Nice

Exodus 23:4-5  (KJV)   If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.

God’s instruction has to do with dealing with enemies; it wasn’t a command not to have enemies. It didn’t explain about the existence or non-existence of enemies; enemies were a given. They will have enemies. But they didn’t have to act the usual way enemies act toward each other. For the enemies to experience something bad would have naturally been a joyous occasion for the opponent. But they were not to bask in their enemies’ tragedy. Enemy or not, they were to help them alleviate their misadventure. 

This is a call to be different; this is a call to fight our instinctive fleshly responses. Naturally, generally, commonly, we desire our enemies to suffer – as much as they can, as long as they can. Some of us would prefer them to “cease to exist” in any way, form, or fashion. The sadder they are, the happier we are; the worse life deals them, the better we feel. As God’s people, we are called to love our enemies. That calls for a totally different set of thoughts, emotions, and actions; a totally counter-natural way of responding to situations. No, we ought to not laugh at our enemies’ tears. Simply, no matter what, no matter who, we ought to always be sincerely nice. And for us to be nice to our enemies, either we experience total inner transformation that we would no longer have any kind of ill-feelings toward those who do us terrible wrongs, or resolve and commit to always act in love no matter how contrary we feel.  

Our loving God, please strengthen us to be more like You Who loved us even when we were still sinners, when we were still Your enemies, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Triumph of Good

Psalm 12:5  (KJV)   For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.

The context of chapter 12 seems to be the diminishing number and influence of the godly as well as the widespread influence and louder voice of the ungodly. The poor and the needy in this verse may refer to the godly who are now in poor standing and in a needy state because they’ve become the target of oppression, persecution and attacks. Evildoers now have the power – accepted, praised and are having their heyday, marching proudly with their vileness. They are punishing those who will oppose and stand in their way. They have forgotten that all the powers they’ve accumulated and achieved still stand matchless against the God they so arrogantly fight. God, in His perfect timing will arise and will defend, vindicate, and lift up those who remained faithfully His.

We see it everywhere; there’s no longer any regard for God in many sectors of our society. Believers who speak about God and their faith are quickly ridiculed, labelled as bigots, haters, and intolerant, and they are quickly silenced. Any attempt to share their faith is quickly described as “shoving in the throat,” – no matter how gently and lovingly it’s done, and any expressed disagreement to a popular public opinion is considered hate speech, discrimination or dangerous phobia. But hope for believers is never lost. An expansive and overpowering popularity of ungodliness never meant defeat for the cause of our Christ. God is in control and has never in any moment in time lost grip of that. He will arise, and we will see the day when everyone who has foolishly rose in battle against Him and His people will be quickly brought down.

Our sovereign, holy, and victorious God, we put our hope in You. May we not dread the millions of marching minions of Your already defeated enemy. Help us to remember that all the seeming triumphs of evildoers and its advocates are actually Your administration of judgment to them. Thank You Lord for the victories You’ve invited us to enjoy with You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Surviving Leadership Threats

Exodus 17:4  (KJV)    And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

Moses was a clear-cut God-picked leader. God backed him up with super-sized miracles – a lot of them. He received a divine leadership validation extraordinaire. Despite all that, because of a new problem, the Israelites wanted to kill Him. I mean, forget all the nation-liberating, empire-humbling miracles; forget about the Nile turning to blood, hails, death of the firstborn of the “enemies,” parting of the Sea of Reeds and the complete annihilation of the charging Egyptian armies – all through the power of God. They didn’t have water to drink. Understandable. Without it, they’ll all eventually die. It was a real problem. But the greater real problem was that they forgot that God had been solving their way bigger than “we don’t have water to drink” problems. But that comes within the territory of God-called leaders or ministers. Moses had forgetful, ungrateful, hateful EGR (extra-grace required) few or many in the flock. The God-called, God-backed, God-empowered, God-validated leader had many of them – approximately 2 million men, plus women and children.

We need to accept it; we have to expect it; we will have people the Lord has placed under our care who will be pains in the neck, and head, and stomach – thorns in our flesh – if you may. The presence of complains, and criticisms, and even death-threats neither nullifies nor disproves God’s call in our lives as His laborers or leaders. We ought to be prepared for them. If there’s none like them, praise God; if there are, praise God. Instead of acting like them – forgetting God and all His wonderful works in and through our journey with Him, instead of retaliating to them – criticizing them and threatening to kill them as well, we ought to keep our eyes on God. He has always came through for us before; He will always come through for us.

Our Miracle-Working, Problem-Solving God, may we always find it a joy to serve you, never wavering that no matter what challenges we face – from situations and from people, You will enable us; You will equip us, because You have called us, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

“Either – or” or Both

Luke 24:25-26  (KJV)   25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

Even those closest to the Lord Jesus missed out on the facts of His death and resurrection. They saw overwhelming evidences that Jesus is indeed Who He claimed to be: the Christ, Son of the living God, Lord and Savior. But when He died; their faith “died.” Their minds were set on the glorious aspects of the Messiah. They saw the wonderful demonstrations of power; great! They expected an ever expanding trip from glory to greater glory. After all, the Scripture repeatedly and emphatically speaks of a Messiah Who will reign forever. Their expectations wouldn’t be amiss; He will indeed reign forever;  but it was lacking. There was another side they failed to see: the Messiah had to suffer first. His suffering didn’t disprove His “Messiahship;” it confirmed it. They saw an incomplete picture; that’s why even in the triumphs of the resurrection, they couldn’t rejoice – they had a hard time understanding. They missed the suffering part, now they were missing the glory part; they couldn’t rejoice when Jesus gloriously defeated death and victoriously rose from the grave.

To choose “either – or” when the Scripture speaks of “both” is to end up with many possible wrong and even dangerous interpretations, doctrines and expectations. Same is true when we choose “both” when the Scripture teaches “either – or.”  The Scripture teaches the Messiah – the Prince of Peace Who alone would bring ultimate peace to all of creation, but would also be a reason for divisions. The Scripture teaches of God’s sovereignty, but also teaches on the free will of man. The Scripture teaches that we can’t be saved by good works, but we ought to strive to do good works as saved people. The Scripture teaches a God of grace, but also a God of justice, a God of love, but also a God of holiness, a God to love and a God to fear, a God Who’s our Father, but also our Master. It teaches of woman not allowed to teach in the congregation but are allowed to prophesy. Whenever we pull towards one teaching and discard the other equally true teaching, we run into a very dangerous proposition. We don’t want to miss out on the truth. We therefore ought to open our hearts, be unbiased, and be humbly and totally submitted to it. This means all truths – whether it runs contrary to our preferences or not.

Our God of Truth, may we genuinely have a heart for You. You are the Truth. Please help us to be humble that we may wave a white flag of absolute surrender to Your teachings – no matter how different they may be from what we may formerly know. Thank you for all the beliefs we have that are faithfully aligned to Your Word. Please show us where we’re amiss, and may we do what’s right. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Death of the Innocent

Luke 23:41  (KJV)   41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

Unlike the traditional religious beliefs, there was really no bad thief and good thief; both of them were thieves and they both started off insulting Jesus. Unlike many who are caught in a crime, they didn’t claim innocence. One of the two thieves crucified with Jesus eventually humbly admitted that they were guilty and thus justly deserving of the crucifixion they were suffering. He also pointed out that unlike them, Jesus was completely innocent. Jesus died for no crime He personally committed. But die for crime, He did. His condemnation, suffering, and death were substitutionary. He died for the sins of the world. 

Thief or not, we’re all guilty of sin. And if we will be humble enough, we ought to admit our guilt and how deserving we are of our sins’ consequences or punishment. Obviously, there is a natural desire to get away with our wrongdoings. There are many of us who would desire to, plan to, and commit sin and not think about the consequences. Worse still, when dealt with the natural result of our foolishness, we ask, “Why me?” But there are those of us who awake to this humbling reality. Thank God because we’re not left without an answer to the dilemma. There is Jesus. He didn’t deserve to die but He willingly did for the very help we need. We need forgiveness from sin. We need salvation. That’s why He came; that’s why He died. He is the Savior.

Dear God our Savior, thank You for Your loving Provision and sacrifice. May we all be honest about our true condition and need. May we all find the wisdom of fully depending on the only One Who gave His perfect life for our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Jesus – Son of God

Luke 22:70  (KJV)   70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

The ruling council interrogating Jesus had already made up their minds. It didn’t matter what Jesus could have said and done; they were determined to put Him down – to kill Him. They were just waiting for a viable excuse to justify their intentions and actions. Of all their efforts, nothing has worked so far – until this question. Should Jesus stay silent knowing that the truth will lead to unimaginable pain?Jesus didn’t cower; He gave His unwavering answer: He is the Son of God.

To proclaim the truth that Jesus is the Son of God is to mean hatred and rejection from the world. The world doesn’t like Him; it doesn’t like His teachings; His teachings show so much of righteousness, sin, and judgment. No, the world wants to do whatever it wants to do – good or evil without being seen as bad and without regard for possible consequences. It wants to dictate and define what’s good and what’s bad – in ways that will cater to its wild and wicked lifestyle. The world is a majority. To stand for Jesus is sure rejection, shame, embarrassment, and even pain. But this is a  no-brainer; it isn’t a matter of struggle or negotiation for true followers. Our Master declared the truth, He suffered much; we as followers ought to declare Him as He is, and suffer much if need be. Just remember: His interrogation, suffering and death wasn’t the end of His story; He rose again and now reigns. After our steadfast stand for the truth that He is the Son of God, after all the sufferings we will experience, we too will reign with Him.

Dear God, thank You for this glorious experience of knowing You – the only true God, and Jesus – the only begotten Son of God. Please give us the boldness and the courage to proclaim Him without compromise or fear of the possible painful consequences. After all, what awaits us is in exchange is worth gloriously and immeasurably more.

False Christs

Luke 21:8  (KJV)   And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

One of the undesirable signs of the end of the age that Jesus pointed out is the rise of false Christs. It’s something that needs to be vigilantly watched because of its awful potential results – the deception of many. This will not be an isolated sign from a single impostor; many will try. The implication is that there will be credibility factor, perhaps presenting itself in many different angles. That’s why there will be a significant pull to follow them. But Jesus’ command is forthcoming: don’t follow them.

False Christs are already here. As the end of the age approaches, we can expect many more. It’s appalling to see how alarming numbers of people are blindly following. The present day false Christs don’t have marvelous miracles to show; they just have few remarkable achievements. Some don’t even have any achievements to show; all they have are their claims. As the end draws near, the enemy will empower his tools. They will be believable. They may even perform astounding feats – perhaps even miraculous. Sadly, if thousands are deceived now, we can only expect the numbers of the deceived to grow exponentially. Here’s where we have to be steadfast. Our Lord Jesus showed us how He will come back: we will see Him descend from heaven. It doesn’t matter how charismatic the personalities are and how wondrous and even seemingly helpful the works are, if they claim to be the Christ, that’s a non-negotiable indicator and a huge banner waved in front of our faces: “false.”

Our one true God, please grow our wisdom and discernment, and strengthen our resolve that we won’t ever be swayed by things we hear and see. May we be  guided by Your Word that we may know which ones are genuine and which ones are false, And may we be your voices to guide others as well.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.