Sunday, March 18, 2018

We Are More Than Conqueror In God Of Steadfast Love!

Good Morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 145:8)

The ppeople of Israel met God at the Mountain Sinai.   God led them through the miracles –  the ten plagues in Egypt that made them free from the bondage of the miserable slavery, and parting the Red Sea that saved them from the swords of the Egypian Army who changed minds and chased them.   Then the Israelites walked on dry land through the Red Sea, but the Egypian Army were drowned in the Red Sea.   The people of Israel shouted for joy and praised the God of mighty.   However, only three days later, they complained to God because the water that they found was bitte.   (It is unthinkable to most of us.  Complaining to God only three days after the miracle of parting the Red Sea to save them from the Egyptian Army).   God changed the bitter water to sweet for them to drink.  Soon they complained to God for food because they were hungry in the middle of the wilderness.   They even thought that even God could not feed them (about two million people in total) in the middle of nowhere.   But God rained the manna from heaven to feed them.  They ate the manna and were satisified.   It was not long before they again complained to God because there was no water.   For this time, they were hostile enough to stone Moses while telling,  “Why did you bring out here in this wilderness?   We’d be better off in Egypt as slaves.”  Even so, God made water gushed out of rock, and they drank the water from the rock.  Why?  God was merciful, compassionate, and most of all, dearly loved them.   

Indeed, God told again and again, “Listen and obey My Word,”  but they did not hear.   They saw those mircles and His mighty hand, but they could not see the true nature of God.   What they saw and felt was always bigger and greater than God, who is invisible.  Therefore,  God had to correct this wrong behavior.   Out of His love,  God introduced a really time-critical threat – the invading warriors of Amalekities.   They realized that it was not time for whining and complaining to God.   Thus, rather than complaining to God as they used to, upon the quickly approaching danger, they rapidly united as one while completely trusting God.   Yes, they bravely went out and fought for the Armaleklites against the odds – the ex-slaves of the Israelites vs. the well-trained warriors of Amalekites.  Moses prayed to God.  His prayer did not stop till the end of the battle.   It was a long battle.  Aaron and Hur stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands.  What a beautiful scene before God!   God saw their faith, and gave the huge victory.  The bunch of ex-slaves defeated the warriors of Amalekites.  The Israelites experienced God’s mighty hand.  In fact, it was God’s love.

God then showed up Himself to reinforce their faith and encourage them.   Yes, God always patiently worked on their lives to grow in faith.   Finally, their hearts was also ready for the next step.  God called up Moses to the mountain.   For the first time, God directly provided Ten Commandments as His covenant to the people of Israel.   Upon receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses went down, and gave the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel.   

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

1.       “You shall have no other gods before me.

2.       “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3.       “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

4.       “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

5.       “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

6.       “You shall not murder.

7.       “You shall not commit adultery.

8.       “You shall not steal.

9.       “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10.   “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  (Exodus 20:1-17)

The first four commandments are about for our relationship with God.  God dearly loved the people of Israel, and God commanded them to love God.  God never changes.   As He loved the people of Israel, He loves us because we are His people and His children.   Then how to love God?  As His beloved children, we show our love by listening to Him and keeping the His Law wholly.  That is, first believe God who is the only one and true God, and worship Him only.  Don’t make nor worship idols.  Don’t carry His name in vain before the world and the unbelievers, and be His faithful people.   Remember God’ creation and join His rest to dedicate our lives to worship Him rather than indulging in on our own lives.  

The rest six commandments are about for our relationship with others.    Honoring parents and not harming others are beginning of our quest to love others.   God taught the people of Israel like a baby.  He gave them step by step instructions by listing out what the people of Israel had to do to love others.   For example, how can we say we love others if we harm them?  Yes, not giving harms to other is our first step to love others.  

