All posts by Joseph

God’s Children and His Divine Protection

As I was waiting in the supermarket line, I saw a small child holding hand of what seems to be her older brother. It was a beautiful scene, to see them eagerly exploring the world together! Then I thought about how small and vulnerable the child was, especially considering that the world seems so big to her. Yet the child is probably unaware of so many dangers out there. As I was thinking about her vulnerability, my focus then shifted to a spiritual perspective. In a sense, we are like that child when it comes to our lack of awareness of the dangers in spiritual realm. There are dizzying array of dangers and threats that exists in spiritual realms. The evil forces are extremely determined to steal, destroy and kill us. They are full of hatred against God and His children. But God doesn’t give them full authority to do what they want. The evil forces are limited in what they can do.

Thankfully, we have a very loving and merciful Father who is very determined to watch for us and seek to protect us with His fierce love. It is important that we walk close to God, embrace His protection, leading, and love. Assuming that child had a loving parent, she probably didn’t realize the full extent to how much her parent has protected her all these times. It’s the same case with God. I’m confident there has been so many times when God has prevented danger or bad situation from happening to His children – both believers and non-believers. I can personally attest to that in my life! He has protected me on so many occasions, and even when something bad did happen to me God didn’t let that bad situation run its full course – in other words, limiting the impact of bad situation on my life. In hindsight, I found that God has used these situations to help me grow.

Truly, if one chose to walk away from God, they are choosing to reject His leading, love, and protection in their life. It’s as if a child chose to runs away from a sheltered and loving family to cold, harsh world lacking much in love.

But remember that God doesn’t give up on us, He will keep trying to reach out to us. The prodigal son story is a reflection of how much God loves us and waits for us to come back.

Luke 15:11-32

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Overcoming our shortcomings with Christ’s love

A while ago as I was heading out after finishing a long day of work. It was dark and there weren’t too many people around. A young stray cat (around a year or two old) came up to me and meowed repeatedly. The cat was trying to tell me something. It kept on trying getting my attention. As a cat lover, I knew instinctively what the cat wanted. I was carrying a water bottle so I tried pouring the water on the ground but the cat didn’t seem to want the water. I didn’t have the food on me, so I struggled to figure out how to get the food close by and the stores were close to closing time or were already closed. The cat kept on following me, meowing loudly. I kept at a slow pace as not to abandon the cat. The cat stirred my heart with great compassion.

I wanted to buy food for the cat but was afraid that I would look foolish for doing so with people around. Also, I wasn’t sure if the stores were open then. As much as I hate to admit this, but my heart wavered between avoiding looking foolish and giving the cat what he/she needed. In the end, my immense love toward cats in general won out.

So I walked quite a distance, to the point where the cat eventually stopped following me. I then bought a can of chicken from a small mart I found to be open at this time. I felt blessed to find them since I wasn’t sure if I would find something suitable for the cat to eat. So, I walked a while back to where I last saw the cat, hoping that he was there. Lo! He was there. At first, I hesitated because there were people around but then I stopped caring how it appeared to others. So therefore, I opened a can of chicken for the cat. He ate them all! The cat must’ve been very hungry. He seemed happy and relaxed after eating.

Why and how is this relevant to God? I think looking back, out of all people who was around – the cat came to me, the very person who are experienced in dealing with cats and understanding what they needed. It shows that God still cares greatly about small creature which tends be overlooked by others. I also feel blessed that God used me to help feed this hungry kitty. Secondly, as my inner struggle showed, the sheer power of Christ love is enough to overcome our own shortcomings as long we allow Christ’s love to flow though us.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

A Marathon with the Lord

jogging

Our walk with the Lord can be like a marathon. Some start strong and some start slowly. A marathon is not about how well or poorly we run, but rather that we are able to finish the race. We are to have a similar mindset in our walk with the Lord. We must remain steadfast in our faith, devotion and to have our heart continually affixed on Jesus Christ. There will be obstacles in the way in attempts to derail or distract us from reaching the true goal which is to keep our faith in God’s promise of everlasting life in Christ.

What good is if a person starts really strong and had done many impressive deeds in Christ but only to end up departing from the faith (as in not believing in God anymore). That person wasn’t able to finish the race. I’ve read different accounts about how pastors and devoted Christians decided to stop believing and speak critically of God (or against religion). These accounts leave me scratching my head and makes me wonder what caused them to lose faith. It is very disheartening when I read accounts like these. It reminds me of a parable about sower and the seed.

Luke 8:4-15 (ESV)
The Parable of the Sower
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

We must be vigilant since the evil one is extremely determined to cut us from God.

Let us make an important commitment to remain faithful to the very end, to be able to finish the race. God will always be with us, guiding us and encouraging us. Remember we still have free will, we can either choose to align our will with God’s will or choose our path apart from God’s will. It takes courage and huge commitment to remain faithful to the end!

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Priceless Treasures

God had been so merciful and generous with bestowing gifts among His children.

The other day when I was walking home, in addition to being filled with God’s fiery love, I realized God had also deposited a great measure of courage and immeasurable peace of Christ within me. Love, courage and peace! I am so grateful for these priceless treasures within my heart! They are worth much more than what earthly treasures could offer.

Just a little personal background to help you understand how much this meant to me and how it’s a powerful testimony to God’s mercy, generosity and love! I have often struggled with feeling unloved, overcoming my shyness and anxiety throughout my life. But all that changed when He deposited love, courage and peace within me! I didn’t realize it fully at first but eventually I realized what God had done in my life. I still feel like I’m myself but yet I feel changed for the better. I didn’t receive these treasures because of anything I’ve done, but out of His everlasting love and generosity, He chose to deposit these treasures in my heart .

It is such an amazing feeling. The fierceness of love, like mother bear protecting her cub, and yet it’s so gentle/peaceful at the same time. I am trying to put words to it!!

And lately I had been feeling the allure of world receding quickly away from me, even though they were far off in the first place to begin with. And it’s becoming harder for me to understand why people get attached to money, social status, drugs, career, big house, etc.. All of these things will pass away like a breath and doesn’t give true satisfaction in life. And it’s nothing compared with intimacy with God!!

Walking closer with the Lord makes me more aware of the contrast between my own human weakness and His pureness. At times, I peer into my heart and see the flaws so I give these over to God, allowing Him to take charge and help me in my weakness. I confess my weakness to Him and then after that, I take in FAITH that He’ll heal me completely by the power of Christ’s blood! Before I would be horrified to even think about the seed of sin that lies within human’s heart, not anymore since God has given me the assurance and peace that Christ has defeated SIN and DEATH for good! Basically just giving up the corrupted old man over to Him and becoming a new creation in Christ. I think the baptism of water and Spirit was a major milestone in my life that helped me become a new creation in Christ and allowed God to display His powerful works mightily. Praise God!!

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Serving God or Mammon?

Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Someone once told me about the money-making scheme. As he was telling me about the scheme, I could sense where his heart lies so I gently told him not to get too attached to money.

“But I like money,” he replied. “Doesn’t God want to prosper us and grow wealth?”

Money by itself is neither good nor bad. But what matters is our attitude toward money. Are we putting money first before everything else? Or do we put God and relationships first before money. Where do we place our faith in? God or money?

Money buys us food, material goods, house, medicine, etc… It’s not much of a leap for a person to start viewing money as something that gives them security and rest from troubles. And it’s not difficult for people to start loving money for they see that it gives them many things in life. But money only offers us false security and satisfaction. It’s easy to forget who the TRUE PROVIDER is especially when money buys us shelter, food and our basic needs. Remember God gave a habitable planet for us to live, not too far nor too close to the sun. He also created animals and plants for us to eat. God created the materials that allowed us to build shelter!

God has provided many things in our lives, many things we might not realize right away. Remember how God provided heavenly manna and water for the wandering Israelites in the desert wilderness? Fed Elijah in time of famine? Forewarned Joseph to store up grains for seven years of famine? The Bible lists so many examples of how God supernaturally provided for His children in time of need! The scripture mentioned below tells us not to worry too much about our life –

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Sadly, love of money and greed pervades almost everywhere in our society (at least here in America). Mammon reign as a powerful stronghold in many lives in this country. Here are few examples how it pervades everyday lives –

There are people playing lottery or gambling in hope of striking it rich, falling for money-related scams, trampling others in order to advance their own career, stealing, and engaging in fraud. Corrupt politicians accepting bribes or contributions in exchange for granting favors to their benefactors. Criminals blackmailing others’ dark secret for financial gain. Wealthy financiers exploiting cheap labors, ‘starving’ their workers while fattening themselves up. Monetary interest and usury everywhere we go. Pastors favoring the more generous contributors than those who don’t contribute. The list goes on and on.

Greed and the love of the money tie all of these together. The scripture says that love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. How those people are deceived into thinking that they are masters over money while the money is truly a merciless master over them!

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (ESV)
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

These people place their hope in money to provide them security and to be free from worries. The thinking is, “Only if I had a million dollars, then I wouldn’t have to worry about paying bills, medicine, etc..” or “Finally, I can buy some fancy houses, car, etc..” or “Money would solve our problems.”

But that kind of thinking reveals their faith is placed in money. They are attempting to seek satisfaction and security from money.

Our faith should be placed in God instead! Christ can only offer us true satisfaction and peace. He alone can satisfy our soul even as we face trials and tribulations on earth. God is the Creator of the heaven and earth. He provided everything for us to enjoy. God wants us to have faith in HIM, not in money to provide for us. There is no way we can have faith in both money and God. We will either pick one over the other. Where will our faith lies? God or money?

Think about this, isn’t it wiser to depend on living God who can provide for everything we need in our life? Let us be content with what God gave us.

Some additional scripture on money –

Proverb 23:5 (NIV)
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Proverbs 22:16 (ESV)
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

James 5:1-6 (ESV)
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail