By Him, Through Him, and For Him

Edited by Mary Joanne Alorro

“For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven;

He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalms 18:29-30

As we grow up, we come to realize our potentials; skills we have acquired over the years; and the abilities we never knew we had. We want to achieve more and excel believing we can deliver more than what we already have.

Quite often, life appears to be more of a competition than simply living. In our studies, work, and even ministries sometimes, we create in us a culture of competing against someone to prove who is best suited to be on top and be recognized. Well, I can say, this ought not to be the case. Our diversity provides a meaningful environment where we can share complementary attritubes for each other’s lacking. More to that, we possess distinct characters and play different roles for which we are vested with varying set of skills and abilities. Our potential best suits our purpose and calling, and not for comparison with other people. We are placed on our own respective undertakings to pursue and perform excellently God’s will for us in advancing His kingdom on Earth. And in this life, we are never left alone, but empowered and accompanied by our Master Planner and the Author of our life — God.

However, there are times when we question ourselves if we can ever be good enough. Perhaps, we question our qualifications and competence. Let me share you a story about a man named Nehemiah (Book of Nehemiah).

“‘O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.’ Now I was cupbearer to the king.” Nehemiah 1:11

Reading the life of Nehemiah we learn about a man who was decisive and courageous in delivering the Lord’s work. He was a wise and brave governor, making sure that the job was carried out despite persecutions and threats.

Learning of the destruction of his city, Nehemiah wept and mourned, fasted and prayed fervently unto God for His grace and mercy for His people. At the end, when given the chance to speak before the king of Persia, Nehemiah bowed in prayer to God, asking for His grace.

Granted with the favor in the sight of the king, Nehemiah went to carry out the former’s orders in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His passion for this cause encouraged him to pursue it and to deal with it wisely, ensuring its success, despite the disunity among his people and the opposition of other people under the Persian rule.

He found his strength in the joy of the Lord. Obviously, his passion revolves around his love for his nation and its reconcilation unto God. Hence, the Lord gave him prosperity over his endeavour, and his efforts did not go in vain.

Nehemiah, being a trusted official of the king, was chosen by God to lead His people in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, not because of his qualifications. He apparently had to rely on the favor of God throughout the process. I believe he was chosen because of his heart for it. We have our desires and passions. We are called to some endeavours, and what we need is to be right with God, and allow Him to enable us. Across the chapters of the Scriptures, we learn how God qualifies the unqualified to take up His work. It reads in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised i the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, So that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Therefore, it is not all about what we can do by ourselves but about what He can do through us. Living in the calling of God leads us to a life that depends on His grace, every single day. We have plans, ambitions and desires, and we also have gifts and talents for everything we do. But left alone, there is nothing more we can do on our own. We need to acknowledge Him who sustains and enables us to pursue our respective undertakings.

Here are few points we can ponder in view of our text:

1) Identify and acknowledge your situation. You cannot shun away from your circumstances and just focus on positive things. Situations, no matter how messed up or frustrating, are a reality we need to identify. Know the extent. What is the source of the circumstance and how does it affect you? Acknowledge them. Accept that they exist. They affect you in a way or another. And you need to address them if not now, sometime sooner or later. Truth is, they remain no matter what we want to think. And no amount of worry can move an inch of its stature. So identify and acknowledge them.

2) Know God, who He is, what He does and what He can do. It is important that we know who God is and what He can accomplish in and through us. Learning the identity of God helps us trust Him and His ways. Knowing what He does and can do settles our hearts that He can deliver us. We can read the Scriptures that teach us about the identity and working of God. Have you read about David defeating the champion of the Philistines, Goliath? That moment when the Israelite armies were probably holding their breath with every word that comes out of David’s mouth as he spoke against this giant defending his nation and its armies.

