Sunday, April 24, 2016

We Do Not Know What To Do, But Our Eyes Are On You....

Good morning!

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

O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the [Dead] sea; and, behold, they are in Engedi.”  Engedi is the city on the west side of Dead Sea, and Jerusalem is not far from the city.  Also the beyond the sea means Moabites and Amorites, who dwelled in the east side of Dead Sea.   Three countries united, and came against him and Judah, his country and his people, for battle.   He was terrified because he was a mere human like anyone of us and the people in Jerusalem and Judah.

However, instead of calling in his military generals, Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.  Upon King Jehoshaphat’s decree, all people in Judah assembled to see help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.  What’s a faith and humility before God, who is the creator, and the omnipresent and omnipotent God with full of mercy, grace and love to those who are faithful to and humble before God!

King Jehoshaphat stood in the middle of the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem. He prayed, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?  You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. …  O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:6,12)

Bible continues telling “All Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” (2 Ch 20:13)   And the Spirit of the LORD came upon them, through Jahaziel, one of the Levites, conveyed God’s word.

‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’  (2 Chronicles 20:15-17)

God comforted the king and his people with a word of encouragement.  Then God said that the battle was not yours, but mine, and continued “You will not need to fight in this battle.  Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.”   

Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.  What a faith it was!  The three countries’ army was just less than 50 miles away (i.e., less than 80 km away).  Less than a day, the united army could get to Jerusalem. King Jehoshaphat and his people first approached to God, and prayed, and then worshiped the LORD with full trust in God.
Early the next morning, they went out to the Desert of Tokoa (about 12 miles south west of Jerusalem toward Engedi, where the united enemy forces were spotted.   King Jehoshaphat stood up and said: “Listen to me, you people of Judah and residents of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord your God and you will be safe! Trust in the message of his prophets and you will win.”   Then King Jehoshaphat set musicians to play before the Lord and praise Hus majestic splendor, and said, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his loyal love endures.”  (2 Ch 20:20-21)  Their faith was steadfast.  Instead, they gave thanks to God even under the difficult situation – three countries were united and coming to attack King Jehoshaphat and his people.  

Then they went out singing and praising the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.  The LORD suddenly attacked the united army by confusing them.  They started attacked each other, and continued till completely destroying the entire army.  When the men of Judah arrived at the observation post overlooking the desert where the huge united army used to be.  What they saw was dead bodies on the ground; there were no survivors!

Then they returned joyfully to Jerusalem; the LORD had given them reason to rejoice over their enemies.  They entered Jerusalem to the sound of stringed instruments and trumpets and proceeded to the temple of the Lord.  All the kingdoms of the surrounding lands were afraid of God when they heard how the Lord had fought against Israel’s enemies.  Jehoshaphat’s kingdom enjoyed peace; his God made him secure on every side.  (2 Ch 20:27-30)

What an encouragement to each of us, especially those who currently confront with insurmountable challenges like King Jehoshaphat and his people!  Yes, those challenges are huge and much bigger than us, but God is even greater than every single of them.   What God wants is our pure trust in Him.   He loves to hear our prayer with absolute honesty and complete humility as Jehoshaphat prayer “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” under distress.  God answers to us “Don’t be afraid and don’t panic because of the huge challenge that you see!  For the battle is mine, but yours.”   

“…In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.”  (John 16:33)

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

What shall we do?

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

Faith is our confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)  

Having faith is transcending everything that we know, and what we see and touch on earth.   Through faith, those who have faith in Christ are directly tied to God, and the tie cannot be broken by any means: hardship, persecution, distress, tribulation, danger, or sword on earth (Romans 8:35).  Through faith, God make us more than conquerors by His power and love that transcend all things that we know.   Thus, the world is any longer worthy of us as long as we are in the love of Jesus Christ.  Why?  Through faith, we are being mold and perfected day by day according to God’s will in His Love.  Apostle Paul explains the nature of this relationship:

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) 

What a comforting message to us!  To reveal His love, Jesus gave a parable about the prodigal son, who his father after squandering father’s inheritance for earthly pleasures, but his father opened his arms and embraced the returning son with his love.  Peter, who was one of His disciples, and cowardly denied Jesus before a slave girl because of fear, was forgiven and loved by the resurrected Jesus.   Jesus amended Peter’s shame and healed the deep wound in his heart by lovingly asking “Do you love me?”   A woman in John 8 was terrified of being stoned because she was caught in the act of adultery.  Initially, Jesus did not say to her till all people who tried stoning her moved away from her one by one.  Then Jesus gently said with a loving voice “Neither do I condemn you: go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)  Surely, no sin is bigger than the Love of Jesus Christ.   Saul persecuted Jesus and those who believed Jesus by capturing them and handing over to the authorities, but Jesus came to Saul and forgave him.  Then with His love, He transformed the old Saul to Apostle Paul, His faithful servant.  The power of the love of Jesus Christ is greater than anything on earth.  Jesus melted Saul’s heart, and molded into Apostle Paul.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

In Him, we are like a baby in a mother’s bosom – loved, accepted, forgiven, protected, and cared for.  Nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from His love, because Jesus tightly holds us in His bosom.   Give thanks to Jesus, how is full of love, compassion and mercy!

