Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Be Strong and Courageous

"Have I not commanded you?" is a rhetorical question. This verse is God's third time commanding Joshua (Israelites' new leader after Moses' death) to be strong and courageous. Here we see that God not only gives Joshua a command but also gives him a beautiful promise. God's Command: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. God's Promise: God will be with you wherever you go. The promise of God's constant presence is such a sweet assurance. God's presence makes all the difference in the world! It gives us comfort, courage, and confidence. God calls us to live courageously and fearlessly, knowing that He is with us at all times. We are emboldened by the promise and presence of God. God is all-sufficient!

"Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." (Ephesians 6:10) Be strong mentally and spiritually. Put on the full armor of God (see Ephesians 6:11-17). Be courageous = To be brave-hearted, not faint-hearted. The key to courage is knowing who God is...who the Source of true courage is! We know not what the future holds but we know Who holds the future. Remember...even when things are out of control, God is still always in control. When we're in tight places and it seems there's no way out, God will make a way for us. When we're flummoxed and flabbergasted, God is forever faithful. What we deem impossible, it's a piece of cake for God. True courage comes from fearing God, rather than men, trusting God totally, and acknowledging God's sovereignty. 

Do not be afraid. In life, we face many problems, challenges, and difficulties but we need not fear any. God is greater than any giants. God has never forsaken/abandoned those who seek Him and He never will. God is always present with us even when we don't feel His presence. We are never alone. "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) Whenever God's Word says, "Do not be afraid", it often includes the promise of God's presence ("...For I am with you"). Such a caring & comforting promise! Do not be afraid; God's got this! To overcome fear, we must fully trust God and rest in His unfailing love for us. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) 

Do not be dismayed/discouragedAre you discouraged by the world's events or by circumstances in your own life? Take heart and be of courage! "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31b) Rely on God's grace, power, and strength. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. When God is pleased to work through us, nothing will be able to stop us. Don't give up; God is here to help you and guide you. He who sends you will strengthen you. He who calls you will equip you.

PrayerFather, please give me courage and boldness and take away any fear or discouragement so that I may obey You, serve You, and live for You with no compromise. Please fill me with the Holy Spirit and empower me to do all that You have called me to do. Please show me how to lead the precious children You have given me. I need Your wisdom, strength, and grace. Help me to love, lead, and serve like Jesus! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Promise of God's Presence

This verse includes two commands for us to obey: Do not fear and Do not be dismayed. It also includes two reasons why we are to obey: For I AM with you and For I AM your God. Finally, it includes three promises that God will keep: I will strengthen you, I will help you, and I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

God's presence makes all the difference in the world! Fear not because God is with us all the time! “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4) The problem for most of us is that we are not aware of His presence. We must remember that even when we don't feel God's presence, He is always present. Sadly, we also tend to focus on problems in front of us, instead of God's presence and power within us. God is here; there's no need to fear.

The key to not being dismayed (broken down and filled with fear, disheartened thoroughly) is to make sure that God is your God. Do you have a personal relationship with Him by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you are not in Christ, you have not been made righteous and you have every reason to be fearful. But when we are in Christ and fear God, we have no reason to fear anyone or anything. 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. Christ is here to stay; do not be dismayed!

In times of fear I don’t wrestle, I nestle.” (Corrie ten Boom) Lean on God to give you strength when you have nothing left to give/when fear cripples you and anxiety drains you. “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11) 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. "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!

Trust God to help you when you feel helpless. God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent! Nothing is too hard for God. No matter what trial and storm you're going through, God is bigger than your storm and He is right there with you to bring you through it. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5b-6) "God is our Refuge and Strength, an ever-present Help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) Trust in His infinite wisdom, mighty 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!

We are upheld (securely supported) by God's righteous right hand. “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:13-14) "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! 

John Piper restates these promises using five different prepositions:
  • I am your God--over you. 
  • I am with you--by your side. 
  • I will strengthen you--from inside of you. 
  • I will help you--all around you. 
  • I will uphold you--from underneath you. 
God is over you, by you, inside you, around you, and underneath you.