“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.'” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)

Think about that courage and audacity of David. Where did it all come from? And why did not anybody else from King Saul’s army have such confidence? Well, perhaps, because even as a shepherd, David spent most of his time in the field communing with God as he attended to the sheep. This acknowledgement of God in everything he did is I think something his father Jesse did well in teaching his children. Fighting bears and other beasts to proctect the sheep is a part of David’s daily devotional. Imagine that for an exercise of faith — both spiritual and physical.

Maybe you are too overly familiar with the importance of knowing God because you think you already do. Or do you really? Whatever your take on that is, I encourage you to start your journey in knowing God more so you know how truly dependent we all are ought to be to a God who is ever powerful and sovereign. Step out in faith and pursue His calling for you.

3) Settle your relationship with God. Pursuing this noble journey requires getting rid of anything that hinders you from obeying His will for you. Right. But how did that enter this discussion? Well, we are talking about pursuing God’s calling and purpose. If we are truly intentional about that, then we better fix any encumbrance weighing our journey with and for Him. To put this with more emphasis, we read how a man who was born blind testified of how Christ Jesus healed him:

“We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” (John 9:31)

God’s ears are only open to those who worship Him and does His will. For a man who was born blind and with the medical world those days appearing to be incapable of giving sight to his eyes, the act of Jesus Christ should had been a miracle — something that defies nature. Now how can a miracle, an act which can only be performed by the Holy and Just God Himself or through an instrument hallowed unto Him, be administered by a sinner? That doesn’t make any sense. If Jesus was sinner, He cannot do anything like that. Good news is, He isn’t. He is the Christ who knew no sin but took upon Himself our sins to redeem us. To Him be all the glory and honour forever and ever!

Because the Scriptures say that God doesn’t listen to a sinner, we cannot just play with fire, then when get burned, ask God to heal us. Why? God did not ask us to play with fire, in the first place, now how is it that He suddenly enters the picture when trouble comes in? The Lord rewards us according to our righteousness and the cleanness of our hands. He is Holy, so the people who would call upon Him should also be holy. The Scriptures say in Isaiah 59:1,2,

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

You see? There is a reason why we cannot treat God just like a doctor who enters the scene only when we get sick or have some health issues. God should be part of our everyday lifestyle. That means, He should be part of our daily living, each decision we make should be outlined by His will that is revealed to us by His Word and His Holy Spirit.

Question is, after realizing that we just cannot reach out to God with our hands unclean, how do we settle our relationship with Him to start with:

(a) Acknowledge and REPENT of your sins before God. Repentance go beyond our feeling sorry for our sins. It is a change of mind about doing a certain sin, therefore, turning our ways from it.

(b) Believe that Jesus Christ has died, been buried, and risen from the dead for you, for your sins to be forgiven; and that all He did is complete and sufficient to cover all your sins.

Our journey with God will only make sense when our relationship with Him is settled. It makes a point where we start the journey and determine where it will end — in His Eternal Kingdom in Heaven. Our efforts in doing our best for His glory will only matter when we are fully connected with Him. And there is nothing that can connect us back to Him but by the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Shalom.

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Taking Up the Yoke

Edited by Mary Joanne Alorro

I am always thrilled watching kids and having fellowship with them. For me, they are empty vessels we can freely pour out love, joy, encouragement, and acceptance to strengthen and give them a cheerful perspective growing up. Becoming part of their growth is something I joyfully take part in. And seeing them grow and achieve their highest potentials, esp. realizing their calling is a full reward of the time and effort I spend for and with them. But to fully play the role of an influencer requires the willingness to objectively guide them in the right way; and courageously but gently correct any undesired behavior and attitude, instilling the sense of accountability and responsibility over their mistakes. I know it is challenging to own up our wrongdoings and that is why it is my prayer that you’d be encouraged of its great results as you read further.

