Victories and Conquests

Psalm 44:3  (KJV)   For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.

The conquests enjoyed by the Israelites were courtesy of God’s power, favor and love. It’s not that they didn’t raise their swords and fight; it wasn’t that they were not skilled and strong, they probably were. But they most probably fought armies that were much stronger, more trained, more equipped, and more numerous than they were. How did they manage? They didn’t. Someone way stronger and bigger than all the armies in the world took control.

We will face challenges and oppositions that we may feel are beyond us. It may not even be just a feeling; they may really be beyond our abilities to conquer, solve, or beat. But we as believers operate beyond our own natural limitations. We live in the realm of the supernatural. This is made possible through our amazingly gracious Benefactor.  God is our Father and King. He is in control of our lives. He is also supremely powerful; nothing is impossible with Him. There is no enemy too great and there is no challenge to huge for Him. In fact, it will be interesting to know how God reacts to those things we deem as monstrous and colossal. I can almost imagine Him with a very endearing smile.

Dear God – our victorious God, we place our total dependence and utmost confidence in You for our victory. Challenges, enemies, distractions – small or great, from within or from without – we know that we can live in complete victory over any of them. Please help us never to cower and never to accept living in defeat. May we never buy into the lie that there are enemies within us and enemies outside of us that we can’t conquer. You can, and we believe You will. We may have been trying for so long; we may even feel like we want to give up and stop trying, and to just live as one of the conquered – slaves to our flesh, slaves to Satan, and slaves to our other enemies. But please help us to not stop swinging until we receive our victory, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Discipline: Of Saints and Sinners

1 Corinthians 5:12  (KJV)   12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Should we judge non-Christians? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s a given: we’re not tasked or entitled to judge unbelievers. But we are definitely responsible for rebuking and correcting believers. This has to do with judgment and not about sharing the Gospel. That one calls for a totally opposite response. We share the Gospel to unbelievers, not necessarily to believers.

If we’re among those who have not surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus, we won’t subscribe to the same commands, precepts, statutes, teachings, and principles that the Lord holds His people accountable to. We will live according to what we see as right in our eyes. We will make our own rules and laws; define what’s right and wrong based on our personal opinions and/or feelings, governmental mandates and/or positions. Each one will have different standards because every person is different. We will do ungodly things and will not see anything wrong with them. In fact, we may promote our ungodliness with the most intense activism because we believe we’re right.

On the other hand, if we’re believers, we ought to expect to live under a totally different set of standards. We have the Scriptures as our authoritative source for belief and life. We willingly submitted ourselves to the Lordship of our dear Savior Jesus and to His Words – His commands. We can and ought to definitely call each other to it if we ever sway from them, either in our doctrine or in our ways. Why? Because we have a standard we expect each other to abide by. This is something we can’t expect from those who don’t subscribe to the same faith as we do. If I am a sinner, I will sin. That’s my nature. If I’m an unbeliever, I won’t believe Jesus or His Word. I won’t live according to it. That’s expected. But if I say I’m a follower of the Lord Jesus, I ought to follow Him. That’s expected of me and all His followers. And if we don’t follow, we really ought to have the courage to confront and rebuke each other. And if necessary, even to lovingly discipline those under our authority.

Dear God, our great and righteous Judge, You have given us Your Words that we may know what to believe and how to live. Your Words and ways are perfect; they’re wise; they’re the Truth. Please help us to live according to Your precepts, to be willing to be corrected when we’re wrong, and to be bold in lovingly correcting those who err, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Clear Conscience?

1 Corinthians 4:4  (KJV)   For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord

Ignorance doesn’t mean innocence. Absence of knowledge doesn’t mean absence of guilt. Conscience is a good judge, but it isn’t the ultimate judge. People aren’t always aware of everything they do right or everything they do wrong. God is still the One Who knows everything; He is the ultimate Judge.

We can be wrong – even in judging ourselves. Naturally, we want to perceive ourselves almost always in a better light. The more so in the way we want to portray ourselves to others. We always want to display the best picture of ourselves. That’s perfectly understandable. Even many of those who make faces – I mean ugly faces on their photos often do it to cover up what they perceive as unattractive about themselves. So when it comes to self-evaluation or self assessment, we really ought to not have any room for pride. I’m not being cruel or self-esteem suicidal here; I’m just being realistic. Yes, we ought to always try our best to make the most truthful assessment of who we are. But after all that, we still fall short. We don’t really know ourselves as much as we ought to. Given, if we’re honest enough, we know ourselves more than any other human being. But God will always know us better. What He sees is definitely different and more detailed than what we see. Remember: He knows the very numbers of our hairs. Let’s not even try start counting. Let’s just humbly admit: He knows best; He alone can judge totally fairly.

Our dear God – the only true just and faithful Judge, we humbly submit ourselves to You. Please help us to get rid of our pride, to learn humility and to always live it. Help us to accept the truth that we don’t really know ourselves as much as You do, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Path to Promotion

Deuteronomy 28:13  (KJV)   13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:

Promotion and demotion comes from the Lord. He can lift one up to the highest and He can put one down to the basest. Who the Lord promotes or demotes is neither based on favoritism nor thoughtlessness. Who gets promoted? Not everyone. But the key is out in the open. Promotion or demotion is based upon a condition. Those who hear and follow Him will be lifted high; those who do not will be brought low.

How many of us struggle so hard to get ahead or to get on top? Honestly, after spending much of our lives trying, many of us still find ourselves still so far from our goal. We can’t even see a glimpse of the top from where we are standing. Ouch. Yes, that can really be disappointing.  But the Lord doesn’t want us living in disappointment. That’s the reason why He never gave us the burden and responsibility of making it to the top.

Let me be very clear on this. He doesn’t want us to be irresponsible. And yes, He does want us to be the head and not the tail. But He wants us to know that He’s the One Who has the power to get us there. And the path to the top He’s given us is the best: to simply follow His loving and wise commands. There definitely is a conscientious and serious effort involved in that as well, but it’s way easier and lighter than striving with our own strength and doing it our own way. Let our goal be on following Him faithfully instead of slugging it out with the rest for the prize of reaching our utmost potential.

We ought to not be a part of the “dog-eat-dog” world; the very tiring “survival of the fittest.” There are people a lot stronger, a lot better looking, a lot faster, a lot more talented than us. Let’s be happy the road to the top is not by competing with them and beating them. Or else, many of us won’t stand a chance. But we can definitely succeed in walking according to the ways of our LORD. We just don’t have a “fighting” chance; we don’t even have to fight against others, and instead of chance, being on top is a reality.

Our Most High God and Father, please guide our steps that they may go to the direction You’re leading us to. We understand: promotion doesn’t come from our bosses, although You may work through them; it doesn’t come from our connections, although You may work through them as well, our promotion comes from You. Thank You for revealing to us how much easier and rewarding it is to get there, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

God to Obey

Deuteronomy 26:17  (KJV)   17 Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:

People can choose who they will worship as God. Their choice will determine how they relate to their God/god. If they chose the LORD God, it follows that they need to submit to Him, listen to Him and obey Him. One of the natures of the LORD God is sovereignty. He rules supreme. We don’t command Him; He commands us. He’s not the One to obey His people; His people obey Him.

A god we can control proves he’s no god at all. God by essence is the greatest, most powerful, most exalted Being. He’s neither our servant nor our slave. He tells us what to do; we follow. That’s just a sensible arrangement. He sees the end from the beginning; isn’t He the most qualified to give us direction? He sees and knows all things; wouldn’t He know the best for us? He knows everything in and about us, what we’re able and unable to do, our joys and our sorrows, our triumphs and our trials, our struggles and our successes, our needs and our treasures. He knows how to deal with us perfectly. And knowing that He loves us so greatly, that’s a huge plus; we can trust that all His commands for us are for our greatest welfare.

Our perfect God, thank You for showing us the way to You – that we may meet You and know You and believe in You – the one true God. It would have been a disaster had we missed out on You. Ahhh, I can’t imagine the emptiness and horrors of finding ourselves worshiping a wrong entity. You are God – the only true God. Being God, you ought to be obeyed. Knowing that You’re God omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable, holy, just and loving, that definitely and infinitely multiplies the reasons for us to heed Your Word and live in them, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Of Truth and Enemies

Galatians 4:16  (KJV)   16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

Truth can create enemies. People can be so innocently deceived and be so convinced that they’re right. Others are deliberate deceivers.  They know they’re wrong but they continue to deceive because of personal benefits. The more important the truth, the more passionate people can become with it. Bearers of the truth stand in the way of the deceived and the deceiver; no; they crash against each other.

Truth-bearers, truth-sharers will make enemies – not by choice, but as a consequence. With that in mind, will we stand back? Having enemies isn’t ungodly; this is unavoidable. We ought to love them of course. Not that easy but it ought to be done. In fact, if it’s at all possible, we ought to pursue peace. But if peace means muzzling and sacrificing of truth, let’s then prepare to live with the presence of enemies. There are truths that are pleasant and truths that are ugly. Truth will hurt, especially ugly truths about ourselves.

Some have become very comfortable with hidden ugly truths. They want to live in them instead of being free from them. They’ve chosen and mastered the path of covering the inner monsters instead of getting rid of them. They know how to act on the outside differently from what they feel inside; they act differently in front of people and they act differently alone. They don’t want to be found out. Truth also liberates those who genuinely seek it. Some will welcome it, some will abhor it. If truth be told: truth ought to be told – especially the truth that makes a difference in our eternal destination or existence.

Dear God, You are Truth. You are so good, so great. Men and women from all corners of the earth ought to know You; You’re really good news. In fact, there’s no better news than You, what You’ve done for us, and what You have in store for us. Please help us to always remember the value of what You’ve deposited in us, that we may see the value of sharing them – at all godly cost.

Power and Miracles – by Faith

Galatians 3:5   (KJV)   He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Believers experience the power of the Holy Spirit because of faith. The miraculous works that God does among them and through them happen because of the same – faith. It is not dependent upon their obedience to the Old Testament Jewish laws.

If we will base our effectiveness in the ministry on how well we score in our obedience to God’s commands, we will always find ourselves ineffective. Sadly, we will most probably find ourselves blaming ourselves a lot. There will be a lot of times when we may not see or sense the Holy Spirit working powerfully in our ministries. There will be a lot of times when we won’t see fireworks of God’s miraculous works filling the darkness of our seemingly futile attempts to make a difference. There will be a lot of times when our endeavors would yield very little “success” or even none. We may have a lot of prayers that won’t be granted. Please understand this well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s because we’re disobedient or less faithful than those with “bigger” and “richer” lives and ministries. Let’s listen to what the Word says. Let’s look at Who God is and base our reasons, trust, and expectations on them.

Our dear holy, faithful, powerful, immutable, and miracle-working God, may we lock in on You as the focus of our dependence. We are unworthy; we will always be unworthy, but You will always be worthy. We know that You won’t ever change. Whether we fail or not, Your Spirit will always be powerful, You will always be involved in our lives, and if needed, You will always be willing to perform miracles. Thank You, in Jesus’ Name, amen.