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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christ's Peace

Christ's peace (a gift to us) is different from the world's peace. This inner peace is the tranquility of spirit that only Jesus can give. It's not found in positive thinking or in absence of conflict. It's independent of circumstances. It comes from being in fellowship with God, knowing that our Yahweh Shalom is in control and putting our trust in Him completely. Shalom (peace) means much more than a truce. It means well-being, security, soundness, and completeness. It has to do more with character than circumstances. Peace is calmness in our heart no matter what's going on around us. Peace is soul at rest in Christ. 

Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts! Our hearts are the center of conflict in our desires and feelings. We must surrender all to Christ and the peace that Christ gives will keep fear and distress from our hearts. Jesus is our unchanging Source of peace, comfort, and strength. Fear not. Worry not. We can and should trust Him at all times and in all circumstances. He is forever faithful and loving. Know Jesus, know peace; no Jesus, no peace! Jesus loves us, invites us to spend time with Him, and longs to give us rest (peace). We can always bring everything to the Lord in prayer. Just cry out to Jesus! He listens; He cares. Take your problems (every worry/every concern/every burden) to Him and leave them there. Let go. Don't pick them back up. Don't carry around weights of your burdens; they will keep you from being useful. Let go and walk in freedom, in faith, and in obedience. Trust in God's loving sovereignty. Trust God's answers (God's will and God's ways) and God's timing. My M.O. (method of operation) is this: I pray. I trust. I rest. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me a supernatural kind of peace! Thank You for being my Burden-Bearer and Rest-Giver! I surrender all to You. Please help me fix my eyes on You always. Please help me not be afraid of or troubled by anything in this world.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Yahweh Shalom

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.'" Luke 2:13-14
Oh how desperately this world needs peace!!! The world's greatest need is peace with God which can only be obtained by faith in Jesus Christ! "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast (rejoice) in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2) Apart from God, there's no real peace! True peace is made possible by Yahweh Shalom ("The LORD is Peace") through Whom we've been reconciled to God! Jesus is our Peace/Prince of Peace. Peace is the result of having a personal relationship with God, of knowing we're eternally saved & forgiven because of Christ's finished work on the cross, and of Christ reigning in our lives as Lord of all. Peace with God leads to freedom (not to sin but) from sin and to serve God...to live for Him. We find perfect rest in Christ alone...when we surrender all to Him. There's no need to fear or worry...no matter what comes our way. God is with us & for us and that makes all the difference!

"How amazed the angels must have been when they saw the Creator born as a creature, the Word coming as a speechless baby. The best commentary on this is 2 Corinthians 8:9, and the best response from our hearts is wonder and worship. 'Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh' (1 Tim. 3:16)" (Warren Wiersbe) Glory here (in verse 14) refers to praise to God. The promise of peace is not for everyone but for all who welcome and surrender to God's Son, Jesus Christ. God's redeemed children receive God's special grace/favor; God is pleased with them. Most Jews hoped for a Messiah who would deliver them (give them peace) from political oppression while others hoped for a Savior to deliver them from sickness or hardship. The angel announced the good news (the best news of all time) about the birth of the Messiah who came to save/deliver us from sin and death.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for making a way/being the Way for me to have peace with God! You are my Peace; I shall never be shaken. This world needs You. Please help me proclaim the good news of salvation with diligence and urgency. Glory to You forever and ever! Amen.


Friday, November 20, 2015

We Are His

"Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture." (Psalm 100:3)
Psalm 100 is a psalm of giving grateful praise to the Lord. He creates us, He loves us, and He saves/redeems us. We are His beloved sheep/children/people. It's truly mind-boggling that the Creator of the universe desires to have an intimate personal relationship with us. We belong to Yahweh Rohi; He always takes care of us. He knows us best and He knows what's best for us because He made us. Trust Him! Remember this: in every moment of our life, God is by our side! We are never alone in life's struggles. "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care." (Psalm 95:6-7) To show our gratitude to God, we submit to Him, serve Him, honor Him, praise & worship Him with gladness. "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your unfailing love, mercy, goodness, and faithfulness! My life is Yours, please have Your way in me. May my life be a testimony of devotion, gratitude, surrender, and obedience to You!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Lost Sheep

We were all once the lost sheep (unrepentant sinners). Yahweh Rohi cares so much about the lost sheep that He goes after it until He finds it. When He finds the lost sheep, He joyfully puts it on His shoulders. He also wants others to rejoice with Him. The ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent allude to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who neither see the need to repent nor the need for a Savior. Jesus says in Luke 5:31-32, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." The scribes and Pharisees failed to see their sin/sickness; they believed they were righteous, not lost.

Christ's compassion has no bounds. Because of His relentless love and unending grace, He keeps looking for the lost sheep. He forgives and forgives. What the lost sinners need to do is to repent (turn away from a lifestyle of sins/worldliness 180 degrees toward God). There's great rejoicing in Heaven over one repentant sinner because each soul is precious to God. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) God delays Christ's second coming and final judgment because He graciously desires that all people will repent and accept His free gift of salvation through faith in Christ. This is God's heart! His motive demonstrates His incredible grace and mercy! The Lord is abounding in love and slow to anger. He is being patient with the ungodly and unrepentant. Some will perish but it is not God's will that they perish. Jesus died for all. The gift of salvation is available to all. But God will not save us against our will. God also gives us the gift of choice. We can choose Jesus or reject Him. He deliberately keeps giving people more and more time to come to repentance. We are given more time to reach out to people with the Gospel; do not waste it. Jesus came to earth to seek and save the lost. God's mission has not changed. He gives us His redeemed children the assignment to bring "lost sheep" back into the love and safety of His kingdom. 

Prayer: Lord, thank You for saving me! Thank You for Your never-failing love, compassion, grace, mercy, and faithfulness! You never give up on us. Please help us not to ever give up on people, either. Please help us to be active agents of Your redemption.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tender Shepherd

"He tends His flock like a Shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11)
Yahweh Rohi feeds, gathers, carries, and leads His sheep. We are held close to His heart! Such tender affection! The safest place to be is in the arms of our Good Shepherd who dearly loves us and faithfully protects us! He is not only gentle and compassionate but also strong and powerful. "See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and He rules with a mighty arm." (Isaiah 40:10a) He wants us to trust Him and rest in Him. "But how may we understand the expression, "He will carry them"? Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them. Often they are carried by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know. Frequently He carries them by giving them a very simple faith, which takes the promises just as they stand, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus! The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world." (Charles Spurgeon)

Prayer: Lord, thank You for holding me close to Your heart and for carrying me through storms of life! I don't want to be anywhere else. I want to always be in Your loving arms and listen to Your voice. Knowing that I am loved and protected by You gives me great comfort and peace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Good Shepherd

"I AM the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me--just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father--and I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us His sheep in order to give us eternal life and abundant life. Our Shepherd is good all the time. He unceasingly shows His loyal love, genuine concern, and devoted care for His sheep. The sheep's responsibility is to listen to the Shepherd and follow Him. We must recognize His voice. To do so, we must remain close to Him at all times. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:21)  

Jesus knows us and we know Him. This is not a general knowledge but rather a deep, intimate relationship...the kind that is shared between God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus knows my name. He knows every detail (the good, the bad, and the ugly) about me yet He still loves me perfectly! "...'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine!'" (Isaiah 43:1b) "We are not lost in the crowd. Each one of God's children, is the special object of His love and thought and care! ...Every redeemed one has his own special place in the heart of Christ!" (J.R. Miller) I am treasured by Him and so are you. Yahweh Rohi is not only our tender Provider, but also our strong Defender! He is protective of His sheep and He rescues His sheep when they fall or get lost. We can rest in Him knowing that we're loved, taken care of, safe and secure forever. In saying "safe and secure", I'm referring to John 10:28, "I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand."

"Jesus loves His sheep.
Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. 
Jesus lives to take care of His sheep.
Jesus will never, on any account, part with His sheep. 
He can guard them, and He will surely keep them. 
Whoever may perish--they never shall. 
His Father will not permit it. 
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit will prevent it. 
The love, power, and honor of Jesus combine to render it impossible!" (James Smith)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross to pay for my sin so that I may live eternally with You! Thank You for loving me and taking care of all my needs! In You, I lack nothing. Please help me to know You more and to live for You always. Please direct my every step and help me to hear Your voice clearly.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lord Is My Shepherd

"The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake." (Psalm 23:1-3)
Psalm 23, one of the most beloved Psalms, is a psalm of trust. David had no fear or concern and lacked nothing because he knew Yahweh Rohi ("The LORD Is My Shepherd"). Jesus is our Shepherd Whom we can always trust and depend on; therefore, we need not be afraid about anything.

