Friday, February 24, 2012

Astonishing Deeds

But one has testified somewhere, saying, "WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? (Hebrews 2:6 NAS)

AstonishmentAccording to news at, a former Marine in 2009 made five death-defying forays into a killing zone in Afgahnistan's Ganjgal Valley to save three dozen American and Afghan troops. During the six hours of ferocious fighting after an ambush by insurgents on September 8, 2009, Dakota Meyer saved 13 Marines and Army soldiers, and 23 Afghan soldiers, killed at least eight insurgents and carried from the battle zone the bodies of four fallen comrades—despite being wounded himself.

Meyer and the other Americans had gone to the valley to train Afghan military members. They wanted to talk to these village elders, and try to convince them to support the government".

"The village was known to be bad. We went in there; they left me back at the trucks," Meyer said of his four comrades.

Suddenly, the lights in the village went dark, and gunfire erupted. About 50 Taliban insurgents perched on mountainsides and taking cover in the village ambushed the patrol.

"There was so much gunfire it sounded like static going over you," he said. "I didn't think I was going to die, I knew I was. I was just going to keep fighting until they got me. I wasn't going to sit there and lay down and let them win. The only thing on my mind was how to get those guys out."

In September 2011, Dakota Meyer was bestowed the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama at the White House.

We often read and hear astonishing stories of people who willingly sacrificed and risked their lives to save others. Yet, there is another story far greater and more amazing than all these, recorded in the Bible.

The psalmist wrote, "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4). The heavens tell of the glory of God, and the skies declare His handiwork (Psalm 19:1).

Men may have been made a little lower than God, yet God has crowned men with glory and majesty, and appointed them over the works of His hands (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:6-7). Our Lord although He existed in the form of God, yet He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:6-7).

Is it not astonishing that despite our imperfection, God willingly sent His Son to die for us that we may be saved? Who are we to deserve such loving care?

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

–John Newton

Let us be grateful therefore and thank God for His salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son.

Thank You, dear Lord, for willingly coming down to earth to die on the cross in order to save us. We are amazed and astonished O Lord that You should save a wretch such as us. Who are we O God that You show us so much love? We glorify and honor You O Lord our God, because You deserve all praise and worship.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Staying Employed

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NAS)

UnemploymentWe know what the Bible says about “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). But what if we are the ones seeking for work, and there is none to be found?

Not too long ago, when I was laid off by my employer because of corporate restructuring and cutback on operating expenses, the first thing that came to my mind was a verse from the Bible.

"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34b)

Unfortunately, that was not how I was feeling inside me then. Although I was at peace and unafraid of what lies ahead, assured that the Lord has better plans for me, I was nevertheless troubled at heart. In some ways, the Lord had indicated beforehand it was time for me to move on, but I was unsure, so in my stubbornness I had chosen to remain status quo and held on.

In today's economic situation, staying employed can no longer be guaranteed even if we work hard and smart. Yet, we can be assured our God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). God has proven Himself faithful time and again, and He has demonstrated to me once more His grace is sufficient for me. After several months of waiting, praying, searching, and going for interviews, I soon received news of good tidings that a new job is awaiting me to come onboard.

Perhaps, like me, some of us are currently going through a time of waiting. The road ahead may appear uncertain, much tougher than before and evermore challenging, but we need not worry or be afraid. No matter how difficult the situations are going to be in the future, we can be assured where God places us, we will be fruitful and will prosper (Deuteronomy 5:33).

Let us therefore be at peace, even if we are faced with unemployment. Forgive the ones who have let us go for whatever the reason. Do not hold on to what is past or no longer in the will of God. Understand that there is a time for everything, and things change with the seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Daniel 2:21). No single situation we face or will face is not in the plans of God for our welfare to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Trust in God always, for He is faithful. He will never forget us in our times of need if we walk in all the ways the Lord our God has led us.

Dear Lord, remove our bitterness and unhappiness if we should be laid off or made unemployed. Forgive them who have let us go that we may experience true freedom, having been set free to a new adventure awaiting us. Grant us Your peace O Lord that we may be in perfect calm, assured of Your plans for our good to give us a future and a hope. Help us in our finances Lord and provide us with the sustenance necessary to maintain ourselves and our dependents while we wait and pray earnestly for a new door to open. Give us the strength to go through the tough times and challenges without fear or worry O Lord that in Your will we shall be fruitful and prosper in all we do.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Embarrassed but Not Defeated

and I said, "O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens. (Ezra 9:6 NAS)

EmbarrassedIt was the last Friday before the winter break, and every student was getting riled up. The teachers were not making much effort to get the students to pay attention, so Sue opened her laptop and started surfing the Internet. After a while, Sue came upon a social network group dedicated to a ‘super hot’ male teacher at her school.

