Friday, December 22, 2017

Peace With God

Isaiah 53 is a prophecy about the Messiah, written 700 years before it happened. Every detail was accurately fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Sinless, Suffering Servant, voluntarily and sacrificially suffered and died on the cross for our sins. God laid on Him the punishment that we deserved so that we may obtain peace with God. Christ was crushed by the weight of our sins upon Him. He experienced rejection, ridicule, pain, torture, humiliation, and death. He endured great sufferings and sorrows so that we will be saved from sin and spiritual death. By His wounds/suffering, we are spiritually healed from soul sickness caused by sin. Our sins were imputed to Him and His righteousness is imputed to us (to all who trust in Him as Lord and Savior and trust in His finished work of redemption at the cross). The greatest exchange of all time! Because of His death, we are offered salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God. God's wrath/justice was satisfied; peace was granted. "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 rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2) Christ was pierced, bruised, beaten, and died on our behalf...because He loves us and wants us to be with Him for eternity. He suffered and died so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24) We receive atonement and justification, not through our obedience but through Christ's obedience (through the blood of Christ).

"It (Sin) is the opposite of Peace--the root of discord and enmity between us and God. It is a disease of the spirit--difficult to heal. It is a foolish and willful wandering, like that of a stray sheep. And it is a heavy burden, which crushes him on whom it lies. So many and serious are the aspects of sin." (B. J. Gibbon.)

"I show men the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, but they show me their own, and all hope of dealing with them is gone. Unless I can prove that their righteousness is worthless, they will not seek the righteousness which is of God by faith. Oh, that the Lord would show you your disease, and then you would desire the remedy!" (C.HSpurgeon)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for dying the death I deserved to pay for the debt/punishment I could never pay for! I am forever grateful. Thank You for rescuing me, forgiving me, and healing me! You not only bring me peace, You are my Peace. May I rest in You always! Lord, open the spiritual eyes of the unbelievers to see their sin-sick souls and the need for Your salvation/remedy. The world needs You so desperately!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Peace in Christ

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 in Christ doesn't ward off evil and suffering but trusting in Christ gives us hope, peace, and life everlasting. Thankfully, we are promised that Christ 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 peace and 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! Through Christ's life, death, and resurrection, He overcame the world. In His life, He overcame the temptation to sin. In His death, He overcame the power of sin. In His Resurrection, He overcame death 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. The world gives us troubles but He gives us peace. He gives us an inner tranquility which enables us to say, "It is well with my soul" no matter what happens to us. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your precious promise of peace in this troubled world! Please strengthen my faith and embolden my heart. May I hide and rest in You always so that my peace may never be disturbed, even in the fiercest storms of life!

"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)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Let the Peace of Christ Rule in Your Hearts

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (Colossians 3:15)

Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts! It's the same peace (soul at rest, calmness in heart, regardless of circumstances) Christ talks about in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." It is given by Christ/produced by His Spirit. Our hearts are the c
enter of conflict in our desires and feelings. We must surrender all to Christ and let His peace that surpasses all understanding take control over our hearts. When we learn to commit everything to His care and trust Him completely, we will have His peace...perfect peace. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

"Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging 'round?

On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found." 
(E. H. Bickersteth)

We, Christ's followers, are called to seek, maintain, cultivate, and foster peace as we are members of one body. We are to live in peace with one have unity/oneness, not division, envy, or contention. Let the peace of Christ rule in all our relationships, decisions, and responses. When we individually have Christ's peace within our hearts, we are more likely to contribute and experience peace in the Body of Christ. Discord and disharmony among the Body of Christ cause negative impacts on both unbelievers and believers.

