Thursday, May 21, 2020

Fear Not: God Is Your Helper

The psalmist recounted his personal experience of God's goodness, faithfulness, and enduring love during the time when he was distressed. He was hard pressed and desperately needed help. He knew that God was his only Hope. He turned to the Lord to be the Source of his deliverance in those difficult times. By acknowledging (and reminding himself of) what God did for him in the past, he's ready to face anything with confidence and without fear. God is there with him to be his Helper. When you face troubles or difficulties, who or what do you turn to for help? Fear not; God is also with you and He is also your Helper. Cry out to the Lord. He listens, He cares, He answers, He liberates, and He helps. He is attentive to our needs. God can and will set us free from whatever constrains us or holds us down (ex: worries, fears, discouragement, weariness, etc.) God's presence with us makes all the difference in the world. Our Helper is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. Thus there's nothing and no one we need to be afraid of whatsoever. All we need to do is to rely upon Him, Who is our Refuge from the storm and the enemies. The Lord God Almighty is our Defender; we shall triumph.

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
    In God, whose Word I praise--
in God I trust and am not afraid.    
What can mere mortals do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4)

Prayers which come out of distress generally come out of the heart, and therefore they go to the heart of God. It is sweet to recollect our prayers, and often profitable to tell others of them after they are heard. Prayer may be bitter in the offering, but it will be sweet in the answering. The man of God had called upon the Lord when he was not in distress, and therefore he found it natural and easy to call upon him when he was in distress. He worshipped, he praised, he prayed: for all this is included in calling upon God, even when he was in a straitened condition.” (Charles Spurgeon) 

: Lord Jesus, thank You for being my Helper and Defender! My life is in Your hand. There's nowhere else I'd rather be. Thank You for listening to and answering my prayers! Your unfailing love, grace, power, and faithfulness have sustained me throughout my life and I know that they will continue for the rest of my life. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of  my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23:6)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Fear Not: Jesus Has All the Power and Authority

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me.'" (Matthew 28:18)

This verse is an introduction to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus wants to give His disciples encouragement and assurance for the task He assigns for them. Jesus has not only all power but also all authority in Heaven and on earth. God the Father gave Jesus complete sovereignty over everything and everyone. He has the right and freedom to do whatever He pleases in all creation. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. His authority is the basis of the evangelization to the world. We Christians can make a difference in the world when we abide in Christ and go out to reach the world with His gospel under His authority. "I AM the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5) He promises to be with us always to the very end of the age. He has enough/unlimited power and authority to enable us to carry out the Great Commission, in spite of our weaknesses and/or any obstacles and persecution. "I can do all things through Him (Christ) Who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13) 

"What do you need that Christ doesn't have?" (David Robertson) Great question, isn't it?! Ponder it and your fear will dissipate.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Fear the Lord and Shun Evil

Do not be prideful and arrogant. Do not think you know better than God how things should be. We are to trust God (including trusting His will, way, and timing) with all our heart, instead of trusting and relying on our own wisdom. God has infinite wisdom; we don't. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. It's far better to humbly fear (revere) the Lord, completely trust Him, and reject evil. Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. It's about submissive reverence with awe. A life of surrendering to God, trusting in God, and obeying God begets health and nourishment benefits. As with all Proverbs, the purpose is to impart wisdom as guidelines, not prophecy with guarantees. When we trust and obey God (follow God's wisdom), peace, joy, strength, success, well-being (physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual), blessings, good results generally ensue. It makes total sense that when we live wisely according to God's wisdom and avoid evil & foolishness, our physical, mental, and emotional health will be better off. Less mistakes. Less troubles. Less heartaches. Less regrets. Less worries. Less stress.

"Be not puffed up with vain conceit of thine own wisdom, as if that were sufficient for the conduct of all thine affairs without direction or assistance from God, or without the advice of others." (Poole)

Prayer: O Lord, Your wisdom is perfect and infinite! Thank You for being my Guide and Shepherd who leads me and watches over me! Please forgive me for the times I neglected to seek Your wisdom and guidance. I'm so grateful that Your answers are always wiser than my prayers. Please help me to always seek You first, submit to You, trust You, and obey You. Please grant me wisdom from above to pray for peace and cling to love. Please teach me to humbly receive the sun and rain of Your sovereignty.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Trust in the Lord With All Your Heart

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." (Proverbs 3:5-8)

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 and surrender all to 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)

We must not be arrogant or conceited about our own wisdom. It's foolish to think that we can rely on our wisdom alone without guidance from God or without advice from others. It's indeed folly to believe we're so wise that we don't need God's help and direction.
"The great hindrance to all true wisdom is the thought that we have already attained it." (Plumptre) Instead, we are to fear (reverence) the Lord and His wisdom (which includes shunning evil). A truly wise person reveres the Lord and stays away from evil. Doing so will promote not only the health of the soul but also the health of the body because it would prevent many diseases and illnesses which are caused by sins and lusts.

"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
No fire/heat or drought (or any crisis) in life can destroy those who are rooted in the Living Water! Let your faith repel fear and worries. Trust God in the storm; trust God despite silence. He's always there and He always cares! Keep trusting God and relying on Him completely. 

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)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Do What God's Word Says

Be doers of the Word, not just hearers. When we only listen to God's teaching but do not obey, we're fooling ourselves (deceiving ourselves by false reasoning; being blind to the reality of our spiritual state; thinking we're just fine/right with God when we really are not). This reminds me of Matthew 7:21-23 and 24-27 ("I never knew you" and the wise and foolish builders). Obedience/fruit is the proof of transformed lives...the tangible evidence of our faith. "The best evidence of our having the truth is our walking in the truth." (Matthew Henry) Obedience to God's Word does not save us but shows that we're genuinely saved and that we truly belong to Christ. Hearing without doing is useless. Doing without hearing is dangerous. Both are vital just like breathing in (spending time with God in prayer and in His Word) and breathing out (doing what God's Word says/putting what we know into practice). Just knowing God's Word is not enough. Even Satan knows God's Word. It's not how much Scripture we know; it's how much Scripture we live. We must humbly accept His Word to transform our hearts, renew our minds, and guide our actions & reactions (including how we respond to crisis).
"James says such a man is like one who looks in a mirror--ancient mirrors were made, not of glass, but of highly polished metal--sees the smuts which disfigure his face and the dishevelment of his hair, and goes away and forgets what he looks like, and so omits to do anything about it. In his listening to the true word a man has revealed to him that which he is and that which he ought to be. He sees what is wrong and what must be done to put it right; but, if he is only a hearer, he remains just as he is, and all his hearing has gone for nothing." (Barclay)

"A true believer will not be inwardly satisfied with merely knowing the Word. His conscience and the prompting of the indwelling Holy Spirit will keep convicting him of his failure until he becomes obedient." (John MacArthur)

"Mere hearing is no better than unbelief or outright rejection. In fact, it’s worse! The hearer-only is enlightened but unregenerate." (John MacArthur)

"If a profession of faith in Christ does not result in a changed life that hungers and thirsts for God’s Word and desires to obey that Word, the profession is only that - a mere profession. Satan, of course, loves such professions, because they give church members the damning notion that they are saved when they are not! They still belong to him, not God." (John MacArthur)

"It is sad to be deceived, most miserable to be self-deceived. Many still determine their godliness by the quality of hearing (for instance sermons) or reading (even God's word) instead of action and obedience." (Heibert)

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Word which is a lamp to my feet and light to my path! Please empower me to apply Your Word in my daily life and in my response to crisis & changes. Guide me to trust and obey what Your Word says, regardless of how I feel. Please help me to use my time, talents, and treasure wisely for Your glory and for Your kingdom. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Overcome Evil With Good

"Don't let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good." (Romans 12:21 NLT)

This is a command. Do not let yourselves be conquered or overwhelmed by any evil/wicked person or thing done to you. Do not allow yourselves be overcome by your own evil responses (fleshly reaction). It is a battle. To win over evil, we must use the weapon of goodness and kindness. We cannot do this with our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to empower our heart, mind, soul, spirit to respond the right way that will bring glory and honor to God.

"To render evil for evil, is to let evil have the victory... The true victory over evil consists in transforming a hostile relation into one of love by the magnanimity of the benefits bestowed. Thereby it is that good has the last word, that evil itself serves it as an instrument: such is the masterpiece of love." (Godet) 

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge.
"To repress the desire for revenge is to gain a victory over self." (Ellicott) Forgive as the Lord forgave you. "By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am." (Yancey) If we respond to our offenders with hostility and/or revenge, we are no different than them; we'd be displaying exactly the same character which we dislike in them. Don't let hurts and pains caused by others rob you of peace, joy, love, and benevolence! "If my bad temper puts you in a bad temper, you have been overcome of evil." (Darby) I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate him.” (George Washington Carver)

Ways to Overcome Evil: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." (Romans 12:14) "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:44-45a) "When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly." (1 Corinthians 4:12b-13a) Shine your light when you meet darkness. Share God's love when you face hatred. Do good when evil is done to you. As a result, evil is disarmed; it has neither control nor influence over you whatsoever. It's been totally defeated! You and I are called to live by Biblical principles, reflecting the character of Christ so that others may see what a Gospel-transformed living is like and be drawn to Christ. May we be living proofs of God's love!

"Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. The message isn't new, but we haven't learned to live it yet." (Peace Pilgrim)
"As children of God, we must live on the highest level—returning good for evil. Anyone can return good for good and evil for evil. The only way to overcome evil is with good. If we return evil for evil, we only add fuel to the fire. And even if our enemy is not converted, we have still experienced the love of God in our own hearts and have grown in grace." (Wiersbe)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Do Not Be Anxious about Anything

Paul was writing this letter to the church in Philippi from a prison. He certainly had a reason to be anxious but he discovered a secret that takes anxiety away and replaces with peace and joy. Essentially, Paul was saying...worry about nothing; pray about everything :).

Prayer with gratitude is the antidote to anxiety. Before we make any requests, we should thank God for Who He is and for what He has already done for us. Thank Him for His presence, protection, and provision. Thank Him for His faithfulness, wisdom, and grace. As we come to our Abba Father in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, we grow in our faith and in our relationship with Him. Prayer may not change our situations but it changes us.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) We can always bring everything to the Lord in prayer. Take your problems (every worry/every concern/every burden) to Jesus and leave them there. Let go. Don't pick them back up. Don't carry around weights of anxiety; they will keep you from being useful. Let go and walk in freedom, in faith, and in obedience. Instead of fretting or worrying, we are to pray. Trust in God's loving sovereignty. Trust God's answers (God's will and God's ways) and God's timing. My M.O. is this: I pray. I trust. I rest.

Anxiety is fear of the unknown. If we think long enough, we'll find something to be anxious about because so many things are unknown to us. We must remember that what is unknown to us is completely known to our Heavenly Father. God can be trusted in every anxious situation. He knows what we need even before we ask Him. Don't waste your energy on worries and stress. Don't let anxiety steal your joy. We don't know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. We know we can trust God's heart and God's Word. We become anxious when our focus is on the circumstances and/or the unknown, instead of the All-knowing, All-loving, All-powerful God. "To care is a virtue, but to foster cares is sin." (Muller)

Prayer: Father, thank You for being in control and for caring about me! Thank You for always loving me and listening to me! Whenever I have any anxious thoughts, please replace them with complete trust and calm confidence in You and with peace that only You can give. I want to let go of all my burdens and rest in You. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Whatever You Do

Doing "all in the name of the Lord Jesus" means bringing honor to our Lord Jesus Christ in every aspect and activity of our daily living. As Christ's followers, we represent Christ at all times--whatever we say and whatever we do. Every word and action must be done according to God's principles as though Jesus Himself were doing it. 

In essence, to live in the name of the Lord Jesus is to surrender all to Him/to His Lordship and to live as Jesus Christ's representatives (His ambassadors: 2 Cor. 5:20). Christ's Lordship of our lives changes not only our speech and conduct but also our attitudes and motives. Our attitudes become conscious reflections upon the will of Christ and our words & actions become words of praise and acts of thanksgiving to Christ. We desire to do it all for the glory of Christ. External rules, even when good, are not adequate for every situation; the "rule" (Lordship) of the indwelling Christ is the only sufficient guide. "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh...if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (Galatians 5:16, 18)

"Eucharisteo" (the Greek word for giving thanks) is a word that at its root (eu = good + charis = grace) means to acknowledge how good grace is and describes a person who depends on God's grace every moment. Here in Colossians, Paul uses the present tense. We are to have a continual attitude of gratitude, which is to be our lifestyle and our response to circumstances which God allows in our lives. The only way to accomplish this is by relying upon the filling/empowering of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are to be thankful to God give thanks to God in all circumstances through Christ (whose sacrificial death tore the veil that separated us from God the Father, thus making it possible for us to render our prayers and praises). Remember that fear and anxiety cannot reign in a heart that is full of faith and gratitude. 

To ponder: What impression do people have of Christ when they talk or interact with us or when they read our posts/comments? Do we need to make any changes in our lives in order to honor Christ and represent Him accurately? Do we remember to give thanks to God in everything/in all circumstances, including in the midst of a crisis?

