Thursday, January 17, 2019

Find Rest in Christ

First of all, we must come to Jesus for our salvation (trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior and follow Him). Sin-sick soul is definitely weary and burdened. Salvation rest is found in Christ alone. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) These verses (Matthew 11:28-30) are such a beautiful personal invitation from the Lord of lords, the King of kings. He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him. Sadly, those who don't see the need for a Savior will not come to Jesus. Jesus also gives us eternal rest in Heaven and soul rest for our daily lives.

This invitation also applies to us children of God who are weary and burdened in our daily lives and/or in our struggle to rely on our own strength. Notice that Jesus invites the weary and burdened, not the strong and self-sufficient. The latter don't acknowledge their need for Him. Do you feel beaten down, discouraged, physically tired, emotionally fatigued, mentally drained, and/or spiritually exhausted? Do you feel heavy-laden (with sin, guilt, fear, worry, shame, sorrow, envy, doubt, temptation, etc.)? If so, come to Jesus and lay all your burdens down at His feet. He is our Burden-Bearer and our Rest-Giver! "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." (Psalm 68:19) Come and find rest in Christ. Abide in Him. He offers Himself as the solution to soul's weariness. He will give you the supernatural rest that the world can neither give to you nor take away from you.

We need Christ's blood to cleanse us, His righteousness to clothe us, and His Spirit to convict us. We need Christ every day...for me, every moment. "As we need Christ--so we come to Christ. Not once for all, but we continue to come. We must come to every trial, in every trouble, in every conflict, to unburden our minds, to find rest for our souls. We come to Him...for wisdom, for strength, for holiness." (James Smith) Come to Him = Trust in Him and rely upon Him.

"Don't let yourself become a victim of fruitless fretting. If you do, you'll lose the peace and joy that is your rightful heritage. Instead, set aside part of each day to talk with God, thanking Him for who He is and what He has done for you. Then, by reading His word and believing His comforting promises, your faith will grow stronger and a supernatural peace will flood your soul. Jesus said, "Come to Me,...and I will give you rest" (Mt. 11:28). Have you learned to rest in Him?" (Henry G. Bosch)

"We mutter and sputter, we fume and we spurt;
We mumble and grumble, our feelings get hurt;
We can't understand things, our vision grows dim,
When all that we need is communion with Him!

It's paradoxical that Jesus tells the weary and burdened to take His yoke upon them in order to receive rest. In essence, He tells us to yield to His Lordship and to submit our will to His perfect will which comes from His gentle and humble heart. His yoke (His teaching) is easy and His burden (His command, His will) is light because He is not harsh or oppressive like the Pharisees. His yoke is yoke of grace that brings freedom, peace, and joy, not yoke of Law or legalism that brings bondage. As we surrender all to Him and learn from Him, He will lead us beside quiet waters, refresh our soul, and guide us along the right paths for His Name's sake (Psalm 23:2-3). As a result, we will find true rest.
What a blessed life it is to rest and rejoice in the Lord in all circumstances, no matter what's going on in our lives!

"How blest Thy saints! How safely led!
How surely kept! How richly fed!
Savior of all in earth and sea,
How happy they who rest in Thee!
Henry Francis Lyte)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your warm, loving invitation and promise! Please help me to fix my heart and mind on You and rest in You always. Please refresh my soul and give me strength to do Your will and to walk in Your ways each and every day.

"The believer who is confident of God's providence, who rests in His grace, and who relies on His Holy Spirit will experience the miracle of His quieting peace." (H.G. Bosch) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Love and Obedience

To obey God is to love God.  Jesus says in John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commands." "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) God's commands are for our own good. God is love and all His commands are motivated by His love for us. Our love for God is shown by our obedience to God. We must die to self daily, surrender all to God, and choose to obey God, come what may. "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40) Love God and love people. May we commit ourselves to be wholeheartedly loyal to God and to always obey Him in every situation!
"The true measure of loving God is to love Him without measure." (Bernard)
By the way, none of us can ever love and obey God perfectly; that's why we need Jesus and the gospel of God's grace!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