The shepherd knows what his sheep need and provides for them. He watches them while they sleep. He protects them and guides them. Sheep rely on their shepherd for their survival. 
Sheep are not smart; they tend to follow the crowd and wander off the path & get lost. They really need their shepherd's constant watch and care. They need their shepherd to be there for them to feel secure and be able to lie down. "When sheep finish grazing, they lie down to chew their cud so the food will digest. Unless they feel safe, they can't relax and lie down in the pasture. Nothing makes them feel safer or quiets them more than the presence of their shepherd." (Helen Haidle) Sheep are timid and easily scared. Rushing, noisy streams even frighten them so the shepherd patiently leads them to quiet, still water where they can drink in peace. When we get scared from all the chaos in the world, we need Jesus to lead us to a quiet time with Him where our soul can be refreshed with the Living Water and be strengthened to persevere. Sheep can be stubborn and want to go on an easy way without being aware of danger ahead. The shepherd knows which way is best for them and guides them along the right paths. Jesus guides us and keeps us on the paths of righteousness but we must choose to follow Him, instead of ourselves, the world, or other "sheep". He does what He does because of His nature and for His glory. When we follow our Shepherd obediently and rest in His loving care, we find peace, contentment, comfort, and strength. I am very thankful for His presence, provision, guidance, and protection all throughout my life. Plus blessings upon blessings....my cup truly overflows!

"The certainty that we are loved fosters peace and eliminates stress. Sheep don't come across as stressed-out creatures. In fact, they seem almost oblivious to danger. Sheep don't worry about where their next meal is coming from, if they will have a place to sleep each night, when the next enemy or thief will attack, or even what the next day holds. When sheep are sick or in need, they simply turn to their shepherd, instinctively knowing he or she will take care of and comfort them." (Mary Southerland) Trust Yahweh Rohi's unfailing love, faithful presence, perfect leadership, and infinite power & wisdom and follow/obey Him confidently & faithfully each and every day! No reason to be stressed out! Since we have Jesus, we have everything we need. "The Lord is the Strength of His people, a Fortress of salvation for His anointed one. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; be their Shepherd and carry them forever." (Psalm 28:8-9)

Prayer: Lord, I'm so glad that You are my Good Shepherd! Thank You for always watching over and taking care of my family and me! Thank You for the countless times and ways You've saved us from danger and trouble (often we didn't even know it)! Please help us always stay close to You and follow You faithfully, never wandering away off the narrow path of righteousness. Please protect us from people and circumstances that are harmful and/or that will lead us astray.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday's Fave Five #104

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

My Fave Five this week:
1. This dish. Shrimp, ginger, onions, mushrooms, lemon juice, soy sauce, and curry powder.

2. Enjoyed watching Mom's Night Out again. Moms, remember that God's grace frees us to fail without feeling like a failure! What you do matters!

3. Coffee ice cream with whipped cream. 

4. This morning, our daughter had an interview with NCIS (not the TV show but the real thing :)) for her summer internship. It went well! The result is in God's hand. Glad she had this experience!

5. Our 17 year old son passed his driving test today! Yeah!

P.S. Please pray for France and all the people affected by the attacks in Paris.

Equipped with Divine Power

- God's divine power has given us whatever we need spiritually through our knowledge of Christ. His power is always available and always adequate for whatever we may face in life (He already knows what we will face). God's omnipotence is at work for us and in us. How wonderful this truth is! What a generous, gracious, mighty God we serve! "For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose." (Philippians 2:13)