A peaceful heart and a thankful heart go hand in hand. When our heart is filled with peace, we are thankful and when our heart is thankful, we are filled with peace. Be thankful that God has rescued us from eternal death and has given us eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Be thankful for what Christ has done for us. Be thankful for our peace with God, made possible by Christ's shed blood for us. Be thankful for the Body of Christ bonded by the love of Christ. Be thankful for the profound peace which is a gift from God. The Spirit of God through the Word of God brings about the peace of God in our hearts. Beware of things that can rob us of our peace: unconfessed sin, worry, fear, resentment/unforgivingness, and ungratefulness (aka discontent, complaining, jealousy).
"This refrain ("Be thankful") is repeated over and over again in Paul’s writings. There must have been a good reason: The Spirit of God must consider a thankful spirit very important. And we believe that it is!—important not only for a person’s spiritual life, but for his physical welfare as well. Doctors have found out what the Scriptures have taught through the years—that a cheerful, thankful attitude of mind is beneficial for the body, and that worry, depression, and a complaining spirit are definitely harmful to one’s health...Of all peoples of the world, we have the most for which to give thanks." (William MacDonald)

To ponder: While we are proclaiming peace, love, and joy with our words...on our Christmas cards, can people tell there's peace, love, and joy in our our lives?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your gift of peace. May my heart continually be governed by Your peace and be occupied with gratitude to You! Thank You for Your constant presence, provision, and protection. Please help me fix my thoughts on You, Your power, Your promises, and Your purposes. Please help me to be at peace with everyone and be a peacemaker always.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Shepherds and the Birth of the Good Shepherd

In Bible time, shepherds were considered lowly and dirty. But God chose them to be the first to hear about Christ's birth announcement. An angel of the Lord brought them good news of great joy: Christ the Lord, our Savior, was born. The angel pointed out the saving work of Jesus as a Savior and His sovereign position as Lord. The word "Christ" (from the Greek word Christos) means "Anointed", referring to Jesus' royal position as the promised Messiah (from the Hebrew word Mashiach), Who would deliver us from sin, Satan, death, and Hell. This good news of great joy is for all people...the poor and the rich, the old and the young, the famous and the unknown...everyone.

In comparing Himself to a "shepherd", God of the universe expresses His infinite love for us through His humble willingness to stoop so low as to perform towards us the tasks of a "shepherd". Isaiah 40:11 describes such a beautiful image showing the tender affection, great compassion, and caring attention of Jesus, our Shepherd towards us His flock, especially the weak, and needy. He feeds (spiritually and physically cares for) us, comforts us, and gently leads us. Christ leads us out of temptation, sin, and self, into His presence, His truths, and closer communion with Him. "Oh! what a blessedness to have such a Shepherd for such poor burdened souls! Remember, His great end in leading is holiness." (J. H.Evans) He promises to gather us in His arms and carry us close to His heart. 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. The weak, the weary, the broken, and the burdened can always find rest, refreshment, healing, comfort, provision, protection, guidance, strength, and safety in the Good Shepherd. 

How does the Good Shepherd carry His lambs?
"Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trouble. At other times, by having some tender, loving person to take care of them. He carries them instrumentally. At other times, such lambs are carried by having an unusual degree of love given them, and consequently a large amount of joy, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do knowFrequently 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 Jesus, 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, listen to Your voice, and doing Your will. Knowing that I am loved and protected by You gives me great comfort and peace. Lord, help me be like those shepherds who were eager to spread the word concerning Your birth because they couldn't keep the good news of great joy to themselves. Please use me to keep sharing this joyous best news that You were born to save the world.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Know Who Made You and Whose You Are

Psalm 100 is a psalm of giving thanks and 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 and depend on Yahweh Rohi ("The Lord Is My Shepherd"); He always takes care of us His sheep. 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)

Knowing Who God is gives us plenty of reasons to praise and thank Him unceasingly. The more I know God, the more I love & esteem Him and the more I am grateful for Him! He alone is worthy to be praised, honored, and adored! From Psalm 100,
1. Know that the Lord is God--He is the only true living God. Praise Yahweh (The Lord, I Am)!
2. Know that He is our Creator--He made us. Praise Elohim (Creator God)!
3. Know that we are not our own, but His. We belong to God. Praise Adonai (Lord and Master)!
4. Know that we are His people--He is our King/Ruler. Praise Jesus, our King of kings and Lord of lords!
5. Know that we are the sheep of His pasture--He takes care of us. The Lord is our Shepherd; we lack nothing. Praise Yahweh Rohi (The Lord My Shepherd)!
6. Know that the Lord is eternally good/benevolent all the time and He always loves us without end. Praise El Olam (The Everlasting God)!
7. Know that He is faithful through all generations. God always keeps His promises. Praise El Hanne'eman (The Faithful God)!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, 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!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Lord Is My Shepherd

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. Sheep are defenseless; they need their shepherd's protection. 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 and be refreshed. When we get wearied or go through the difficult experiences of life, 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 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 Jesus, 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.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Shepherd and Overseer of Our Souls

We (in our unsaved state) were like sheep wandering aimlessly and helplessly. We were lost, needy, exposed to danger & destruction, and heading to Hell. "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)

BUT now we have returned to Jesus, the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing  may come from the Lord." (Acts 3:19) "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven, Whom He raised from the dead--Jesus, Who rescues us from the coming wrath." (1 Thessalonians 1:9b-10) The word "shepherd" portrays the endless vigilance and the self-sacrificing love of Christ for us who are His flock. Jesus feeds, refreshes, watches over, guides, and guards our souls. Jesus is the Overseer/Guardian of our souls. He looks out for the welfare of His flock and warns us of spiritual dangers such as sin, false teaching, false teachers, worldliness, worries of this world, and Satan's schemes against the saints.

Prayer: "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)

Lord Jesus, please open the eyes of the lost and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in You. (Acts 26:18)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Good Shepherd

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me. (John 10:11, 14)

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 and is watching over us all the time. He never leaves us or forsakes us. 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 every detail (the good, the bad, and the ugly) about us yet He still loves us 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 
("The LORD Is My Shepherd") 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) 

PrayerLord 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, protecting me, guiding 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. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

No More

"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'
He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then He said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'
He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.'" (Revelations 21:4-8)
One of the things that helps make unbearable suffering bearable is the knowledge that there's an end to it, whether on earth or in Heaven. God will remove every cause of tears. There will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain in Heaven. Free of suffering. Free of sickness. Free of sadness. Free of sin. Free of evil. This truth is guaranteed by our faithful and trustworthy God. This is a reversal of the curse (in Genesis 3). Christ makes all things new. We Christ's followers will get to enjoy all Heaven's benefits. We will have a blessed, glorious, incorruptible eternal life with Christ and a reunion & forever communion with our loved ones who are also Christ's followers and all other Christians from the beginning of time. We will be in a state of personal perfection and blissful joy. 

"It is done."--The reward of the righteous is accomplished. "The whole election of grace is completed; every individual vessel of mercy is called by grace; all the saints are brought with Christ, and their bodies raised, and living saints changed, and all together are as a bride prepared for her husband; and the nuptials are now solemnized; all the promises and prophecies relating to the glorious state of the church are now fulfilled; the mystery of God, spoken by his servants, is finished; the kingdom of Christ is complete, and all other kingdoms are destroyed; the day of redemption is come; the salvation of the saints is perfect; what was finished on the cross, by way of impetration, is now done as to application; all are saved with an everlasting salvation." (John Gill)

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Jesus was present at the world's beginning (first creation); Jesus will also be present at its end (at the creation of a new heaven and a new earth). He will freely give water from the spring of the water of life to those who have thirsted after His righteousness and salvation.