Prayer: Thank You, Abba Father, for Your presence which gives me peace, courage, confidence, and comfort! Please help me be constantly aware of Your presence and rest in Your presence, promises, power, provision, and protection. Please empower me to live a faith-filled, fearless life. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Walk By Faith

"In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there. Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband." (Ruth 1:1-5)
The Bible doesn't show that God directed Elimelek to immigrate to Moab or whether Elimelek sought God's wisdom and direction before making his decision. Sometimes fear and worry (which stem from lack of faith or weak faith) lead people to take matters in their own hands (as in the case of Sarah taking Hagar to sleep with Abraham). Elimelek probably thought he was doing the right thing for his family. He probably didn't think long-term about Naomi possibly being left alone poor and isolated in a foreign, pagan land. He didn't know that both of his sons would die before his wife/their mom. A widow's plight in Biblical time is very difficult, especially for older widows who depend on their children for support. 

God wants us to walk (live) by faith, not by sight. We are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) and now we live by faith in Christ (Galatians 2:20). 
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see...And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:1, 6) Faith (trust, belief, conviction) in God as Creator and Ruler of all things, Provider and Giver of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah, the only Way through Whom we can be saved. Whom or what you place your faith in is of utmost importance. You may have a strong faith in everything else but Christ, and yet perish. Authentic faith brings about conviction of God's truth, confidence (in God), courage, contentment, and comfort no matter what trials and troubles of life we may have to go through. Faith protects our hearts from doubting, fearing, worrying, and wandering. Faith also keeps us spiritually stable in spiritual warfare. Faith in God (of the Bible) is complete confidence/total trust in Who God is and what God does and that God will do what He will do when He wants to do and how He wants to do.  We are sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see because of God alone Who is always faithful and unchangeable, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. We can rest in His love, grace, mercy, wisdom, power, goodness, faithfulness, and sovereignty. We trust God, His Word and His promises without terms. Faith is the belief that the thing God has said in His Word is true (God says it; I believe it) and that God will act according to His character/attributes and what He has said in His Word. God is both the Object and the Origin of our faith.

In this life's journey, we are to walk ("walking" indicates making progress and requires perseverance) by faith, not by what we see.  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) Faith includes embracing eternal perspective. We should focus not on what is seen (visible) which is temporal, but on what is unseen (invisible) which is eternal. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:2) It's really interesting to note that the Greek word for "sight" is eidos and the Greek word for "idol" is eidolon which is derived from eidos.
Walking by faith and walking by sight do not mix. We have to choose either believing in, trusting in, and depending on God (walking by faith), or believing in, trusting in, and depending on selves and things of the world (walking by sight). The latter is idol (anything that we put in place of God).
"How do you walk by faith? By claiming the promises of God and obeying the Word of God, in spite of what you see, how you feel, or what may happen. It means committing yourself to the Lord and relying wholly on Him to meet the need. When we live by faith, it glorifies God, witnesses to a lost world, and builds Christian character into our lives." (Wiersbe)
Prayer: Abba Father, please help us see the temporal through the lens of the eternal and enable us to walk step by step, moment by moment by faith. May the eyes of our heart be enlightened by Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus's Name, I pray. Amen.
"Though I know not what awaits me,
What the future has in store,
Yet I know the Lord is faithful,

For I've proved Him oft before."
"Faith is believing what God says simply because it is God Who says it." (Unknown)
"Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading." (Oswald Chambers) 
"Faith is expressed in obedience to Biblical truth because we have confidence in our trustworthy God." (Alistair Begg)
"Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of faith is to see what we believe." (St. Augustine) 
"Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right." (Max Lucado)
"Faith endures as seeing Him Who is invisible; endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heart-aches of life, by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him Who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind." (A.W. Pink)
"Faith is a Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him." (Corrie ten Boom)
"Faith will give us the perspective about life after death that the flesh can never do. The world walks by sight and so death to them is fearful and terrorizing." (Butler)

Friday, September 14, 2018


"In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there." Ruth 1:1-2

29 years ago on this day, I came to America when I was 20 to study for my master's degree at Oregon State University. After I graduated, I got married. Except for 2 visits to my birth country, Thailand, I have lived in America since 1989. I can relate to Naomi (and Ruth) regarding leaving their birth places and all that's familiar to them and learning to live in a foreign country with foreign customs. When I first came to America, I felt excited, nervous, shy, and homesick at times. Definitely a culture shock. I'm very grateful for God and my husband (boyfriend at the time) for helping me through the transition. God has always been my stability and security. I can definitely testify to the truth of Psalm 46:1, "God is our Refuge and Strength, and ever-present Help in trouble." I admit it's not easy to leave everyone and everything that you grow up with. I'm thankful for Facebook through which I can still connect with family and friends in Thailand. Naomi (and Ruth) didn't have that.

Even if Elimelek's decision was a mistake and not God's will, God still worked all things out for Naomi's good (she got a wonderful, caring, committed daughter-in-law, Ruth) and for His glory (displaying His providence and redemption). We can always trust and rest in God Who is our Refuge, Strength, and Help. His goodness and faithfulness never fail! And we, Christ's followers, can be thankful that Heaven is our true home (no matter where we live right now)!

Sidenote: I don't know who named their sons but Mahlon means weakly and Kilion means sickly. They're doomed from birth :).

Friday, July 6, 2018

Trust in the Name of the Lord our God

Some trust in chariots and horses (things and creatures of this world), but we, Christ's followers trust in the Name of the Lord our God because only Jesus Christ, the Name above all names, can save us and give us victory. In life's battles, where do you place your trust? Do you rely on yourselves, government, friends, finance, or do you rely on God? "The Name of the Lord our God" encompasses God's character and attributes such as power, strength, wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness. Trust in the Lord; accept no substitutes! "On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand." (Edward Mote) He is always trustworthy, faithful, loving, 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. 

"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 in life can destroy those who are rooted in Christ! Let your faith repel fear and worries. Trust God in the storm; trust God despite silence. He is always there and He does always care! 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 times...in good times and in bad times. Trust His will, wisdom, and timing. Even when you can't trace God's hand, trust His heart.  

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)

"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)

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for saving me and for answering me when I call! Please help me trust in You at all times with all my heart and not lean on my own strength and understanding.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My Rock

"The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my God is my Rock, in Whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold." (Psalm 18:2 NIV)

Psalm 18 is David's hymn of thanksgiving for God's deliverance. David gives God all the credit. God is his (and our) Strength, Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Horn of Salvation, and Stronghold. He has proven Himself to be sufficient. Whatever we need, He is!

"For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God Who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure." (Psalm 18:31-32) One of my favorite Names of God is Yahweh Tsuri, The Lord My Rock. He is the Rock of my soul! "He is the Rock; His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." (Deuteronomy 32:4) The word Rock symbolizes strength, power, shelter, protection, defense, faithfulness, uprightness, stability, dependability, security, safety, justice, and firm foundation. We can always count on God and rely on Him. God is our mighty Rock and Fortress even when the world is falling apart. He is unchanging and unfailing. He is our Rescuer, Defender, and Protector. He is our Shelter and Refuge from the storms of life. Find rest in Him; our hope is in Him. Trust in Him at all times; He is in control even when all around you seem to be out of control. Pour out your hearts to Him in earnest prayer; He listens and He cares. Hold on to the Rock Eternal and you won't be shaken. "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Fortress, I will never be shaken." (Psalm 62:1-2) Are you feeling like you have no strength left in you? Are you worn out physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually? Cry out to Jesus, our Rock and cling to Him. He will give you strength and rest that you need. "They (the Israelites) all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual Rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:3-4) May we build our lives on "the Solid Rock" (Jesus Christ) and rest on His unchanging grace! "The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!" (Psalm 18:46)

Prayer: O 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 from the storms of life! My hope is in You alone. Please help me to find rest in You and hold on to You no matter what. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Waiting with Unwavering Faith

Like most (if not all) of us, David found waiting difficult. "How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?" (Psalm 13:1-2) David longed for God's deliverance and sounded dejected. Yet, he chose to trust in God's unfailing love and continued to sing praise to God. He remained confident in God's love, mercy, goodness, and faithfulness. His heart rejoiced because God had rescued/saved him. Changing our mindset/ perspective can change despair, sorrow, and discouragement to peace, joy, and hope. When we're tempted to complain, worry, and become despondent, we need to recollect God's faithfulness, pray to God, and praise God, instead. Let us follow David's example to wait upon the Lord with unwavering faith and be resolved to rejoice in the Lord always.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for loving me and saving me! You have been so good to me. Thank You for abundantly blessing my family and me! Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. May my life be one continuous praise song to You! Please strengthen my faith and help me be patient and at peace when I have to wait.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


God's Word is pure and flawless. It's like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. In the Bible, the number 7 signifies completeness and perfection. God's Word is perfect and true, powerful and trustworthy. "Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar." (Proverbs 30:5-6) We cannot always rely on people's words, not even those of Christians as mentioned in Psalm 12:1-2, "Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak." However, we can confidently rely on God's Word. What God's words are, His children's words should also be. We must speak the truth. Let our conversation be without falsehood, deceit, or insincerity. Speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your Word that transforms, teaches, guides, encourages, and comforts me! Oh how precious Your Words are to me!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Righteous Lord

The Lord is a righteous and just Judge. He loves justice/righteousness but hates wickedness. The upright will see His face = He looks upon the upright with delight, favor, and affection. The wicked have everything to fear while the righteous (those who are clothed with Christ's righteousness) have nothing to fear. God is our Defender; He is our Source of light, joy, salvation, hope, peace, comfort, confidence, and security. Those who do right are loved by God and blessed with His presence.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your unending love and presence! I'm so grateful that no matter what happens in my life, You are my stability and strength.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Because of God's Unfailing Love and Mercy

"Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer." (Psalm 6:8-9)

Psalm 6 is a prayer of faith and repentance in time of distress. David pleads for God to help, heal, deliver, and save him, not on the basis of what he has done, but on the basis of God's unfailing love and mercy. David humbly acknowledges his own weakness, weariness, sorrow, and anguish while confidently reminding himself that God does hear his prayer. When our words fail and only our hearts cry out in tears, God still hears and understands us. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle! You have recorded each one in Your book!" (Psalm 56:8) God cares! "Our tears are precious to God...because in our sorrow He brings to us blessings which we never could receive but for our sorrow. One of our Lord's Beatitudes is for the sorrowing: 'Blessed are those who mourn.' It seems strange to us that mourning ones should be put among the blessed or happy ones. The reason is, because only those who suffer can get God's comfort, and this is such a blessing that it is worth while to have sorrow just to receive it. God holds the tears of penitence as most sacred. Those who weep over their sins, cause joy in Heaven." (J.R. Miller)

God knows our every thought, word, action, trial, grief, foe, and trouble. God is with us and for us. "So be strong and courageous! For the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you!" (Deuteronomy 31:6) I find comfort, courage, and confidence in God's presence. 

"He is with His people . . .

  as a Father--loving and holding communion with them; 
  as the Lord Almighty--having all power to help them; 
  as a Guide--to wisely lead them; 
  as an Advocate--to plead their cause; 
  as a Friend--to supply and comfort them; 
  as a Savior--to deliver and protect them; 
  as a holy, sin-hating God
--to purify them!" (James Smith)

"Christ has completely and perfectly delivered all His people from the condemnation of sin, as He suffered the wrath of God for us on the cross, having our sins charged to His account. But His deliverance of us does not end there. He is still delivering us and keeping us from all that would harm or destroy us. He continually delivers us... 
from the power of sin which still plagues, corrupts, and contaminates us;
from the influence of the world; 
from the force of temptation;
from the deceitfulness of our own hearts;
and from the designs of all our foes
!" (Unknown) 

Prayer: Thank You, Abba Father, for Your steadfast love, grace, and mercy for me! Thank You for faithfully helping & guiding me in times of need, delivering & protecting me in times of danger, comforting & strengthening me in times of sorrow! Please enable me to trust You completely in any circumstances and to rest in You, Your perfect wisdom and timing. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Blessed Life Lives in God's Word

This blessed (happy) life flows from a series of choices:-
1. Avoid having destructive relationships with the wicked, sinners, and mockers. Do not follow their ways.
2. Delight continually in God's Word.