God's Rest

A life of faith (in Jesus Christ) and obedience (to God and His Word) brings rest. On the contrary, a life of unbelief and disobedience prevents one from entering God's rest. Hebrews 4 warns Christians to learn from the Israelite's mistake. Many of them did not get to enter God's rest (the Promised Land) because of their unbelief and disobedience. Those who do not believe in the Gospel, harden their hearts, and refuse to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior shall not enter God's rest. "The use of the term sabbatismos (“Sabbath-rest”) suggests that the weekly sabbath given to Israel is only a shadow of the true rest of God." (Ray Stedman) This rest is available only for God's people (both Jew and Gentile believers). God offers it. Take it. We who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ shall enter God's rest since we do not rely on our own works to earn God's favor, but we rest securely and solely on Christ's finished work of redemption on the cross. We also rest from striving on our own strength (walking in the flesh) to live up to God's standards. Instead, we now walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit, being equipped to live a godly life. And some day, we, Christ's followers, will enjoy the eternal rest in Heaven. True rest is not a day; it's a Person, Jesus Christ. "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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) Jesus invites us to simply rest in Him, the Lord of the Sabbath, the Prince of Peace. Rest in God's faithful promises. Rest in God's amazing, inexhaustible grace and mercy. Rest in God's sovereignty (He's always in control). Rest in God's mighty power (nothing is impossible with God). My M.O. in life is I pray; I trust; I rest.

I believe that this passage also serves as a warning for Hebrew Christians (and us) not to fall into Judaism or any legalistic version of Christianity. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) We are now under grace, no longer under the Law. Rest in the freedom we have in Christ. It doesn't mean we can do whatever we want; rather, it means we are free from flesh/sin to do what God wants. Through our faith accompanied by obedience (fruit of our faith), our soul is at rest in Christ Whom we abide.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for being my Refuge and Shelter! How sweet it is to be able to rest in Your loving, everlasting arms. Thank You for Your inexhaustible grace that carries me through any storms of life. Please empower me to daily walk by faith and walk in obedience.

A rest remaineth for the weary;
Arise, sad heart, and grieve no more;
Though long the way, and dark and dreary,
It endeth on the golden shore.
Before His throne the Lamb will lead thee,
On heav’nly pastures He will feed thee,
Cast off thy burden, come with haste;
Soon will the toil and strife be ended,
The weary way which thou hast wended.
Sweet is the rest which thou shalt taste.

The Father’s house has many a dwelling,
And there will be a place for thee.
With perfect love His heart is welling
Who loved thee from eternity.
His precious blood the Lamb hath given
That thou might’st share the joys of Heaven,
And now He calleth far and near:
“Ye weary souls, cease your repining,
Come while for you My light is shining;
Come, sweetest rest awaits you here!”

O come, come all, ye weak and weary,
Ye souls bowed down with many a care;
Arise and leave your dungeons dreary
And listen to His promise fair:
“Ye bore your burdens meek and lowly,
I will fulfill My pledge most holy,
I’ll be your solace and your rest.
Ye are Mine own, I will requite you;
Though sin and Satan seek to smite you,
Rejoice! Your home is with the blest.”

There rest and peace in endless measure
Shall be ours through eternity;
No grief, no care, shall mar our pleasure,
And untold bliss our lot shall be.
Oh, had we wings to hasten yonder—
No more o’er earthly ills to ponder—
To join the glad, triumphant band!
Make haste, my soul, forget all sadness;
For peace awaits thee, joy and gladness—
The perfect rest is nigh at hand.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Fear God, Not Man

Fear of man is a snare! It can cause us to sin, stumble, compromise our principles/virtues, do foolish things, displease/disobey God, be in danger, be in bondage, be silent (when we should speak up), and/or shrink in cowardice, even to the point of denying God (as in Peter's case).

Instead of fearing people, we must fear (have reverence for) God, trust Him, and rely on Him. God will keep us safe and secure in His loving arms and will guide us on the right path. He will protect us from the devil's schemes and snares (tricks and traps). Live for the Audience of One. God's approval alone is what matters. Cultivate an utmost reverence for God. When we truly fear God, we don't need to fear anyone or anything. Have God-confidence! True courage comes from fearing God, rather than men, trusting God totally, and acknowledging God's sovereignty.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10) 

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) 
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him Who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) 
"The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" (Psalm 118:6)

To ponder: Are you hiding your light for fear of what others think? Would you fear man's opinion so much that you would let someone die not knowing Christ? Is your fear of offending people greater than your fear of God? It must not be.

Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for Your promises, presence, power, providence, and protection! Please free me from the fear of man. Please give me the courage to always do what's right in Your eyes, no matter what others may think or feel about me. Please help me to share the gospel boldly and stand up for Your truths always with no compromise. May my attitudes, words, and actions honor and glorify You!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Forgive Everyone About Everything

We are to bear with each other/to tolerate/to patiently endure one another's weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, imperfections, and offenses. Extend God's grace and mercy to others. Try to be understanding and overlook offenses. Do good and be kind to everyone, including those who are mean and unkind to us. "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9)To forgive others is to imitate Christ. Choose to forgive, instead of complaining, blaming, quarreling, holding grudges, or retaliating. "When they hurled their insults at Him--He did not retaliate; when He suffered--He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23) 

"None of us can live long in the thick of life--and not sometimes be touched rudely, perhaps even cruelly, by others. How shall we endure the things which hurt and wound us? We know what Jesus would do, what He actually did. "When they hurled their insults at Him--He did not retaliate; when He suffered--He made no threats. "They drove the nails into His gentle hands, and as the iron went crashing through His tender flesh He prayed, "Father, forgive them!" They hung Him on the cross--but in answer to that cruelty, instead of a withering curse upon the world, He wrought salvation there for men!" (J.R. Miller)

"Whenever I see myself before God and realize something of what my blessed Lord has done for me at Calvary, I am ready to forgive anybody anything. I cannot withhold it. I do not even want to withhold it." (Martin Lloyd Jones) 

"The person who is living by grace sees this vast contrast between his own sins against God and the offenses of others against him. He forgives others because he himself has been so graciously forgiven. He realizes that, by receiving God's forgiveness through Christ, he has forfeited the right to be offended when others hurt him." (Jerry Bridges)

We must forgive indefinitely (according to Matthew 18:21-22). Love "keeps no record of wrongs!" (1 Corinthians 13:5b) We must forgive those who offend/wrong/hurt us as the Lord forgave us. That means no keeping track of offenses. It means seeking no revenge and having no resentment. A forgiven child of God operates by the principles of love and grace. It's unthinkable for us to seek God's forgiveness while withholding forgiveness. A forgiven person should be a forgiving person. Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is. Reflect Christ in all your interactions with everyone, including those who have wronged you. You're freely and fully forgiven by God. Now go and do likewise. "Freely you have received; freely give." ~Jesus (Matthew 10:8b)

When we have a hard time forgiving others, let's consider how much God has forgiven us. Countless times, right? Compared to the extent and degree of offenses we've committed against God, whatever offenses done to us by others are puny. Yet, we have trouble forgiving them. True forgiveness from the heart is not easy, especially if the same offender keeps repeating the same offense over and over again. We need the Holy Spirit's help to enable us to offer forgiveness over and over again. May we treat others with the measureless grace and mercy that God has poured out upon us! Live forgiven and live to forgive readily!

Some may say that we are to forgive only those who repent and ask for forgiveness. I personally believe our forgiveness should not only be unlimited but also unconditional. It's for our own good (health and peace of mind) and it's for God's glory. God wants us to forgive everyone (including ourselves...sometimes that's the hardest thing to do) about everything, regardless of whether the offender acknowledges his/her wrongdoing or asks for forgiveness or not. "Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying our heart." (Unknown) "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." (Lewis B. Smedes) "We don't forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it--because we need it." (Bree Despain) There is freedom that comes through forgiving others! When we choose to/are willing to forgive, we move away from the hurts towards the healing.

"Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness." (Corrie ten Boom) 

Unforgiveness/bitterness/resentment is a hindrance to our prayers and our intimate fellowship with God. If we don't forgive, we disobey God and suffer consequences. "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer." (Psalm 66:18-19) Yes, unforgiveness is sin! 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I can never thank You enough for Your inexhaustible grace and forgiveness for me! Please enable me to readily forgive others and myself as You have forgiven me. Please help me always see people through eyes of grace and mercy. Please empower me to love and forgive others like Jesus. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Taste and See

This is an invite to know, trust, and experience God personally. The promise is that you will discover that the Lord is good. He is good all the time, even in difficult times (as David was facing). Once you have tasted God's goodness, your life will never be the same! Knowing about God is not the same as knowing God. Hearing that God is good is not the same as experiencing yourself how good God is. I myself can definitely testify to God's goodness. My life's experiences have shown evidences that God is good, kind, loving, and faithful. "You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." (Psalm 86:15) He is beyond awesome! It is so sweet to trust in Jesus, to follow Jesus, to rest in Jesus, and to live for Jesus! It is indeed sweet to be loved, redeemed, forgiven, freed, treasured, healed, delivered, and heard by Almighty God. It is incredibly sweet to be able to approach God's throne of grace with confidence (in prayer), to feast upon His Word, to serve the King of kings, to do His kingdom's work alongside brothers and sisters in Christ, to have incorruptible inheritance, and to enjoy eternal life with Christ in Heaven. "Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!" (Psalm 31:19 NKJV)