However, on earth, we are constantly bombarded by the satanic power.  It is not unusual that we often realize that we are completely surrounded by the evil power as described in the book of 2nd Kings Chapter 6.  One servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” (2 King 6:15)   “What shall we do?”   This is the first utterance from the servant’s mouth because the fear was great and the enemy’s army was numerous.  He saw the city was completely surrounded the enemy, and there was no single way to escape from the city.  However, Elisha, his master, was calm.  Elisha comforted his servant, and explained the reality that his servant could not see – “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Then he prayed to God.

He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 King 6:16-17)

Yes, God is greater than the world.   The Syrian army was huge, but the God’s army was even greater.  The Syrian army surrounded the city, but the God’s army filled the entire mountain with full of horse and chariots of fire.  What a comforting scene!   Elisha prayed, and God opened the servant’s eyes.  The servant was, then, able to see the reality that he was not able to see: the God’s army was much greater than the enemy.

How much are we different form the servant, when we meet a situation that we are totally overwhelmed and even there is no way to get out?   “What shall we do?” is our first utterance from our mouth?   This is a telltale sign that we are searching for our own solution to the problem that we confront at.   Yes, we prone to fail because we see what is visible by our own eyes.  What can be seen easily puts us in terror.  This is the time that we need to listen to Jesus, who finds us when we are in distress, and gently tells us “Do not fear.  I am with you” because Jesus knows our struggle and our weakness.  Jesus experienced the same fear, anxiety, terror and pain that we are experiencing when He was on earth.

On the night of his capture, Jesus asked his disciples praying not to fall in to temptation, but the disciples were sleeping.  Then He gently said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38)  Our struggle is not unique.  Even Apostle Paul lamented on himself who were struggling in the spiritual battle, “But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:23-24)

Then Apostle Paul shared the greatest secret in the later chapter of the book of Romans:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

God is gracious and full of mercy and love.   He knows our weakness.  When we are really weak, He is with us.   Although we are weak, the Holy Spirit in our heart is strong.  When we are in great distress, danger, the Spirit who is interceding us with groanings too deep for word.  Just listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  He will teach you how and what to pray, and we will experience the peace of God that transcends all understanding.


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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

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

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29)

After the resurrection, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, appears to his disciples.   The doors being locked for fear of the Jews, but Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”   Jesus comforted His disciples with the loving voice, and they were filled with joy.    Unfortunately, one of the eleven was not there with them, who was Thomas.    

A week later, the disciples gathered together again, and Thomas was with them.   Thomas was told about Jesus’ resurrection.  Then he was hearing everyday about His resurrection from his fellow disciples, but he was not able to believe because a dead person could not come to life again.   His fellow disciples reminded about what Jesus told before: he would be killed, but on third day, he would rise again from the death.   Of course, Thomas was able to remember what he was told by Jesus, but he was not able to make himself believe.  His heart was constantly covered with dark clouds of doubt about Jesus’ resurrection because what was told by his fellow disciples simply did not make sense to him.  Thus, Thomas openly said “unless I see Jesus with his own eyes, and physically touch Jesus’ body with his hands, I cannot believe.”

We know the rest of the story, as quoted in the Bible verses above.  Jesus came to the doubting Thomas, who could not make himself believe due to his own logic and rationale.  However, with the same loving voice, Jesus first said to Thomas, “Peace be with you!”   Jesus comforted the unsettling heart of Thomas.  Then Jesus gently encouraged Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”   Thomas used to say “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  Jesus did exactly answer what Thomas openly demanded.
Without examining Jesus’ hands and side, as astonished at His love and grace, all of Thomas’ doubts and logical arguments were suddenly melted away like snow before a late spring sun.  Thomas could clearly see what he believed was false.    Thomas’ willful power of resisting before Jesus was futile.   For Thomas, there was no place to go but Jesus.  Thomas confessed his lack of faith by crying out, “My Lord and my God!”

Perhaps this is the most significant confessions made by Jesus’ disciples after Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  (Matthew 16:16)  Thomas was totally surrounded by the absolute awe and assurance of His omniscience, which was the full proof of Jesus’ deity and divine power, and Thomas completely surrendered before Jesus -- one and only true Lord, who held up everything even life and death.  “My Lord and my God!”  There was nothing but this confession that Thomas could utter through his mouth at the moment.  What a blessed word reflecting Thomas’ faith, coming from the deepest part of Thomas’ heart before the risen Lord!

