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

Immanuel


"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.
"Wonderful Counselor"--Jesus is the Wisdom of God who leads us and counsels us. He is wonderful in all aspects.
"Mighty God" also indicates Christ's omnipotence. He is a powerful Warrior. Nothing is too difficult for our God!
"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)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Yahweh Sabaoth

"All this also comes from the LORD Almighty (the LORD of Hosts), whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent." (Isaiah 28:29)

May we never doubt the mighty power, wonderful counsel (plan), and magnificent wisdom of God! Stand firm in the faith. Be still (be at peace/cease striving); Yahweh Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts) will fight for you. Fear not! Do not become overwhelmed by difficult people and/or circumstances. Whenever I am wrongly accused or attacked, I remind myself that God is my Defender. He will vindicate me. I also need to trust Him for His timing and His way (not mine).

I love the marvelous account of spiritual reality in 2 Kings 6:8-23. Elisha's servant was terrified when he woke up and saw the enemy's army surrounding the city with horses and chariots. Elisha's response is classic :)! "'Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:16-17) What we see with our physical eyes is not all of reality. We must also see with our spiritual eyes/eyes of faith. God is here right now with us, watching over us and guiding us with His infinite love and wisdom. We just need to trust and obey. "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You...the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the Lord of Hosts. You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings." (Jeremiah 32:17, 18b, 19)
 

In the context of Isaiah 28:23-29, God knows what each person needs; He treats & leads him/her accordingly. We are sometimes tempted to compare ourselves with others. But it's not wise to do so because it only brings about either discontent or arrogance. Trust God for His wonderful plans/ purposes for our own lives. Seek His counsel; He is omniscient! Trust in the perfect wisdom of our God!

Prayer: Father, thank You for always being here for me! Whenever I am afraid or discouraged, please open my eyes so that I may see You by my side defending me and please help me lean on You & rest in Your omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience. I'm truly thankful that Your answers are wiser than my prayers. Please guide my every step/decision by Your wisdom and according to Your will. Please help me be sensitive to others' needs, Please give me the right words to say and show me the right things to do in order to minister to their needs. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Peace in Christ

Yes, if you live in this world, you will have trouble/affliction/ distress. It's no surprise. We are never promised a trouble-free life. In fact, Jesus states the opposite in John 16:33. He warns us so that we won't be expecting a smooth path along this life's journey. However, in the midst of trials and sorrows, you and I can still have peace in Christ. Trusting God doesn't ward off evil and suffering but trusting God gives us hope, peace, and life everlasting. Thankfully, we are promised that God is always with us. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. We are never alone no matter what trials we are going through. As sure as God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them.” (Charles Spurgeon) God's presence gives us comfort. God may not remove our pain and sufferings but He will carry us through them. The Holy Spirit/the Comforter dwells in us, giving us the grace and strength to endure. 

Let us rest in this beautiful encouragement and promise as a result of Christ's death and resurrection. Jesus has overcome death, power of sin, and the enemy. He makes us overcomers like Him. "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." (1 John 5:4-5) "I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13) We, Christ's followers, are to live fearless & victorious lives because we are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ. The battle belongs to the Lord and the victory is already won; therefore, no matter what trouble comes our way, we can have peace within (provided by Yahweh Shalom Himself). In Christ, we are victors, not victims. Jesus tells us to take heart/have confidence & courage as we place our trust in Him. 

"God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised, sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He has not told us, we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,

Unfailing sympathy, undying love!"

~Annie Flint

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The God of Peace

"Now may the God of peace, Who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

"The title God of peace is used six times in the NT (see also Rom. 15:33; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23). Whenever the title was used, some sort of difficulty existed among the recipients of the letter. This is also the case here. The readers of Hebrews were wondering whether they should reject Christianity and return to Judaism in the face of increasing persecution." (from my NKJV Study Bible's commentary) It rings true today. Persecution is increasing and so is fear/worry/anxiety. But our Yahweh Shalom remains the same! The God of peace loves us, works in us, and equips us to do His will. This prayer (the 2 verses above) gives us comfort for the God of peace has our back, hope because of Christ's resurrection, and assurance of personal care by our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep. All these promises are guaranteed by the blood of the eternal covenant. Whatever we lack, God will make up in us so that we can accomplish His will. Our part is to surrender and obey...to desire to do the will of God and to please God.

"Is not God wise enough to manage the complications of our lives--and to bring order and beauty out of them? Has He not skill enough? Is He not our Father? And will He not always do the very best and wisest thing for us? Should we not trust Him--and cease to be anxious about anything that we have committed to Him? Is not anxiety, doubt? And is not doubt, sin? We are simply to commit our way to the Lord, trust Him, and be at peace." (J.R. Miller)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Peace of God

- Prayer with gratitude is the cure for anxiety. We should thank God for what He has already done before we make any new requests. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3) When we pray and praise God, we set/"stay" our mind on God, resulting in peace. "Pray for wisdom to deal with whatever is worrying you. Pray that God will act to change the circumstances according to His will. He doesn't always do what we want Him to--but He knows what's best for us, and He can be trusted." (Billy Graham) When I fix my thoughts on the power of God, the promises of God, & the purposes of God and give thanks continually for His presence, provision, & protection, His peace guards my heart and mind.

- "Transcends all understanding"--God's peace surpasses all our reasons and circumstances. It's unexplainable and unfathomable. The presence of Christ, the Prince of Peace, makes all the difference in the world. He is our Peace (Yahweh Shalom)! He gives us an inner tranquility which enables us to say, "It is well with my soul" no matter what happens to us. 

- "Guard"--protect from harm, not letting anything penetrate, watch over, shield, defend. "Paul's choice of a military term implies that the mind is a battle zone and needs to be 'protected by a military guard.' Since the purpose of such a guard in a wartime situation is either to prevent a hostile invasion or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from escaping. The peace of God operates in the same way: to protect the mind from external corrupting influences and to keep the mind focused on God's truth." (from my NKJV Study Bible's commentary)

- To sum up this passage: Want God's peace? Worry about nothing. Pray about everything. :) Whenever we face trials, obstacles, worries, and difficulties, we should pray and ask God what lessons we are to learn from them and ask Him to help us grow stronger, wiser, and more Christlike through them.
- Prayer (by J.R. Miller): Father, teach us the lessons You would have us learn from the day's experiences. May we be wiser for having lived through these experiences. May our faith be stronger, our love be deeper, our earnestness be more intense, and our zeal be more intense. May we nestle in Your love, as little children nestle in the mother's bosom. May we hide in You as in an everlasting Rock, so that our peace may never be disturbed, even in the wildest storms of earth. Enfold us all now in Your everlasting arms, and may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon us. Amen.

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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Yahweh Rohi

"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.




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