Friday, November 28, 2014

Heroic Sacrifice

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. (Romans 5:7 NAS)

Heroic Sacrifice
Tyler knew he didn't have school the coming Monday because it was a holiday, so he asked his mother if he could stay over at his grandfather's trailer in the suburb of Rochester N.Y. at Penfield. Tyler knew the place very well because he had stayed with his grandfather many times.

At around 4:45 in the early morning on that Monday, an electrical fire broke out and spread quickly while the trailer’s nine occupants slept. Tyler was the first to wake up and he alerted six of his relatives, including two younger children ages 4 and 6, all of whom escaped. He then went back to help his grandfather and disabled uncle. When the firefighters arrived, Tyler's body was found near his uncle, who also perished along with his grandfather.

The heroic deed of 9-year-old Tyler J Doohan was reported in the news in January 2014 by and

Not all of us are likely to willingly die for another, unless that someone is dear to us or is our loved one. The Apostle Paul knew that when he wrote, “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” Thankfully for us, our God is not like man, otherwise all of us would be doom to die in eternity. But God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were helpless and yet sinners, Christ died for us. He did not send His Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:17).

Are we willing to risk our lives without knowing where we would be in eternity? Are we aware that no matter how noble our intent or heroic we are to even be willing to die for another, without Christ as our Lord and Savior, we would still have to face eternal death?

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to God the Father except through Him. All things came into being through Him, and without Him nothing came into being that has come into being. But as many as received Jesus and believed in His name, to them God gave the right to become children of God. For in this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (John 14:6; 1:3, 12; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).

Jesus’ death on the cross was more than just a good deed to save us all. He did it out of love for us, even while we were yet sinners. Although He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, born in the likeness of men. Being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name. This same Jesus is coming back to us in power and glory (Philippians 2:6-9; John 14:28; Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:30). Are we ready when He returns?

Dear Lord, thank You for coming to our rescue when we were lost. We are forever grateful to You for loving us so much that You willingly give up Your all to come in the form of man and die on the cross to save us all. We exalt Your name above every name, for You are the way, the truth, and the life.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, 
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.

~ Psalm 111:1 (NAS) ~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Place of Solitary

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32 NIV)

Place of Solitary
It was an hour or more just before sunrise. My wife and I were all set to go with the ranger on a jeep with another ten to fifteen people to visit the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and National Park in the North West Province of southern Africa. We were all excited at the prospect of seeing untamed wildlife in its natural habitat.

The ride through the reserve was an experience of a lifetime. All of us were feeling a sense of adventure and in high spirits as we breathed in the fresh air and the awe-inspiring sights of endless valleys and infinite unobstructed view of mountains, which seemed to span beyond the horizon. Along the way, we saw elephants, rhinos, lions, buffaloes, leopard, hippos, giraffes, and deer, among other animals.

Not all of us are likely to get to visit a park that gives us such deep and lasting impression. The truth is we do not need to travel far to appreciate the magnificence of God’s creation. If only we would stop and pause in our busyness, even just for a little while, we would be able to see the glory of the flowers, the birds, the sea, and much more. If we would quiet ourselves and pay attention, we would hear the sounds of nature amid the noises, the chirpings, the breeze and the winds, the sea waves, and much more. There is no need for us to see auroras or exotic wildlife to know our God exist, for “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1 NIV).

When we look up into the night sky and behold millions of stars and the moon, do our heart feel stirred up within us? When we see a picturesque view of God’s handiwork, do we feel overwhelmed with awe? How do we feel when we see falling leaves or falling snow, sunrise or sunsets, gorgeous landscapes, panoramic views or exotic sights beyond our imagination?

Traveling abroad on a trip is a good way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world to get back on track with God and experience tranquility in His creation. But if we are unable to go on a holiday or leave town to a distant somewhere that allow us to quiet ourselves and spend time with God, we need simply to find a place away from the crowd. Converse with God and listen to Him in the surroundings of nature or in a room. Stay in tune with God and be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:23).

Like the disciples who were too busy even to eat, Jesus is saying to us, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” In response to our Lord’s loving care, let us know when to stop and pause amid our busyness to go away by ourselves to the place of solitary (Mark 6:31-32).

Dear Lord, our hearts are filled with awe when we behold the wonders of Your creation. Thank You for giving us so many samples of Your handiwork to assure us of Your presence and Your greatness. Remind us in our busyness to set aside time to go away to a quiet place to commune with You. Keep us in tune with You and renew us in the spirit of our minds to hear and know Your direction in all we do that Your likeness in us may shine through. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Don't Doubt

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NAS)

Don't Doubt
Elliot was not really interested in what he was doing, but he did not have a choice because he had to provide for his family, pay the bills, and contribute to a fund for the support of a sick mother. He has just started on a contract job with a non-profit organization a while ago as a digital content administrator, but his real interest was to be a writer or to do some editorial related work.

Ever since Elliot was laid off from a corporate job nearly two years ago, he had been struggling to make ends meet working as a freelance writer. During days and months when project assignments fall to a low or none at all, he would only take bread for his meals, and even that was a luxury. As a believer of the Christian faith, he knew what the Bible said in Philippians 4:12 about getting along with humble means and living in prosperity; going hungry and being filled; suffering need and having abundance, in any and every circumstance. Nevertheless, the struggle was real with a cut of a fifth of his remuneration from his last employment. At times, he was tempted to think he was deluding himself to believe when things were going well that God was blessing him and his family, and when things were doing badly that God was teaching him something.

Many of us are like Elliot. When things are doing well, we praise God and thank Him. But when things get stormy, we wonder whether God really cares or is He putting us on trial through a molding process. When the circumstances we are in become too great to handle and overtake us, we begin to doubt God’s love for us or that He exists. No amount of head knowledge about what the Bible said is going to help us if we are in doubt or choose to disbelieve. As children of God, we are never defeated unless we give up on God. Yet, God never gives up on us (Romans 5:8).

Are we struggling in our circumstances right now? Are we in doubt God exists or cares for us? Are we able to recall the times when God took care of us? If we have experienced His love and care for us in the past, surely, we can trust God to take care of us in the present and the future. Knowing God cares for us from the Scriptures is one thing, but experiencing God’s care for us is another. Are we assured of God’s love and care for us?

Jesus our Lord is the same yesterday and today and forever. He does not change. He is not slow about His promise, but is patient toward everyone, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Let us, therefore, fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Like the psalmist, let us remember God and meditate on Him who has been our help, and in the shadow of His wings sing for joy (Hebrews 12:2; 13:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 55:19; 63:6-7).

Dear Lord, forgive our doubting hearts, especially during the times of our struggles. You know how it is within us when we see the lives of our loved ones falling apart because of us, and You know how it breaks our hearts not to be able to do anything about it. Help us cease striving to keep our calm and fix our eyes on You, the author and perfecter of our faith. In the shadow of Your wings, we will sing for joy, for we are confident that You who has begun a good work in us will perfect it until the day we see You face to face.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Of Things Unseen

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NAS)

Of Things Unknown
The soldiers were apprehensive. They were about to attack their enemy—an army far greater in number and more experience in warfare than them—but all they have were only 300 men with trumpets of ram horns and torches in empty pitchers of clay. Yet their leader appeared nonchalant, unfazed or unaware of the dire situation they were in.

Surely, he could have come up with a better plan than this, the soldiers thought. Or is he planning on sending us to our deaths?

The Bible does not record how the soldiers felt when Gideon called the 300 men to battle against the armies of Midian. But we probably can comprehend how we would have felt in their situation (Judges 7:7, 16-22).

Perhaps, to some of us, trying out something we know nothing of might be fun, but for many, we are likely to feel the jitters of the unknown because of our inability to control what might happen. This is why faith is important because it is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Thankfully, we who are born of God need not be apprehensive about our future because we know from the word of God what lies ahead.

Are we, like the soldiers under Gideon’s leadership, sometimes wondering what our God is up to? Perhaps the things happening or going on in our lives are overwhelming or appear illogical or incomprehensible. Do we doubt God because of our inability to see what lies ahead?

Faith requires that we do not doubt, for whoever comes to God must believe He exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Like Abraham who obeyed without knowing where he was going to receive for an inheritance, we who are in Christ, as the seed of Abraham and as heirs of God’s promise, ought also to walk in faith. Trust in the LORD with all our heart and do not lean on our own understanding. In all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight (Hebrews 11:6, 8; Galatians 3:29; Proverbs 3:5-6).

Dear Lord, the thrill and suspense of the great things You have planned for us in the days ahead sometimes scare us because of our lack of faith. Help us to trust You completely and not doubt even for a moment Your love for us and Your desire to give us only good things. No matter how incomprehensible or illogical the things going on in our lives may seem, grant us a heart that believes You are near, and that You reward those who earnestly seek You. Direct us on our paths as we acknowledge You in all our ways. 

Friday, October 31, 2014


The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9 NIV)

Eustace was no ordinary boy. He was odious—a pain in the neck to the people around him. He liked bossing and bullying, and although he was a puny little person who could not have stood up even to a girl of his age in a fight, he knew of many ways to give people a hard time.

While accompanying his cousins on a sea trip, Eustace slipped away on his own when the ship docked at an island. After strolling inland for some time, he stumbled upon a dragon’s lair and coveted its treasures. Sliding a large bracelet over his arm, Eustace soon fell asleep. When he awoke the next morning, he realized he had turned into a dragon.

The story of the adventures of Eustace Clarence Scrubb was written by C. S. Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace’s transformation was the result of his own condition on the inside. Like Eustace, the Bible also spoke of another, who because of his own prideful and wicked heart, fell from God’s grace. 

Lucifer was created perfect and beautiful—a guardian cherub—blameless until wickedness was found in him. His heart was proud because of his beauty and his wisdom corrupted because of his splendor. In his heart, he said, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly ... I will make myself like the Most High.” So God drove him out in disgrace—the great dragon and ancient serpent who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth along with his angels and cast down to the realm of the dead to the depths of the pit (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-18; Revelation 12:9).

Even today, Lucifer, the devil, or Satan, is still actively spending much of his time accusing the followers of Jesus. Nevertheless, we need not fear him because the Lord is our defense; He has paid the price for our sins and has replaced our dirty clothes with fine garments. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. We are from God and have overcome the enemy and his agents. Nothing will harm us because our names have been written in heaven (Job 1:6; 2:1; Zechariah 3:1-4; Psalm 118:14; 1 John 4:4; Luke 10:17-20).

Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18-19).

Are we sometimes, like Eustace, bossing around, bullying, and causing pain to others? Are we afraid of the accuser because of the wrongs we have done? Do we at times harbor wrong attitudes within us? Have we ever prayed or wished for harm to come upon someone who wronged us? Are we desiring or laying up treasures that do not belong to us?

As followers of the Lord, let us have this attitude in us, that if in anything we have a different attitude, God will reveal to us. Nevertheless, we should keep on living by the same standard to which we have attained, and be watchful not to have Dirty Rotten Attitudes Going On Now (DRAGON) or any time later. Do not become proud as to think we have achieved much on our own without God, for every blessing we have today is by the grace of God. All our righteous acts are like filthy rags, and it is by grace we have been saved, not by our works (Philippians 3:15-16; Isaiah 64:6; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Dear Lord, forgive us for the wrong attitudes we harbor at times. You know our weaknesses and You know when we stand accused, helpless on our own. Yet You have clothed us with fine garments and replaced our dirty clothes by paying with Your blood the price for our sins. Thank You for being our defender and for granting us authority to overcome all the power of the enemy that nothing will harm us. Set our hearts in tune with what is right that we may lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven and not store up treasures on earth.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Joy Amid Troubles

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NAS)

Joy Amid Troubles
I must admit I am not exactly the kind of guy who laughs at a joke or see things with a sense of humor. But when I received an email with an article titled ‘Psalm 23 for the Information Age’ by an unknown author, I could not help but chuckle at what was written.

    The Lord is my programmer, I shall not crash.
    He installed His software on the hard disk of my heart.
    All of His commands are user friendly.
    His directory guides me to the right choices for His name's sake.

    Even though I scroll through the problems of life,
    I will fear no bugs, For He is my backup.
    His password protects me.
    He prepares a menu before me in the presence of my enemies.
    His help is only a keystroke away.

    Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
    And my file will be merged with His and saved forever.


This ‘psalm’ is of course NOT an attempt to modify God's word! It is simply a hypothetical funny presentation from a creative mind. In a sense, there are some lessons we can learn from this adapted version of the psalm.

Our Lord is the ‘programmer’ who knows the plans He has for us to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future. His word is stored in our hearts, and His yoke is easy. His Spirit guides us to make the right choices (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 119:11; Matthew 11:30; John 16:13).

Even if we are going through tough times or walking through the darkest valley, we need not fear because God is always behind and before us; His angels protect and guard us. He provides for us even amid trying times in the presence of our foes. God is always near to help us (Psalm 139:5; Exodus 14:19; Psalm 23:4; Psalm 91:5-16; Psalm 145:18).

Surely, God's goodness and love will follow us all the days of our lives as we abide in the Lord and He in us, for in Him we are saved forever (Psalm 23:6; John 15:4, 7; 1 John 5:11-12).

Dear Lord, grant us a joyful heart even amid troubled times and desperate need. Help us who are struggling remain thankful and grateful to You, and to continue to trust in You. Refresh our spirit with a joy overwhelming regardless the circumstances we are in. Guide us by Your Spirit and Your word to make right choices. Protect and guard us from our foes. Let Your goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives as we continue to abide in You and Your word, just as You abide in us.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Growing in Obedience

If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26 NAS)

Growing in Obedience
I served as a librarian when I was in high school. At that time, much of the library's administration and cataloging depended on the typewriter, so I was sent to the YMCA to acquire typewriting skills. While at the YMCA, I read in a brochure about a free Christian correspondence course, so I enrolled and got to know about Christianity. Before long, faith found its way into my heart.

One day, while at the public library near my school, a student from another school approached me and invited me to attend a church-organized student meeting near the library’s vicinity. My first visit was to an evangelistic meeting, and having learned much about Jesus through several Christian correspondence courses, I was ready and received Jesus as my Lord immediately. 

Among the first lessons I learned as a new Christian was ‘to obey is better than sacrifice.’ At the age of 15, I was in a dilemma to obey God or man concerning water baptism. I knew if I decide to obey God and be baptized, I would have to disobey my parents who are ardent followers of Taoism. If I have asked for permission, my parents would have objected, and if they had known the date of the baptism, they would have locked me up and barred me from ever getting involved with Christianity again. I was after all still a minor under their governance, too young legally to make my own decision.

Troubled over the matter, I sought help from my pastor who counseled me and advised me “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). What he meant was if obedience to God is such a difficult decision for me to make, then I should not go ahead with water baptism until I am ready to willingly give myself to God. I chose then to skip my first opportunity of water baptism.

Over the next few months, my heart was troubled because of my disobedience to God. I was yearning to serve God in the student ministry, but without obedience in water baptism, it was impossible for me to serve Him wholeheartedly. It then became clear to me that although salvation is received the moment I invite Jesus into my heart, water baptism is a necessary step to declare my faith in Him. Getting baptized is the outward expression of my obedience; a witness to myself and to the public.

So when the next baptism came, I chose to disobey my parents and went ahead with water baptism in obedience to my heavenly Father. My life took a turn after that when I told my parents what I had done. Throughout the genealogy of my family, every member has remained a follower of Taoism, and what I did was deemed by my parents as unforgivable, an act of rebellion, and a violation of trust. For many years since, I was persecuted. 

Initially, my parents tried to bring me back to their fold by punishing me. I was starved, disciplined, and locked up on occasions, but eventually they gave me up as lost after I repeatedly refused to participate in their religious practices, which included ancestral worship and bowing down to idols. I became to my parents as one who had gone astray and not known my own roots, and to the people of the community a renegade and an outcast. 