Jesus was friend of those who were poor in spirit, hunger in righteousness, suffering, and/or persecuted.  Jesus blessed them, and people came and took rest in His comfort and peace of Heaven.  Those who were comforted by Jesus felt that Jesus’ teaching was completely different from what was taught by their religious leaders.   Jesus explained that His teaching was not new, different from the Law, nor replacing the Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments given by God to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.  Jesus clearly explain them.  All of the Law and the Prophets would be fulfilled:  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.   (Matthew 5:17-18)   Indeed, Jesus’ mission on earth was to fulfill the Law of Moses, i.e., Ten Commandments, and other writings of the prophets given by God to guide the people of Israel.  

Since Moses received the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel made every effort to keep the law and the other writing of the prophets wholly.  However, due to the fallen nature of human beings, the people of Israel could not keep all of the Law and the Prophets wholly.   Despite of every best effort, nobody was able to keep the Law.   Sadly all were ended up becoming lawbreakers and sinners.  In other words, nobody could not be righteous before God by keeping the Law, because it was impossible for any human being to keep them all wholly.   This impossibility is still true to all of us today.   This is the reason why Jesus Christ came to this world to save us as our true and only one Savior.  Give thanks to God, who gave Jesus Christ as sacrificial lamb to save us from our sins.  This is His love that we cannot fathom.  

Soon Jesus was questioned by one of the religious leaders at that time, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus clearly answered that there is no commandment in the Law will be ignored or omitted.    All of them will be fully accomplished before the heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:17-18).   Jesus directly and plainly explained the God’s true intention:
1.       Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and
2.       Love your neighbor as yourself.

Can we really love our God and our neighbor as ourselves?   No, again, déjà vu like the people of Israel.  We cannot love God whole heartedly.    We all know that we love God, but one part of our hearts loves our sinful nature, and craving for sinning, which is our fallen nature.   

Apostle Paul lamented, Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:24)    This struggle is not just for Apostle Paul but real for everyone on earth.   Even so, Apostle Paul proclaimed His victory in Christ by telling, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 7:25a)

Yes, we cannot win the battle against the sins in us if we only fight with our own might.   The outcome is sure – our defeat, which is truly miserable.  However, if we are in Jesus Christ, we win this battle through the power of the Jesus Christ, and His blood on the cross.    Yes, Jesus accomplished the Law by nailing Himself on the cross as our sacrificial lamb to wash away all our sins.   This is the love of Jesus Christ.   God, Our Father, did not spare His own Son and gave Him up for us all.   This is the love of God, Our Father.   Let’s say loud and shout: God, who created heaven and earth, dearly loves us.  Then what can we fear on earth?    Surely, in all things, we will come out as more than conquerors through Him who loves us!  Praise God!

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39) 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

God is Love! Experience God and His Love Through Faith.

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ (Exodus 19:6)

Moses saw again his father-in-law, and spent a good time with His wife and two children.  Not just Moses, all of the people of Israelites had a good time with plenty of food from heaven and water from the rock.   They even defeated the Amalekities and their warriors although they were just a bunch of ex-slaves, who had no training for any weapons and any military disciples.   Upon this surprise attach of the Amalelite’s warriors, they actually united and came to God while fully trusting God.   What a change!   They used to complain and argue against Moses and to God.   It was in fact a whining like a child before a parent.   They found it was not time to whining.    They knew and experience the mighty hand of God, which made them come to God while trusting God.  God gave them the first huge victory from the impossibility.    It was the first opportunity for them to search for God and trusted Him before the impossibility, which was the faith that truly pleased God.  

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)   Yes, faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.  That is, faith is for future and our confidence for the future that our hope will come true in Him. Then how do we assure that our confidence is true?   The evidence is our faith in Him.  Although we cannot see and touch our faith, the faith itself is the proof about what we hope for will actually happen including something impossible.  If we only believe what is possible in our eyes, then is our faith truly faith?   Precisely speaking, if we only believe what will happen in our eyes, we believe our eyes.    If so, we’d better to question about our faith.  It is not faith because we trust our own eyes.   Faith is our assurance about what we do not see, but we believe.  

It was exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt.   The people of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Sinai.  After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.   Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God.

The LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel:  ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.  And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:4-6)

God truly loved the people of Israel.   Whenever there is an opportunity, God told what they should do – “obey and keep My commands.”   God again and again promised His blessings that be only reserved for His people.   So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the LORD had commanded him.  And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the LORD.  Everything was really good.    The people of Israel said with one voice, “We will do everything God has commanded.”  

God knew that they were not fully trusted although they said with one voice that they would obey and keep God’s commands.   As Moses came back and told what the people said.   Then God told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing.  Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch.  Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. (Exodus 19:10-12a)  Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death.  No hand may touch the person or animal that crosses the boundary; instead, stone them or shoot them with arrows. They must be put to death.’

Yes, God decided to show up to the people of Israel.  Of course, nobody could not see God because the absolutely Holiness of God could not coexist with the sin of the people.   If happened, it immediately meant death.   God asked them to:

1.       Consecrate them for three days
Why three days?    The people of Israel had a bad habit of forgetting.   They forgot the miracle of parting the Red Sea in three day, and they complained to God.  

How about us? Are we different from the people of Israel?   This question should be the reminder of our nature.    Good three days are often enough to shift our eyes from Jesus to the world.   The taste of the world is so seductive that in three days, our hearts can be easily melt down and drowned by slowly forgetting God, who is the real master of us and everything that we touch.    Please continuously remind that three days of our earthly comfort can be deadly to our faith and inner person. 

2.       Mark off a boundary all around the mountain
Again, the holiness of God could be mingled with the sins of ours.  A clearly separation was must to prevent them from being destroyed before God’s holiness.   This separation was for their protection.  God loved them, and wanted keeping them alive by not being touched by His Holiness, which meant death due to the sins of the people of Israel.   Again and again, God demonstrated His love toward the people of Israel.  As a parent loves his/her children, God dearly loved the people of Israel.    Yes, God was love.

Our God is the same God, who dearly loved the people of Israel.   God dearly loves us.  There is no other reason, but we are His children.    However, there is a gap that cannot be crossed by our own might and effort because God’s holiness and our sins cannot coexist.    Thus, God provided a way to come to Him and to be with Him forever, which is Jesus Christ.   Jesus Christ is the only way that allows us to approach to God although we are full of sins.   Why?   Jesus paid them all by His own blood, which is His own death on cross for our sins.   Since His sacrifice for all our sins, we now can come to God without fear of eternal death before His Holiness because all our sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Now, we can come and united with God as His eternal children.   This is the Gospel, the Good News to all of us.   We are truly blessed.   The people of Israel saw the shadow of this eternal forgiveness and blessings of God’s mercy, grace and love, but we are truly enjoying this blessing from now till forever as long as we truly believe Jesus is our savior.   Praise God, who dearly loves us, His children from now to eternity.  

Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.  (Galatians 3:14)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

God Provides. Yes, God Provides For Us!

Good Morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (Genesis 22:14)

The powerful and compassionate God was full of love toward the people of Israel, His people.  He was slow to anger to them.   God provided again and again for the people of Israel, not because they were faithful, but because they were His children.  The Amalekite raised their fist against the  God’s people.  God utterly defeated them before the Israelites, who were just a bunch of former slaves.   Moses raised high his staff before God.  Both the people of Israel and the Amalekites saw the Moses’ staff lifted high before God.    The Moses arms were getting heavier and heavier, and he could not continue raising the staff.   Aaron and Hur supported the Moses’ hands from both sides.  God answered for Moses, Aaron, Hur, Joshua and the people of Israel.   By the sunset, the people of Israel completely defeated the army of Amalek in battle.  The victory was the manifestation of God’s love on His people, and the Israelites trusted God, and completely faithful to God.   After the victory, the place was named as Yahweh-nissi, the LORD is my banner, which was the praise of the people of Israel from the deepest part of their hearts.  

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard especially about how the LORD had rescued them from Egypt. 