Carrying the responsibility over the consequences of what we’ve done wrong in the past regardless of any reason we had at that time is a good exercise for our spiritual muscles thus beneficial for our spiritual growth. To take responsibility for our mistakes is not just a lesson for kids but for us all who need to be reminded from time to time that though we can never undo our mistakes, we can always come humbly to the Lord to repent and ask for forgiveness. Doing so doesn’t exempt us facing the negative results of those actions. But the good news is that when we are being accountable over what we do at work, at home or anywhere else even as we wait for the Lord is a good opportunity for letting God mold our characters as He deem necessary for us and those around us.

Tempted to count his achievements as king, David commanded to count his people in defiance of God’s will.

“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.'” – 1 Chronicles 21:1,2 (ESV)

The act displeased God so He commanded His prophet to tell David of His displeasure and the consequence of his doing.

“But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.’ And the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying. . .” – 1 Chronicles 21:7-9 (ESV)

David was offered three plagues from which he chose one to smite Israel for his sin. When God had held the plague, He commanded David to set up an altar at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Thus, David set up the altar at all its cost saying, “I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.” (v. 24)

There are times when hiding from our mistakes is easier than admitting them. However, to grow in our spiritual walk is our personal responsibility and it has a price. Our bad decisions and actions require our boldness to acknowledge them before the Lord and owning up the consequences. For God is just as it is said in the scripture:

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” – Colossians 3:5-6 (ESV)

But thankfully, God’s mercy is abundant as it is written in Psalm 145:8 (ESV):

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

The difficult task of taking up one’s yoke is a subject matter I have personally much to learn from. Perhaps, we can take it from those people who hid and denied their mistakes and see how that decision resulted to their own regrets. Or we can also take it from those people who took the nerve to take up their yokes responsibly and know how they were rewarded.

You can argue and say that other people seemed fine hiding their sinful acts as you can justify that we’re just merely humans committing sins—big or small—each and every single day. But if we’re honest enough, do you think they have peace doing so? Would you have peace knowing you’re not taking up your own yoke? Yes, we’re not perfect and we fall many times more than we can count but to come to the Lord in humility every time is one small step that will lead us to walking away farther from our sinful patterns and freeing us from our self-destructive lifestyle.

Shalom.

What is Sin?

Edited by Mary Joanne Alorro

Sin — many of us know what it is and how it affects us yet we seldomly take it seriously. Now, what is sin really? Sin literally means “to miss the mark.” So there is a mark to hit and for some reason, we miss it. We can easily relate this to archery, dart or shooting. God has set a mark. God called us to be holy as He is holy. Apparently, He is not saying, be holy like your pastor, small group leader, the friend you just met, and so on. God compares us to His holiness. Nobody meets that standard but Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus became the only worthy sacrifice to purge our guilt from our sins. He, a sinless person, paid the penalty of our sins by giving His life on the cross of calvary effectively pacifiying God’s wrath and the cry of justice our sins and transgressions deserve.

Going back, the Scripture says in Romans 3:23,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In the same chapter, it says:

9 “All. . . are under sin,

10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;

11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Without doubt, we have all sinned in the sight of God. We have fallen short of His glory. We have missed the mark He’d set for us. So it does not matter how well you support a charity institution or a family, help a commuity nor does it matter how well you perform in your job. It does not count at all how “better” you are compared to your neighbor. All sort of sin in the sight of God have the same result: DEATH. The scriptures put it this way:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

God sees the gravity of sin as serious as He sees it necessary to send His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to release us from its bondage. God has to do something to free us or we will be spending our eternity in the lake that is burning with fire and brimstone also known as Hell. If Hell is but a state of mind or a situation, why would God need to sacrifice His Only Son to suffer for sins He didn’t commit? For the Son, why would He, Jesus Christ, see it a necessity to come down from His glorious throne in Heaven, worshipped by His angels 24/7, just to live like us and eventually suffer His humiliating death on the cross prepared for sinners? Why would God see it necessary to lay down His life for us? Because as real as there is a sun tomorrow morning as we wake up, Hell is awaiting those sinners who continually turn their backs to God. Sin is turning our backs to God, to His law, His commandments, His will, His Lordship into our lives. Sin is our act of rebellion against God, keeping God out of our lives, our decisions, our relationships, our businesses, our careers, our families. Sin is disrespecting God’s sovereignty over us. We neglect His law to follow our own lusts and pleasures. That is sin; and sin with all certainty leads to death. Psalms 119:11 says,

