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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pray for All People, Including Those in Authority

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession  and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Do you pray for your leaders in government as much as you complain about them? In fact, we should pray, instead of complaining. Every time you're tempted to complain about them, pause to pray for them. God wants us to pray for all people, even those whom we disagree with. "Paul's command to pray for kings was remarkable considering that Nero, a notoriously cruel ruler, was emperor at this time (A.D. 54-68). When Paul wrote this letter, persecution was a growing threat to believers. Later, when Nero needed a scapegoat for the great fire that destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64, he blamed the Roman Christians so as to take the focus off himself. Then persecution erupted throughout the Roman empire. Not only were Christians denied certain privileges in society, some were even publicly butchered, burned, or fed to animals." (commentary from Life Application Study Bible) This shows that we should pray for evil leaders as well as good leaders.
The purpose is that believers may lead a quiet and peaceful life (this doesn't mean compromising your moral standards/Biblical principles), which is instrumental to the greater purpose of bringing the Gospel of salvation to all people. Not all will be saved but salvation by grace through faith in Christ is offered to all. We must remember to pray for all people, including unbelievers.... yes, even the ISIS. God desires that through the Church's witness, all people may be saved and may come to the knowledge of the truth (verse 3-4). When we choose to honor God and His Word by obeying Him even when it's difficult and/or unpopular or even when we don't feel like it, the world will take notice and we will have an opportunity to point them to God. Be a light in this world of darkness. Be a reflection of Christ. Display the love and grace of God for all to see/experience. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pray for the Body of Christ

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people." (Colossians 1:3-4)

Every letter written by Paul (except Galatians) begins with thanks or praise. Here Paul gave thanks to God for the Colossians' faith in Christ and their love for all the saints. God is the Source of these virtues.

Faith and love are gifts from God that we all should thank God for. Agape love flows from genuine faith in Jesus. In other words, the Colossians' love for all God's people proved their authentic belief in Christ.

How often do we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world? I know I don't do enough. If you like to get some ideas about what to pray for, check these links out: http://www.gfa.org/pray/people-ministries/ , http://www.persecution.com/ , https://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/ .

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the Body of Christ, for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Please protect the persecuted church around the world and help them to stand firm in the faith no matter what. Please provide for all their needs. Please help us all to keep growing in faith and love. Please remind us to take our job as ambassadors of Christ seriously since it is Your will for us. Please empower us to faithfully and boldly spread the Gospel and be effective in our ministry of reconciliation. I pray for unity among Your children that we may love one another and work together to further Your kingdom. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Watch and Pray

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41)
The prevention for falling into temptation is being watchful (alert/aware) and prayerful (pray unceasingly). We humans are weak; therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to stand strong against temptation. If we don't stay alert and pray continually, we'll be more vulnerable to Satan's attacks, lies, & temptations and to succumb to our fleshly desires/sinful pleasures. When we start thinking that we're doing fine on our own and ignore spending time with God, we put ourselves in a dangerous position. Pride is an open door inviting Satan to have a field day. God promises to give us everything we need to live a victorious, godly life. Let us never take this wonderful promise and our prayer privilege for granted!

Be constantly watchful over yourselves and be aware of how the Enemy works. Guard your eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet, mind, and above all, heart! "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23) Different people are tempted by different things (foods, drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, greed/money, power, fame, etc.) Avoid/get rid of anything that is not good for you (physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally). Pray and ask God to give you the courage and power to do so.

Effective prayer takes alertness and self-discipline. Our mind tends to wander. Stay focused. A prayerful life is a powerful life! Be alert and ask God for the strength to resist temptations and for wisdom & discernment to know "the way out". "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

"Prayer does not take our trials away--but it puts our life into the hands of God--so that in His keeping, we shall be kept from harm while we pass through our trials. It brings God's grace into our heart--to preserve us from falling into sin; and God's strength into our life--that we may be victorious over our enemies. Not to pray as we go into the day's dangers and trials--is to meet them without the help of Christ, and surely to suffer hurt, and possibly to fall into sin!" (J.R. Miller)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pray for Divine Wisdom, Revelation, Knowledge, and Understanding

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better." (Ephesians 1:17 NIV)
- This (verses 17-19) is one of Paul's most beautiful prayers for the churches. It's one of my favorite prayers I pray for my children.
- "I keep asking"--shows persistence in prayer. It reminds me of Luke 18:1-8, the parable of the persistent widow. "Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)
- Paul prays that God will give believers wisdom and revelation through His Holy Spirit so that they may know Him better. Biblically speaking, Who you know is more important than what you know. To know God more must be our top priority. Christianity is about relationship, not rules. It is God's desire for us to know Him and it should be our desire to know Him more intimately. "Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." (Philippians 3:7-10) Know Christ. Imitate Christ.
- "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10) "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6) The greatest wisdom of all is knowing God...knowing His heart and His will...knowing Christ. "It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30) "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3)
- Revelation--God reveals Himself to us through Jesus, the Holy Spirit, His Word, His creation, His people, and circumstances. "'I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from Me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed--I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,' declared the Lord, 'that I am God.'" (Isaiah 43:11-12)
- Paul also prays that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened (in verse 18). In the Bible, the heart is the very core of life and the eyes of heart refers to true understanding. One can have a head knowledge of the Bible yet his/her heart remains dark and dead. There is such thing as empty intellectual knowledge of Scripture. Satan knows the Scriptures. Most atheists know the Scriptures. Pharisees and false teachers know the Scriptures. What do they all have in common? The lack of the renewed mind and transformed heart! We need the Holy Spirit to shine the light on the truth of Scripture in our heart and mind. Only then we can actually understand what God wants us to understand. It's like a light bulb being turned on inside of us so that we're able to fully see/know the benefits of the Gospel and grasp & appreciate the spiritual treasures/blessings that God gives us.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pray in Faith

Faith in God is the key to effective, powerful, prevailing prayers. When you pray, believe and don't doubt. "When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." (James 1:6-8) Another important requirement for prayer is that we must forgive others (verse 25). And love others with agape. "If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2b) We cannot pray effectively if our unforgiving spirit and/or unloving heart have broken our fellowship with God.

A prayer of faith is a test of faith. Pray with confidence/certainty as if you've already received it and you shall receive whatever you ask (according to God's will). No obstacle, no matter how impossible it may seem ("mountain") is able to stand before a vibrant, childlike faith in God.
"Prayer is as natural as expression of faith as breathing is of life." (Jonathan Edwards)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Persist in Prayer

"Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up...And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off?" (Luke 18:1, 7)

The reason for this parable is to show us that we should always pray and not give up. God will honor patient, persistent, persevering prayer. God wants us to present our requests to Him without becoming discouraged if there's delay in the answers. Delay does not imply a lack of concern. His delays always have good purposes. God will surely respond to injustice done to His children.

Keep praying, surrendering all to God, and trusting Him that He will answer according to His will and His timing. Faith is the key! "Everything is possible for one who believes." (Mark 9:23) "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27) If an unconcerned judge responds to the continual requests from the persistent widow, how much more will a just, loving, caring God respond to the continual prayers of His beloved children! Unlike this judge, God does not mind answering prayer/giving us help. He loves it when we come to Him pouring our hearts to Him. This is the heart of Abba Father. Jesus tells this parable because He wants us to not lose heart but to stay prayerful always.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Do Not Fret

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil." (Psalm 37:7-8)
I call Psalm 37 "Jealousy Buster" :). David shared his insights and wisdom that he had gleaned from years of walking with God. When you see immoral people and/or God-haters succeed and flourish, are you upset, annoyed, or jealous? Do not be so. Their success is brief (they will perish) but our blessings in the Lord are everlasting. Keep enjoying God (delighting in Him) and He will give you the desires of your heart which will be aligned with His (see verse 4 of this same chapter). Be still (rapha = be weak) before the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act. Why weak? God wants us to cease striving on our own strength and instead, submit to Him, lean on Him & His strength. He knows & wants what's best for us and his timing is perfect. It's hard for our human nature to wait and to be patient. Waiting period is a learning and preparing period. God has a purpose for us to wait patiently for Him, rely on Him, and rest in Him (be content in Him) completely. Let us make the most of our waiting time by knowing Him better and honoring Him by trusting & obeying Him no matter what!

"Do not fret" is mentioned 3 times in this chapter (in verses 7 & 8 above and in verse 1) "Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will son wither, like green plants they will soon die away." (Psalm 37:1-2) "The Hebrew word (for "fret") means to burn. The verb is in the Hebrew reflexive stem which could be translated, “Don’t work yourself into a slow burn” when you see evil men prospering. Don’t let it get under your skin; it will only lead you into wrong (37:8). One reason we get irritated when we see evil men getting away with their schemes is that we are assuming that we know how to run the world better than God does. So one aspect of submission to God is to put off such irritation, giving God the sovereign right to deal with evildoers in His time and way." (Steven J. Cole) God does not want us to be worried or anxious or envious or upset. Anger, wrath, and discontent can and often do lead to evil (causing harm and other sinful actions). Instead, God wants us to trust in Him and do good (verse 3), delight in Him (verse 4), commit our way to Him (verse 5), be still before Him & wait patiently for Him (verse7), be humble (verse 11), walk uprightly (verse 18), be generous (verse 21, 26), be just & faithful (verse 28), hope in Him & keep His way (verse 34), and take refuge in Him (verse 40). Simply trust Him and be at peace. Fretting steals your joy and peace. Don't compare yourselves with others. Be content with whom God made you to be and where He puts you right now. Stop worrying/fretting when the bad guys win. Shift your focus to God, our just & righteous Judge! Let go and leave all in God's hands. He will right all wrongs sooner or later. "The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their Stronghold in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him." (Psalm 37:39-40)

Five points that might help us have the right perspective and focus when we have trouble trusting God:
  • God is in control even when things are out of control. His sovereignty rules.
  • God is faithful even when we have little faith. He always keeps His promises.
  • God is good all the time even when nothing good seems to be happening right now. His goodness never changes.
  • God loves us no matter what we do or don't do...succeed or fail. His love never fails.
  • God is omnipotent. Nothing is impossible for Him.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, February 1, 2016

God Is Our Refuge

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our Refuge." (Psalm 62:8 NIV)
God is our mighty Rock and Fortress even when the world is falling apart. He is our Shelter and Refuge from the storms of life. He provides safety, security, peace, comfort, and protection from dangers and troubles. Find rest in Him; our hope is in Him. Trust in Him at all times; He is in control even when all around you seem to be out of control. Pour out your hearts to Him in earnest prayer; He listens and He cares. Do you feel like there's so much to do but at the same time feel worn out from relying on your own strength? You need to rest and trust God. He loves you with His unfailing love and He will empower you with His infinite power to accomplish what you need to accomplish in His strength according to His purposes. Do you feel you're being assaulted by people, problems, or the Enemy? Rest in God, our Refuge! He's got your back. If God is for us, who can be against us? Pour out your burdens before Him and watch Him work everything out. "The LORD is a Refuge for the oppressed, a Stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your Name trust in You, for Your, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You." (Psalm 9:9-10)

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4) Do you see how calm an contented those baby birds are? That's how we should be :)! What circumstances are causing you fear, worry, or stress today? We tend to run to people or things for a refuge but they often fail/disappoint us. God is the only Refuge that never fails. Run to God and remain there... staying tucked in under the Almighty God's wings! He will carry you through no matter how difficult your situation may be.

Prayer: Father, thank You for being my Refuge/Dwelling Place where I can confidently & peacefully rest and stay put! Please help me to trust You completely even when I don't understand what You're doing. Thank You for Your faithfulness and abundant goodness to me! All is well with my soul because of You. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.
"This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you... Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light... Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there. You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may--winds, waves, cross seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers--no matter what, you mush lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God's faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus." (Richard Fuller)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday's Fave Five #105

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:
1. My left eye (that had vitreous hemorrhage at the beginning of this month) is able to see again! Yeah! It's not normal yet; it still has tons of floaters but I thank God for any and every improvement. Praise Yahweh Rapha (The Lord Who Heals)! God always heals His children. He may heal us instantly or gradually or ultimately (in Heaven). He already heals our worst sickness of all: sin-sick soul.

2. Last Saturday, we 
attended the red carpet premiere of KUNG FU PANDA 3 at Cinemark Clackamas Town Center. It's Po awesome :)!    

3. Yesterday, I used my iPhone to video-record my 17 yo son's piano covers and we posted them on YouTube. If you like them, please leave comments for him on YouTube. I know he would be so encouraged.

4. Yesterday, I watched the free simulcast from Evangelicals for Life. You can also watch it today.

5. I just finished reading Devotions and Prayers of John Wesley. It's very good! Here's an example of his prayers: "Lift our affections to things above, that we may have perfect contentment in well-doing and patient suffering. Free us from the cares of this world, from all distrust of Thy good providence, from repining at anything that befalls us; and enable us in everything to give thanks, believing that all things are ordered wisely and shall work together for good. Amen."

BONUS: On my other blog, I'm having two terrific giveaways right now: 1. CD Giveaway: PASSION Salvation's Tide Is Rising (ends 1/24) and 2. DVD Giveaway: Captive (ends 1/31)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Strengthened with Power through His Spirit

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from Whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man." Ephesians 3:14-16 (NKJV)
Kneeling to pray signifies humble submission to God and His will. As I mentioned yesterday, our heart's attitude is more important than the outward posture. Yes, we can (and should) approach God/our Heavenly Father with boldness and confidence. At the same time, we must approach Him with reverence, awe, and humility.

Even though every human is created by God in His image, not everyone is His child. Only those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and have been born again by His Spirit are adopted into God's family as God's children and can call Him, "Abba Father". "The whole family" in this passage refers to every believer (whether Jews or Gentiles...they all are one in Christ, including those in Heaven and those still on earth). All believers share this family privilege of prayer. It's absolutely wonderful to be able to come to our Father anytime about anything, knowing that our Good Good Father who is loving, compassionate, all wise & powerful, cares so much about us and takes care of all our needs.

Paul prays for us that our inner being (the heart, the soul that lives forever, the new inward creation in Christ) may have spiritual strength/empowerment by the Holy Spirit, which in turn will lead to a deeper experience with Christ which enables us to comprehend His love and results in being filled unto all the fullness of God. "According to the riches of His glory"--shows the limitless, exceeding, abundant greatness & generosity of God's power/wealth/resources given to us the redeemed. "Since the Lord is infinitely rich in glory, let the saints get ready for a deluge! Why should we ask so little of so great a King?" (MacDonald) The Holy Spirit empowers and strengthens us to do God's will & God's work, to bear good fruit, to glorify God, to persevere to the end, to endure trials & suffering, to resist temptations, to make right & wise choices, to say no to flesh, to fear not & worry not, to speak the truth & share the Gospel regardless of what others think of us, and to live a life of faith & obedience. We definitely cannot do all this on our own strength. Since we have access to God's unlimited resources/spiritual wealth, we ought to walk and live out of them. We don't have to limp along as weak paupers. God is at work in us! "The power of Christ in you is greater than the pressure of troubles around you." (Unknown)
"You have . . .  a war to wage;  a race to run;  an enemy to watch;  a victory to gain.Your own strength is nothing. Even an angel's strength would not suffice you. You must be clothed with power from Heaven; you must be armed with God. I would not underrate your own weakness; and I cannot overrate the divine strength at your command.(George Mylne) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kneel and Pray

"Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, 'Tabitha, get up.' She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up." (Acts 9:40)
Peter knelt down and prayed for Tabitha (Dorcas) who was dead. God answered Peter's prayer and raised her back to life. A miracle that led many to believe in the Lord! Kneeling down to pray is a posture of humble reverence towards God. We see this several times in Acts. "Then he (Stephen) fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.'" (Acts 7:60a) "When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed." (Acts 20:36) "When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray." (Acts 21:5)

