Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mercy and Acknowledgment of God

For I desire mercy (steadfast love), not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Sacrifice and offerings were ways through which the Israelites expressed their love for God. But the Israelites began to worship other gods (commit spiritual adultery) while continuing the rituals of sacrifice and offerings without love for God. It's hypocrisy. Hosea 6:4 talks about their faithfulness fading away (disappearing). Without inward love/mercy and acknowledgment of God, the outward rituals are meaningless to Him. The sacrifice and offerings are worthless without an undivided heart that is completely devoted to God and that loves and acknowledges God.

People often acknowledge talents, accomplishments, hard work, success, beauty, intelligence, even luck/fortune and Mother Nature. But they fail to realize/recognize Who is the Giver of all blessings...Who created us and nature...Who is sovereign over all things, Who is behind all the miracles, etc. And we ourselves like to be acknowledged, don't we? That's why we need to be careful to remember that anything good in us is what the Lord has done for us, in us, and through us. If we fail to acknowledge God, our good deeds/service/giving/ministries ("burnt offerings") mean nothing.

God's mercy is so great and He desires us to extend His mercy to others. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36 ) We are to resemble/imitate Him, the merciful God. Jesus later used Hosea 6:6 to teach against the hypocritical Pharisees. Jesus said in Matthew 9:12-13, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." When the Pharisees complained to Jesus about His disciples picking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus said, "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." (Matthew 12:7) The Pharisees cared about the religious activities but neglected what really matters (what God desires). "The Lord says: 'These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'" (Isaiah 29:13)

Remember...God looks at the heart. If our heart lacks steadfast love/mercy and does not acknowledge God, all our sacrifice and "burnt offerings" (any form of offerings) would be detestable to Him. External piety such as fasting, going to church, giving tithes, partaking the Lord's supper, etc. is no substitute for genuine love, mercy, faith, and obedience.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

God of Restoration

Our God is God of restoration! God can and will revive and restore us in His time. "And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:10) No matter what trials and troubles we may have to go through, God never leaves us nor forsakes us. We can be confident in the goodness and faithfulness of God. No matter how deep we may have sunk, God will bring us up again. There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” (Corrie ten Boom) "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40:2) God will increase our honor and comfort us. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

God is in control of everything forever and ever. We are safe and secure in the loving arms of God who is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Remember that God's purpose realized in the future at times involves some pain and sufferings in the present. Understand this truth, embrace an eternal perspective, rely on God, and you'll be able to face anything. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Choose Life

"This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your Life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

In these verses, Moses plainly presented before the Israelites options and consequences. Life or death? Blessing or cursing? Choosing life (= choosing God since He is our Life) brings blessing while choosing death (= rejecting God, choosing idols) brings cursing. Jesus says in John 11:25-26, I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Choosing life means choosing Jesus. If we love the Lord our God, obey Him, and cling to Him, we will receive His blessings (not necessarily material blessings, but definitely spiritual blessings). "He (God) gives life, preserves life, restores life, and prolongs it, by His power, though it be a frail life, and by His presence, though it be a forfeited life. He sweetens life by His comforts, and completes all in life everlasting." (Benson)

God gives us the freedom of making choices because He loves us and He wants to have a genuine loving relationship with us. Forced love is no love. God desires our sincere obedience that comes from our willingly devoted hearts. Even now, people can still choose God or choose idols (such as wealth, popularity, career, man-made religions,...anything but God). We all have an opportunity to affect the world (for good or for evil) through our decisions. Our children and others can tell about our commitment, values, and priorities by how we live (by the choices we make each day). We can live to gratify selves or to glorify God. We can choose to put ourselves first or put others first. We can choose to walk in God's way or our own way or the world's way. Life is filled with choices...from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall after day. Choices always have consequences which no one can escape...good or bad. We are accountable for our choices. Some consequences are more serious than others. Choose wisely/rightly! "Choice is a bittersweet gift. Those in Heaven will always be grateful they had it and will have it always, with no fear of sin or condemnation; those in Hell will always regret that they didn't exercise it differently." (Randy Alcorn)

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for loving me and giving me meaningful life and eternal life through Christ! I love You and desire to do Your will. Please enable me and my family to obey You, to choose Your will, Your ways at all times, and to cling to You in all circumstances. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Th Sin of Jeroboam

"He (Omri) followed completely the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols." (1 Kings 16:26)
Israel kept committing the "sin of Jeroboam" which is idol worship. God was angry at them. It's truly tragic when people do not learn from their own mistakes or from others' mistakes. No matter how much God demonstrated His love and care for Israel, His people continued to commit the sin of idolatry again and again.