Earlier, Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back to Jethro, who had taken them in. (Moses’ first son was named Gershom, for Moses had said when the boy was born, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” His second son was named Eliezer, for Moses had said, “The God of my ancestors was my helper; he rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh.”)  Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, now came to visit Moses in the wilderness. He brought Moses’ wife and two sons with him, and they arrived while Moses and the people were camped near the mountain of God.  Jethro had sent a message to Moses, saying, “I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to see you with your wife and your two sons.”

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent.  Moses told his father-in-law everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the LORD had rescued his people from all their troubles.  Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians.
“Praise the LORD,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt!  I know now that the LORD is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” (Exodus 18:10-11)

Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence.   What a beautiful scene before God!    Moses saw Jethro again, and reunited with his wife, two sons after the treacherous days of leading the stubborn people of Israel, who could not and did not trust God whenever they encountered with any kind of hardships.   Then they complained to Moses and God.   The time with Jethro, his father-in-law, and his wife and two sons was a really precious and refreshing moment for Moses.   Yes, God provided! 

God always provides although we feel trapped and there is no way out.  It is just our feeling.   God already has a plan to way out, and He is patiently waiting for the perfect time for us, as God did for Moses and the people of Israel.   This is our God’s mercy and grace.

One time, the people of Israel tried to stone Moses when they found no water to drink although they had plenty of manna to eat: the heavenly food from God.   The food that they had neither planted nor paid for, but God provided abundantly.   Despite of their complaints, God had just poured on His children as His love and grace.  However, the people of Israel quickly changed, when the Amalekite’s warriors attacked them.   Nobody complained.   Why?  
Not having water or food was really a real hardship for the Israelites, but it was not so time-critical as the swords of the Amalekite’s warriors, which were about to be swung to kill them.  Before the Amalekite’s swords, there was no time for them to complain.   They always acted like babies – whining and complaining rather than listening to parent’s voice.   Even so, they exactly knew when they could whine and complain to God or not.    Before the invading warriors, their whining and complaints were absolutely useless, i.e., nothing to gain but being perished.  Of course, this was their point of view, not God’s point of view.

Let’s ask to ourselves: didn’t God know about the above?  No, God exactly knew what was going on in their hearts.   God knew how they responded before the invading Amalekites, who were well-trained warriors.  The Israelites were just slaves recently released from Egypt, who had never borne arms as an organized army.  The people of Israel quickly realized that it was not time to complain, but come to God and trust Him to get His help.   They saw before the God’s greatest might and His hand, and they remembered.   Then, they fought in faith in God, who would rescue them from the invading army.   God, who patiently waited for their trust in Him, provided: they miraculously defeated the Amalekite warriors.   Yes, they won the battle.    God gave the Israelites the amazing victory.   How gracious, merciful and loving God He was for the people of Israel!   

God of grace and peace came to the Israelites in the wilderness.   They were satisfied by the manna from heaven, and refreshed with the water from the rock.    Most of all, they could really experience God.   Before the attacking warriors, first they trusted God rather than complaining and whining to Him.   They fought in faith, and they got the first victory over the formidable enemy – the Amalekite warriors.   Yes, it was a miracle, and a faith builder.   All of these was provided God.   Yes, God provided.  

Is our mouth about to utter complaints to God due to one aspect of our lives on earth?    Then remember what God did to the Israelites to get rid of their bad habit of complaining and whining.   If we keep complaining and whining before God, of course, first God patiently waits for us and provides.   Then we easily and mistakenly presume that we did something right before God.   No, absolutely not.   God is merciful, and provides to us because He is patient in His love.   If we continue complaining and whining, then God have to do something dramatic by changing the situation around us.   God eliminates the room that we used to enjoy while complaining or whining, and then introduces something that really gets our undivided attention in order to make us focus on Him.  For example, the attacking warriors to the Israelites.   Then we should not harden our hearts, and come to Him while quickly focusing on our eyes on Him.   Surely, we will experience Him and go deeper relationship with Him.   Then we will truly appreciate God’s grace and peace prepared for us.   Praise God, who dearly loves us!   There is no other reason, but we are His children, who were purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Amen!