Those who take refuge in Jesus Christ are blessed/happy. "Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You." (Psalm 84:12) "How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them drink from Your river of delights." (Psalm 36:7-8) When life hands you lemons, give the lemons to God and He will make lemonade for you. Take heart! God can give you sweetness even in the midst of sour circumstances. Keep your eyes open for God's sweet surprises in your life! Life is sweet because of Christ. 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness! Jesus, You're the sweetest Name of all! I'm so very blessed. Please help me be content and happy in You always. Please show me how I may persuade others to come taste and see that You are good. Please empower me to do good to all, reflecting Your love, grace, goodness, and kindness.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Trust in the Lord

Trust in the Lord! He is always trustworthy, faithful, and unchangeable. His Word is forever true. His love is perfect. He is good all the time. Trust is a choice, not a feeling. "Trust" encompasses allegiance & submission, confidence & conviction, expectation & hope, faith & reliance.

God wants us to trust Him with all our heart (wholehearted commitment)!
Total trust and complete confidence in God lead to perfect peace! "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal." (Isaiah 26:3-4) Do you trust God to meet all of your needs? Do you trust God when you're afraid, afflicted, confused, or overwhelmed? Do you trust God when your health is failing, your heart is hurting, or your loved ones are dying? Trust God at all good times and in bad times. Even when you don't see God's hand, trust His heart.  

Do not lean (depend) on your own understanding (limited, unreliable human understanding which usually operates in ignorance without God's counsel). Remember that God sees the whole picture while we only see what's here and now. Lean on Him and His infinite wisdom. Moreover, He is the One who has all the power and strength to help us.

Acknowledge Him in all your ways. Do we recognize His presence, guidance, and grace in our everyday lives? Do we gratefully acknowledge His grace, mercy, and blessings as we receive them? Give God all the glory. Acknowledge that all we have come from Him.
"Remember that, as sinful creatures, being criminals and traitors--we have no 'rights'. Consequently, everything short of hell--is a mercy! Everything but eternal punishment--is a favor! How many favors and mercies you receive--and how few praises you render! How many mercies are given you--and how few acknowledgments you make!" (James Smith)

He will make your paths straight. It doesn't say, "He will make your paths easy or smooth" :). God loves us and wants the best for our lives. He knows the best way to accomplish His plan and purpose for our lives. He will direct our paths. God will guide us to make the right decisions as we trust Him, submit to Him, and acknowledge Him.
"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun." (Psalm 37:5)
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans." (Proverbs 16:3)

One of God's Names is Yahweh (The Lord, I Am). He is the only one, true, living God who is all we ever need. In the Bible, names are very important. They often reflect the characteristic attributes or background about the persons. Even more so, God reveals His character/His nature by referring to Himself by different Names. He wants us to know and understand Who He is, what He does, and how we should relate to Him. Knowing the names and attributes of God helps us face any problems in life with hope and confidence. If you want to know God more and understand His heart better, I encourage you to study and reflect on the names of God.
It will enrich your understanding of Who God is, strengthen your faith in Him, and deepen your relationship with Him. As a result, it will be easier for you to trust Him and rely on Him. The more we know the Lord, the more confidence we will have in His Word, His promises, and His faithfulness. We can always trust God because we know that He is completely and consistently trustworthy, faithful, and loving. "'Because he loves Me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My Name. He will call on Me, and I will answer him.; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.'" (Psalm 91:14-15)

God has never forsaken/abandoned those who seek Him and He never will. God is always present with us even when we don't feel His presence. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) Whenever God's Word says, "Do not be afraid", it often includes the promise of God's presence ("...For I am with you"). Such a caring & comforting promise!

Prayer: Lord, thank You for being my mighty Rock and Fortress Whom I can always rely upon and trust in! Thank You for being my Shelter and Refuge in Whom I can always find rest! Please help me lean not on my own understanding and strength but on Your perfect wisdom and strength. When I am afraid or worried, please help me lay all my burdens down at Your feet and trust You totally. Thank You for never forsaking me! Your presence gives me comfort and joy, peace and courage. Lead me, Lord, to do Your will each day. May my life honor & glorify You and magnify Your Name!

"If we can trust God for our eternal salvation, how can we not trust Him to provide for the 'little' things of life?" (M.E.Howard)

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