"When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, 'Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.'" (Hosea 1:2) 
During Jeroboam II's reign, God chose and commanded Hosea, a prophet, to go marry Gomer, a promiscuous, defiled, unfaithful woman and have children with her, in order to depict God's grace, mercy, & faithful, unwavering love towards Israel in spite of Israel's idolatry, betrayal, and unfaithfulness to God. God wants us to love, seek, and follow Him wholeheartedly. When we love, seek, and follow anything else above/before God and/or in place of God, we commit spiritual adultery and idolatry.

"The harlotry of worldliness is in all the churches at this present moment. Thousands who name the name of Christ are taking possessions bestowed upon them by God and spending them in the pursuit of worldly ambitions and pleasures." (Morgan)

Prayer: Abba Father, please help me to have undivided love and loyalty to You alone and get rid of anything in my life that tries to pull me away from You. Please keep me away from worldliness. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.


Friday, February 15, 2019

The Great Commission

The Great Commission is a command (not a suggestion or an option) for every Christ's follower. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (a confirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity), and teach them to obey His commands. We are not only to share the Gospel with others but also to help them grow in their walk with Christ. We must tell them about the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:26-33). We are to be Christ's ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) doing the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). Jesus came from Heaven to earth to seek and save the lost. This should be our hearts' desire, too. We must go. Go and tell the lost about the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! We must be willing to go wherever and whenever God wants us to go and do whatever He wants us to do. Be available and be ready to share what Christ has done for us. We should echo Isaiah's attitude and response: "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8b) Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden upon me, only sustain me. Sever any ties but the ties that bind me to You and Your service.” (David Livingstone) Remember that this task (evangelism) can only be done on earth since there will be no sinners/unbelievers in Heaven. Therefore, let us take the Great Commission seriously. It's a matter of urgency! People are dying and going to Hell everyday, without ever hearing the Gospel of Jesus even once.

By the way, we must not forget to make disciples of our own children and equip them to share the Gospel and multiply disciples! Teach them to obey God and His Word.

Baptism is the outward demonstration of one's union with and commitment to Christ. It signifies our repentance, our death to sin, and our newness of life in Christ. "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6:4) Baptism doesn't save us. In fact, some who have been baptized have never truly been saved.

Jesus gives us an important task to do but He doesn't just leave us to figure it all out by ourselves. Christ's promise of His presence is precious. He knows that when we obey what He commands us to do, we will face hardships, obstacles, distractions, attacks, and dangers from the Enemy. He promises to be with us always in all places at all times. His constant Spiritual presence encourages, comforts, strengthens, guides, empowers, emboldens, and preserves us. 

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for saving me and adopting me into Your family! Please help me to boldly share the gospel with those who need to hear. Please give me Your words, guide me by Your Spirit, and grant me the wisdom needed to draw them to You. Please show me where You want me to go to reach the lost. Please give me opportunities to make more disciples for Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Be Holy in All You Do

The Hebrew word for holy is kadosh which means set apart or sanctified for dedicated service. God calls us/commands us to be be set apart for His be different than the world. Life with Christ and in Christ should be different than life before Christ. We are God's beloved children and special treasured possession. Live accordingly. We are to live with wholehearted devotion to God and in radical obedience to Him. God who is holy calls us to live a life of holiness/Godliness, sanctified and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Be holy in everything we do. God has not called us to be like those around us. He has called us to be like Himself. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” (Jerry Bridges) Like Father, like daughters! Love God; hate sin. Pursue holiness/ Christlikeness. Choose obedience. As we grow in holiness, we grow in hatred of sin; and God, being infinitely holy, has an infinite hatred of sin.” (Jerry Bridges) 