Those in Christ who fight the good fight and persevere to the end will inherit the kingdom of Heaven and all things in it and will enjoy God Himself for eternity. But the cowardly (those who refuse to trust Jesus as their Lord & Savior out of fear), the unbelieving (those who refuse to believe in Jesus), the vile (abominable), the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts/witchcraft, the idolaters and all liars...all the unrepentant will face their second death (spiritual death) in Hell.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for these wonderful promises that give me hope, comfort, and joy! Please help me to be so rooted and grounded in You that I never lose heart. Please help me to set my heart and mind on things above, not on earthly things. Please guide me and empower me to reach out to the unsaved and tell them about the gospel of Your grace. Please open their eyes to see their sin, their need for You to save them, and their need to repent and surrender their lives to You before it's too late.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Only True God

Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Lord (Jehovah) reigns over all. "No one is like You, Lord; You are great, and Your Name is mighty in power. Who should not fear You, King of the nations? This is Your due. Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like You." (Jeremiah 10:6-7) He is our Redeemer. Through His atoning sacrifice, Christ redeemed us (freeing us from the bondage of sin & its punishment and forgiving all our sins). Through the shedding of His blood, He paid the debt we could never pay. "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine." (Isaiah 43:1b) He is the Lord Almighty/the Lord of Hosts"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) He is the First and the Last (Alpha and Omega). He is the Creator, Ruler, and Sustainer of all things.

This verse
 beautifully expresses the incomparability of God. He is the one and only true God. There is no other. Idolatry is foolishness yet sadly, people are prone to idolatry (worshiping/adoring/ revering anything above God or in place of God). Idols are worthless; they cannot save us. We don't have to fear Satan as the equivalent opposing force of God, either. God has no equals. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Satan is not. He is merely a fallen angel (created being), already defeated at the cross. Our Lord is almighty! There is no other God. Jehovah alone is to be worshiped and revered. There's none like Him. We can have absolute confidence in the Lord. "How great You are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like You, and there is no God but You, as we have heard with our own ears." (2 Samuel 7:22)

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being my Redeemer, my King and Lord of my life!  Thank You for rescuing me from sin and death! Please help me to always put You first in my life and to serve You faithfully. Please help me to live in such a way that expresses Your redeeming love and the joy of having been redeemed so that others may come to know You as their Redeemer.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Everlasting God

"Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God." (Psalm 90:2) 

Psalm 90 was a prayer of Moses. Moses contrasted the eternal existence of God with the brevity of human life. God is eternal; He has no beginning and no ending. He is God from an indefinite past to an indefinite future. God existed before time and creation began. He is outside of time. "A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." (Psalm 90:4) Jesus is called "Everlasting Father" in Isaiah 9:6 because He is God, Father of Eternity. We serve a mighty God Who is unchangeable and Who keeps His promises. How comforting it is to know that Jesus is our everlasting Provider and Protector! His Holy Spirit is present with us always, empowering us to live godly lives and leading us into all truth all the way to life eternal.

"Such a God (he says) have we
, such a God do we worship, to such a God do we pray, at whose command all created things sprang into being. Why then should we fear if this God favors us? Why should we tremble at the anger of the whole world? If He is our dwelling place, shall we not be safe though the heavens should go to wrack? For we have a Lord greater than all the world. We have a Lord so mighty that at His Word all things sprang into being. And yet we are so fainthearted that if the anger of a single prince or king, nay, even of a single neighbor, is to be borne, we tremble and droop in spirit. Yet in comparison with this King, all things beside in the whole world are but as the lightest dust which a slight breath moves from its place, and suffers not to be still. In this way this description of God is consolatory, and trembling spirits ought to look to this consolation in their temptations and dangers." (Martin Luther)

Prayer (adapted from Psalm 90): Lord Jesus, please teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Help me to live each day in light of eternity. Please satisfy me with Your unfailing love that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days. May Your deeds be shown to me Your servant, and Your splendor to my children. May Your favor rest upon my family; establish the work of our hands for Your glory!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Supremacy and Sufficiency of Christ

Paul describes the deity, supremacy, and sufficiency of Christ. Christ is the complete, exact, and perfect visible manifestation of God Who is invisible. The very nature and character of God have been perfectly revealed in Christ Jesus. Jesus is God who has come to be God with us (Immanuel). Jesus is God's eternal Son, the firstborn (referring to His sovereignty) over all creation. All creation is under His power and authority. "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to Me." (Matthew 28:18) The entire universe was created by Him, through Him, and for Him. "Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3) He is the Architect, Builder, Goal, and Sustainer of the universe. He is before all things. This indicates Christ's existence as the eternal "I AM" (before anything was created) and Christ's preeminence over all things. In Him all things hold together. This indicates Christ's infinite wisdom and power to uphold and govern the universe.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your all sufficiency! I'm forever grateful that You as the God-man Savior and our sinless substitute, died for me so that I can live with You in Heaven for eternity. Please empty me of myself and fill me with You. Help me to show and tell the world how great and awesome You are!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Alpha and Omega

The Alpha and the Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are used figuratively to mean the whole/entirety. Here Jesus says of Himself that He is the Alpha and the Omega Who is, Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty. It indicates His infinite, eternal, divine nature, His sovereignty, immutability, and omnipotence. He identifies Himself as God Who has no beginning and no ending. "Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD--with the first of them and with the last--I am He." (Isaiah 41:4) Christ is before all things (Colossians 1:17a). Preexistence before time. He has always existed from eternity past to eternity beyond. Christ is the beginning as He is the Author and Creator of all things. He is also the end as He brings all things to a glorious conclusion. Nothing began before Him and nothing can outlast Him. "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." (Isaiah 46:9-10)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) Christ is the ever-existing One. He has been in control over all world history. He is outside of time and He is unchangeable. He was born to die as the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sin. He is God with us (Immanuel), He is the Head of His Church, and He is preparing a place for us. He is to come suddenly and unexpectedly, with power and glory for the final consummation of all things. 

Christ is Yahweh Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts, the Almighty). "He Who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, He Who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth--the LORD God Almighty is His Name." (Amos 4:13) Christ is our all-powerful, all-sufficient Lord.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You alone are worthy of all our praise and worship! It is such a comfort to know that no matter what happens, You remain the same, You are in control, and You are able to carry me through it all. Thank You for Your unending love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness! May You always be first and preeminent in my life! You are all I ever need!

Friday, December 1, 2017

His Star

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.'.....When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the Child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." (Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11)

Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, was a prophecy fulfilled. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me One who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2) God's Greatest Gift to us came to a small, humble town, Bethlehem. Bethlehem means "house of bread." The Bread of Life (John 6:35) came into this world in the "house of bread"! The magi (who were Gentiles) from the east (probably from Persia or Babylon) acknowledged Jesus as King of the Jews and traveled a long distance in search of Him so that they could worship Him. The Bible does not indicate how many wise men came to Jerusalem to look for Jesus. God guided and directed these wise men (astrologers) by a special star. It went before them and stopped over the place where Jesus was. I love the fact that they called the star, "His star". When they finally found this special Child, they were overjoyed, bowed down, worshiped Him, and gave Him gifts. They found Jesus and Mary in the house (not the stable). The visit of the Magi (wise men) must have taken place when Jesus was between 1 to 2 years old. By this time, Mary and Joseph were married and lived in a house. The three gifts symbolized Christ's identity. Gold was a gift for a King. Frankincense (a costly element of the priest's incense and anointing oil) was a gift for deity (the Son of God) and the High Priest. Myrrh (prized perfume used in embalming) was a spice for a person who was going to die. Jesus was born to die for us so that we can be born again and never die (John 11:25-26).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I'm so grateful for Your birth, death, and resurrection. What amazing love You have for us that made You leave Your throne in Heaven to come to earth and humbly take on human flesh in order to become the satisfactory sacrifice for our sins! Though You knew You would die a painful, humiliated death, You came to save the world anyway. Thank You for the light of Your presence that faithfully guides me and comforts me! I want to worship You with my life. I offer all that I am and all that I have as a gift to You. May I boldly share the joy of Your birth and the good news with others so that they may come to experience the joy of Your redemption and wonders of Your love.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pay Attention

