Mirror, Mirror

A couple of years ago, Jesus said to me, “When you fall I will pick you up. When you are tired I will give you My hand.  When you can’t walk I will carry you.  When you step off the path I will come and bring you back to it.”

He told me to rejoice and be glad because I recognize that I need to change.  This is an improvement.  I am no longer blind to my flaws and no longer making excuses.  I am facing the truth about myself.

One morning I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw.  I didn’t like how I was feeling or what I was thinking.  The following day, I cried out to God for help.  I asked Him how could I be an example to others when I couldn’t even be one to myself?  I thrust myself into His hands, pleading with Him to change me, to mold me and to help me be more like Jesus.

Jesus heard my call.  He promised me that He would help. He reminded me that the Christian walk is not an easy one but assured me that I would not do it alone.  He promised that He would be right there with me every step of the way.

It would take an eternity but He had the time.  Time is of no essence to Him and eternity was mine too as long as I abided in Him and the Father and they abided in me.  As long as I kept the commandments and obeyed the will of the Father.

Jesus told me to rejoice that my will was now His and the Father’s.  In other words I now desire for my life what they have always desired for me.  Our wills are now the same.  It is no longer my way or my will.  It is now our will and our way.

He assured me that just as He overcame the world so will I with His help.  He assured me that nothing or no one would snatch me out of the Father’s hand.  He told me not to be discouraged but to keep my eyes focused on Him.

I have come a long way since this experience.  Now when I look in the mirror I like what I see because little by little there is more of Jesus reflected in me. 

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Ray of Hope

Jeremiah was a man who had seen much affliction.  He knew what it was like to be disciplined by the Lord.  He felt his rod.  He felt as if he was in chains, walled in so he couldn’t escape.  Even when he cried out for help God does not answer.  The prophet became the laughingstock of his people.  They ridiculed him.  Things had gotten so bad for Jeremiah that he had forgotten what it was like to have peace and happiness.  He said to himself, “My strength and hope have perished from the Lord.”  When he thought of the affliction and pain he suffered, they filled him with despair.  But one thing he remembers which brought him hope.

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because He compassions fail not.”   Jeremiah realized that although he had taken quite a beating, he was still standing.  He had not been consumed. God had shown him mercy and did not give him more than he could handle.  He realized that his strength and hope could still be found in the Lord.

Jeremiah knew from personal experience about God’s faithfulness.  God had promised that punishment would follow disobedience, and it did.  But God also promised future restoration and blessing, and Jeremiah knew that God would keep that promise also.  Trusting in God’s faithfulness day by day makes us confident in His great promises for the future.  Like Jeremiah we too can declare, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I will hope in Him.”  The next time you find yourself in the darkness of despair, look for that ray of hope.  You will find it. 

Lamentations 3

God Must Be in It

“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city” (Genesis 11:8)

The thought that came to mind as I read the story of the Tower of Babel is, “if God must be in it.”

Nothing is wrong with being ambitious but when ambition takes on the form of self-exaltation, there is a problem.  The people wanted to make a name for themselves.  They wanted to build a tower “whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).  They wanted to make a name for themselves because they didn’t want to be scattered even though God wanted them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  It wasn’t God intention for them to remain one place.  They decided that they wanted to stay put and build a skyscraper.

God put a stop to their construction work by confusing their language so that they could not longer communicate with one another.  They had to abandon their dream and God still succeeded in scrattering them  all over the earth as He had originally planned.  Making plans without God is futile.  The Scriptures say, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).  The workers labored in vain because God was not a part of their project—in fact He was excluded from it.  They wanted the glory.  They wanted the recognition.  Their endeavor was doomed to fail because God was not in it.

Heavenly Father,

We are nothing without You.  Help us to always exalt You and not ourselves.  You and You alone deserve to be glorified and honored.  Instead of building towers to make names for ourselves, help us to build Your kingdom by reaching out to those who don’t know You and teaching them about Your love and Your grace.  Help us to build character for ourselves so that we can be more like Jesus.  Help us to build up the hopes of fellow believers.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

God’s Colorful Promise

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth (Genesis 9:13)

I don’t recall ever seeing a rainbow in person.  I have seen them in pictures.  They are beautiful and colorful.  They are a reminder of God’s promise to Noah and to all inhabitants of the earth.  “It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” (Genesis 9:14, 15).  After causing a flood where every person and living thing were destroyed because of wickedness, God promised that He would never destroy the earth in the same manner.

I hope to see a rainbow one of these days.  I will stand and watch the beautiful arc of colors and reflect on this visible sign of God’s promise.  It will remind me that God keeps His promises.

Throughout the Bible, we have examples of God keeping promises.  He promised an aging Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son.  True to His word, exactly a year after He made that promise, Sarah gave birth to Isaiah.  God promised King David that, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk before Me as you have walked before Me’ (1 Kings 8:25). 

Sometime later when Solomon, David’s son, sinned against God by committing idolatry, God didn’t remove him from the throne.  He said to Solomon, “Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.  Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son.  However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:11-13).

God promised His people that there would be a Messiah and Simeon lived to see Him.  When Simeon took Jesus in his arms at the temple where His parents presented Him, the old man declared joyfully, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).  He blessed God for keeping His promise to the world.

Even when our faith wanes because so much time passes after God promises us something, we can be sure that sooner or later, those promises will be fulfilled.  God always keeps His word even when we start to lose our faith.

Thank you, Heavenly Father for the rainbow which serves to remind us that You promised never not to destroy the earth with a flood again.  You are a God who keeps His word and that is why we can always put our trust and faith in You.

Ever Present

IN the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)

I was thinking about these words the other day.  I am reading the Bible from the beginning again and as usual I learnt new things.  God was there from the very beginning of creation.  I made me think of Him being there at the beginning of my life.  He was present when I was still in my mother’s womb.  He knew me before I was born.  He was the One who shaped me. 

It gives me comfort to know that what ever venture I embark on in my life, God is there from the beginning and He will see me through.

Total Obedience

So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him (Genesis 6:22).

How many of us are willing to do whatever God asks us to do even if it seems ridiculous or outlandish?  Noah was a good man who lived among wicked people.  He had a close relationship with God.  When God told him that to build an ark because He was going to destroy the world in a flood, Noah did what he was told without asking any questions or voicing any objections.  He must have known that his neighbors and the people in the village would make fun of him but he obeyed God anyway.  God told him, “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing. Everything on earth will die!  But I solemnly swear to keep you safe in the boat, with your wife and your sons and their wives” (verses 17 & 18). 

Noah set about building an ark that was to house him, his family and many animals.  It must have taken him a long time to build and during that time, the people must have jeered him, calling him crazy and telling him that there wasn’t going to be any flood.  But Noah built the ark.  He believed what God told him and was preparing for the inevitable.

Obedience is not always easy especially when people make us feel as if we are doing something crazy.  God told the prophet Isaiah, the Lord told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off all your clothes, including your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot (Isaiah 20:2).  Isaiah did this for three years (verse 3).  Can you imagine walking around naked to get a message across?  These men were willing to obey God even if it meant looking foolish in the eyes of others.  They were more interested in pleasing God than worrying about what others might say or think.

What would you do if God asked you to do something that seemed impossible or strange?  Would you be like Noah and just do it? 

Heavenly Father,

Help us to obey You in all things even when we don’t understand the reasons behind them.  Let our trust and faith in Your goodness be enough.  We know that You would not ask us to do anything that is unlike You.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  AMEN.

Jesus is Sorrowful

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:18-24).

When I read this story yesterday, I was struck by the fact that both Jesus and the young man were sorrowful but forvery different reasons.  The rich young man was sorrowful because in order to follow Jesus he had to give up his wealth.  Jesus was sorrowful because the young man was unwilling to part with his wealth.  He would rather hold on to riches that would perish than enter the kingdom of God.  His treasure was laid up here on earth instead of in the kingdom of heaven.

Unlike Peter and the rest of the disciples who left all they had and their families to follow Jesus, the rich young man did not want to leave the wealth he had accumulated.  It was too much of a sacrifice.  But what about the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us?  He left the glory of heaven, the worship of angels, the presence of His Father to come here on earth to live as a Human among humans, having no place to call home, sleeping outdoors, not getting much rest because He was always teaching and healing.  He put aside His glory and donned human flesh so that He could be like us in every sense but not sin.

Jesus is sorrowful for all of the people who choose their possessions over Him–who place the things of this world above the things of heaven.  Jesus wants us to focus our attention be on God’s kingdom and His treasure.  He wants our hearts to be with God and not with this world which will soon perish.

Today, make a commitment to lay aside your treasures and follow Jesus. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Condemned For Healing

 The religious leaders were always condemning Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.  When He healed the man with the withered hand, they demanded, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.  Jesus’ response was, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?  “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Then He told the man to stretch out his hand and He healed him.  What did the Pharisees do?  They went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him (Matthew 12:10-14).

On another occasion, Jesus healed a woman who was bent over.  She had this spirit of inwho had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years.  This poor woman was like this for eighteen years.  Try as she could, she just could not straighten up.  When Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”  And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

The ruler of the synagogue had a conniption.  He said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”  I love Jesus’ response. 

“Hypocrite!  Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?  So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”  He put His adversaries to shame (Luke 13:11-17).

There is a scene in the movie, The Gospel of John where Jesus is sitting on the steps outside the temple, I believe.  This was after He healed the cripple by the pool of Bethesda.  When the religious leaders saw the man carrying his mat, they were incensed and demanded to know why he was doing what was unlawful on the Sabbath.  He explained that Jesus told him to get up and take his mat.  Of course, they wanted to know who this man was who told him to do this but he didn’t know who Jesus was at the time but when he found out, he told them. 

John tells us that for this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.  In the movie, we see them circuling Jesus like sharks as He sat on the steps.  What amazed my husband and me was that the Jews condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and yet they were plotting to kill Him on the Sabbath.  They wanted to kill Jesus for doing His Father’s work and because He made Himself equal to God by saying, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” 

It makes absolutely no sense to want to kill Someone for doing good on the Sabbath.  If these men were children of God as they claimed, they would be glorifying Him like the people whom Jesus healed.  They would not be finding fault in Jesus who was showing compassion toward these poor people who were suffering.  The religious had turned God’s day of delight into a burden.  Jesus was showing them that while the Sabbath was a day of rest from secular work, it was not a day of rest from God’s work.  And, after all, Jesus came to do the Father’s will.  And it was  the Father’s will to heal the sick, give the blind sight, help the lame to walk, give hearing to the deaf and speech to the dumb.  It was sad to see Jesus being condemned for healing.

Miracle at a Wedding

When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (John 2:9, 10).

My husband and I were watching “The Gospel of John” and I watched as they ran out of wine at the wedding which could be very embarrassing.  Someone went and told Mary and she in turn told Jesus, “They have no wine.”  Jesus’ response might seem strange to us.  He said, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” I am not sure why He said that but Mary wasn’t discouraged.  She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.

In the next scene, we see Jesus praying and then He instructs the servants to fill six empty stone waterpots with water.  I watched as the servants did as He said, no questions or anything.  I wonder if they were asking themselves why were they filling those pots with water when they needed wine.  Still, they did as they were told.  And when the waterpots were filled, Jesus said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.”

Again the servants followed Jesus’ instructions and took the water to the master.  In the movie the servant poured what he thought was water in the master of the feast’s cup and out came red wine.  I saw the servant’s expression change.  He had witnessed a miracle.

When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  This wine turned out to be really good.  He exclaimed, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” 

I wonder if the bridegroom ever learnt where the wine came from.  I wonder if any of the servants told him about this miracle which took place at his wedding.  It was Jesus’ first miracle.  It was the beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:1-11).

This good wine just hit home the fact that our Lord loves to give us good things.  And all is not lost when Jesus is there.  The next time you have a crisis, just go to the Lord in prayer and then follow His instructions.  You can’t go wrong.  And you might just witness a miracle!

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