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

To store or from an older version, “hide” the word of God in our heart means to keep it, apply it, and live it. It is not just a memory verse or a pile of knowledge but a set rules or personal devotion we ought to live by. Many want to live life on their own terms that’s why words such as rules, commandments, laws and anything similar are least favorited. But looking into these words, we should ask, “Why are they set that way?” The Scriptures answer, “That I (or we) might not sin against You (God).” To discuss this further, one Bible critic once asked a believer, “Why would we set a moral standard if it is relative? Like what is moral with you might not be so with me and vice versa.” The believer then answered, “Do you lock your door when you sleep?” He said, “Yes.” Then the believer continued saying that it’s the reason why we need a moral standard– Jesus, God, the Bible as our moral standards. Because we live in a fallen world.

You know, if you cannot believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, then try to see the lives of people who genuinely live by it. There are those who once lived in drug addiction, alcohol, pornography; or even those who were once depressed and without hope. See what progress they have in their lives now because they started to believe and live by the word of God. It is not to restrict your freedom, my friend. God’s words aim to protect you and lead you to a more meaningful life. Psalms 119:9 says,

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”

“Young man” can be literal or figurative. So we definitely have no alibi. Aha! Right. So we cannot say this does not apply to us. You see, “young” can be interpreted to be someone with less experience about the word of God or life itself. We can be experienced and/or knowledgeable over something but not everything. Thus, living by the Word of God should give a concrete protection from falling and failing. Why? Because God is the Only Author of the life we are living right now. Who knows an invention better than its inventor? 2 Timothy 3:16,17 put it this way,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Back to main topic, we all have sinned. At some point in our lives, we have missed to live by that Word of God. And as much as God’s Word can accomplish great things in our lives, so is the effect of sin cause great consequences. We need to understand that God takes this very seriously and He is looking forward to settle this with us. 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 says,

“… Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Scriptures enumarated a few:

1) Sexually immoral,

2) Idolaters,

3) Adulterers,

4) Men (and women) who practice homosexuality,

5) Thieves,

6) Greedy,

7) Drunkards,

8) Revilers, and

9) Swindlers.

We can discuss each one of these on a different forum. For now, perhaps we have a clear cut outlining on what is pleasing God and what is not. To reiterate, God does not intend to condemn us by laying these down before us. We condemn ourselves by our sins. He came to save. Not to condemn. By our decision to neglect His call, we condemn ourselves unworthy of Him and destined to eternal death (Hell). Pointing out which act is a sin or which person is sinning is not supposed to single us out to be humiliated in front of the so-called “saints” to judge us. Personally, the issue of sin does not concern us with our friend, pastor nor family. The issue of sin does concern us with God and with God alone! So let’s stop rationalizing and pointing our fingers to several folks whom we think we’re better than. God sees doing those unrigteous works a sin. And we need to personally settle it with Him. In Isaiah 1:18, God says,

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”

God wants a reconcilation with us. Yup! We do commit sin. This writing dude is not exempted. God wants us to sit together with Him and settle our cases before Him — We, individually, and God Himself. No other mediator but Jesus Christ. You read that right. No, not your pastor nor any saint you have in mind right now. So, when God says that drunkeness is unrighteousness, and whosoever lived in it will not inherit His eternal kingdom, do not harden your heart and say, “It doesn’t actually mean that way. The world has changed, so is the Word of God. It has to ‘adapt’ to the current ‘trends’ of the world.” Seriously? Tell that to the never-changing God who created all things for His pleasure. Not to me. Because, first, why would I restrict you from doing what you want in life? Second and last, what does it profit me? None at all. And besides, that is the Word of God speaking to you and me. Not somebody else’s philosophy. God stands true to Himself, unchanging ever before the world began. So what should change His mind about His law? If the heavenly beings, so majestic and wonderful did not change a bit of His mind, who or what are we, helpless beings who came from earth’s dust and ashes to even attempt to do so? And yet, as discussed earlier, this Great God reached out to us, helpless and undeserving beings.