Peter wanted us to pay attention to the Scriptures which are true and trustworthy. Since over 300 Old Testament prophecies have all been fulfilled by Christ, we can have complete confidence in the reliability of the Bible and trust what the Bible says about the future. "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105) God's Word shines as light in a dark place (this corrupt world system filled with the darkness of sin, ignorance, despair, and death). "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Paul affirms what Peter says about the writing of Scripture being moved/directed by God the Holy Spirit. Old Testament prophecies look ahead to the coming of Christ, the bright Morning Star, Who shines His light into our hearts. Jesus has given us newness of life; He has infused our lives with His light, His presence, and His purpose. The perfect, though limited, revelation of the Scriptures will be replaced with the perfect revelation of Jesus Christ at His second coming. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

"The truth that Christ is coming again must first arise in their hearts, like the morning star, giving assurance of coming day. Assured of His anticipated return, they will be alert to detect the gleams of dawn breaking through the darkness. Those who disregard the light of prophecy will not understand the significance of these harbingers of coming day. Such a living hope must have a transforming impact upon daily life." (Hiebert)

"I'll trust in God's unchanging Word 

Till soul and body sever; 
For though all things shall pass away, 

His Word shall stand forever!"

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Word that gives me light, hope, joy, peace, strength, comfort, and encouragement! Thank You for shining Your light into my heart, enabling me to know You and Your Word. Please help me live ready always for Your return. Use me, Lord, for Your glory and Your kingdom.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Light of the World

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, 'I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12  

Have you ever tried walking in darkness? You may stumble, bump into things, and/or (more often than not) head in the wrong direction; your life could very well be in danger. In Thailand when I was little, my aunts took me to see a movie on an outdoor screen which was set up on a public lawn. It was a dark night and while we walked, we relied only on the moon's light to guide us. My aunts were busy chatting and for a moment, they forgot to watch me. I fell into a manhole (obviously without a cover). I don't remember all the details. Thank God, somehow...someone...pulled me out. It is a scary thing to walk in darkness. I am so thankful that I follow Jesus, the Light of the World. I now have the light of life; I no longer walk in darkness. I once was blind but now I see. Jesus illuminates/communicates the knowledge of God to us. He is the True Light that enlightens us to see clearly our sin and our need for a Savior. The Light of the World vanquishes the spiritual darkness brought on by sin and helps us see the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Christ exposes sin for what it is and shines the light of His forgiveness upon us. We who believe in Him have moved from darkness to light, from death to life. When we follow Jesus, the Light of the world, we can avoid stumbling blindly in darkness and falling into sin and destruction. He lights the path ahead of us so that we can see how to live. He leads/guides/directs us. 

In the Bible, light represents truth, holiness, purity, love, and life. Darkness represents evil, sin, ignorance, wickedness, and the lost world. We've been rescued to reflect our Redeemer, the Light of the World! Since we, Christ's followers, have the light of life, we also are light to the world. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16) "Jesus gives the Christian both a great compliment and a great responsibility when He says that we are the light of the world, because He claimed that title for Himself as He walked this earth." (Guzik) We, Christ's followers, are to reflect the light of Jesus and the Gospel in this world of darkness (sin and spiritual blindness) for God's glory. We are mere reflectors of Christ's light, pointing others to Him, the True LightReflect the love and character of Christ in attitude, words, and deeds. Live out the Christ life which is in us. Light is what enables us to see and makes vision possible. May we help others see the dangers of sin, understand the truth of the Gospel, and realize the need for a Savior! Light reveals things that are hidden and light gives warmth. When we live our lives according to God's Word and God's will, we become a beacon of light to this weary, wicked, & lost world, giving people hope and help. We are to influence the world, not to be influenced by the world.

To ponder: How can we shine and reflect Christ's light so that others may see Him this season?

Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being my Light, my Salvation, and the Stronghold of my life! Help me, Lord, to always walk in the obedience to You. Please enable me to reflect Your light and shine brightly so that others may see their need for a Savior and be drawn to You, the Light of the World. 

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