Watch where you walk, stand, and sit. Whom do you spend most time with? "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." (Proverbs 13:20) Has God's Word captured your hearts? Do you, as a habit and a delight, meditate upon the Scriptures day and night? When we are rooted in Christ and are nourished spiritually by His Word, we achieve vitality, stability, and productivity. We'll be able to flourish from within, regardless of external conditions (neither drought nor storm can make us wither). Our time spent meditating on God's Word and praying will nourish our faith, refresh our soul, and help our roots grow deep and strong. In other words, we will be spiritually mature, healthy, fruitful and able to stand strong/firm even in difficult seasons of life. God's nurturing truth gives us the wisdom, guidance, hope, encouragement, peace, comfort, and courage for whatever we are facing. Nothing is more helpful and practical in Christian living than reading, studying, meditating on, memorizing, and applying God's Word. "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word! Please guide me through this life to know and to do Your will always. I delight to live by Your principles and I love to meditate on Your Word. May I be rooted and grounded in Christ and bear much fruit for Your glory and Your kingdom! In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

"He who walks by Scripture rule, walks most safely.
He who walks by Scripture rule, walks most honorably.

He who walks by Scripture rule, walks most sweetly."
(Thomas Brooks)

"The Bible contains . . .
  the mind of God,
  the state of man,
  the way of salvation,
  the doom of sinners, and 
  the happiness of believers. 

Its doctrines are holy, 
its precepts are binding, 
its histories are true, and 
its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, 
believe it to be safe, 
and practice it to be holy. 

The Bible contains . . .
  light to direct you,
  food to support you,
  and comfort to cheer you.

It is . . .
  the traveler's map,
  the pilgrim's staff,
  the pilot's compass,
  the soldier's sword and
  the Christian's charter. 

Here too, Heaven is opened--and the gates of Hell are disclosed.

Christ is its grand subject, 
our good is its design, and 
the glory of God is its end. 

The Bible should . . .
  fill the memory,
  rule the heart
  and guide the feet. 

Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully.  

The Scripture is . . .
  a mine of wealth,
  a paradise of glory,
  and a river of pleasure!

It . . .
  is given to you in life,
  will be opened at the judgment,
  and be remembered forever. 

The Bible . . .
  involves the highest responsibility,
  rewards the greatest labor, and

  will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mutual Encouragement and Edification

God desired, intended, and deliberately planned for us to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ and not to suffer wrath (God's righteous indignation and just condemnation for our sin and rebellion)How merciful and gracious our God is! Jesus, the Lamb of God, bore the wrath and punishment we deserve. We, Christ's followers, have been delivered/rescued from God's wrath. On the other hand, the unsaved are under God's wrath. "Wrath is the destiny of Christ-rejecting souls." (Hiebert) God is just and at the same time, His love, grace, mercy, compassion, and patience are measureless! "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 cannot be good if He does not hate evil. God cannot be just if He does not punish sin. Through our Lord Jesus Christ (Who satisfied God's wrath and paid for our punishment when He died on the cross), we have been saved from the penalty of sin (justification), we are being saved from the power of sin (sanctification), and we shall be saved from the presence of sin (glorification). He died for us so that we may live with Him for eternity. Paul points out that both the (saved) living and the (saved) dead will be forever living together (intimately united) with Christ. This clearly implies that Jesus did not stay dead but He is alive (He's resurrected). "If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living." (Romans 14:8-9)

Therefore because of the marvelous truth regarding our blessed hope of Christ's return, Paul exhorts us to encourage (comfort) and edify (build up) one another. Paul acknowledges that the believers in Thessalonica were already doing this and spurs them to excel even more. Knowing great truths about Christ's return should strengthen our hearts and minds and influence how we live our lives. May we come alongside one another and help one another face trials and difficulties with courage and confidence. Let's keep reminding one another that because Christ died for us and now lives in us, we would not have to experience the wrath of God in the day of the Lord. Let's build one another up in faith, love, and hope! Mutual encouragement and edification are needed in the Body of Christ for we live in a world of increasing spiritual darkness. When one encourages and edifies another person, both will benefit and be blessed.