More important than our outward posture is our heart's posture/attitude when we pray. We see the attitude contrast between the Pharisee and the tax collector when they went up to the temple to pray in a parable told by Jesus in Luke 18:10-14. "The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to Heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Our heart's posture towards God should be: complete surrender, utmost reverence, contrite repentance, utter dependence, deepest gratitude, humble obedience, undivided devotion, highest adoration, and total trust.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pray Without Anger or Disputing

"I want men everywhere to pray lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing." (1 Timothy 2:8)
Lifting up holy hands is a Hebrew way of praying and praising. "Holy" refers to "morally and spiritually clean". "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22) Prayer should be done with a pure heart and life without anger (wrath/resentment) and disputing (quarreling). "Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." (James 1:20) "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." (2 Timothy 2:24) "Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin." (Proverbs 17:19a)  Our anger and quarreling with others displease God and hinder our prayer/communion with God. The unity among the Body of Christ is important to God.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Every Day I Will Praise You

"I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever." (Psalm 145:1-2)
Psalm 145 is a psalm of praise. These first two verses show David's commitment to praise & exalt God/His Name every day of his life forever. May we do the same! How often do we express to God our appreciation and adoration? Praise God privately and publicly. Tell others what great things He has done for you and Who He is to you. "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom!" (Psalm 145:3) "Still my soul will sing Your praise unending ten thousand years and then forevermore."

How do we extol (hold high/esteem greatly) God's Name? Let's do everything to honor and glorify Him, not self. "Your Name and renown are the desire of our hearts." (Isaiah 26:8b)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There Is None Like You, LORD!

"No one is like You, LORD; You are great, and Your Name is mighty in power. Who should not fear You, King of the nations? This is Your due. Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like You." (Jeremiah 10:6-7)
These verses beautifully express the incomparability of God. He is the one and only true living God. There is no other. Idols are worthless; they cannot save us. We don't have to fear Satan as the equivalent opposing force of God, either. God has no equals. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Satan is not. He is merely a fallen angel (created being), already defeated at the cross. Our Lord is almighty! He is to be revered. He is King over all.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Omnipresence of God

"'Am I only a God nearby,' declares the LORD, 'and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?' declares the LORD. 'Do not I fill Heaven and earth?' declares the LORD." Jeremiah 23:23-24
This is a warning to false prophets that they cannot hide themselves from God. God sees all their lies, deceptions, and selfish intentions. No one can be hidden from God. God is omnipresent. He knows all our inner thoughts, motives, and feelings. He sees everything...near and far, now and forever. He is not limited by time or space. Whatsoever we think, feel, desire, speak, and do, is known to God.

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You." (Psalm 139:7-12)
Everything that goes on in Heaven and on earth is in God's view and under God's sovereignty. There's no boundary to His providence and power. Some people still try to hide from God in the sense that they think (hope) He could not see the evil things they do or see their disobedience. How foolish and/or delusional they are! Jonah learned the lesson when he tried to hide/escape from his God-given mission and failed miserably. There is no such thing as committing a sin in secrecy! Never forget God's constant presence. "A man who sincerely believes the omnipresence of God, cannot be indifferent to sin." (George Everard) The more conscious we are of God's presence, the more comforted and contented we feel and the less likely we will sin/be tempted to sin.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I AM With You Always

This is Christ's wonderful reassuring promise that goes with His final command (the Great Commission). 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. 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) 

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. He confirms that He is indeed ImmanuelHis constant Spiritual presence encourages, comforts, strengthens, guides, guards, empowers, and preserves us. Jesus is with us on days of discipline, days of drudgery, days of doubts, days of difficulties, days of disappointments, days of discouragement, days of distress, and day of death. Every. Moment. His everlasting arms will sustain us and carry us. He encompasses us. He is our ever-present Guide, Shield, and Deliverer! He is our Forever Faithful Friend! If all we have left is Christ, we still have more than enough!

Every day will be a day of temptation. In the home, in the business, in company, in loneliness--I shall encounter the devil's subtle snares. But let my Lord be with me, and temptation will but reveal the closeness and blessedness of the tie. It will be an instrument which He uses to impart more maturity to my graces--more courage, more patience, more trust... ALL the days He is with me--to the end, and through the end, and beyond the end forever and ever! Whether I live, therefore, or whether I die--I am His and He is mine!" (Alexander Smellie)

"You are never for an instant . . .
out of His heart,
out of His thoughts,
out of His hands,

or out of His eye! 
Go then, and lay your weariness on Christ!
(Octavius Winslow)

"The Christian has a remedy which never fails, when properly applied--the Savior's presence. This... 
turns poverty to riches;
invests the humblest meal with luxury;
makes crowded cities as pleasant as the mountain top;
imparts refreshment in the midst of labor;
fills voids with Christ's fullness; and
gives us the presence of the best of friends." (George Mylne)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me and for always being with me all the days of my life! Please help me to boldly share the gospel with those who need to hear. Please guide me in Your way and guard me from the Enemy's assaults and snares. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

God Is With Us

God commands the Israelites (and us) to not be afraid or be dismayed and He gives us five reasons/ promises.

1. God is with us. 

God's presence makes all the difference in the world. He will never leave us nor forsake us. No matter what trial and storm we're going through, God is bigger than our storm and He is right there with us to bring us through it. His presence gives us peace, confidence, and comfort. Fear not!

2. God is our God.

We are His by creation, redemption, purchase, and choice. We are Christ's in all circumstances and for eternity. We belong to Him, Who is sovereign over all. He makes it His business to take care of us/our needs. He loves us and cares about us. He is personally engaged in our present and eternal welfare. Fear not!

3. God will strengthen us. 

When we are weak, in Christ we are made strong. "He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) His divine power and strength will cover our weaknesses. "The LORD gives strength to His people." (Psalm 29:11a) "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak." (Isaiah 40:29) "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure." (Psalm 18:32) "The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one." (2 Thessalonians 3:3) We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Fear not!

4. God will help us.

Trust in His infinite wisdom, omnipotent power, and unending love. He knows what we need and He will provide, guide, and equip us. He delights in helping us. "The LORD will fight for you; you need only be still." (Exodus 14:14) "I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of Heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1-2) Fear not!

5. God will uphold us with His righteous right hand. 

"The LORD makes firms the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand." (Psalm 37:23-24) Our lives are in His capable, all-powerful hand! Fear not! 

"What a precious promise this is for all God's feeble children, who are daily fearing that they shall fall or be crushed under the weight of their troubles and trials! 

Oh, what a mercy! God says that He will uphold you. He will put strength into you; He will enable you to bear your afflictions and will bring you safely through all your troubles.

Satan may say, "I will trip you up." 
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Unbelief may say, "You will one day fall and perish."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Your flesh may cry out, "I can never bear up under this cross."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Your feeble heart may say, "How can I endure such privations, such bereavements, such buffetings of Satan, such temptations, such losses, such fiery trials?"
God says, "I will uphold you!" (James Smith)

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your faithful promises! Please help me to always look to You and Your Word whenever fear, anxiety, doubt, or discouragement try to creep into my heart and mind. I am weak but You are strong. Please uphold me, empower me, and strengthen me so that I may serve You, please & honor You, and live for You all the days of my life. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, December 7, 2015


"The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel (which means 'God with us')." (Matthew 1:23)
This is the fulfillment of the prophecy mentioned in Isaiah 7:14. 

The virgin (Mary) gave birth to Jesus (God incarnate, conceived by the Holy Spirit). He is called Immanuel (God with us). Christ's presence is the best Present! We are never alone! Jesus came to reconcile us to God and to be with us. It is truly mind-blowing that the Creator of the universe desires to have a deep, intimate relationship with us, wretched sinners. He knows everything about us (the good, the bad, & the ugly...struggles and dreams...trials and joys) and lovingly walks with us through it all.

