Archive for March 2013

Whom shall I send?   1 comment

Send me

Send me

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

These were the words of Isaiah when he had a vision of God and felt down to his knees. He was a man like us who sinned by his words and thoughts. He said “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips.”

God has always been choosing ordinary people who demonstrated interest for his kingdom to do mighty things.

When God called Hosea to talk to Israel, He said : “When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute,so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” Hosea 1:2

It’s quite astonishing what God asked Hosea to do. God loved Israel and but Israel was worshiping idols. This broke God’s heart. To illustrate how He felt by what Israel was doing, God asked Hosea to take Gomer. Gomer was an unfaithful woman and even when Hosea married her she continued to run after other men. But Hosea demonstrated amazing love by not rejecting her even if she persisted in her unfaithfulness.

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” Hosea 3:1

Israel was nothing, God made Israel a great nation and now Israel rejected Him. But God did not reject Israel.

Yes sometimes God used some prophets to share the burden He had in His heart.

God heard the cries of Israel in Egypt so He sent Moses to deliver them from the oppression of Pharaoh.

I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land…Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:7

God’s heart was aching when He saw His people oppressed and the time came for Him to act. Once again God asked a man to do something amazing. He called Moses to lead these people out of Egypt.

Of course Moses protested for a while and said : “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?

When Israel rejected theocracy and wanted a king to rule on them, Samuel said: “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

When Ezra saw the spiritual state of Israel, he wept and called people to repentance.

While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and lying face down on the ground in front of the Temple of God, a very large crowd of people from Israel—men, women, and children—gathered and wept bitterly with him.”

We see something similar with Nehemiah. He identified himself with the people and asked for forgiveness. He pleaded for Israel like Ezra and Moses did. The walls of Jerusalem were in ruined and this really troubled him.

Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

Will you be that person with whom God will share His burden? Will you be that person who will be rejected because you’re calling people to repentance? Will you be that voice in the desert? Will you be that person who mourns because of sins in the church, because the lost are not being reached and Christian organizations are ruined? Will you stand as Hosea and still love an unfaithful wife like Christ still loves an unfaithful church? Will you have such stubborn love for wandering Christians? God is still calling out “Whom shall I send?”.  “Who will speak for me to this unfaithful nation?”. Hosea did speak for years but Israel refused to listen. Will you give up because hearts are hardened?

We read in Hebrews 10:  “That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin.Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God-as is written about me in the Scriptures.’” Hebrews 10:5-7

The Father’s heart was broken with all the wandering people. They were like sheep without a shepherd.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Mat 9:36

Jesus came to deliver the world from the bondage of sins. He looked at the Father and said He would do what was required to justify man. This cost Him His life to redeem us. He did God’s will because He felt exactly what there was in the Father’s heart.

In Mark 9:7 we read : “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”

If there was a man who really understood what the Father felt in His heart, it was the Son. He came because He knew the Father’s love for humanity(John 3:16). So our Lord Jesus presented Himself before God’s throne saying ” Look, I have come to do your will“.

Paul’s heart was heavy because the Jews rejected the Messiah. Jeremiah was lamenting because of Israel’s sin but how about you?

Will you share in the Lord’s yoke? Will you work for the kingdom of God?

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Mat 11:29

I don’t know about you but my heart aches with the lack of knowledge amongst God’s people. Christians are going astray and they know not their Christ. It is a tragedy. They still need to be reminded the basic teachings of Christianity and feed up with milk. Christians are lukewarm and are not engaged.

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” Hebrews 5:11

It is not because God is weak that He is calling out for people. It is because He has friends. When our Lord was in agony in Gethsemane, He had no one to support Him. The disciples were tired and were not there for their friend. They did not have to go to the cross, they only had to watch out a single hour with Him. Jesus said:

Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?” Mat 26:40

In the parable of the feast, many gave excuses for their absence (Luke 14:19).

“I just married, I can’t now. I have a new business and I need to look at my future.”

Everyone needs to take care of his family. It is a legitimate need but unfortunately the Kingdom of our Lord is often not on the top of our plans. We have other priorities. It is a burden on our Lord’s heart to spread the Good News to the whole world and make disciples (Mat 28). God wants all men to be saved. The harvest is great, but the workers are few. God could have delivered Israel without Moses or bring the people in Canaan without Joshua but still He wanted to do it through His faithful servants.

We are often not available for service and this is why our Lord cries out  “Whom shall I send?”.

Will you respond to His call and say “Here I am send me?”.

Advertisements

Posted March 31, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

Tagged with , , ,

Epistle to the Hebrews (10:4-10)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsFor it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings.But you have given me a body to offer.You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin.Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures.’”First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.” Hebrews 10:4-10

Our author demonstrates once again his mastership on the subject at hand. He quotes from Psalm 40 and he does again well in putting his arguments on the table.

The Son and the Father both knew there was only one way to bring justice. By judgement, we mean that the culprit will have to pay a penalty for his wrong doings. A judge who does not exercise justice is a corrupted judge. Sin has to be judged and there is no appeal to it.

Let’s imagine this scene: The sentence of guilty has rightfully been pronounced on a poor criminal – $25000. This criminal does not have even a single coin, everyone knows it and no one can help. No one can help because it happens that all in the same situation.  This thief should perpetually be sent to jail for he cannot pay.

Heaven, earth and the culprit all agree that this was a righteous judgement to send to hell.

As David said in Psalm 51: “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; have done what is evil in your sight.You will be proved right in what you say,and your judgment against me is just.For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.”

“But you have given me a body to offer”

It is no longer an animal who will have to be sacrificed for what people did wrong. Sacrifices could never removed sins anyway. 2000 years ago, God Himself came, He  took a body and paid what was required.

The righteous Judge knew that men would not be able to pay for their gross sins so the Son looks at the Judge and says  ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God‘.

The Judge has been impartial, He applied justice but also demonstrated grace by paying Himself the debt in full.  This is why we also call Him the Redeemer. As per Oxford dictionary, the redeemer is someone who buys the freedom of someone else. He regains possession in exchange of payment.

This is exactly what Jesus did. No one could meet the requirements of God’s justice in heaven and earth, except God Himself. So God Himself in the person of Jesus paid for it. This is why we call it amazing grace. No one forced Jesus to do that for He said: “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” John 10:17,18

We have seen earlier that blood of animals could not remove sins. To redeem man, God became man to demonstrate the gravity of our sins and the depth of His love. In the book of Malachi, we see the reproach made by God to the priests who were offering defiled sacrifices on the altar. The priests did not offer the best because they failed to understand the gravity of sins. They mechanically did their duties and did not do it with all their hearts. They offered crippled, stolen and diseased animals because it cost them nothing and this reflected the state of their hearts.

You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies…Cursed is the cheat who promises to give a fine ram from his flock but then sacrifices a defective one to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “and my name is feared among the nations!” Malachi 1

God was exasperated with these defiled sacrifices brought to Him. These sacrifices dishonored God but Jesus’ sacrifice gave glory to the Lord of Heaven. In essence, it was Jesus’ obedience which was the sacrifice. His sufferings are results of His obedience. Many times ministers stress upon Jesus’ sufferings as demonstration of His love.It is rather the obedience of Jesus which we should contemplate. It is obedience which led Jesus to the Cross.The cross is the visible proof of His obedience.  As we read in 1 Samuel 15:22 “To obey is better than sacrifice“. The priest in Malachi did not obey the law when they offered defiled sacrifice. Jesus surrendered His will to the Father while on earth and it was what made His sacrifice holy and perfect. If Jesus did not obey throughout His life, His offering on the cross would not have had its value. So let us again look at these beautiful words “Look, I have come to do your will, O God“. To do God’s will – to obey was the reason Jesus came. He presented Himself before the Lord God Almighty and said He will do what was required to satisfy God’s wrath and justice. To obey God was His food. He said: ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34

He obeyed till death and cried out “It is finished”.

“He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.”

The first covenant proved that man could not do anything to become righteous and the second covenant basically proved that only God could make us right with Him.

The new covenant far supersedes the old one.  As Spurgeon puts it, “Candles are of no estimation when the sun has arisen”. Why did Jesus have to come to earth and die like a criminal on a cross? Was not there another way to be reconciled? No, because “God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

A criminal is not the one who decides what kind of penalty he wants to pay, this is the sole decision of the judge. The penalty of our sins was as such serious that it required God Almighty Himself to intervene and die on a cross like a criminal. This sounds absurd to many but to others it gives a clear proof of the gravity of sins.

Posted March 30, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , ,

Epistle to the Hebrews (10:1-3)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsThe old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year.” Hebrews 10:1-3

The author of our epistle portrayed in chapter 9 how Jesus’ sacrifice was far better than animal’s sacrifice. We have seen that the old covenant was just a preview of what God intended to do. Now he continues his arguments by extrapolating the reasons. The fact that Jesus’ sacrifice is able to remove sins once for all and requires no further sacrifice are central themes in our epistle. The author wants to make it clear to the Jews that the old covenant is obsolete, that sacrifices and rituals are no longer needed. This implied a major change in a Jewish-Christian daily life. For example, when this Christian saw his neighbors, elders and relatives mobilised for the day of atonement, Yom Kippur, this Jewish Christian logically had nothing to offer as sacrifice and did not see the need to fast for one whole day. Yom Kippur was the holiest day of the year for the Jews because once a year the high priest entered the most holy place.

At the end of Yom Kippur, a Jew hoped that he was forgiven by God after he consecrated himself, confessed his sins and did good to others. Fasting was also a strict requirement and if someone failed to abide to, he was cut off from the community (Leviticus 23:29). Was not a Jewish Christian looked down because he refused to go penitent on this day like everyone did? Was not he considered a betrayer, a non-conformer, an enemy and sinful just because he no longer followed the long established traditions of his forefathers?

We need to understand well what that meant for a Jew at this time to actually stop following the requirements of the old covenant. The author wanted to show to the Hebrews that Jesus’ sacrifice removed their sins so there was no longer the need to go penitent and follow what used to be done on the day of atonement. This shift from the tradition implied persecution from fellow non-christian Hebrews and some of them were returning to their previous traditions. The Hebrew Christians were tempted to compromise with their faith and it is one of the reasons why the author wrote this epistle.  Through this epistle, the author clearly extolled Jesus to the highest leaving no doubt that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and God Himself. Jesus came to fulfilled the law.

As the author puts it: “they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.

So why following an imperfect system of purification of sins when you’re aware that you’re already forgiven through what Jesus did? If these long established system could actually forgive sins then why was it necessary to repent again for what was forgiven in the past? Either it was forgiven or it was not. The Jews hoped they were forgiven because they tried their best to denied themselves and went through penitence. But who could say that he has denied himself enough, confessed all his sins, did enough good and deserved to be forgiven? This is the reason why the Jews were still feeling guilty in their conscience.  In their conscience, they knew that the degree of their righteousness depended on their performance to convince God. No one can bargain with God for sin’s forgiveness anyway.  Animal sacrifice could only cover sins and not remove them, so that’s another reason why the Jew’s conscience was still guilty. Even today people offer fruits to their gods, go through penitence, walk long distances, do good works, deprive themselves of pleasures and food to try to obtain God’s favor. But deep down their soul and conscience they know that they are not forgiven by  whatever they did. They still have this burden of guilt haunting them.

This is why the author said:

“If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year.”

Our epistle and the new covenant tell us that we are forgiven if we trust in Jesus. It no longer depends on what we do but on what Jesus did. We trust and believe that Jesus dealt with our sins. This is not to say that we no longer have to acknowledge and confess our sins. On the contrary, we’ll boldly go to our High Priest telling Him everything we did because we are convinced that He is faithful and just to forgive us.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” 1 John 1:9

The Jews did not have the certitude that they were entirely forgiven because their forgiveness depended on their performance. So who could say boldly he was forgiven? But the Christian knows with certitude he is forgiven because this burden to perform is removed. It does not depend on what he does but on what Jesus did. Christians do not claim they have no sins. They do not wait for a special religious day to ask for forgiveness. Though not proud of their sins, gladly and boldly they go to God’s throne by acknowledging their wrong doings. Without a shadow of doubt they know they are forgiven because they know who Jesus is.

Posted March 23, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , , , , , ,

Epistle to the Hebrews (9:23-28)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the HebrewsThat is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal.If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the ageto remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:23-28

The contrast is being made there between the earthly and heavenly tabernacle. Jesus ministers in the heavenly tabernacle whereas all the high priests which preceded Him ministered in the earthly tabernacle. The very moment Jesus took the office of High Priest i.e. as mediator between man and God, all the laws regarding sacrifices and purifications became obsolete. Why? Simply because it was superseded by a better covenant. Would not that be ridiculous to slaughter an animal to cover sins when these sins have been removed by Jesus’ blood? Would not that be rebellious to continue to have high priests to plead for man’s sin? Is not it an offense towards the Lamb of God to even think to slaughter a goat for sin’s forgiveness?

For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven.

Do you prefer admiring a picture of your spouse or have himself/herself by your side?

Jesus went to deal with sin at its root. He went straight in heaven’s tabernacle and removed our sins. To enter this holy place and purify the sins of the whole world, you can’t be an angel or just a mere human. You can’t even dare to take blood of mere animals! That would be a sacrilege! There’s no creature who could go there and remove these sins vehemently condemning us before God’s throne. This is why the author said:

“But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.”

The word “far better” used in this verse fails to amplify it’s superiority. There was not and there could not be other way to purify the things in heaven.

Let me give you an image in the book of Revelation:

Then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: “Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and open it?”But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.” Revelation 5:1-2

If no one was worthy to even open the scroll, may I ask who could go boldly before God’s throne and say that he has forgiven the sins of the whole world?

John in his vision says:

Then I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll and read it. But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders.” Revelation 5:4-6

Who is worthy? It’s unquestionable in heaven that Jesus is the One but on earth they considered Jesus demon possessed. On earth they insulted Him and continue today to refuse to believe that He deserves worship. All creatures in heaven bow down before Him and worship Him but on earth they made a statue of Him, consider Him just a prophet and say He was an impostor.

But in Matthew 6:10 He said “May your will be done on earth,as it is in heaven.” It will soon be made clear who is Lord when His Kingdom will be established on earth.

“And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal.He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.

As John describes it, it’s as if the Lamb was [just?] slained. Like portraying that this purification is still alive and will not cease. It will not be replaced for it is and will continue to be a living sacrifice.  Our High Priest presently stands as advocate and pleads for us. The Lamb which has been slained is not dead.

The priests needed other sacrifices because the sacrifices were burnt and eventually had to be replaced. The sacrifices also needed to be replaced because man continued to sin and these sins were not removed but just covered. The high priest himself needed to be replaced for he was a mortal being like anyone.

And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal

When we say that something is perfect it implies that there’s no need for replacement for it is the ultimate thing. It is complete in itself and will never require improvements. Jesus will not shed his blood again, He did it once for all and it will never again repeat itself. It is the ultimate and perfect sacrifice and will never need improvements.

“But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.”

He cried out on the cross “It is done”. Sin has been removed.

Our sins have been removed and we’ll never require to look for a new way to be justified. He alone holds this office to make us right. Jesus died for all in order to give everyone the chance to repent but tragically not everyone wants to be saved. Not everyone wants to trust in Him.

When Jesus will return, He’ll not come again to offer the world a chance to repent but to judge. To those who trusted in Him for their salvation, heaven will be theirs, but for those who rejected His free gift, God’s wrath will be poured out on them.

He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11

Posted March 16, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , ,

Be still, and know that I am God!   2 comments

Be still my soul!

Be still my soul!

Be still, and know that I am God!I will be honored by every nation.I will be honored throughout the world.” Ps. 46:10

The word “Be still” used literally means to cease, to abate yourself and be idle in Hebrew translation. I recently shared about being still with some youths. Many voices are persistently calling out for our attention in this world whether it be work, friends, family and church. We are being pulled here and there and we are exhausted, we no longer know how to divide our energy and time.  We find out that we cannot please everyone. I’m in my mid twenties and as many young people around me, it’s during this time that we lay our base for our future. Should I take on new academic courses? Where should I work? Whom should I marry? Am I taking the right decision? How will I be able to serve God more? A wrong decision we take now will have repercussion in our future and we young people need to be careful about our plans. Throughout our lives, we’ll have successions of decisions to take. Family will tell you to do this and acquaintance will suggest you something else. In all this you are the one being perplexed and perhaps stressed.  When we push God away from our life, we will most likely get depressive and have a face like the picture above! Your life is like pieces of scattered puzzles and you have to fix each of them one at a time. Usually on puzzle boxes, we have the image which gives us hints but it’s different with life for we do not know the big picture and we eventually end up messing up. How to get rid of all this pain? Should we take weeks of vacations to stop bothering? You cannot stop the wind to blow nor can you get rid of all these voices. You have to deal with them.

I found out peace in Ps. 46:10. I said to my soul “Be still” for Jesus whispered “Do not worry”.

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Mat 6:31

Jesus knows that the human heart worries and He gave us rest by saying that our Father knows all our needs. God is in control. Where is God when it hurts? He is reigning on the throne my friend.

Let us not allow anything dominate our thoughts. Worrying is a sin because we refuse to have faith. We refuse to have faith because we want to fix it all by ourselves and push God away. If you can really fix it all, why did you fail in some areas of your life then?

The solution to all this is simple, listen only to one voice and let that voice be God’s voice. Let God have His say in your family, work, church and relationships. Let Him have the final say and prioritise all these things you know not how to deal with. Will you give your attention to God right now? Yield to God. This yielding action, even if it sounds contradictory from what we think is logical to do, is a freeing process. You’re yielding to become free.

Put a halt now, calm down. Cease all your activities and rest. Stop worrying and fix your eyes on the Son of God, the perfector of your faith (Hebrews 12:2).  Think about Jesus alone and worship Him. Have only one captain on your ship to avoid shipwreck in your life. God alone has the big picture of this complex puzzle called life. Only one thing Jesus wants you to know, “Be still and know that I am God”. Be still and know who He is and what He can do. Why are you weary my soul? Trust in God and praise Him.

Let the mountains tremble, let there be earthquakes, let the oceans aggressively roar and foam as you decide to listen to only God’s voice. You shall not fear for the Lord your God is with you. He will be your refuge and strength in times of trouble.

God is our refuge and strength,always ready to help in times of trouble.So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

We read in Hebrews 13:5,6

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,“I will never fail you.I will never abandon you.”So we can say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper,so I will have no fear.What can mere people do to me?

What can people do to you? At the extreme case, they might kill you but does it really matter if your treasure is in heaven? What will you lose anyway?

God has been with David in 1 Chronicles 28:20 : ““Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.”

God has been with Joshua in the conquest of Canaan: ““Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

May I end with this beautiful gift verse my Good Lord said: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus’ peace in you is soothing, for it brings hope, love and joy.

Posted March 12, 2013 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Epistle to the Hebrews (9:16-22)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead.The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal.For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats,along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:16-22

The point of these verses is to prove that without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The author uses the old testament to show that it was how the old covenant was inaugurated. Blood also shows the gravity of sin because lives of animals had to be sacrificed. Blood was used to purify and was sprinkled on the book of God’s law and on people. It was not because God’s law was unholy that it had to be purified by blood.  But if God’s law was to be applied, man’s blood would have to be shed. I guess it was symbolical because the law which intended to protect God’s people from God’s wrath was now standing as witness against them. The law which tried to make man live right before God was now accusing man. No man could ever do everything the law required. The Jewish/Mosaic law was not bad or evil, it just revealed how sinful and incapable we were to meet God’s standards.

As Paul puts it:

Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.” Rom. 7:7

Man has this inner desire to taste what is defended. Let’s get back to Eden. If God had not said to Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, the tree would have probably gone unnoticed  for a while by Eve in this big garden. But curiosity to taste what is defended is innate in man. When the law tried to say adultery and stealing are wrong in God’s eyes, man will naturally be willing to rebel against God’s orders. If not, man will play on the very border of the sin.

For example, if the country’s law says that the speed limit is 110km/hr, man will try to drive at 105 or even rebel by driving at 120 because no one is seeing.  I bet if there were no indications, the driver would have comfortably drove at 80 or 90 without having this thought that he is perhaps late.

The intention of God’s law was to put it clearly what was right and wrong. But by doing so, it aroused all kind of covetous desires as Paul described. You want to rebel against God because you think He is silent and does not say anything. You think that Big brother is not watching you. Paul perfectly describes this point in Romans 7. I will just quote some self-explanatory verses:

“…So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill meBut still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.  But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes. So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it... I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another powerwithin me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. 7:11-25

After describing how sin took advantage of God’s commands to make him more sinful, Paul found himself damned. He now knows what is right and wants to do what is right. But because he also knows the opposite side i.e. what is wrong, he struggles because his flesh is naturally inclined to sin. It’s a hard for man to fight between his conscience and his sinful desires. Without Jesus, no man would have been able to resist his sinful desires for long. Jesus did not bring a temporary solution to deliver man from sin, He buried the old man.

Those who want to escape sin  fall in asceticism and isolate themselves like hermits to reduce the risk of their exposure to sin. But you cannot escape sin for you’re sinful by nature. Even if you go to Mars alone, you’ll still sin in your thoughts.

So we have seen that the Mosaic law could not free men from sin but only showed them what was right and wrong. The policeman will not reward you if you do what the law requires but will send you to jail if you disobey it no matter how many good works you have been doing in the past. The policeman just applies the law and his role is not to help you fight your evil desires. This is how the law works. As long as you obey it, you never hear about it. But when you disobey it, you’re in trouble.  Your obedience to the law cannot counterbalance your disobedience to it. So the same law who taught us the right way to take will stand as judgement against us when we take the wrong way. There is no one righteous and all deserve to be annihilated.

But as Paul asked: “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord

We will see some more details about the answer Paul is talking about in the coming verses.

Posted March 10, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , ,

Whom have I in heaven but you?   Leave a comment

Whom have I in heaven but you?

Whom have I in heaven but you?

Then I realized that my heart was bitter,and I was all torn up inside.I was so foolish and ignorant I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.Yet I still belong to you;you hold my right hand.You guide me with your counsel,leading me to a glorious destiny.Whom have I in heaven but you?I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,but God remains the strength of my heart;he is mine forever.” Ps 73:21-26

The psalmist mentions that his heart was bitter and torn up inside, he was foolish, ignorant and like a beast. This is perhaps your story. I was foolish and ignorant about Christ. I questioned Him and what He said. I did not believe He was God and my whole existence did not have stability until I came to know Him. You’ve perhaps messed up in your past or people grieved you so much that you became bitter and like a beast. You’ve perhaps tried to dissolve your past through drugs/alcohol but it still haunts you. Or you’re perhaps this person who refuses love and reject people because you fear of being rejected. You’re ready to do all kind of stupid things to try to prove that you’ve some worth. You don’t have to do this.

Life has not been kind to you and your broken heart has been bruised over and over.  You fear to trust because so many people abused and deceived you. Life circumstances made you bitter, torn you inside and made you like an untamed wild beast. Even your friends, if you have some, find it difficult to control you. You have asked yourself : “Is this really how I should live?”

Could there be a beautiful ending to your story?

On my quest for the truth I met with this Jesus I have been belittling. Like Paul, scales fell down from my eyes and I bowed down to my knees and acknowledged His sovereignty. God allowed me to take this road where I was questioning Jesus’ ministry. It is indescribable how little by little the Holy Spirit came to teach me about the Son of God whom I was rejecting. God has been very patient with my ignorance. I do not deserve that God took so much time to reveal the Son to me. I’m overwhelmed by God’s patience.

If you’ll grant me some few minutes, I would like to say that I have found it. I have found this crazy missing part. Jesus is the One who satisfies my heart and my whole existence. Eureka!

You’ve perhaps not been a criminal or a “great sinner” but you’ll probably agree with me that you’re not entirely satisfied in your heart. Your job, daily, wealth and hobbies are not enough to satisfy you. What my job, family and friends could not give me I found it in Jesus. My job tried to give me security but I still feared. Jesus is my security.

My family tried to bestow love on me but they could not meet all my needs. Jesus knows even the needs I’m not aware of.

Friends failed to give me wise counsels for they were as foolish as me. Jesus’ teachings had the exact answers to my questions.

I now have real love, joy, peace, security and granted divine wisdom. What can a human being ask more? My intellect is at peace. My soul is satisfied and my heart is one of the happiest. There’re many things that I no longer worry about because I know in whom I have believed (2 Tim 1:12) and I am persuaded that He is able make my life story end beautifully. I have committed my whole life to Him. I trust Him. If He asks me to leave my job, I will. If He asks me to leave my country, I will. I want to obey Him because I’m persuaded that whatever He asks me to do is the best thing to do.

When I was single, I said to Jesus: “My Good Lord, grant me a wife who will not hinder my walk with you. Otherwise, do not allow me to marry for I would like to love you more than anyone else. Let nothing stand between you and I

God really takes us at word.This prayer to God is “risky” because I wanted to get married but I knew that I’ll not be happy if my wife hindered my relationship with Jesus.  God has been good to me and I can see in many areas in my life His thumbprints. I will not recant, I will not trade my intimacy with Christ for anything or anyone else. I have searched and did some thorough analysis and could not find a chunk of satisfaction in philosophy and intellectualism. I cannot compare Christ with anything or anyone else.  Jesus guides my steps and counsels me perfectly.

I shouted to God in my heart: “Tell me God, Whom have I in heaven but you? Is there someone I love more than you? If so tell me. Is there something I love more than you? If so, tell me. It’s you I love with all my being, you know that”

I know that money, wealth, social rank, people, sexual gratification or worldly things will never be able to satisfy my expectations.

To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.” Ps 119:96

The psalmist says: “I desire you more than anything on earth” To all perfections on this earth I have seen a limit. But I have found someone who far exceeded my expectations. He is perfect. My family, friends and even my wife will fail. People are not perfect and we cannot expect them to behave perfectly. Am I not an imperfect man like everyone else? Man’s heart longs for something perfect to satisfy his soul. Only Jesus can bring this utmost satisfaction.

Will you believe me if I tell you that I do not fear to die? I have such a great peace in my heart and dying is not the end but just the start of a new life with my Lord. The psalmist says: “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,but God remains the strength of my heart;he is mine forever”. I have never been sick to death but I can feel somehow what the psalmist said. Sickness and life catastrophe will not remove Davd’s inner peace in God. God is the strength of his heart – not his health, wealth or anything else. God is his inheritance and his wealth. Jesus is all I need. In Him alone I’ll boast for I know who He is and what He can do.