Remember what it says:
“Today when you hear his voice,
       don’t harden your hearts
       as Israel did when they rebelled.”  (Hebrews 3:15)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

God's Unchanging Faithfulness And Our Victory in Faith in Him

Good Morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory."  (Psalm 50:15)

The people of Israel were thirsty, and complained to Moses and God.  Even so, God, who was infinitely merciful, again showed His power and love to the people.   Moses, upon God’s command, struck the rock, and water gushed out before the eyes of the people of Israel.  

The Israelites always forgot God’s mercy and love, and His mighty hand.  God guided them with His miraculous power and wonders, but whenever they confront with a small challenge, their hearts quickly returned back to the slavery nation of Egypt rather than overcoming the difficulty with faith and hope in God.  Thus, Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and did not trust God by testing the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD here with us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)    

Then they stayed in Rephidim.  They enjoyed the delicious manna every day from heaven, and the fresh water was gushing out of the rock for them every day.   They were satisfied, and comfortably camped in Rephidim.   Their lives were good.    Everything went well, and nothing bothered them.  Plenty of food, water and freedom.   No more masters to serve as they had to do in Egypt before.   The camp was so silent.   No complaint or grumbling against Moses and God at all.   It was a stark contrast from a few days ago when they could not find water.  At that time, they raised their voice, and said, “Why did Moses bring us out of Egypt?” or “Let’s go back to Egypt.”   No more.  Even a single person spoke up against Moses because they had enough food and plenty of water.  However, without noticing, the people of Israel was drifting.  They were drifting away from God because their lives were so good and comfortable.   This was another form of subtle and delicate challenge against their faith (not physical one like no water or no food to eat).   A false complacency was slowly kicking into their lives, and this looseness was steadily being pervasive among all of the people camped at Rephidim.   God, who dearly loved them, could not leave them alone.  

While the people of Israel were comfortably still at Rephidim, suddenly, they were under attack of the warriors of Amalek.   The camp immediately became chaotic.   Some fled, and others hid from the warriors of Amalek.   Indeed, the people of Israel had never expected to be attacked.   They thought that they were in peace because they were completely out of the range of the Egyptian army.    They remembered most of the Egyptian army were perished when the Red Sea returned to its place while sounding the thundering noise from the collapsing gigantic walls of the water.  Then they saw the dead bodies of the Egyptian army. It was the last time that they were really chased by warriors.  Now they met again those warries and horses, who tried to kill them.

Moses call them calm, and gathered the Israelites.  However, not like the Egyptian Army nor the warriors of Amalek, the Israelites had no warriors nor army to fight against the Amalekites’ warriors attacking them.  None of them was trained like the attacking warriors.  They had no real weapons available either.   It was a real disaster.    Please think about what would happen between the well-trained warriors of Amalek and the bunch of Israelites without any formal military training.   There was no match between two.   It would be one sided battle while simply slaughtering the Israelites by the attacking warriors.  Yes, the Israelites were just slaves who used to make bricks and serve Egyptians, and just released from the slavery. They were nothing before the warriors of Amalek.

Moses quickly prayed to God.   Every single person of the Israelites knew there was no one but God who could save them.  Please note that for this time, nobody complained.  All of the Israelites got united under Moses while completely trusting God.   Each family sent young men to Moses to defend against the invading Amalekites.   What a change!     The people of Israel used to complain whenever they met a challenge situation.  They used to argue against God by telling “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock here in this wilderness?  We’d rather be in Egypt as slaves.”   Yes, before the swords of the Amalek, they were united and together trusted God. 

