Sunday, June 26, 2016

Frustration and Answer in Prayer

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  (Judges 6:13)
 
The Israelites were oppressed by the Midianites.  It was not a random event. The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and God gave them in to the hand of Midian seven years.  During the period, the Midianites overpowered the Israelites, and took sheep, ox, donkey, and devour the produce of the land.  They came like locusts in number, and they lay waste the land as they came in.   Israel was brought very low.
 
Gideon was one of the Israelites, who was not much different from others.   He was equally afraid of the Midianites.  From the fear, Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the sight of the Midianites.  Then suddenly an angel of Lord appeared to him, and said to him “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor”   (Judges 6:12) It was totally unexpected.   For the last seven years, the Israelites including Gideon had never experienced God’s presence.
 
Gideon was not able to keep silent, and expressed his frustration, which was always lingering in his heart:  "Sir, if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? “   For the last seven years, Gideon had doubted the presence of God in the deepest part of his heart: If God existed; all these bad things that he saw and experience everyday should have had not happened, especially to the Israelites, the God’s chosen people.   
 
Gideon continued “Where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?”   What he saw and was experiencing for the last seven years was a harsh reality of the oppression of the conqueror, not those victorious miracles that he was told about.   Thus, he could not resist, but ask “Didn’t they say, ‘The LORD brought us up out of Egypt?’   His rationale was that if God really did bring us up out of Egypt, God should have had already rescued the Israelites from the hands of the Midianites.  The entire Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites day after day, but God did not hear.   For Gideon, it simply did not make sense.   Then he continued sharing his despair, “But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”   He waited and waited for God’s hand, but the oppression and the misery under the Midianites remained with him and the rest of the Israelites.  God was silent.  
 
Bible records the reason: the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.   They abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, and went after other gods while bowing down.   Bible tells that they even fought against God.   Then God, who dearly loved the Israelites, had to give them to other people so that they suffered from their unfaithfulness and rebellious acts against God.  God patiently waited till they came back to Him and cried for help.   The pain of God must have been greater than that the Israelites experienced.
 
After seven years, the Israelites’ suffering was sufficient.  They were ready to be rescued by God.  God sent an angel to Gideon.   The gracious God, first, let Gideon open his heart and vent out his frustration and resentment.  Gideon poured out his pain and anguish question in the deepest part of his heart, and it was heard by God.   (Imagine God personally listens to your frustration and pain in the deepest part of your heart.   Gideon got this opportunity.)  Gideon was released from his heavy burden in his heart.  Then God gave Gideon a new mission of rescuing Israel by saying: “Go in the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)
 
Gideon quickly looked at his feeble hand, and thought about whom he was and his capability.  He was so afraid of the Midianites that he was hiding in the winepress, while beating out wheat.  He knew he was nothing but one coward person.   Thus, he humbly opened his mouth and said: “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.”  (Judges 6:15)   His clan was the weakest in the Manasseh tribe, and he was also the least in his father’s house.  He authentically confessed his inability.
 
God, who saw Gideon’s authentic humility in his heart, said to him, “I will be with you, you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive."   When Gideon met the angel of God, and was told: “The Lord is with you. O mighty man of valor.” Gideon missed the important part – The Lord is with you.  Although Gideon was a mere ordinary scared person, God was ready to transform him as a mighty man of valor.  However, the fear of the Midianites prevented him from hearing what was told by God.   With patience, God led Gideon toward the man of valor that God wanted step by step.
 
First God let Gideon fully unload all of his fears occupying his heart.  Second, God let Gideon get to a point to directly see who he was, and let him authentically cry out his weakness to God with humility and meekness.   This made Gideon have an ear to truly hear what God’s say: “I am with you”, which was the most assuring word that Gideon could get form God, and he understood His calling of rescuing the Israelites.   We all know the rest of the story about Gideon.  Empowered by God, he led the Israelites and defeated the Midianites with only three hundred warriors even without actually drawing a single sword, but by the power of God in faith.  
 