- Christ's own unique glory (excellence of His Being/His attributes) and virtue (excellence of His deeds) draw us to know Him and to live a Godly life in Him. We "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18) by feeding on God's Word and by imitating Him. Godliness is Christlikeness. What we know/believe will dictate what we say and what we do. That's why it's so important for us to know the right Jesus of the Bible and to know God's Word. "It is impossible to practice godliness without a constant, consistent and balanced intake of the Word of God in our lives." (Jerry Bridges) "The difference between worldliness and godliness is a renewed mind." (Erwin W. Lutzer) Godliness is "a genuine reverence toward God that governs one's attitude toward every aspect of life." (from my NIV Bible commentary) "Godliness is devotion to God which results in a life that is pleasing to him." (Jerry Bridges) "It (Godliness in Greek) comes from two words: well and to worship. A godly person worships well. He directs his worship rightly...Godliness is true and real spiritual relation to God. Religion relates more to outward acts of religious observance or ceremony. Godliness, on the other hand, cherishes the will of God." (Dr. Grant C. Richison)

- Since God has granted us everything we ever need for our Christian life & Godliness, t
here is no excuse whatsoever for not living vibrant, Godly lives or for not growing in Christlikeness. "We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key of the treasure-chamber into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a bank and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent, whose fault is it that he is poor?” (Alexander Maclaren) "If the way of godliness is rejected, so is the hope of eternal life. So Peter forbids us to turn our faith into a fire insurance policy for escaping hell while our lives remain unchanged. The hope and the way of godliness stand or fall together." (John Piper) The same power that raised Christ from the dead is presently at work in our lives. Are we living like heirs of the Almighty God or like paupers? It's a tragedy when we believers fail to live according to the hope, riches, and power we possess in Christ.

- God gives us great & precious promises on which we may stand. He gives us the spiritual ability to participate in the divine nature (the nature that characterizes God such as holiness, goodness, love, and grace) by His Holy Spirit's indwelling. Because of this new nature in Christ, we have escaped the (moral) corruption in the world caused by evil desires. Is this truth evident to all by our Godly lives? Yahweh Jireh provides everything including His divine power for us to live a Godly life; that's God's part. God empowers, equips, and enables us but we must cooperate (with the promptings of the Holy Spirit), obey, and work at it (in 2 Peter 1:5, Peter uses the phrase, "... make every effort to...). God will not make us Christlike against our will or without our involvement. It requires desire, determination, and discipline on our part. God gives us the gift of choice for a reason. Here we see a beautiful interplay between God's sovereignty and human responsibility. We are called to put our faith into action and to live the way God wants us to. We are called to do good deeds because we have been saved, not in order to be saved. 

- Prayer: Father, thank You for providing everything I ever need to live a Godly life for You! Please help me to never take my spiritual wealth that I have in Christ for granted. Please remind me to find hope and comfort in Your precious promises whenever I get discouraged. Please continually fill me with Your Holy Spirit and mold me into Christlikeness. Be glorified and magnified in my life always! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Get Your Priorities Straight

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:31-33) 
"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength." (Corrie ten Boom)
"Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due." (Unknown) 

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27) I think we can all agree that worrying is wasteful and doesn't work. It weakens us and makes us weary. It weighs our heart down, causes our mind to wander aimlessly, and withers our soul. It ain't worth it! Those who don't know God as their Heavenly Father may have worries and seek after material things, but this should not be the case for us, His children. Jesus tells us not to worry! "Casting all your care (anxiety) upon Him--because He cares for you!" (1 Peter 5:7) "The Lord knows all His people--all their needs, and all their trials. He thinks upon them--to bless, deliver and supply them. He keeps His eye upon them--in all places, at all times, and under all circumstances. He has them in His hand--and will not loosen His hold. It is a Father's care which He exercises. It is a wise, holy, tender, and constant care. Therefore all will be well with you--only trust Him." (James Smith)

We must get our priorities straight. We are kingdom people who are called to seek the things of God...things that matter for God's kingdom...things of spiritual values as a priority over the things of the world. Live in the light of eternity; have an eternal perspective and make an eternal impact in this dark, lost world! When we put God first in our lives, we'll discover that all other pieces of the life puzzle will fall into place. Seek first to do His will, live in obedience to Him, and share the Gospel with others, then your needs will be taken care of by Him. By the way, this verse is not a formula for gaining wealth or getting what you want. Needs are not the same as wants. Our spiritual well-being (holiness/being conformed to Christlikeness) comes first. Since God knows our needs and He promises to supply, we have no reasons to worry whatsoever. Yahweh Jireh will provide what we need when we need it. Trust God with every concern each and every day. Rest your full confidence in God!