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness.” (Hebrew 3:7,8)

To wrap up, God loves us. He did reach out for us no matter how undeserving we are. But it does not stop there. We have a responsibility to work out on our own — to humbly come unto His presence to settle our cases before Him. Acknowledge our sins before Him and ask for His forgiveness, then finally turn our backs to our sinful lifestyles. Sin no matter how small for us have the same result and gravity with gravest ones to God. If left unsettled, it will grow to overcome us and keep us from receiving God’s love and forgiveness. We need to settle it as soon as NOW! Yes. NOW. I will say it again, NOW! Can you feel it? It is that urgent. But it will always be your choice to respond to it. I hope and pray that by the time you decide to settle all your cases with God, it is not too late. When is too late? Who knows.

Accepted

We have heard stories about some men and women who went bitter about having relationships. Well, perhaps, their love and compassion were not reciprocated in a way they expect or deserve. They became that broken-hearted that they can’t take another risk of being rejected and abandoned. They have had enough.

In the world of people where each one seeks fulfillment and satisfaction, either from the things we do, or from people we share our lives with, truth is, we cannot always expect our efforts to be reciprocated. And that is the painful part of sacrificing. Sometimes, despite of how much we invest into our passions, we still appear to be lacking or unqualified. Hence, the attitude of independence, self-gratification, and selfishness. We are afraid to care anymore. We cannot take the risk of becoming attached to anyone, afraid of being rejected – sometime sooner or later. We cannot just blame people who seem to be heartless, incompassionate, and insensitive. They probably went through some tough experience from their family, former close friends, or even workplace. We became social beings, disconnected from each other.

Now that actually describes what really motivates us, what truly satisfies us, and what gives us real meaning and purpose. To be loved by the ones we love is natural. We do want to be loved, especially by those we hold dear. But, we must remember that in life, everything we see and touch do not last – no matter how we take care of it. Now, investing your life into these temporal things will, not for long, destroy you, devaste your outlook in life, and probably irreversibly damage your perspective to live up a meaningful life. You would then think of being left out, rejected, without purpose, unaccepted, unloved; and you think that Death is the only way out of this misery. It is called Depression.

“Do we have a remedy for all of these?” You might ask. Well, thankfully, YES! All our days, we are toiling for acceptance, belongingness and recognition. While we sacrifice too much to prove our worth and come up with the world’s standards, there is actually Someone who considers us more than enough to give up His best for. In fact, He actually laid down His life for us. And His name is Jesus. You don’t have to be a saint just to qualify for His love. (I am not saying that it is okay to remain on sinning and rebelling against God. That has to be a different issue to be dicussed on a separate article). Because long before you have heard of Him, He already have loved you, unconditionally. Yup! You read that right, my friend. That means, no matter how unworthy we think we are, so unclean that we even can’t forgive ourselves, Jesus Christ has died for us – you and me, simply because He has loved us, sinners who are worthy of death for all that we have done. (Now stop thinking you are better than your neighbor, ’cause, my friend, God does not compare you to that guy across the street. He compares you to His Son, Jesus Christ. You fall short of His glory, sinned in the sight of God; and the wages of sin is death. More of this on a separate article too. 😉) While you weep, feeling down on yourself, rejected and abandoned, God was there waiting for you to come unto Him. He wants to wipe those tears off, take all that burdens you are bearing, and fill you with His love. In Him you are secured, loved, accepted and cherished. He will be there when you need someone to talk to. He will be there to cheer you up when you are down. He will be there for you, simply because He loves you.