Then Jesus said to Thomas (and also to us), “Because you have seen me [having the nail marks and the side wound], you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)  Yes, we all want to see miracles and supernatural power of God with our own eyes.  This is natural to Thomas and us because we are mere humans who search for something to physically grasp or to see before believing.  However, Jesus tells us not to hang our faith on what we can see and touch.   Everything on earth will eventually fade away.   Thus, if something visible and tangible were the foundation of our faith, then our faith would together fade away also.   Bible tells … As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)   Everything, even prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, will surely pass away.  Only will a faith firmly founded on Jesus and His Word last forever, because the heaven and the earth will pass away, but His Word shall not pass away, and be with us forever. (Matthew 24:35).   

Then how can we have faith without seeing and touching?   We all know it is not possible, but only through the grace of Jesus Christ, it is possible.  Faith is a gift from God, which is not our own doing, nor a result of our own works.  Thus, if we have faith, we cannot boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  Through faith, we can transcend all understanding, logic and rationale.   And through faith, we can be confident about things that we hope for, and we can assure about the things above, although we cannot see.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

By my God I can leap over a wall

Good morning!

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

For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.
This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.  (Psalm 18:28-30)

God is our source of strength and power.  The Lord is our rock and fortress that has never been changed, and will not be changed forever for those who love God because God has no rotating shadow.  Although we have gone astray like sheep, God put on our transgressions and sins on Jesus Christ.  Through the sacrifice on the cross, our sins are forgiven, and through Him, our broken relationship with God has been restored.  Thus, through Him, without any fears, we can approach God. 

In Him, there is no darkness at all.  He, Himself, is the light, which is the only true light.   He lightens our darkness, and shows the way to God.  As matter of fact, it is the only way because there is no other way.   Thus, we can walk the walk with Jesus without being getting lost as long as fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ, who is the pioneer and perfector of our faith.   Through Him, we can be more than sure about our faith, although our physical eyes cannot see.  What we can see is temporary, but what we cannot see is eternal.   Hebrews Chapter 11 Verse 1 tells “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”   Thus, we can continue hoping for the things in above with faith, and being convicted about things in Heaven, our Eternal Home, even though we cannot see by our eyes nor touch them with our hands.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)   

By faith, we can overcome the world, and we are victorious in Him with Him and by Him.  Yes, we confront challenges, hardships, agony and even tribulation, but we can overcome them.  God, who are with us, is greater than these, and is mightier than anything that we encounter on earth.   Therefore, we, who have been born of God, will surely win over the world, and we will turn out to be more than a conqueror.   King David, the author of Psalm 18, had to hide from King Saul, whom David was really royal to.  David also had to fled from Absolam, his own son, who rebelled against David, Absolam’s own father, and sent people to kill David.  Alsolam was in a real darkness with full of evil.  Even so, David did not lose his faith to God.  With faith, he was able to rely on God’s word and promise.  They were his shield against all threats and dangers, and allowed for him to walk the walk given to him.  Thousands were falling left and right, David leaped over a wall with faith.  David believed God’s word was true, and His truth would be surely revealed.

David had two almost identical opportunities to kill King Saul, who falsely accused David, and mobilized the whole army to capture and kill David, but he did not do anything on Saul, and he ordered his people not to kill King Saul.  On the other hands, for both case, Saul was sleeping sound without knowing David and his people were right next to Saul watching Saul sleeping.   David thought about God first, and David relied on God and God’s hand rather than his own.   By relying on God’s hand, he leaped over a wall of desire of revenge, and was able to lead his people out of the same temptations repeatedly. 

David also gave a strict order to his troop not to harm Absolam, who really tried to kill his own father.  When there was a great battle between Absolam’s and David’s armies.   In the battle, the Absolam’s army was defeated.  When David was told about a news of Absolam’s death, David mourned over his son’s death and made all nation mourn over Absolam’s death.  Only when David’s own general persuaded him to stop morning, he turned away from his mourning over his son’s death, and encourage his people.  David won every battle in faith of God, and he wrote” by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall”      

David continued writing his faith about God:

For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?—
the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights. (Psalm 18:31-33)

For David, there was one and only one solid rock: David’s God, who is the same God that we believe.  Our God clothes us with His strength and power.  He guides us through paths of righteousness.   He also makes our feet like dear’s feet so that we can walk over any places on earth without fear.  

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;   (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Let us be strong and courageous in God.   Although we are like a clay jar which is fragile and easy to break, when God is with us, we are in His passion clothed with the surpassing power of God.  Therefore, on earth, under any circumstances, we will not be crushed, nor driven to despair, nor destroyed because He is with us.   Continue pray before God with thanksgiving.  The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, be with us  all, will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

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