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 USAToday.com and CNN.com.

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. 

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