Now, how can we get access to this love? Forsake all your sinful lifestyle. Believe on Jesus Christ as you Savior and Lord, believing that His death on the cross is sufficient to forgive all of your sins. John 3:16 says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Where is forsaking a sinful lifestyle in there? On a separate passage, it says:

“Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)

It says Repent. Repentance means “change of mind.” The Scripture is saying to us, lost in sinful lifestyle, to turn our backs to our sins and choose to follow God; to stop rebelling against His will and obey His word. We must forsake our old life and embrace a new life in Him. And there faith on Jesus Christ sets in. Forsaking your old life, you are facing a new life made accessible for you through Jesus’ death on the cross. Believing that His death is sufficient to pay the penalty of your sin, makes Him your Savior. Obeying and following Him makes Him your Lord. And by Him you will experience the goodness and love of God. So, to recap, what do you need to do? Do you have to earn a Master’s or Doctor’s degree? Do you have to inflict yourself with pain or give up your decent job so He can accept you? No. He just wants you to decide. Decide to choose Him. Decide to forsake what offends Him and pursue Him. That way, you can build a personal relationship with Him.

God is concerned about us. And He wants to build a relationship with us. Perhaps, the only way to live a meaningful life is through Him. Jesus made access for us to that life. You cannot always expect the world to accept you. But not so with God. With arms wide open, He is willing to receive you. And He offers a relationship where you can expect security that He is not going to leave you nor forsake you. All these are because God loves you.

You can reach us out if you need help with this.

Shalom.

Resolute Obedience

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”

Proverbs 4:25-27

There is a captain of the syrian army named Naaman. The scriptures described him as

“. . . a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour. . .” (2 Kings 5:1)

He was a man of authority, of strength and, probably, of significant amount of wealth. In addition to that was his being an high ranking official, he must be favored of the king, but, as the verse continues, he was a leper. Think of all the good things he possessed, all except that he was plagued by an incurable disease in his time – leprosy.

Now this celebrated man had to do some “unthinkable” undertaking to be cleansed from his disease – washing in the Jordan River. The scripture note:

“Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.” 2 Kings 5:12

Walked away in rage, the disappointed captain didn’t really had much of a choice. He could choose several delightful rivers accessible for him given his power, but he was limited by the most explicit commandment of God. However, after careful consideration, we subjected and washed in the river, and walked home cleansed joyful. It was not the river that cleansed him, of course. God did. And God’s healing was accessed once Naaman obeyed the commandment of God.

You are not commanded to go to the dirtiest river known. You are not a leper, perhaps, who needs healing. But you are in search for something in your life. Success, wealth, power did not give Naaman healing. God did. And he received that healing from no one but God – through obedience. Say, success, wealth and power cannot give your life a meaningful direction. They do not guarantee lasting joy, peace and love. They do not give you security as to where will you spend your eternity. And in case you are still doubting, Hell is a real place.

In a way, we can reflect through the life of Naaman. While life gives us alot of choices, they do not always lead us to where we really wanted to go. They do not always give us what we really wanted to have. It is like finding a kind of medicine in a hardware instead in a pharmacy. But, regardless of how irrelevant these choices may seem in this picture, they somehow have their own way on us. Our flesh and passions lust over things that are not in harmony with the Spirit of God. Given the vastness of choices around us, compounded by our insatiable lusts, it would take some muscle to hurdle our sense into what pleases God.

Proverb 14:12 says,

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The deceitfulness of sin and death, lurking in the darkness waiting for its prey, are before us. Without Wisdom and discernment, we are doomed and without hope. Death awaits in us, trouble overtakes us. Now what does the Scriptures say for us in keeping our ways?

Psalms 119:9 put it this way:

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

On verse 11, it says, Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. It is true that we are not perfect. We got limitations. But God is overall all. Obedience should keep us from lies and deceptions. It should deliver us from death. By taking heed on our ways, closely considering each step we take, in accordance to the Word of God, we should be delivered from death to life eternal. Jesus Christ said, “The thief cometh not but for to steal, to kill, and to destroy: but I am come that they might have life, and might have it more abundantly.”

(John10:10) The purpose of God’s word is not to withhold from us enjoyment and freedom. It is there to protect and give us an abundant life – a life filled with His favour, true enjoyment and real freedom.

More than sacrifices, God requires our obedience – unconditional and unwavering. Disobedience results to His wrath and curse. Hard, but, truth be told, God means business when He says, OBEY. And for which cause does He need us to obey? Good question. He is God and does not need of anything, so why obey? For whose sake is it? YOURS. Because God loves you. And as His child, He wants to protect you, hence chastening to correct us.

But all the way, you have your own freewill.

It will be your choice, to go to Jordan River or remain unhealed.

Shalom.

Fighting the LORD’s Battle

Text: Joshua 10:12-14

“And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.”

-Joshua 10:14

Reviewing the text, we have some few facts to see in the life of Joshua:

*Joshua – Jehovah is Salvation

*Joshua started as a servant of Moses (Ex. 24:13).

*Joshua was resolved to serve the Lord with all of his household (Joshua 24:14)

*Joshua challenged and influenced God’s people to serve God (Joshua 24:23,31)

In the course of the battle, there are things that we do that cause us to lose:

3 LOSING THINGS WE DO

1. Unbelief We often scale God’s commission or promises based on our circumstances, what we have, what we can practically do.

2. Disobedience We pursue our own ways instead of God’s. We run away from Him and His ways, His commandments, His will for us, His Church, His work. We yield on things we think are better than God’s way.

3. Self-seeking We depend our responce to God’s call on “what’s in it for us?”. When we do not achieve what we expected from Him, we just easily quit, turn our backs on God and abandon Him and His work.

Amidst our expectations for God to do for us, there are things the Lord expects from us as our part:

3 THINGS GOD EXPECTS FROM US

1. Believe Him by His Word (Num. 14:6-9) When He calls or pronounces His promises to us, God does not send us alone on our own. God expects us to rely on Him, to believe on Him on our own.

2. Obey His Commandments (Due. 11:26-28) God does not asks us to obey Him. He commands. Our profession that we love Him should be seen on our obedience to Him.

3. Seek God in All that We Do (Ps. 27:8) We need to seek Him in our lives, in our family, in our work, in our relationships. Is this life I am living in right now pleases Him? Is this relationship I am involved according to His word? Is He lifted up in my work?

Reflection

We often weary thinking we fail God so many times. We are disheartened when we recall that we fall and are not strong enough. Everytime the devil whispers our failures, each time we fell into his traps, we lose our push to go on saying, “I am no good.”, “I’m gonna fail anyway”. You know what really the TRUTH is? It is that we do not need to fight alone this battle. We do not need to stand on our own strength. Yes, because in so doing, we, doubtless will fail. (2 Cor. 12:7-10) We need God’s grace to sustain us and help us stand back when we fall, we need His strength to overcome our weaknesses and pursue His will for us.

Shalom.

Word-Driven Life

“Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.

My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.

Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.

Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.

Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.”

Psalms 119:17-24

Interestingly, we can open alot of resources to define life and how to live it. Perhaps, people would go to some ‘experts’ to see their futures or purpose in life. But more people know it, but few live by it: the Scripture has all the answers to our existence. It is a Manual breathed by the Creator whereby His people should live. As practically as we understand, no one knows better than an inventor when it comes to his own inventions. And we are a masterpiece of an All-knowing God who cared so much to be part of our lives.

Here are some excerpts from the Book of Psalms that gives us some good look about living:

1. Live life to live in the Word of God. It is really amazing how man could lead a life just to live in the Word of God. We breathe, nurture ourselves, cleans, etc. to follow God’s Words. It should lead a completely different life from that led by personal endless desires and satisfactions.

2. Set the Word of God as a life map. In a world of strangers in a strange land, we need the Word of God to keep us from danger and being lost.

3. Seek refuge from the Word of God. Troubles may surround us and death may tease us. But no amount of worry can change a thing. Place your confidence in the Word of God. It provides a wholesome avenues for safety and provisions.

It is very important to see God’s Word as a tool for resolving life’s issues; addressing challenges; and handbook for every undertaking. It is not just a trophy for display and publicity. It is God-inspired writings in long ages, complied together to demonstrate God, His Will and His power at work. To learn from the Bible is to learn to character of God, His heart, His Being.

Shalom.

The Child Adult

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” -1 Corinthians 13:11, KJV

I think being a child can be relative. Of course that is, and most people would like to take that that way. And yes, that is and if, we would look at it in the perspective of spiritual growth (well that is the case if this piece is concerned). Spiritual growth is outlined with our spiritual walk with God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Walking with Him in time will help us know Him better, intimately, and He wants that for us. For the better we know Him, the more we can trust Him, His ways and His plans for our lives. This can always be a challenge because trials will try you on every side like fire refining gold and silver, all else will fade leaving the pure one.

I remember this everytime God sends these tests in my life. I see all those blocks of stone I piled in many times fall into piece leaving my true self before Him without ornaments of “goldliness” I sewn in years to wear. They don’t last. My self-righteousness cannot stand in the presence of God and I am left weak and broken inside, ashamed of what I have become. People can see alot of the bright side of me without the weakness amd hollowness inside. For a very long time I wonder how is it that I am not truly happy in my life when I am actually doing the things that pertain to God! Why cannot I feel it lasting and sustaining like fire that ignites the inside of me to push forward everyday and fulfill the greater heights for the glory of God? Why? I was fallen and broken into pieces and I do not know how to mend it up. They are all but rubble without any value anymore. No. Not to me nor with God. And God is not in need of any of them. For once, I was thinking why would God break me? All those times when I experienced Him, seen His great works before my eyes, received His favor and even revelations in the deepest seasons of my life, why would He break me? Shame has taken hold of me and I cannot stand up. I feel unworthy and undeserving of this Great God, I am calling mine. Who am I? I am beloved. It is not the things that we do that draw us near to God. God’s grace covers our sins and incompleteness. His strenght builds us to stand and conquer. He is our source and provider as against the devil who throws us lies of being unloved, unaccepted, abandoned, rejected and condemned.

There is no question that I am unworthy of all the gifts God has bestowed me, but He made me qualified. That is called grace. He showed me how broken really I am so I can be able to see how He can build me, realize the need of a Savior, Deliverer and Him in my life. You are loved. And less you know of it unless you realize how unworthy you are. You can never appreaciate His grace until you learn how unqualified you are. God longs for a true, genuine relationship with you founded in truth and His righteousness, yet until you wear off your own self-righteousness, start acknowledging how He had saved you, that you are nothing without Him, that not with everything you have done you gain His favor, YOU and this relationship will NEVER be established.

It is ripe time for us to look into ourselves and ask, “God, I am ready to work with you in my life.”

Offering on the Lord’s Altar

On Genesis 22:15-19, we read: “And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.”

Many were told of Abraham’s testimony, story of faith where he was dared to offer his son as a burnt offering on the altar of God at the mount of Moriah. It depicts God’s willingness, as Father, to offer His only Son, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of all men. Christ came to Earth two thousand years ago to fulfill God’s promise of salvation. He died on the cross to overcome death, and give new life for all people who would believe on Him. God gave up His best to reconcile men unto Himself through faith on Jesus Christ. Going back to story of Abraham, we learned of his uncompromising dedication to God’s commands. At least, we can look into his life and imagine the misery his heart must had been burdened while seeing his son all the way to the mount of Moriah.

Think of what he might had been thinking. His plans for his son then faces a great challenge of coming to pass. The years of waiting he suffered for God to answer both his and his wife’s desire of having a son, seemed to have a short-lived fruit. But despite of all these thoughts, he obeyed anyway.