Moses made the young men organized to defend against Amalekite, and appointed Joshua as the leader.   Then Moses commanded Joshua, “With these young me, go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” (Exodus 17:9b)   Two things that we can see what Moses did:
1.       Be brave, go out and fight
Both Moses and the young men gathered to fight knew they were not capable of defeating the well-trained warriors of Amalek.  They had one thing – faith in God.   Among the young men, Moses saw one particular person, Joshua, who had a great faith in God.  He also had an ability to lead people even in the chaotic battle field.   Moses quickly trusted Joshua because of Joshua’s great faith along with his leadership.  Moses, then, sent him with the young men to fight the army of Amalek with his encouragement in God.
2.       Will be with you at the top of the hill by praying to God
a.       Moses said “I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”   Moses promised Joshua to continue supporting him by prayer to God at the place plainly visible at the top of the hill so that Joshua and his people could see Moses, who was praying to God with his staff lifted up high.   Of course, Moses and the staff raised high were clearly visible to the warriors of Amalek.   Moses trusted God with his staff lifted up, thought which Moses experienced God power and mercy many times.  Joshua and the young men on the battle field trusted God, who would save them again as God did before the Egyptian army chasing to kill them on the other side of the Red Sea.

So Joshua and the young men faithfully followed what Moses had commanded.  They fought against the army of Amalek and they fully trusted God that God would surely delivered them.  Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill.  Moses held up the staff in his hand and prayed.  Both sides saw Moses and his hand lifted up high with his staff.   When Moses raised up his staff, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage.  

Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. (Exodus 17:12)  It was a long day for Moses, Aaron, Hur, Joshua, and the Israel’s young men.  All of them were together in one faith, and they fought together having the same faith in God.  As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. (Exodus 17:13)   It was the first victory for the Israelites, and a great one.   They could not believe what happened.   They for the first time defended themselves by defeating the invading Amalekites.   The great joy was prevail in the people of Israel, not because they received something from God out of their whining before God, but they together believe God and together they defeated the invading warriors in unity.

After the victory, God instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”). He said, “They have raised their fist against the LORD’s throne, so now the LORD will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.” (Exodus 17:15-16)

God, who is full of grace and mercy, always watches over His people.  God led the Israelites with patience and love. When they need water, God provided.  When they were hungry, God provided manna.  When they were invaded, God gave the victory.    What God wanted was to have faith in Him rather than complaining.    For the first time, the Israelites did.   They united in faith, and received the huge victory against the enormous odd – the warriors of Amalek vs. a bunch of young men who never had any military training.    Because they believed, God provided.  The Moses’ prayer and his two helpers never stopped till the sunset.  God answered.   Our God has never changed.  He carefully watches over us always.   When we believe, God provides.   When we pray, God answers against all kinds of odds because Our God is greater than the world.   Give thanks to God for His faithfulness!   His name will be praised from the lips of those who are faithful from now and forever.  

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)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Oh, God of Mercy! Please Hear My Prayer.

Good Morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.  (Psalm 4:1)

The people of Israel experienced God’s hand again in wilderness of Sin.   Nobody expected that they could have food in the middle of the desert.   The number of the Israelites was about 2,000,000, and feeding them to their satisfaction was an impossible task to their eyes.   Before this reality perceived by them, they doubted God, and they complained.   They even suggested to go back to Egypt as slaves rather than dying in the middle of desert.   Going back to Egypt as slaves was a logical choice for their eyes.  Unfortunately, they had no faith to God, who brought out of Egypt with miracle after miracle.   They were really stubborn and slow to trust God.   They believed something that they could see and touch, rather than believing and trusting God, whom they could not see.   Moses prayed to God, and again and again, God patiently answered and provided what was needed.   Yes, God was always faithful to them.   Like a loving parent, God pampered them with love.

Atthe LORD’s command, Moses made the whole community of Israel on the journey to the Promised Land again.  They left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim.   During the journey, they gradually forgot what God did to them.   They found there was no water for the people to drink.  So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.

Moses, who had been always calm before the people of complaints, was finally agitated.  For this time, Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?”   He shouted back to the complaining Israelites.   They became quite, but their calmness did not last.

Soon tormented by thirst, they started arguing with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”    The Israelites could not contain their frustration, and they continued shouting at Moses.      Moses tried to make them calm down by telling “be quite, and don’t test your God, who brought you out of Egypt and made your sustain up to this far.”   The people of Israel were so much tormented by thirst.   Moses could not win over them.   Some of them even picked up stones to throw at Moses.   Moses felt danger, and quickly ran to God.   Before God, Moses cried out, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”  (Exodus 17:4)

Moses cried out to God.  For the first time, Moses could not bear with their lack of faith.  Now, Moses became sick and tired of the Israelites.   They simply did not remember God’s mighty hand and always complained.   Moses heard enough.    His mouth lost his affectionate word of “my people.”  He called them “these people.”    We all know Moses used to boldly proclaim before Pharaoh, “Let My people go.”    To Moses, the people of Israel became just a bunch of people full of complains with zero faith.    Moses, the most meek person on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3), could not stand up with the people of Israel anymore.   Moses was completely worn out by these people!

God said to Moses, “Walk out in front of the people. Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile, and call some of the elders of Israel to join you. I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai.  Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.”  (Exodus 17:5-6a)

How did God respond to Moses?
                1.       “Walk out in front of the people.”     
God was compassionate to Moses who was completely worn out.   Moses tried his best with patience to lead the Israelites.  But “these people” was rebellious to Moses.   They were about to stone Moses.    Moses lost all of his respect and authority before the Israelites.  Yes, God saw the pain in Moses’ heart and knew what was needed for Moses -- restoring Moses’ authority and respect before “these people.” 
                2.       Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile,
God saw Moses needed His encouragement.   God reminded the powerful experience in God.  When Moses struck the water of the Nile, the entire Nile was turned into red blood.   Moses closed his eyes.  His mind suddenly moved to the very place where he struck the water of the Nile.  He was even able to smell the Nile and hear the people around him, who were amazed at the God’s miracle.   It was one victorious moment, and his heart truly experienced the power of the God.   He was thrilled before God’s mighty finger.  He knew at the moment the same almighty God was with him.
               3.       call some of the elders of Israel to join you.”
God also saw Moses, whose strength was completely drained out.    Moises, one single human being, had been leading the 2,000,000 people, who frequently complained for virtually all circumstances.   God saw his needs of helpers.   God chose helpers from the elders of Israel to join Moses.
              4.       I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai.”
Yes, having helpers hand-picked by God was an enormous relief for Moses by bearing together the burden of leading “these people.”   However, the helpers could not replace one thing.   Although they were specially chosen people by God, they were still mere human beings – fragile, being getting tired and worn out like Moses.   We all know Our God is not.  To Moses, what truly mattered was whether God was before him or not.   God knew Moses’ heart, and God said, “I will stand before you.”     What a comforting news to Moses!
              5.       “Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out.   Then the people will be able to drink.” 
      As God usually did, He gave an instruction, which did not make sense at all for the eyes of those who were without faith in God.   God asked Moses to strike the rock.   In his absolute faith, Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on.  (Exodus 17:6b)

The God with Moses has not been changed at all.   The same God is with us.    Sometimes, we are getting weary, tired and worn out, especially while doing God’s work or following the footsteps of Jesus Christ.   Everything is getting against us, and some of them speak ill of us as if they tried to stone us.   Our patience becomes wearing as thin as paper.   Then what can we do?   Just come to God like Moses.   Open our hearts, and authentically tell our problem and pain to God.   God hears every word of our prayer as He did to Moses.   God does not stop there.   God, who could see through Moses’ heart, mercifully answered to our prayers with His infinitely goodness.   God surely shows His compassion, encouragement, and helps us while standing before us as He did to Moses to protect and guide to His infinitely good will. 

Therefore, let’s approach God with confidence through authentic pray in our contrite hearts.   God will answer to our prayers as He did to Moses.   Then also prepare for something extraordinary that only God can do, as God commanded to Moses.   Do what God tells us to do.  As Moses did, do not doubt, and turn into an immediate action – hitting the rock with staff as God commands.  Let's together believe in God, and do what God commands, which pleases God.      

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  (Hebrews 11:6)