"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)
"Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25)

Prayer: Thank You, Abba Father, for Your unending love, grace, and mercy! I am forever grateful for Christ's substitutionary sacrifice for me. Through Jesus, I received salvation, instead of Your wrath. Please help me faithfully share the gospel with those who need to hear. Please show me how I can best daily encourage and edify my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Arm Yourselves with Faith, Love, and Hope

"But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

Paul likes to use a contrast between light (day) and darkness (night) to represent God/His truth and evil/wickedness, respectively. We, Christ's followers, are children of Light and are to walk in the light of Christ, not in darkness ruled by Satan. "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8-10) We belong to the day; therefore, we are to live accordingly by being sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 

Be sober 
(spiritually stable, self-controlled, clear-headed, prudent). Be sober so that you can stay alert, watchful, and not be enticed by the deeds of darkness/evil passion. Live calmly and obediently. Our character and conduct must be consistent with our confession.

While we wait for Christ's return, we continue to live in a world of spiritual darkness that is hostile to God's truth. There is a spiritual battle, a battle for people's hearts and minds. Christ's followers are called to be soldiers in that battle. Dress properly. Arm yourselves against spiritual warfare by putting on faith and love as a breastplate (to protect our heart, the very center of our life) and the hope of salvation as a helmet (to protect our head/mind). Both breastplate and helmet are defensive weapons used to protect us from the Enemy's assault. 

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see...And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrews 11:1, 6) Faith (trust, belief, conviction) in God as Creator and Ruler of all things, Provider and Giver of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ as Messiah, the only Way through Whom we can be saved. Faith in God's promises. Faith protects our hearts from doubting, fearing, worrying, and wandering. Faith also keeps us sober (spiritually stable in spiritual warfare).

Love (agape) is unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial. It's treating people the way Jesus would treat them. Love God. Love people. Love like Jesus. Do everything in love. Love protects our hearts from hatred, fear, self-centeredness, greed, covetousness, jealousy, temptations, idleness, all sorts of evildoing. If we love God, we will obey His commands (which includes loving everyone). If we love people like Jesus, we will put the needs and well-being of others above ours. If we love people, we will share the gospel with them because we do not want to see anyone perish.

Put on the hope of Salvation as a helmet to protect our mind/thoughts. This "helmet" protects us from the Enemy's lies, doubts, despair, and discouragement. Biblical hope is absolute certainty (blessed assurance) based on God's Word. This living, confident hope helps us endure and persevere even amidst trials and suffering. Our eternal security in Christ gives us boldness to stand firm and steadfast, to resist Satan and worldly influences, and to encourage and comfort one another. In Christ/because of Christ, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (justification); we are being saved from the power of sin (sanctification); we shall be saved from the presence of sin (glorification). In this verse, Paul directs our attention to the hope of complete salvation in the future (forever saved from the penalty, power, and presence of sin). This blessed hope assures us that no matter how difficult the battle may be, there will definitely be ultimate victory and inspires us to live a holy life for God. "All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:3)
If we keep our faith in Jesus Christ, if we love one another like Jesus, if we have the confident hope of salvation, the Enemy cannot do anything to us!

"You need to get your heart right; that's the breastplate of faith and love that covers your heart. You need to love Jesus; you need to love one another. You need to put your faith where God put your sins: on the Lord Jesus Christ. That's the breastplate; you need to wear that. If you don't wear that, you're not ready to live in these dark days. And then, not only keep your heart right, but you keep your head right. Put on the helmet of salvation, the helmet of the hope of salvation." (Adrian Rogers)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for my salvation and for Your Word which gives me assurance! As I await Your return, please bless me with a childlike faith, Christlike love, and unshakable hope. Please empower me to effectively do Your kingdom work and draw people to You.

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