"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)

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5)

"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." ~Jesus (Matthew 28:20)
"O honored saint of God! You have . . .
the Divinest in the universe to love you,
the Mightiest in the universe to shield you,
the Loveliest in the universe to delight you,
the Dearest in the universe to soothe, cheer, and gladden you!
O favored disciple of Jesus--you have such a one ever at your side!
This is the promise of promises--the richest pearl of all the promises, exceeding in its mightiness and preciousness; while it is the substance, sweetness, and pledge of all the rest!" (Octavius Winslow)

As we recapture the wonder of our Redeemer’s birth, may we be reminded of His amazing grace, be refreshed by His awesome love, and be aware of His constant presence. Rejoice…rejoice…Immanuel…God with us and in us and for us! He is always present with us even when we don't feel His presence. I'm glad that He doesn't leave us here on earth to fend for ourselves. He is here with us through His Holy Spirit, teaching us, guiding us, & empowering us on our way to eternity.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You are Immanuel! It's such a comfort to me that You are always with me in every moment of my life...in every circumstance. With You by my side, I don't need to fear or worry about anything. I have everything I ever need because I have You.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Unto Us a Child Is Born

Isaiah announced a prophecy about the Messiah: God has come to the world in the form of a child (fulfilled in Luke 2:1-20). Jesus Christ is born to be the Savior of the world. He is Hope Incarnate. I love how the prophets declared prophecies with absolute confidence (notice the verb form used by them) as if they had already taken place (even though they're future events), demonstrating the certainty of their fulfillment. Isaiah said, "For unto us a child is born" about 700 years before Christ's incarnation. "Unto us a Son is given"--Jesus is God's greatest Gift given to us...for us. He came to live a perfect life and die the death we deserve as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins so that we could live with Him forever. He came to set us free from bondage of sin and death. This verse speaks of Christ's humanity (born as a child) and deity. He is God Himself ("Mighty God"). The four titles for our Messiah speak volumes about Who He is.
"Mighty God" also indicates Christ's omnipotence. He is a powerful Warrior. Nothing is too difficult for our God!
"Wonderful Counselor"--Jesus is the Wisdom of God who leads us and counsels us. He is wonderful in all aspects.
"Everlasting Father"--Jesus is our compassionate Provider and Protector. He is Father of Eternity; He is outside of time. "Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God." (Psalm 90:2)
"Prince of Peace"--Jesus reigns and rules. His rule will bring wholeness/peace (shalom) that has no end. This part will be fulfilled by His second coming. Yet even now He is our Peace. Through Christ, we have peace with God and in Christ, we have peace within as we trust and obey Him."'Your life is hid with Christ in God,' and the imperturbable peace of Jesus Christ is imparted to you." (Oswald Chambers)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for saving me and being my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace! Please help me to seek You & Your will in everything and to trust You with every area of my life. Thank You for being my constant Hope and Anchor! Please empower me to be an effective ambassador representing You accurately to the world. May this Christmas season be a joyous season of reflection, celebration, and gratitude for Who You are and for all You have done for us!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Worship God

"All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: 'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'" (Revelation 7:11-12)
All the angels, the elders, and the four living creatures joined together in adoring and worshiping God by celebrating His attributes. Their falling down on their faces demonstrates their utmost submission and reverence. The verses (9-10) before these show a great multitude of the redeemed standing before the throne and before the Lamb and praising God. If there's much joy in Heaven over one repented sinner, can you imagine the magnitude of rejoicing over this culmination of salvation?! Verse 12 is a sevenfold doxology which may symbolize the perfect attributes of God or the perfect nature of the end-time events (the number seven symbolizes perfection). One good reason why we should study names of God is to ponder His marvelous attributes. "Who" is more important than "why". We can always trust in Who God is even when we don't understand why God does what He does. When we know and trust "Who" so well, we feel less need to know "why".

"The first fruits of Christ having led the way, the Gentiles converted later follow, and ascribe their salvation to God and the Redeemer, with triumph. In acts of religious worship we come nigh to God, and must come by Christ; the throne of God could not be approached by sinners, were it not for a Mediator. They were clothed with the robes of justification, holiness, and victory; and they had palms in their hands, as conquerors used to appear in their triumphs. Such a glorious appearance will the faithful servants of God make at last, when they have fought the good fight of faith, and finished their course. With a loud voice they gave to God and the Lamb the praise of the great salvation. Those who enjoy eternal happiness must and will bless both the Father and the Son; they will do it publicly, and with fervour. We see what is the work of heaven, and we ought to begin it now, to have our hearts much in it, and to long for that world where our praises, as well as our happiness, will be made perfect." (Matthew Henry)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Who You are! I love You! Please give me a heart of worship. May my life be a constant praise song to You! I want to know You more and to make You known. Please use me for Your work and for Your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Want Wisdom?

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind." (James 1:5-6)
- We can always use more wisdom, can't we :)? Indeed, we need God's wisdom to do God's will. Wisdom includes practical insight, discernment/sound judgment, and spiritual understanding. This is not a one-time thing. God doesn't fill us up with His wisdom once to last our whole lifetime. We must come back to Him again and again. This helps us understand our dependence on Him and it also builds our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

- When we're facing trials, we need God's wisdom to know how to deal with them, how to endure, how we can have joy in the midst of them, and to see what God's purpose is in those trials. 
"The wisdom God gives is not necessarily information on how to get out of trouble but rather insight on how to learn from one's difficulties. It is not more information about how to avoid times of testing but instead a new perspective on trials. The wisdom of God begins with a genuine reverence for the Almighty and a steadfast confidence that God controls all circumstances, guiding them to His good purposes." (from my NKJV Study Bible's commentary)

- There are two conditions/requirements for receiving wisdom: 1. Ask God for it and 2. Believe/don't doubt. Pray with unwavering faith that stands firm and undisturbed in all the storms of life.

- God could simply give us the wisdom but He requires us to ask for it so that we recognize our need for it and we understand & acknowledge where that wisdom is coming from.

- God is generous and He enjoys giving. He wants to give us wisdom because He is a loving Father desiring to see His children live a blessed life.

- "Without finding fault" = without reproach, without reminding us how we don't deserve it, without expressing disappointment about how foolish we are or how slow we are (at learning and trusting), not begrudgingly

- Here's a test to see if we lack wisdom :).

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom...The wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." (James 3:13, 17)
- Prayer: Father, thank You for being patient, gracious, and generous with me! Please give me wisdom to do Your will, to know Your heart, to understand Your Word, and to learn what You want me to learn. Please help me to be humble, pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy & good fruit, impartial, and sincere. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Source of Wisdom and Knowledge

Paul was refuting a heresy (Gnosticism) that emphasized knowledge/"higher thought" as the means of salvation. Paul once again tried to point people back to the deity and all-sufficiency of Christ, Who is the Embodiment of God's wisdom and knowledge. "For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6) God's fullness is in Christ. Jesus is totally God with all God's powers and attributes. "In the person, character and work of Christ--is included all that man can need and all that God can give!" (Cornelius Tyree, "The Glorious Sufficiency of Christ" 1879) To know Christ is to find the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge! "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise." (Psalm 111:10)

"Jesus is infinitely wise and immutably holy--therefore His love is a wise and holy love. He wisely manifests His love, so as to...discountenance sin, encourage holiness, and further His people in their heavenly way and work... 

His wisdom and holiness shine in every part of His works--but in none more than in His dealings with His people. Was He less wise, we might have more comfort--but it would injure us. Was He less holy, we might have fewer trials--but we would assuredly be losers. Divine love, wisdom, and holiness combined--drew the plan of the Christian's lot; and the same divine love, wisdom, and holiness--executes that plan... 

There is divine wisdom in every trial--and divine love in every cross! Holiness and wisdom in Jesus, demand that our way should at times be hedged up with thorns. The infinite love of Jesus, shines in every painful discipline...May His love shed abroad in my heart--lead me to love, seek, and pant for holiness!" (James Smith)

"All that Christ has--is mine!
Christ's love is mine to pity me! 
Christ's mercy is mine to save me! 
Christ's graces are mine to beautify me! 
Christ's power is mine to protect me! 
Christ's wisdom is mine to counsel me! 
Christ's Spirit is mine to comfort me! 
Christ's Word is mine to teach me!
Christ's glory is mine to crown me!" (William Dyer)
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