God is fully of compassion and love.   He carefully watches over His people with His infinite love and patience.  He is always with us.  Sometimes we feel that He is not with us and He does not hear us.  It is not true.  He patiently waits us till we realize how sinful we are, and then He reaches out His hand to take us to His own bosom.   His hand is mightier than anything, and His love is strong than anything we can imagine.   Be still and listen to Him and His calling for His glory on earth. 
 
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.  (Psalm 145:18-19)
 


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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Persistent and Earnest Prayer and God's Answer

Good morning!

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

Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Samuel 1:17-18)

Hannah, who did not have a child, used to go up the temple every year to worship the Lord.  She was always depressed of not having a child during her annual worship and prayer period before the Lord.  Finally, one year, she prayed to the LORD out of anguish, and she was weeping uncontrollably. From the deepest part of her heart, she made an earnest prayer , “O LORD of hosts, if you will look with compassion on the suffering of your female servant, remembering me and not forgetting your servant, and give a male child to your servant, then I will dedicate him to the LORD all the days of his life. His hair will never be cut.”

As she continued praying to the LORD, Eli, the priest, was watching her mouth. Now Hannah was speaking from her heart. Although her lips were moving, her voice was inaudible. Eli therefore thought she was drunk. So he said to her, “How often do you intend to get drunk? Put away your wine!” 

But Hannah replied, “That’s not the way it is, my lord! I am under a great deal of stress. I have drunk neither wine nor beer. Rather, I have poured out my soul to the LORD.  Don’t consider your servant a wicked woman, for until now I have spoken from my deep pain and anguish.”   Then Eli, the priest quickly realized that she was truly unloading her heavy burden in the deepest part of her heart to the Lord.

God, full of mercy, carefully listened to Hannah’s prayer year after year.  Then God stretched out His merciful hand to Hannah, and talked through the mouth of Eli, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request that you have asked of him.”  What a comforting answer from God!   All of the Hannah’s prayers poured out of her heart to God year after year were made to God.  Without any further hesitation, she said “let your servant find favor in your eyes.”  Then she went her way while putting away all of her pain and sadness.  She firmly believed what was told by God through the mouth of Eli. 

Hannah’s face was no long sad.  Instead, she was in joy through faith in God.  She now started a walk with God in God’s comforting hand.   Her life was completely changed from the chronical sadness to a real joy in faith and hope.   Soon, she bore a son, Samuel – one of the greatest and faithful prophets, who led the entire country to God while demonstrating his absolute faithfulness before God.   While Samuel was with them, the Israelites were in faith in God.   The Hannah’s prayer was answered not just for Hannah, but for the entire Israelites.  One single woman’s earnest prayer from her deepest heart made to God, and brought blessings to Hannah and to the entire Israelites.  This is the power of the prayer.  

Anna, a prophet, was in the Temple.  Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four.  She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. (Luke 2:37)  She with Simeon was waiting for the Messiah, i.e., Jesus Christ.   Simeon was also righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.  He was told by Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.   Finally, they saw Jesus Christ, whom May and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required.   Simeon praised God for letting himself die in peace as God has promised, because he saw the salvation.   Anna talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.  

Anna completely dedicated her entire life to fasting and prayer after her husband’s death till the age of eighty-four!   (She must have had prayed more than sixty years in the temple day and night)   God did not overlook her full dedication to God in prayer in the temple.  God answered Anna’s life-long prayer of waiting for the Messiah, and God revealed Jesus Christ, the Savior, before her own eyes.   How blessed she was! 

saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

This is the prayer of Jesus Christ before the cross. His life was a long prayer to God.  He came to this world to save us, and eagerly waited for this very moment to complete our salvation.  However, it was the most difficult time for Jesus because of imminent agony, pain on cross and death.  Jesus prayed to God, His Father as well as Our True Father.   Jesus laid down all things in His heart before God before taking the cross. Bible tells “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”(Luke 22:44)   Yes, Jesus was in great agony, and He prayed more earnestly till His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.  (Have we prayed to God till our sweat fell like great drops of blood?)  God saw Jesus, and sent angels to strengthen Him.  Through the earnest and fervent prayer, Jesus could overcome the agony and fear of death on cross.  After this prayer, he obediently walked the walk given to Him till his death on a cross.  This is the moment of the victory for all who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior.   God, then, gave Him the name above all other names, and every tough confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.   Give thanks to God and His only son, Jesus Christ!
 
God always listens to our prayer, word by word.   No single word will not be wasted or won’t disappear into thin air.   Instead, all of our prayers are carried by angels in golden plates, and presented to God, which is a pleasing aroma to God.  Therefore, we should not lose heart, and continue praying earnestly and fervently before God with all of our hearts and minds.  Our time might be long (years or tens-years), but God has never delay His time.  God, full of mercy, will grant our payer according to His infinitely goodwill.   Praise God, who is our ever-loving and true Father of all who are faithful in prayer and longing for His appearing!   

 I love the LORD because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!  (Psalm 116:1-2)


Happy Father’s Day!    Let’s also remember our True Father in Heaven and give thanks to Him for His infinitely good care given to us.
   

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Secret of Meekness in God

Good morning!

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

He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”  (Exodus 2:14)

Moses was born as son of Hebrew parents, when Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews, you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”   Thus, the parents had to hide Moses for three months.   When they could not hide any longer, they put Moses in a basket, and sent down on Nile river.   By God’s mercy and grace, Moses was spotted by a princess, one of Pharaoh’s daughters, who came down to bathe in the river.  Moses was raised by the princess in the palace. 

One day, when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel, and saw the terrible conditions they were under.   During his visit he saw an Egyptian knock a Hebrew to the ground—one of his own Hebrew brothers! Moses looked this way and that to be sure no one was watching, then killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand.   He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. (Acts 7:25)

And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’  The response from those Hebrews who were fighting was totally unexpected.  “And who are you?” one of the men demanded.  Then he continued “I suppose you think you are our prince and judge! And do you plan to kill me as you did that Egyptian yesterday?”  Immediately a severe fear fall on Moses, and he fled away into the distant land of Midian.  Then for the next forty years, he stayed in the land of Midian while shepherding sheep.   He married and became the father of two sons like an ordinary shepherd.   Moses who used to think that God was giving them salvation by his hand, and people did not understand, now became a humble man who was one of the shepherds with a wife and two sons living in the remote land of Median.

One day, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight.  As he drew near to look, he heard a voice calling Moses.  It was God’s voice.  Forty years ago, he used to hear his own voice, and he attempted to rescue Israelites by his own hand because he was powerful and capable.   Now, he became an eighty-years-old shepherd.  His strength was far reduced and his ambition was completely faded away during the last forty years of the journey in the Midian wilderness.   He became a man of humility.  Bible tells Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)   Moses, meek and humble, finally was able to truly hear God’s voice.
 
As Moses was ready, God showed up and explained what Moses had to do while telling about Himself:  I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ …  I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’  (Acts 7:32 -34)

By the time, Moses’ ambition of rescuing the Israelites from Egypt was a just old memory.  He did not want to revisit the painful memory of the prior failure in Egypt.  He vividly recalled the Pharaoh who tried to arrest him after his killing one of the Egyptians was exposed.  For him, it was unthinkable to return to Egypt.  Thus, he refused.   He also added all kinds of excuses, such as “I am not eloquent and slow of speech and of tongue.”   However, for this time, God knew Moses was fully ready to be used by God, because Moses was no longer the old Moses who believed his own hand and might.   For this time, God gave His own special promise -- He would be with Moses always, and He would go with him wherever Moses would go.  God also granted a miraculous power of turning staff to snake and back to staff, and supernatural signs that only could God do.   He sent Aaron also, who spoke well, and could speak for God and Moses.

Moses, when he was sent by God, was able to lead the Israelites out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years till they arrive at the promised land.   What a contrast!  The old Moses who thought that God was giving the Israelites’ salvation by his own hand had to flee from Egypt to the distance land of Midian.  When Moses became really humble and meek, he was sent by God and liberated the entire Israelites from the bondage of Egypt.  

Do we think that we have a calling of God?   However, we feel that people don’t understand.  Then it is time to learn from the life of Moses, and to pray before God.   God waited forty years till Moses became very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth before God used Moses to lead the Israelites from Egypt.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  (Mathew 5:5)

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Are We Listening?

Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
 
“What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
 
Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
 
“No,” he said.  (Numbers 22:28-30)
 
Balak, king of Moab, who was afraid of the Israelites who crossed the red sea, and matched through the land, while defeating nearby countries.  Bible tells “Balak saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.” (Numbers 22:2-3)
 
In fear, Balak sent messengers to summon Balaam, God’s prophet:  “A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.”   Balaam asked to God, whether he should have gone with Balak’s messengers or not.   God said no.   Thus, Balaam said no.   Balak’s messengers returned to Balak.  However, soon Balak sent again his officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first.  Again, Balaam said no, but he was persuaded, accepted the Balak’s offer, and followed the Balak’s officials.  Bible tells “God was very angry.” 
 
On the way, Balaam’s donkey behaved very strangely.   The donkey did not follow what Balaam told to do.   When the donkey arrived at a narrow path, the donkey refused to go forward while crushing Balaam’s foot against the wall.  He beat the donkey, but the donkey did not move.  Finally, the donkey lay down under Balaam.  Balaam was very angry and beat the donkey with his staff.  Then God opened the mouth of the donkey.
 
Balaam was angry because of the donkey, although the donkey saw the angel of the LORD with a drawn sword in his hand, which Balaam could not see.  Without knowing this imminent danger, he pushed hard the donkey refusing to move forward.  Balaam even beat the donkey.  How stupid Balaam was!  He was running into the danger without knowing because he was blind.   God who loved Balaam opened the mouth of the donkey to reveal the truth.    
 
 
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
 
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
 
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  (Acts 9:3-6)
 
Saul was the elite Jew.  He was taught by Gamaliel, one of the most renowned Pharisees and one of the important religious leaders.  Saul was trained according to the strict manner of the law, and was zealous for God more than anybody else.   Because of his credentials, the high priest granted a full empowerment to Saul so that if he found any Christians, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.  Saul firmly believed that he was doing God’s work, and persecuted believers in zeal of serving God.  He was absolutely blind to the truth about what he was doing – he was serving his own belief while seriously threatening God’s people.  
 
God, who loved Saul, came and told: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”   while flashing a bright light around Saul, which made him get blind.  Saul was entering in Damascus to capture Christians with the power of the high priest, but he heard a voice from heaven and got blind.  He became helpless.  Rather than capturing Christians, now he needed a helper.   By the hands of a helper, he entered in Damascus. 
For three days he could not see, and did not eat or drink anything.  Three days later, God sent Ananias.  Ananias came and prayed for Saul.  Saul regained his sight.  Saul realized the truth: who Jesus was, and what he was doing.   He got up and was baptized first, and after taking some food, he restored his strength.   Saul spent days with the disciples in Damascus.  At once, he began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God in the synagogues.   All those who heard him were astonished.  
 
Do we hear the voice of God?  Sometimes it quietly whispers to our eyes like a gentle breeze in spring.  Sometime it forcefully comes into our lives as Saul experienced on the way to Damascus.  Yes, God even uses a donkey as He did to Balaam.  God is always telling us about His love and truth because He really cares for us.  However, our heart is so much full, and there is no room for God’s voice.  
 
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says…”  (Rev 2:7)
 
Let’s pray together.  Oh, God!  You are merciful and full of love.  Please grant us eyes to hear you, and eyes to see your hands, especially in our time of need, and strengthen us so that we can do what you want to do in our lives rather than to serve our own desire.   You are one and only one ever-loving God.   Amen.
 
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