of God of the way we are. It's not a matter of "If you don't believe in Jesus, you will burn in hell", but "Hey, do you know how much God loves you? How much He has done for you at the cross? Come to Him and He will fill all your needs of love perfectly with His perfect love. Sure, you don't deserve that. But God comes to the undeserving ones, so you fit the description!" The heaven isn't just a place we go after we die, but the heaven is here and now on earth when we abide in His love daily and see the world as God sees it. 

Christianity is not a religion. It is not about going to church every Sunday. But your very own relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. It happens daily, every moment you awake, every minute you spend. It gives you a purpose in life. It fills the emptiness of your heart that can never be replaced by human being. Human may disappoint you for there is no perfect one. But God will never disappoint nor leave you nor stop loving you, because He is a perfect God with a perfect love. He can't deny how much He loves you and nothing can ever change that. Grace isn't just a word, it is a person, named, Jesus Christ.

Your faith can only grow as strong as the knowledge of your God. Here are some Bible verses to know more about Him :)

"The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." -Psalm 103:8

"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?" -Numbers 23:19

"For the LORD your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath." -Deuteronomy 4:31

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea," -Psalm 46:1-2

"For this is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end." -Psalm 48:14

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LOrd." -Romans 8:38-39

"God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." -1 Cor 1:9

"...God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." -1 John 4:16

Happy enjoying His love for you!

Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography