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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The True Satisfaction - D.L. Moody

The famous preacher D.L. Moody told about a Christian woman who was always bright, cheerful, and optimistic, even though she was confined to her room because of illness. She lived in an attic apartment on the fifth floor of an old, rundown building. A friend decided to visit her one day and brought along another woman - a person of great wealth.

Since there was no elevator, the two ladies began the long climb upward. When they reached the second floor, the well-to-do woman commented, "What a dark and filthy place!"

Her friend replied, "It's better higher up." When they arrived at the third landing, the remark was made, "Things look even worse here."

Again the reply, "It's better higher up."

The two women finally reached the attic level, where they found the bedridden saint of God. A smile on her face radiated the joy that filled her heart.

Although the room was clean and flowers were on the window sill, the wealthy visitor could not get over the stark surroundings in which this woman lived. She blurted out,
"It must be very difficult for you to be here like this!"

Without a moment's hesitation the shut-in responded, "It's better higher up."

She was not looking at temporal things. With the eye of faith fixed on the eternal, she had found the secret of true satisfaction and contentment.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jacob Wrestles With God

Genesis 32:22-32New International Version (NIV)

Jacob Wrestles With God

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone,and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[b] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[c] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 32:28 Israel probably means he struggles with God.
  2. Genesis 32:30 Peniel means face of God.
  3. Genesis 32:31 Hebrew Penuel, a variant of Peniel


Question: "What is the meaning of Jacob wrestling with God?"

Answer:
To best answer this question, it helps to know, among other things, that deep-seated family hostilities characterized Jacob’s life. He was a determined man; some would consider him to be ruthless. He was a con artist, a liar, and a manipulator. In fact, the nameJacobnot only means “deceiver,” but more literally it means “grabber.”

To know Jacob’s story is to know his life was one of never-ending struggles. Though God promised Jacob that through him would come not only a great nation, but a whole company of nations, he was a man full of fears and anxieties. We now come to a pivotal point in his life when he is about to meet his brother, Esau, who has vowed to kill him. All Jacob’s struggles and fears are about to be realized. Sick of his father-in-law's treatment, Jacob has fled Laban, only to encounter his embittered brother, Esau. Anxious for his very life, Jacob concocted a bribe and sent a caravan of gifts along with his women and children across the River Jabbok in hopes of pacifying his brother. Now physically exhausted, alone in the desert wilderness, facing sure death, he’s divested of all his worldly possessions. In fact, he’s powerless to control his fate. He collapses into a deep sleep on the banks of the Jabbok River. With his father-in-law behind him and Esau before him, he was too spent to struggle any longer.

But only then did his real struggle begin. Fleeing his family history had been bad enough; wrestling with God Himself was a different matter altogether. That night an angelic stranger visited Jacob. They wrestled throughout the night until daybreak, at which point the stranger crippled Jacob with a blow to his hip that disabled him with a limp for the rest of his life. It was by then Jacob knew what had happened: “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32:30). In the process, Jacob the deceiver received a new name,Israel, which likely means “He struggles with God.” However, what is most important occurs at the conclusion of that struggle. We read that God “blessed him there” (Genesis 32:29).

In Western culture and even in our churches, we celebrate wealth and power, strength, confidence, prestige, and victory. We despise and fear weakness, failure, and doubt. Though we know that a measure of vulnerability, fear, discouragement and depression come with normal lives, we tend to view these as signs of failure or even a lack of faith. However, we also know that in real life, naïve optimism and the glowing accolades of glamour and success are a recipe for discontent and despair. Sooner or later, the cold, hard realism of life catches up with most of us. The story of Jacob pulls us back to reality.

Frederick Buechner, one the most read authors by Christian audiences, characterizes Jacob’s divine encounter at the Jabbok River as the “magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God.” It’s in Jacob’s story we can easily recognize our own elements of struggle: fears, darkness, loneliness, vulnerabilities, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion and relentless pain.

Even the apostle Paul experienced similar discouragements and fears: “We were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5). But, in truth, God does not want to leave us with our trials, our fears, our battles in life. What we come to learn in our conflicts of life is that God proffers us a corresponding divine gift. It is through Him that we can receive the power of conversion and transformation, the gift of not only surrender, but freedom, and the gifts of endurance, faith and courage.

In the end, Jacob does what we all must do. He confronts his failures, his weaknesses, his sins, all the things that are hurting him . . . and faces God. Jacob wrestled with God all night. It was an exhausting struggle that left him crippled. It was only after he came to grips with God and ceased his struggling, realizing that he could not go on without Him, that he received God’s blessing (Genesis 32:29).

What we learn from this remarkable incident in the life of Jacob is that our lives are never meant to be easy. This is especially true when we take it upon ourselves to wrestle with God and His will for our lives. We also learn that as Christians, despite our trials and tribulations, our strivings in this life are never devoid of God’s presence, and His blessing inevitably follows the struggle, which can sometimes be messy and chaotic. Real growth experiences always involve struggle and pain.

Jacob’s wrestling with God at the Jabbok that dark night reminds us of this truth: though we may fight God and His will for us, in truth, God is so very good. As believers in Christ, we may well struggle with Him through the loneliness of night, but by daybreak His blessing will come.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

By GOD's Grace, you will make it!

Hebrews 11:32-34 New International Version (NIV)

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak,Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames,and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength;and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Who were these people? Notice, they didn't start out strong, they became strong. And if they can make it, you can too!  God chooses to work through people like us. He places us in difficult situations then unlocks our faith, compassion and creativity.

When we don't know which way to go, He connects us with those who can open the right door at the right moment.

Does that mean we won't experience fear?

No, progress has always been made by people who faced their fears and rose above them. They knew that opportunity and security were opposites. The truth is, if the challenge you're facing doesn't place a demand on your faith, it neither pleases God nor involves Him.

Phillips Brooks said,

 'Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.
Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.
Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.'

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Listening to God


- David Wilkerson


Most Christians don't listen to God. They go to Him only to talk! Yet the Scriptures reveal that any person who was ever used of God learned to remain in His presence until hearing from Him. Scripture makes it clear that the Lord wants to talk to every one of us:

Isaiah 30:21New International Version (NIV)

21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

I heard of a little girl suffering from leukaemia who was struggling with the thought of dying. One morning when her mother came into her room, the girl was all aglow and happy. "What has happened to you?" her mother asked. The little girl answered, "An angel came to me and said I was going on a trip. God came and took my hand and walked with me through a beautiful garden. He told me, 'You're coming here tomorrow to be with Me.' " God spoke to that little child and took all the pain and fear from her heart. When she left to be with Him the next day, she had total peace.


When you are intimate with Jesus, do you receive direction from Him? Does He tell you what to do and when and how to do it? Some Christians don't believe God does this but Jesus says,

John 10:27New International Version (NIV)

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

In your trial, get alone with Jesus and cry, "Lord, You're the only One who can help me. Only You know the way through this trial, so I'm going to stay here till You tell me what to do."

This is the kind of praying that is pleasing to God. It means stopping everything, all activity. Only then will you hear Him speak clearly to your heart: "You must make things right with this person." Or, "Just stand still till next week. Don't get in a hurry. Sit in My presence and trust Me." He will give you clear directions.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

One-armed Boy And His Judo Skill Alan Smith




I read recently the story of a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident. The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move. "Sensei," the boy finally said, "Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?"



"This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know," the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.

Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament.Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.


This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. "No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue."

Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.


On the way home, the boy and the sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind: "Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?" "You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm." The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.


But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.2 Corinthians 12:9



Thursday, May 28, 2015

Very Little Things


“We need to trust God in the little things, and also in the VERY little things.”
George Mueller



Imagine – if possible – 
existing before anything else did. 
Speaking galaxies into being.
 Knowing the end from the beginning.
 Loving those who hate and reject you.
 Reaching out your arm of salvation to those same individuals.
 Planning an eternal existence that can’t even be fathomed.
 Writing your loved ones on the palm of your hand.
 Never withdrawing your eyes from those you love.
 Able to bear any burden, of any weight, of any size.


This is the Person, our God, who says numerous times in His Word:

“Trust.”
“Trust Me.”
“Trust Me with all your heart.”



What is “living by faith” but keeping our eyes on the greatness of our God and leaving our “little things” in His care?

For this is what the high and exalted One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
(Isaiah 57:15)

Since this is our God, let’s trust Him in “the little things.”

And also in the “VERY little things.”


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pentecost Sunday 2015

May 24, 2015

From: http://www.gotquestions.org/Pentecost-Sunday.html




Celebrated 50 days after Easter, Pentecost Sunday is a commemoration and celebration of the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the early church. John the Baptist prophesied of the first Pentecost when Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11).


Matthew 3:11New International Version (NIV)

11 “I baptize you with[a] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.

Jesus confirmed this prophecy with the promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in John 14:26


John 14:26New International Version (NIV)


26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

He showed Himself to these men after His death on the cross and His resurrection, giving convincing proofs that He was alive. Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit, from whom they would receive power to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:3-8). 


Acts 1:3-8New International Version (NIV)

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the men returned to Jerusalem and joined together in prayer in an upper room. On the Day of Pentecost, just as promised, the sound of a violent wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were given the power of communication, which Peter used to begin the ministry for which Jesus had prepared him. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the disciples did not stay in the room basking in God’s glory but burst out to tell the world. This was the beginning of the church as we know it.

Pentecost Sunday is celebrated to recognize the gift of the Holy Spirit, realizing that God’s very life, breath and energy live in believers. During this service, John 20:19-23 may be the core of the message about our risen Savior supernaturally appearing to the fear-laden disciples. 


John 20:19-23New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Their fear gave way to joy when the Lord showed them His hands and side. He assured them peace and repeated the command given in Matthew 28:19-20


Matthew 28:19-20New International Version (NIV)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

saying, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Then He breathed on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-23).

The celebration of Pentecost Sunday reminds us of the reality that we all have the unifying Spirit that was poured out upon the first-century church in Acts 2:1-4.


Acts 2:1-4New International Version (NIV)

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

It is a reminder that we are co-heirs with Christ, to suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him; that the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7); that we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13); and that the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives inside believers (Romans 8:9-11). This gift of the Holy Spirit that was promised and given to all believers on the first Pentecost is promised for you and your children and for all who are far off whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:39).


1 Corinthians 12:7New International Version (NIV)

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:13New International Version (NIV)

13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Romans 8:9-11New International Version (NIV)

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[a]because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of[b] his Spirit who lives in you.

Acts 2:39New International Version (NIV)

39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”