“Hey, did you see the Facebook group called ‘I have a crush on Mr. Wilson’?” Sue asked her classmate. “I just joined it!”

Her classmate began laughing hysterically, so Sue turned around and realized Mr. Wilson was standing over her shoulder. Embarrassed, Sue thought to herself, at least he has the holidays to forget the fact I have a crush on him.

The story of Sue (not her real name) is adapted from a true account shared by a teenage girl at Like Sue, many of us probably have experienced embarrassing moments in our lives. We may laugh or feel shy over such experiences, but we seldom can forget them because embarrassment can be shameful and sometimes painful, especially if we are caught doing what we should not.

Staying aboveboard and blameless at all times is never easy. Even as Christians, we may at times be caught doing the things that put our Lord’s name in vain. What is important however is—are we willing to come clean before God when we fail, even if our sin is not found out?

King David tried to hide his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, but God confronted him through the prophet, Nathan (2 Samuel 11-12). David then said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:13). If we have done something wrong, do we wait till we are confronted before we repent?

When the people of Israel with the priests and Levites failed to separate themselves from the abominations of the people of the lands, Ezra fell on his knees and stretched out his hands to the LORD. Ezra said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens” (Ezra 9:1, 5-6). Like Ezra, do we have the heart to feel ashamed for our sins, and the sins of our fellow men or loved ones?

The apostle Peter denied the Lord three times when he was recognized by a few people as being of Christ (Luke 22:55-62). Are we at times embarrassed or ashamed to be known as Christians? Peter was in remorse immediately after he realized his mistake. Are we remorseful for our wrongdoings or are we repentant only because we have been found out?

What if our misdeeds are discovered by many people or caught on a video and posted on the Internet? What would we do if that happens? Would we try to justify ourselves or simply resign ourselves to shame? Peter repented and was restored by the Lord when he confessed his love for Jesus (John 21:15-17). What about us?

Jesus said, “whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).

Let us not be ashamed of the Lord or the gospel, for in Him and in His word is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Let us instead be always prepared for the purpose of God that we may not suffer needless shame or embarrassment (2 Timothy 4:2; 2 Corinthians 9:3-4).

Dear Lord, forgive us for the times when we dishonor You by our wrongdoings. Help us turn back to You immediately Lord once we know we have sinned, rather than wait to be confronted before repenting. Restore us Lord and remove our guilt as we confess our sins and repent. Do not let us resign to our own shame O Lord, but lift us up and renew us that we will quickly get over our old sinful ways and move on in closer walk with You.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Old Testament Church

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. (1 Corinthians 14:40 NAS)

Ezra Teaching the LawWe know the church is a gathering of God's people, not a physical building. Yet we cannot deny the existence of certain administrative structure established in most churches today, such as the pulpit, the preaching, the worship, the Bible study, and the cell group meetings. How do all these practices come about in the church?

The answer is in the Book of Nehemiah (NAS).

Nehemiah 8:4-6
And Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose ... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:9
Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.

Nehemiah 8:13-14
Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests, and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law. And they found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses ...

Nehemiah 8:18
And he read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated ... according to the ordinance.

The administrative structure of the church and the practice of orderliness are not something new or established in recent centuries during the Church Age. They were already in practice since the days of old. As the author of Ecclesiastes say, there is nothing new under the sun, for that which has been is still continually being done (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The important thing is—all things, whether spiritual gifts or church practices, must be done properly and in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Our God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33). We ought therefore to maintain orderliness at all times in the church and in the gatherings of fellow believers.

Dear Lord, You are the everlasting God, and in You there is no variation or shifting shadow. You do not change Your mind, and will not fail to fulfill Your promises. We know every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, and come down from the Father of lights. Help us therefore not attempt to change that which is good, but to always do all things properly and in an orderly manner. Quicken our hearts O Lord that we may not mourn or weep on the Lord’s Day, but to lift up holy hands in worship and celebration, affirming the teachings of Your word with Amen.