"We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10) In Christ, we are already holy positionally for eternity. Is our conduct consistently matching with our status? Sanctification is a work in progress. Let us not be discouraged. God does not require a perfect, sinless life to have fellowship with Him, but He does require that we be serious about holiness, that we grieve over sin in our lives instead of justifying it, and that we earnestly pursue holiness as a way of life.” (Jerry Bridges) Make it our goal to live holy lives with no compromise and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Be intentional and wise about how we spend our time and money! Be careful of what we allow to enter in our heart, mind, body, and spirit. "'Therefore come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord...Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Corinthians 6:17a, 7:1b) Be vigilant about guarding our heart and mind against evil desires, worldliness, or anything that corrodes and corrupts moral character. Through Christ, He has delivered us from the power of sin so that we can resist sin; however, the responsibility for resisting is ours (God doesn't do that for us). 

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated." (D. A. Carson)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing grace that redeems me, transforms me, sustains me, and teaches me to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions! My life is Yours; I surrender all to You. Please take my heart, mind, and will and change them to be like Yours! May I live a life of faith and obedience each day by the power of Christ within me. Please use me for Your glory and purpose. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Christlike Attitude

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:3-5) 

Paul called for unity; he told the believers in Philippi that they could make his joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Then he proceeded to tell them how they could achieve this unity. Selfish ambition (selfishness/self-gain) and vain conceit (pridefulness/self-importance) are unity killers. "Whereas selfish ambition pursues personal goals, empty conceit seeks personal glory and acclaim. The former pertains to personal accomplishments; the latter to an over inflated self-image. Understandably, a person with such conceit considers himself always to be right and expects others to agree with him. The only unity he seeks or values is centered on himself." (MacArthur) Paul wants us to see that in order to have unity, we must get rid of self-centeredness and arrogance. Preoccupation with self destroys the unity among the Body of Christ.

Humility is the antidote for vain conceit and consideration for others is the antidote for selfish ambition. We should not focus on our own needs & interests and become completely absorbed by our own concerns. Instead, we should be considerate of others and seek to meet the needs of others. 
"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights." (John R. Wooden) "It is not a weak man’s surrender, but a strong man’s rejection of selfishness and determination to be actively concerned with the needs and interests of others.(Richards) "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." (Romans 12:10) "As we esteem others better, we will naturally have a concern for their needs and concerns; this sort of outward looking mentality naturally leads to a unity among the people of God. If I am considering you above me, and you are considering me above you, a marvelous thing happens: we have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on." (Guzik) Humility brings unity!

In all our relationships and interactions, we need to imitate Christ and have the same attitude/mindset as He does. Christ is the Ultimate Example of humility, servanthood, and radical obedience. When we have Christlike attitude, we're willing to give up our own rights for the good of others; we discover that it's far better to submit, to serve, and to love than to have our own way. When we have Christlike mindset, we have the selfless, sacrificial, submissive, and serving mind. Christians are to move from self-seeking/self-promotion to self-denial. "From self denial in the spiritual worship of God flows self surrender to the will of God, and from self surrender flows selfless service in the work of God." (John MacArthur)

"Oh, to see the needs of others
More important than our own, 
Following our Lord's example 
When He left His heavenly throne." (Sper)

"Others, Lord, yes, others,

Let this my motto be;

Help me to live for others,

That I might live like Thee."
(Charles D. Meigs)  

"Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all." (William Temple)

"Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather,...he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over." (A.W. Tozer) 

"It is in seeing others as persons of great worth because they are loved by God and in seeing ourselves as their servants that we find the fulfilling lifestyle of humility." (Larry Richards)

Test of true humility:
"First, the test of precedence:
'Do you feel badly when others are honored, because they outshine you?'
Second, the test of sincerity:
'All too often, people say things about themselves to sound humble, when they really are not.'
Third, the test of criticism:
'Do you react unfavorably when someone points out your shortcomings?'
If you gave yourself a perfect score on this test, you failed the test of humility." (Richard DeHaan)

Beware of false humility--When you are proud of your humility, that's false humility. When you try to appear humble so that others think you're humble, that's false humility. False humility is self-centered; true humility is God-centered and other-centered.

