Step Forward; Speak Up

Genesis 44:18   (NLT)   Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my Lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.

At times the difference between good or bad, success and failure, life and death depends on whether we step forward or not, whether we speak up or not. Judah was about to lose another brother; as a result, he may have also lost his father. He wasn’t going to let that Genesis 44.18 - Step Forward, Speak Uphappen without trying to do something. He risked incurring the anger of the 2nd most powerful man on earth that time; he did it anyway. He stepped forward; he spoke up; he explained; he pleaded, and it dramatically changed what could have been a devastating continuation or conclusion of their story. His effort benefited him, and a lot more people—perhaps, an entire race of people.

There are so many great opportunities people allow to slip right through their fingers just because of not taking the step of faith, not opening their mouths. There’s a lot of wisdom in constraint; there’s wisdom in silence; it’s not necessary to always step forward and talk. There are dead heroes who could have been living heroes had they taken more precaution. But there is time and place for doing something.

There are worthy causes and reasons risking our lives for. It will take people of courage and conviction—people who recognize the value of what they are fighting for. It will take people of discernment, wisdom, and humility; they know who to approach; they know the people to talk to; they know the people who can help, and they know the people who can make a difference in their situation. These are people who act in faith—they believe that they need to do something, that they can do something, and that something can happen.

God knows how to bestow favor upon them. His Word clearly declares: He is pleased with faith and those who act on their faith.

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Uniquely Blessed

Matthew 13:16   (KJV)   16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

There is blessedness in perception: for eyes able to see and ears able to hear, minds able to understand, hearts able to feel, and spirits able to sense. God has given us, His people in the New Covenant, a unique and special privilege of receiving revelation of the truths Matthew 13.16 - Uniquely Blessedhidden from unbelievers, and truths hidden even from the Old Covenant prophets and believers who longed for what we now enjoy.

Praise God for favoring us with understanding not enjoyed by everyone. He graciously grants and blesses us with unique abilities to comprehend spiritual and eternal truths—Kingdom truths. The more we seek, the more we see; the more we see, the more we seek. We just keep increasing in Kingdom knowledge and understanding. Whether it’s from the Word, a direct revelation from God, or a preaching, whether it’s old or new gems He wants us to learn, we grasp them clearly.

Others don’t listen. They close their hearts. It’s not that they’re not presented with the same “sights and sounds”—spiritually. It’s their reception that’s blocked. They close their eyes and ears. God doesn’t force them. But they miss out on much of the blessedness of genuine seekers. The less they listen, their understanding is lessened. We need to keep praying for them. Some will turn to God; others won’t. Whatever the result of our prayers and other attempts to bring them to understanding, we’re appreciatively diligent with the favor we receive. We don’t stagnate; we keep growing. We don’t treat our blessedness lightly; we value them. We don’t waste them; we use them—serving the Blesser, and serving others.

God Delights in Us

Psalm 149:4   (KJV)   4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.

Two of the most assuring truths we enjoy as believers are that our heavenly Father takes pleasure in us, and that He beautifies us with salvation. Just imagine: the One great in Psalm 149.4 - God Delights in Uspower and glory, the One Who created this universe, the One Who’s in control of everything is happy with you and me. He’s not angry with us; He’s not our enemy; He’s not trying to do us harm; He’s not trying to destroy us or mess us up. In fact, He desires that our lives be beautiful.

We don’t needlessly struggle for people’s approval. It isn’t wrong to please others as well. We love them; we want them to be happy, but there are those who don’t respond positively whatever we do. There’s something they don’t like about us. Often, the very truth that we are believers is enough to disappoint them and make them treat us as enemies. Even those who like us now may not like us later. So we rest not in man’s favor but in God’s.

Dear God, thank You for taking pleasure in us and working out all things for our best. Because of You, life is really beautiful. And this isn’t just a movie title for us; it isn’t fiction; it’s reality. Only You can make that happen. May we never unrealistically expect that everyone will always like us. That would be setting ourselves up for huge disappointment and deep hurt. With people, we can never be sure of their reaction. With You, You never change. You love us—always. Thank You Father—in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Free Gift, Painful Price

Mark 10:27   (KJV)   And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Mark 10.27 - Free Gift, Painful PriceSalvation is absolutely impossible for humans to achieve. It was impossible for the rich young ruler; it was also impossible for the apostles; it is impossible for any other human being. But we don’t despair; we’re not left without hope; it is possible with God.

We’re humbled by the truth that left to ourselves without any divine aid, we’re hopeless. We’re humbled because He Who can save us saved us. It’s not as if all God had to do was snap His finger or utter a command. No, it took Jesus lovingly and willingly leaving His glorious state of existence, coming to where we are, taking on the form of a servant in our likeness, humbling Himself further and subjecting Himself to heartless mockery, cruel torture, and excruciating death.

Heavenly Father, by Your power, salvation is possible for us to receive and enjoy. We pray that we won’t ever forget the loving yet extremely painful process our Lord Jesus went through, that we may never undermine it nor treat it lightly or contemptuously. We appreciate You Lord, and we thank you greatly for this wonderful, priceless gift of salvation we’ve freely received–in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Favor in All

Nehemiah 2:5   (KJV)   5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

For Nehemiah, the king’s pleasure mattered; him being pleasing to the king mattered; and the city of his fathers mattered.

8x10 LandscapeGod is concerned most about our eternal destiny, investments, and existence. And that’s absolutely appropriate because heavenly things are incalculably more valuable than any temporal matter. But the wonderful thing about our Lord is that His love and concern for us covers every area of our lives. He’s concerned about our attitudes not just toward Him but toward other people. He’s concerned about our relationship with others. He’s concerned about our heart of worship, our way of worship, and also our places of worship—including the bricks and concrete parts of it.

Our loving God and Father, you’ve created us; You have given us everything for life and godliness; You’ve given us everything for our enjoyment. We appreciate all of them. Help us Lord not to get our priorities wrongly. We set You far and high apart from everything else as our Lord and King Who sits on the throne of our hearts. We pray that we won’t be lured into having anything else ever coming close to occupying that position.

We also pray that we will appreciate and enjoy all your other blessings although they’re not as important as the Blesser and eternal things. You’ve given us loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, our church family, our church building, our houses, cars, clothes, food and drink. Thank You for all of them. To us, they are expressions of who You are—your generosity, and Your love.

Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

Gifted for Service

1 Corinthians 12:7    (KJV)   But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Every person is a recipient of many gifts from God. No person can live without them. God is the Source of every good and perfect gift. He immensely enjoys blessing us. He’s a very generous God. Believers and unbelievers alike enjoy the graciousness of our God. All of us 1 Corinthians 12.7 - Gifted to Serveenjoy air, sunshine, and rain just the same. Of course, there are special callings, giftings, and endowments that are for believers only. We are definitely and humbly grateful to Him.

God’s spiritual gifts are priceless. They’re gifts; we don’t work for them. He chooses which gifts to give to whom. They are very helpful for our personal growth and ministry. But more than that, we help, encourage, and strengthen each other. Why is it important to be reminded of this? It’s because others easily get carried away and lured by personal interests. This is true even with believers.

We delight in serving the Lord and serving our brothers and sisters. His gifts allow us to go beyond the limitations of the natural. This is so good because there are many problem situations that natural resources can’t solve. We continue to look to our Father; always worshiping Him and giving Him the glory because without Him, we’re nothing. And one expression of our gratefulness is treasuring His gifts and using them, especially in serving His children with all He’s blessed us with.