Obeying God is not always easy. Whether we are a youth or an adult, there is often a price to pay when we choose to obey God. Yet, we must not to be disheartened, but ought instead to count all things loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. Honor God and God will give us honor (Philippians 3:8; 1 Samuel 2:30; John 12:26).

Dear Lord, thank You for granting us Your salvation the moment we receive You as our Lord and Savior. Help us not be ashamed to declare to the world our faith in You, and to obey You in all areas of our lives because of our love for You. Grant us the courage to choose the narrow way that leads to life even when persecutions prelude our obedience. You are the way, the truth, and the life, and in You alone we have eternal life.

Friday, October 10, 2014

God Holds All the Pieces

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

God Holds All the Pieces
I love jigsaw puzzles! It’s so much fun to open a new puzzle and run my fingers through the box, making sure all the pieces are separated. Then I spread them out on the table and start sorting them by color, design and texture until I have a multitude of piles. Of course, I start by finding the edge pieces and making the frame. That’s the easy part! Then patiently, carefully, gradually the scene unfolds as one by one each piece goes into place.

One time our family did a very large puzzle that took days to piece together. With great excitement we slipped the last few pieces in place, only to discover that the very last piece was missing! We looked high and low but it just wasn’t anywhere to be found. I kept hoping one of the children was playing a trick on us and was hiding the missing piece in his hand. But no, the piece was simply gone, leaving us with an incomplete picture on the table. I was frustrated and frazzled!

Much of life is like a puzzle. It’s easy to focus only on bits and pieces and fail to look toward the end result. Or when things don’t seem to come together and the gaps in the picture produce confusion, life may seem hopeless or out of control. Gradually depression and anxiety creep in and steal away the joy and peace of the present, and the hope for the future.

But God is in control. He’s the One holding all of the pieces, and at just the right time, He can and will put them in place to make a beautiful picture out of even the most difficult and trying situation. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. His plan and purpose are much higher than anything you and I can comprehend. We can rest assured that one day He will slip that last piece into place and the picture of life will be complete. With God, there are no missing pieces. What comfort to know that He holds all the pieces in His sovereign hands. Not one of them is lost or misplaced. Ann Shorb

Friday, October 3, 2014

God Does Not Make Mistakes

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him not anything was made that was made. (John 1:1-3 ESV) 
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV) 

God Does Not Make Mistakes
At four and a half years of age, our daughter Stephanie was a free, unrestrained spirit. She appeared so minute, as she examined the over-rip clouds in the sky. She often shared the heavens with me in similes, metaphors, and exclamations:

“Mommy! The sky is moving!”

“See the clouds swimming in the sky!”

“Mommy! Who painted the sky?”

“Does God have a great big paintbrush, Mommy?”

“Mommy, God’s moon is walking with me!”

“God’s stars are winking at me!”

“I’m glad God shares beautiful things with us, aren’t you, Mommy?!”

Now, years later, the news media bombards us with hurricanes, torrential rains, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes destroying homes and lands. It flashes the moral decay of men and women who, politically religiously, lead our nation. It fills the airways with the assassinations of world leaders, the threat of nuclear war, and world oblivion. It brings into our homes crime, violence, gangs, and the illegal use of drugs. It speaks to us of the hungry, the diseased, the dying—of shattered homes and broken lives; and it fills our minds with thoughts of bankruptcies, poor economy, and deep recession.

When I can see no reason in it all, I return to the Windowsill of Heaven where I am reminded of the unquestioned trust of a little child in “heavenly things,” and I find God there—still just as real, still just as near as He was in those shared moments with Stephanie.

I focus my eyes on Him, “who made heaven and earth and everything therein.” I kneel and pray, “Lord, when I cannot see the purpose, when I can’t answer the “whys,” keep me walking by faith. Continue to remind me that You still are in charge and that You do no make mistakes.”

As I rise to face the world again, His moon “walks with me,” and His stars “wink at me” - and the child in me knows that there will come a day when we shall have the answers—a day when we shall see God and know Him!

Am I focused on God who is in charge of all things and who never makes mistakes? Laura Anne Harrison

Thank You, Lord, for “being there” in every thing, in every time . . . and for always being in charge.


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