To ponder: Do we care too much about our own comfort, pleasure, and recognition? Do we seek approval, appreciation, and admiration from others more than seeking to encourage, edify, and serve others? Are we quick to give grace and forgiveness or quick to judge and criticize? Is our motive and attitude "What can I get out of this?" or "What can I do for you?"?

Summary: Don't be selfish. Don't be prideful.

Seek to bless, not to impress.

Be humble. Be thoughtful/considerate. Be like Christ!

Prayer: Abba Father, please forgive me for my pride and selfishness that keep rearing their ugly heads from time to time. Please enable me to continually die to self and put others above myself. Please instill in me Christlike attitude of humility and servanthood. Please empower me to faithfully and joyfully put Philippians 2:3-5 into practice in my daily life. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Have No Other Gods

From these verses, we see that God is sovereign, omnipotent, compassionate, and caring. He is our Protector and Deliverer. God delivered the Israelites from slavery out of Egypt. The Lord Jesus Christ delivers us from slavery/bondage to sin and (spiritual) death. We must worship the Lord our God alone. We all worship something. God is to be the sole subject of our worship. Worshiping anything/anyone but God is idolatry. Idolatry is foolishness and sin. Do not give any creature or created things the glory which is due to God alone. Whatever we esteem, revere, delight in, or depend on, more than God, becomes idols ("gods"). God wants our undivided love & loyalty and will not tolerate divided allegiance. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve & worship God plus self, or God plus money, or God plus...(fill in the blank). All kinds of superstition are also forbidden because you cannot trust God and also believe in superstition. Do not commit spiritual adultery with others "gods". Be mindful that so many things in life (for example: career, accomplishment, popularity, recognition, others' approval/admiration, loved ones, or even ministries) could become our idols if we place them above God...if we relentlessly pursue them, instead of God. "Idolatry isn't just worship of bad things. No, the desire for even a good thing becomes a bad thing when that desire becomes a heart ruling thing." (Paul David Tripp)

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for Your redemptive & protective love for me! Thank You for Your inexhaustible grace and patience! Please remove anything that tries to take away my wholehearted devotion to You. Please keep me from being enticed by worldly things. Please take away pridefulness and selfishness from me. May You alone have preeminence in my heart and my life always! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.  

Monday, February 11, 2019

Love the Lord Your God

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts." (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

Jehovah/Yaweh (Lord/I Am) is our one and only God. There is no other. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength/might. This is the first and greatest commandment of all! God desires from us, His children, our undivided love and devotion. He wants us to love Him with our whole love Him above all else even our own life. The whole Christianity boils down to one primary thing: Amo Dei = Love God! We must love God completely with all the affections, the will, the thoughts, the strength...with all we have and all we are at all times under all circumstances. Obviously, no one is capable of loving God perfectly all the time. This unattainable standard of all-encompassing love for God shows our desperate need for God's amazing, inexhaustible grace

Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commands." Our obedience to God demonstrates our love for God. To love God is the priority of life. It should rule our hearts & thoughts and guide our decisions, words, and actions. This sincere, strong, superlative love for God is expressed through worshiping, serving, obeying, delighting in, and living for God. When we truly love God, we desire to know Him more and to please, honor, and glorify Him. And we will want to keep His Word/commandments in our hearts so that His Word will guide our thoughts, will, words, and actions. "I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You." (Psalm 119:11) Not only that, we are to diligently & constantly teach God's principles to our children. Passing on the faith was at the very center of God's law. Teaching about God and His Word needs to be an integral part of life, using the context of daily experiences. We must help our children see God in all aspects of life. We must teach our kids to love and follow God; otherwise, the world will teach them to love and follow the world (worldliness). We also must live out our faith at home (and everywhere). Our children are learning from us, whether we realize it or not. To them, the things we do or don't do speak just as loudly as the things we say. Do we live each day by the Book (God's Word)? Our children can tell if His commandments are on our hearts and being lived out in our lives or not. It will not do our children any good if we do not walk the talk! Hypocrisy in parent(s) will likely turn children away from God. 
Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for Your faithful love for me! I love You and I want to love You with all that I am and all that I have. I know I often fail. Please help me to know You more and love You more. Please empower me to walk faithfully in love, faith, and obedience. May the way I daily live show my love for You and draw my children and others to love You! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

A Must-See Video for Every Christian