Often things that 
we're afraid might happen never do. Don't waste time and energy on "what-if" worries for either the past or the future. It won't do you any good. Grieving over yesterday's failures or being anxious about tomorrow's responsibilities will deplete your energy and strength to accomplish today's tasks. 
And in the meantime, you'll be missing your opportunity to enjoy what is happening now. Worrying robs us of joy. "You can't change the past, but you ruin a perfectly good present by worrying about the future." (Unknown) God meets our daily needs daily (ex: manna and quail for each day in the wilderness). He wants us to trust His faithfulness. God is never too late. Live one day well at a time! His grace suffices for each day. "As your days--so shall your strength be." (Deuteronomy 33:25b)

Prayer: Father, thank You for caring for my daily needs! Please help me remain focused on You as my Source of peace, hope, joy, and strength. Please teach me through challenging times to rest in Your faithfulness, grace, and power. Please fill me up with childlike faith so that I have no room for fears, worries, or doubts. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Above and Beyond

"Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21
Be thankful that God's answers are always wiser than our prayers and way better than what we can imagine! God is super cool like that! I've seen this truth played out over and over again in my life. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude. 

Let us look to Yahweh Jireh Who has infinite wisdom, power, love, and resources, with faith and expectancy! He is able (there's no limit to what God can do) and willing to provide for us. He never stops loving us or caring for us. What He wants to do for us is amazingly better than our wildest dreams! Never put limits on a limitless God! Nothing is impossible with God! Don't you see that our Heavenly Father is pleased to pour out unexpected, abundant blessings upon His children? In Christ, there's always so much more :)! "As it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.'" (1 Corinthians 2:9) God also gives us power (He equips us & strengthens by His Spirit) to do what He calls us to do. 

Paul ends Ephesians 1-3 with doxology. How appropriate! His heart was so filled with thankfulness for what God has done, for spiritual blessings in Christ, and for His marvelous love that surpasses knowledge that he could not help but praise God. May we remember that our chief goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever and continue to praise Him unendingly! "I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips." (Psalm 34:1) "O Lord, my God, I will praise You forever!" (Psalm 30:12b)

Prayer: Father, thank You for blessing me exceedingly far above and beyond what I ask! Please help me to always look to You for all that I need in life. Let me praise You and bring glory to Your Name every moment of my life! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

God Will Supply Every Need

God will meet ALL our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. I love Paul's confidence in God (he even made it personal with "My God")! Yahweh Jireh always took care of his needs and He will do the same for us. God has infinite supplies/riches. We lack nothing when we have God. Look to Him for whatever you need and leave Him to judge whether it will be best for you and whether this is the best time for you to have it. If it is, He will give it to you. There is no end to His goodness and no limit to His power!

A wonderful example of God's provision is found in 1 Kings 17:7-16. During a great drought, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath because a widow there would supply him with food. Well, the widow suffered greatly from the drought and planned to prepare a final meal (she only had a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil) for herself and her son since they most likely would soon die from starvation. Elijah told her to make a small loaf of bread for him and then make something for herself and her son. Sounds like an audacious request or even demand, doesn't it? Until you hear the important message Elijah told the widow: "For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.'" (1 Kings 17:14) God promised to provide! The widow did as instructed "so there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah." (1 Kings 17:15-16) Again, we see that God's provision came after the widow's obedience, not before, and that God wants us to surrender ALL to Him, holding nothing back. It's easy for us to sympathize with the widow's predicament and probably would not blame her if she deemed Elijah's request unreasonable and chose to hold tightly to the little she had left. But imagine this: if she did not trust God's promise to her and did not obey, she would have missed experiencing God's abundant provision for her and she and her son would have surely died from starvation sooner or later. God could have provided for Elijah without the widow but she would have missed the miraculous blessing and seeing Yahweh (Jehovah) Jireh in action. Here God supplied both Elijah's and the widow's needs!

