Helping God? No Way.

Mark 6:41   (NLT)   Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share.

Miracles invite our involvement. God created everything out of nothing, but He still used and accepted the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish He used to provide more than enough food for 5K men + women and children. Jesus could have made bread and fish to appear in Mark 6.41 - God Needs Our Help--No Wayfront of each person, but He still asked his disciples to help distribute them.  Sovereignty does not promote passivity inactivity, or laziness. Obviously, God can do anything by Himself. So, His invitation for us to join Him in a miracle is not because He’s lacking. Whatever our participation is, no matter how small, brings us opportunity of experiencing the joy of miracle. Sure, for every small part we contribute, God has incalculably multiplied times more, but there’s still satisfaction and joy in knowing that we take part.

God is a good Father. He does not want to spoil us. Even in forgiveness, although He forgives us absolutely, He still disciplines us. He doesn’t allow us to get off, scot-free without experiencing disciplinary consequence. Discipline may not even sound palatable in the age of grace, but discipline and grace aren’t contradictory. In fact, discipline is a proof of us being a part of the family of God. Like in the case of the people who complained against God about their food. They were bitten by snakes and many of them died because of that. When they realized they did something wrong and repented, they asked God to forgive them and to stop the judgment. God was willing, but it was not an immediate termination of judgment; Moses still had to construct a brazen serpent on a pole, and people still had to look at it for them not to die.

God honors us. Praise God, He does not clip our wings but allows us to live to our maximum potential. Why did Jesus intend to just pass the disciples who He saw were in serious trouble rowing hard against the waves? My guess is, He knew they would have made it. As dangerous as their situation may have been, they would still have succeeded and reached the shore safely. He wanted to give them the joy of achievement.

God helps us. Even if it would require a miracle to do it; He does. But He also stretches us. It is often through that when we realize there’s more in us and to us than we know. So, we gladly and gratefully welcome the invitation to join Him in His work and share the joys of His victories and miracles.

Unfathomable Creation

Job 38:33   (KJV)   33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

Not even the most intellectual individual or group can fully know the governing ordinances or laws of the universe. How much more when it comes to understanding Job 38.33 - Unfathomable Creationhow this unfathomable universe can somehow affect the earth in such an effective and beautiful way.

We humbly recognize and accept our limitations and we gratefully acknowledge the greatness of our God. We may not fully understand His ways, but creation alone—especially the incomprehensible vastness of the universe convinces us of the majesty of our creator. We have questions. The answers are always available. We won’t grasp all of them. The volume of truth available is way more than our ability to contain it.

Dear God, there are things in life we won’t completely understand. Help us Lord to come to grips with this reality in faith-filled abandonment. We won’t completely grasp the ins and outs of every situation, but we can completely trust You. You’re definitely way much bigger than any situation, problem, question, or need we have or will encounter. You’re our God Who’s more than enough. Because of the limitations of our comprehension, we may not have all the answers, but at least we understand why we can honestly declare with David: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” With the little we know about You and Your creation, we see the wisdom of surrendering ourselves to You, and also the reason why we Your people can honestly, humbly, and gratefully declare: “Not to us, oh Lord, but to Your Name be glory.”

Healing – The Jesus Way

Mark 5:23   (KJV)   “And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”

Jairus, whose daughter was extremely sick—to the point of death, had faith in Jesus. Interestingly, somehow he found it necessary for our Lord Jesus to lay hands on his Mark 5.23 - Healing - the Jesus Waydaughter. It was through such gesture of our Lord that he believed his daughter will be healed.

I don’t ever want to criticize anyone who does things differently in relation to their ways with the Lord. As long as the bottom-line, necessary, non-negotiable doctrine is on target, we celebrate the differences in the body of Christ. To be clear, I had spiritual traditional beliefs and practices I eventually found out were abominable to God. When I thought I was pleasing God and was getting closer to Him, I was incurring curses upon myself. But among true believers, we believe the same essential doctrines. Often, it’s only the expressions of our beliefs that vary.

The woman with an issue of blood for twelve years believed that if she could only touch the hem of Jesus’ garments, she would be healed, and she got healed after she did it. It differed from Jairus’ perceived effective method. Both of them though anchored their faith on the Person of Jesus. And none of their preferred process was anti-God or anti-Scripture.

Laying on of hands for healing–whew. We feel like if we do, we identify with a denominational persuasion where this practice is common. But why hold back? Let’s celebrate those denominations for getting there ahead of us; they’re not our competition, although, sad to say, others treat them even as enemies. Jesus spoke to sickness; He laid hands on the sick. If He did, I guess there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, many of us have done it, and we’ve witnessed people getting healed. Our faith is in our Great Physician; and we just employed the simple WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) principle in the right context.

Yield

Acts 11:17   (KJV)   17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

God in one of His unpredictable ways did something Peter and the Jewish believers did not expect, i.e., He also graciously poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentile Acts 11.17 - Yieldbelievers. When that happened, Peter did the right thing: He got out of the way and yielded Himself to the Sovereign move of God.

Life of a believer is full of adventure. We live with humble confidence because the God we worship, trust, and serve is absolutely dependable. He does exactly as He promises. At the same token, He does new creative “out-of-the-box” things. This is true even in spiritual matters. We don’t self-righteously and thoughtlessly condemn some things just because they’re new or we’re not used to them. We understand that God can do anything as long as they’re not contrary to His nature or His revealed Word—they’re not anti-God and anti-Scripture.

Dear God, thank you for new and beautiful blessings You bestow on us. Thank You for adding new experiences in our journey. Thank You for revealing new facets of Your being and Your ways–expanding our knowledge of You. We praise You for Your inexhaustible and amazing creativity.

Shaken

Esther 2:8   (KJV)   So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.

Beyond her control, Esther’s life was drastically and dramatically changed. Before this, there was nothing spectacular about her life prior to what we know now. But her life was Esther 2.8 - Shakenchanged suddenly because of a king’s edict—an imperial king who would eventually become her husband.

Our lives get shaken once and a while—like everyone else’s. When that happens, others get extremely troubled. There’s confusion, there’s doubt, there’s denial, and even loss of faith. But contingencies are real. They’re inevitable, no matter how well laid out our plans and preparations are. But when unexpected things happen that shake us, even at times to the very core of our being, as unpleasant as they may seem; as out of control as they may be, we don’t lose our peace; we don’t lose sleep over them. Instead, we flow with what God allows—restfully, knowing that He will work out everything for our best.

Our most trustworthy God, You’re in control of everything; this is very reassuring to us. No matter what happens, we know there’s not a time and there will never be a time when things are not working out for our best. You are able to—in your incomprehensible wisdom—accomplish that. Help us to see how You’re not just allowing and tolerating situations as You carry us and protect us through them, but You utilize those seemingly unpleasant surprises to direct us, and even catapult us to our destiny. Who can equal to such wisdom? Thank You Dad, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

God’s Reach; God’s Touch

Zechariah 12:1   (KJV)   12 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

Our Lord’s reach touches the farthest and the closest of His creation.

Zechariah 12.1 - God's Reach, God's TouchWhen He tells us not to worry, it’s because there’s really no reason to. God is the Sovereign ruler of everything and everyone. Even when things and people are spinning out of control, He’s still in total control.

We have free will. We may not completely understand His ways. We may not comprehend how He works all things for the good of those who love Him and those who are the called according to His purpose—both our good times and bad times. We may not understand how the devil is allowed to roam around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, how the devil seems to be influencing the vast majority of people, and yet at all times, God is victoriously utilizing all of the devil’s schemes and works to end up serving His purposes. When people saw defeat on the cross, He was triumphantly parading His vanquished enemies in the open.

We still don’t know the ultimate limits of our universe. We still don’t fully know the most detailed outworking of our body parts. We still don’t accurately and consistently predict weather and earthquakes, but we know our God—little but enough knowledge to be sure that in all of them, we can rest confidently in Him—His awesome power, and His unending love. The universe is incalculably huge. It takes a lot of work to keep them in order and working well. But it’s nothing that He can’t handle. Amidst all of that macrocosmic management, we’re still in the very center of His heart and sight.

God’s Surprising Ways

Habakkuk 1:5   (KJV)   5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

Our God is a sovereign God. He is a creative God. He’s not bound to anything or anyone, not even to the ways He’s done things in the past. In fact, the Lord will do something new Habakkuk 1.5 - God's Surprising Waysin our nations, something wonderful and marvelous. It will be so amazing that it will be so hard to believe if we are told about it now.

Godlessness pervades our nations. We find it in every corner and facet of society. Lies, deception, and fake news are everywhere. But our just and loving God don’t just sit idly by. He won’t allow the righteous to be caught in insidious plots and deadly traps of the enemy.

The wicked trusts in their own devices; they glory in their ability to deceive; they don’t realize that God watches over His people. They march boldy brandishing their banner of evil while gleefully setting up the righteous for a fall, not realizing that they’ll be caught in their own snares. The harm they plan for God’s people will boomerang to them.

God, our heavenly Father Who created this big, vast, inscrutable universe surprises His enemies. They can’t predict how He does things. We as His people, though surrounded by evil, live in peace. Our confidence is in the LORD. We’ve tasted and seen that the LORD is good. He never leaves us defenseless. We may not be sure as to the ways He delivers us, but we’re sure He always delivers us.

Even though lawlessness may exponentially increase, even though our economy may suddenly collapse, even though our freedom may be greatly threatened, even though God’s people are constantly harassed, we will neither fear nor be dismayed. We will find our joy and our peace in the God of our provision and protection. He is our strength; He establishes our steps. After all is said and done, everyone will recognize: God is God. He continually governs in the affairs of man. He rules over all nations. The lives of kings and queens, presidents and rulers are in His hands. Every knee will bow, and every eye will see: He is Lord. So yes; we’re at peace—always ready to be amazed by our Father’s new yet always astonishing interventions.

God’s Love and God’s Leaders

2 Chronicles 2:11   (KJV)   11 Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them.

God raising a good leader demonstrates His love for His people.  The question arises: “If God ordains who rules, why then aren’t all leaders godly?  In fact, it seems like God’s own Old Covenant people had more evil rulers than godly ones.”  That’s absolutely true.  Dream SpeechThere is no question about God’s love for everyone—good and bad alike.  In fact, that’s how He so beautifully demonstrated His love for us: when we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.

God loves everyone; sad to say, not everyone loves God.  God desires that all men be saved; not all will be saved.  His grace is available to all; not everyone avails of His grace.  Those truths don’t mean His character changes; He never does; His love is constant.  He always desires the best for His people.  That’s why through His Holy Spirit, He continues to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  He wants everyone to turn to Him and experience life that’s full and super abundant.

Through history, we’ve seen how God raised up good leaders among rebellious people.  Those leaders become God’s catalysts for revival.  God can do that. Why, it’s because He’s ultimately in control. He loves even the worst of us and wants us to repent and return to Him.  If He chooses a leader as the influence to turn the tide towards godliness, so be it.  We rejoice when the righteous leads, or at least, the more righteous of the choices.  Our perception about our leaders are governed by our precious Lord and His values.  Our devotion is to Him.  We choose what’s good, what’s right, and what’s godly, and we don’t have to guess as to our basis for them; we have God’s Word.  Praise God for His direction, for His truth, and for allowing us to see clearly.

Free and Obedient Hearts

1 Chronicles 29:18   (KJV)   18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:

Can our sovereign and loving God work in our hearts—people’s hearts—without violating our free will?  I guess He can.  We may not fully understand how He does it, but He can.  Otherwise, there’s no point praying for Him to make His people want to obey 1 Chronicles 29.18 - Free and Obedient HeartsHim.  We’ve seen clear examples and explicit passages in the Scriptures showing this.  God changed the heart of Saul (1 Sam. 10:9); He prophesied about giving His people a new heart (Jer. 24:7); He directs the king’s heart like rivers of water (Prov. 21:1); David prayed for God to give him a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).

Yes He can, and Yes He does work in people’s hearts.  This is not however a removal of free will, or cancelling of our responsibility.  In fact, we see clearly in the Scriptures how Saul turned away from God, how Solomon turned his heart towards the gods of his wives, how one king after another chose to rebel against God, and how His Old Covenant people repeatedly disobeyed God.  We as His people weren’t made robots when we placed our full dependence on Him to save us and surrendered our lives to Him.

We were made new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we still obviously have a choice whether we obey or disobey Him, whether we abide in Him or not, whether we live faithfully or not, whether we deny Him or not.  God won’t fail; if He says He’ll give us new hearts, He will. In fact, for believers, He already has.  What we do with our God-given new hearts is up to us.  As for me, and I pray my entire household, we will worship and serve Him faithfully—wholeheartedly.

Spoiling the Enemies’ Counsel

2 Samuel 17:14   (KJV)   14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom.

The Lord can easily and literally spoil the wisdom and the plans of the enemy.  If He has to do that in protecting us, He will.  If only our enemies realize how powerful our God is and how much our heavenly Father loves us and cares for us, they will not dare 2 Samuel 17.14 - Spoiling the Enemy's Counselattacking us at all.  It’s their disbelief and/or misunderstanding of our God and us—His people—that makes them continue in a futile exercise of going against us.

We pray for them; we don’t wish them harm.  But they end up hurting themselves when they try to harm us.  They fall on their own trap.  Our God is our strong tower, our mighty fortress; no one and nothing can penetrate His defenses; no weapon formed against Him and against us will prosper. We stand secure under His protective arms.  I humbly admit, I don’t understand how God does everything.  But He can orchestrate everything to His expected end without violating anyone’s free will.  That’s why we fear God (yes, it’s not wrong to fear God; it’s in fact, very biblical.  And yes, we don’t need to always qualify it every time we state that truth), and we don’t fear people.

Simply, we rest in Him and the truth that through the complexities of all situations, all people, all opinions, all His Words, all His ways—we may not understand everything, but through it all, we are well taken care of.  And that’s enough for us.