Prayer: Thank You, Abba Father, for Who You are and for all You have done! I am forever grateful for Your amazing saving grace and for Your inexhaustible sustaining grace! May everything I say and do be pleasing to You and be according to Your will. Please help me to be faithful in all things, little and great alike. May my words, attitudes, actions, and reaction/responses to any crisis reflect Christ in me, honor You, and point others to You. May my life be a continual praise song to You and for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

God Meets All Our Needs

After Paul thanked the Philippian Christians for their gifts and generosity, he assured them that God will take care of all their needs (not wants, desires, or luxuries). This is a promise to those who are faithful and devoted in their giving to God and His kingdom. "He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward him for what he has done." (Proverbs 19:17) Often God meets His children's needs by using us to meet one another's needs. We are to be cheerful, generous givers and not worry about our own needs because God's got our back. 

God is omnipotent. He has unlimited power and resources. Our needs can never exhaust His supply. We lack nothing when we have God. There is no end to His goodness and no limit to His power. "
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." (Ephesians 3:20)

God is omniscient. He knows His children perfectly. He knows all our thoughts, needs, fears, troubles, and sufferings. Jehovah Jireh ("The Lord Will Provide") is faithful and pleased to provide for His children who honor Him and depend on Him. When children of God walk in the will of God, serving for the glory of God, they will have their needs met. 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. God delights to bless us. He blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others. "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).

God is omnipresent. He gives us the gift of His presence. The Great I Am is with us every moment. Whatever we need, He is! "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present Help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) 

Paul was not preaching the prosperity gospel here. Paul was saying, in essence, that he could not repay the Philippians but God could and would meet their needs. We don't have to fear or worry. We can be content. Why? Because our God will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches (infinite) in Christ Jesus (through our spiritual union with Christ)! This truth should bring us confidence, comfort, and joy. In Christ Jesus, God gives us sufficient grace to meet whatever we face. If we live by faith in this precious promise of God's future grace, we will not be consumed with anxiety or greed. By the way, 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 us and He will provide for what we need when we need it.

"God's riches fill up our supply,
Whatever we may need,
So we can then be generous
And not controlled by greed
." (Sper)

Prayer: Father, thank You for always meeting all my needs! Thank You for Your abundant blessings in my life! Please enable me to trust You wholeheartedly. Please help me be a blessing to others, a cheerful, generous giver, and a humble, faithful servant. Please show me the needs of those around me and the needs around the world and direct me how to meet those needs. Please help me use resources You've given me wisely according to Your will for Your glory and Your kingdom. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

First Importance

Paul states the utmost importance of Christ's death (for our sins), burial, resurrection, (and verses 5-8). These things make up the Good News. If there was no resurrection, the Gospel would be void of real content/significance and our faith would be useless/meaningless.

Christ's resurrection is pivotal; it's the center/cornerstone of the Christian faith! It confirms His claims to deity (what He said/promised is true) and guarantees the future bodily resurrection unto eternal life of all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Jesus is alive; He didn't stay dead. All the founders/leaders of other religions are dead. Only Jesus has victory over death, demonstrating that He has power over all things. His resurrection is a provable historical fact. We, Christ's followers, serve a risen Savior, a living Lord! Some day, all will see the living proof when Christ returns.

Christ's resurrection is the one most crucial and best established fact in all history. Without resurrection, there is no Christianity, no salvation, no eternal life, and no hope. Without resurrection, life is left with mere emptiness and despair. Because He lives, we too shall live. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.

No one can remain neutral regarding Jesus’ resurrection. The claim is too staggering, the event too earthshaking, the implications too significant and the matter too serious. We must either receive it or reject it as truth for us. To remain indifferent or undecided is to reject it. (Mark Driscoll) Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God in human flesh, came to earth to live a sinless life, died in our place to save us sinners, and conquered death by His resurrection to give us eternal life. He did it all because He loves us so much. What will be your response to His love today? Life is short. Death is certain for everyone. I hope and pray that you will choose Christ now before it's too late. "I'm thinking about it" or "I will later when I'm ready" won't do you any good because it means that you decide against surrendering your life to Christ at this moment. There may never be another moment...

"I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" ~Jesus (John 11:25–26)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I praise You and thank You for dying for my sins and giving me eternal life in Heaven! You were the sacrificial Lamb who died to save me and You are the great Shepherd who lives to lead me. I am forever grateful. Please empower me to boldly share the Good News with those who need to hear.

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