Prayer: Father, thank You for always supplying all my needs! Please help me never withhold anything from You but to trust You wholeheartedly. I don't want to miss out Your best for me. Please help me use my time, talents, and treasures to meet others' needs as You direct. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Lord Will Provide

"Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place Yahweh Yireh/ Yahweh Jireh (which means 'the Lord will provide'). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: 'On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.'" Genesis 22:13-14
As a parent, it's always difficult for me to imagine being in Abraham's shoes when God told him to sacrifice Isaac, the promised son whom Abraham loved and waited for 25 years to receive. He must have been in indescribable anguish. I really admire Abraham's faith and obedience. He obeyed God (he did what God told him to do without even questioning God for details or reasons at all...maybe he did but it's not recorded in the Bible :) ?). He was willing to surrender all (even if it meant his one and only son) to God. He demonstrated extreme trust and confidence in God when he said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." (Genesis 22:5) "We" not just "I"! And in verse 8 in response to Isaac's asking where the sacrificial lamb was, Abraham answered, "God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." How did he have such confidence? Abraham completely believed God's promises to him (before Isaac was born, God promised Abraham that countless descendants would come through his son) and knew God would fulfill His promises. Besides, Abraham "reasoned that God could even raise the dead" (Hebrews 11:19a). God did provide a ram in a nearby thicket for a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.

To ponder: Are we willing to surrender all to God and trust Him for our every need/every situation?
                    Do we have something or someone precious to us that we've treasured or clung to more than God?
                    Are we walking in faith and in obedience? Notice that God's provision came after Abraham's obedience, not before. Step out in a childlike faith even when you cannot understand God's plan. Trust God's heart even when you cannot trace His hand.
                   Do we remember to thank God for His provision...for being our faithful Provider?
                   Do we have such confidence in God as Abraham did? If not, let's pray for that :)!
God will provide for what we need (needs are not the same as wants). He already provided for our greatest need, the need for a substitute to pay the penalty for our sin and die in our place. He provided His one and only Son, Jesus Christ! "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) God loves you and He will provide for what you need when you need it. "God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8). 

Prayer: Father, thank You for being my Provider! I can never thank You enough for sacrificing Your one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sin so that I may have eternal life and relationship with You. Please strengthen & grow my faith and help me wholly surrender all to You, completely trust You in all circumstances, and be utterly obedient to You like Abraham. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Remember the Poor

"For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles...All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along." (Galatians 2:8, 10)

- God worked through Peter in reaching Jews and He worked through Paul in reaching the Gentiles. The same Spirit of God who was at work in Peter and Paul is also at work in us, His children.

- Are we eager to help the poor and needy? Be kind, compassionate, and generous. "The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern." (Proverbs 29:7) "Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." (Proverbs 31:9) Let us welcome the marginalized with the love of Christ!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Preserve the Truth of the Gospel

"This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you." (Galatians 2:4-5)

These false believers ("Judaizers") insisted upon circumcision as necessary for salvation. In essence, they lost sight of grace and made believers slaves to the Mosaic Law. They knew nothing about liberty/freedom in Christ because they still maintained that one had to keep the Jewish law in order to be saved. The true gospel proclaims freedom from bondage to the Law (the yoke of ceremonial law).

Paul, other apostles, and elders did not give in to the false believers; they stood firm in the truth of the gospel and did everything to preserve it. We must do the same. Stand up to preserve the truth of the gospel! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Persecutor Turned Preacher!

"They only heard the report: 'The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' And they praised God because of me." (Galatians 1:23-24)

The churches of Judea had never met Paul in person but they heard the report about him that he who used to persecute Christians became a preacher and it led them to praise God. They acknowledged God's amazing power, grace, and transformation upon Paul's life. Only God could have turned Paul 180 degrees and changed his zeal for destroying Christianity into zeal for proclaiming Christianity to the world. We should also praise God for Paul whom God used tremendously for His glory and His kingdom.
When we hear of testimonies to the glory of God's grace, it brings thankfulness and joy to our hearts. Every sinner saved is a cause for rejoicing and praising God. God's grace is greater than any sin! No one is beyond God's grace. Our past mistakes don't define us. When we are in Christ, we're forgiven and free, made new and holy. God wants to use us to be light and salt in this world. Don't dwell on the past. Move forward in faith. Share your testimony; share what God has done for you, in you, and through you. Life (on earth) is short; live for God...live to make an eternal impact!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your redeeming love and saving & transforming grace! Please empower me with Your Holy Spirit and use my life to shine Your love and truth to everyone around me. Be glorified in me, Lord. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Alone with God

"But when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus." (Galatians 1:15-17) 

- When we know we've been chosen by God and called by His grace, our lives have a purpose. God is pleased when we reflect Christ in our lives and tell others about Him.

- Paul was stunned by Christ's revelation and realized that his former life had been wasted. His encounter with the risen Lord completely changed his life. From then on, he lived for God and lived to fulfill God's purpose for his life. He received the truth of the Gospel from Jesus Himself (the very highest authority); therefore, he's confident in his message and there's no need for him to consult any human being. No human's opinion or approval can add to or take away from the revelation of Jesus. He did not seek other apostles to confirm the call on his life. He knew God called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. First, Paul went into Arabia (wilderness area) to be alone with God. Solitude is good for our soul. It's important for us to spend time alone with God without distraction. Our soul will be refreshed and our strength will be renewed. In order to be effective in ministry, we must be consistent in our communion with God. In order to breathe out, we have to breathe in.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Please God, not People!

Paul bluntly (sometimes harshly) gave warning/rebuked. This indicates that he's more concerned about pleasing God than seeking people's approval. As servants of Christ, we must never compromise God's message.  Remember that the true gospel always is and will be offensive to some people. When we Christians live by God's Word, follow and proclaim the true Gospel, we will inevitably offend some people even though we speak the truth in love. Let us continue to live and speak God's truth in love, humility, & grace, and with respect, gentleness, & boldness. People may still be offended...so be it. I'd rather them be offended and know the true gospel than be deceived thinking they are doing just fine without Christ when in fact, they're lost and heading to Hell. We must not remain silent for fear of offending unbelievers when we have an opportunity to share the true gospel that can save them from spending an eternity in Hell apart from God.

God calls us to stand out from the world for Him and His kingdom, not to be conformed to the pattern of this world. The disease to please people is dangerous. If you live your life trying to please everybody, you'll definitely be sorely disappointed and miserable. Is your fear of offending people greater than your fear (utmost reverence) of God? It must not be. If we're honest, we'll admit that the pain of rejection is real. More or less, we all still like to be liked and approved by others, especially our loved ones. However, our goal of pleasing God must come first. Our worth/value is not and should never be based upon human's approval. Remember that we are God's children, dearly & unconditionally loved by Him despite our flaws and imperfections. He has already loved us with an everlasting love. We should not base our decisions on the opinions of other people, either. Instead, we should aim at obeying, pleasing, and honoring God in all our decisions.

Prayer: Lord, 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. May my attitudes, words, and actions please, honor, and glorify You!

"Religion in America is big business. Scads of money, powerful personalities, huge egos, and positions of prominence, influence, and recognition are at stake in the business of religion, just as they are in any other business. There was a time when the concern of churches and preachers in this country was the glory of God and the truth of God. Today, like any business, the concern is for success. 
Christianity today is market-driven. The goal of all marketing is to make both the buyer and the seller satisfied. Consequently, market-driven churches, in utter abandonment of God’s glory and God’s truth, in their insatiable quest for success and recognition--do whatever it takes to win customers and keep them. 
Be warned! False doctrine and worldliness always go hand in hand. Worldliness usually leads the way. The early modernists did not aim at destroying biblical Christianity. They simply tried to make Christianity palatable to an unbelieving world." (Don Fortner)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Know the True Gospel

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ." (Galatians 1:6-7)
Paul was shocked that these Galatians got off track so soon after their conversion. They chose rules over relationship with Christ. They turned to a different gospel which is indeed no gospel at all. Anything that adds to or subtracts from the gospel of God's grace/the gospel of Jesus Christ is false. Sinners are saved by grace alone and justified by faith in Christ alone. False teachers in Galatia (the Judaizers) taught that one was justified by works of the Mosaic law (such as the necessity of circumcision). We must be so familiar with the truth (God's Word) that we may detect any false teaching/false gospel immediately and avoid being confused or deceived. Be careful; watch out for those who twist the Scriptures and change the truth concerning Christ.
"Heresy is not so much the total denial of the truth as a perversion of it." (A.W. Pink)
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