• Be Still

    Not happening. Not possible. How can we be still with all that’s happening around us? How about in our own lives? It’s too much. There’s no way to be still. 

    “Be still, and know that I am God.

    I will be exalted among the nations,

    I will be exalted in the earth!”

    The LORD of hosts is with us;

    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

    (Psalm 46:10–11 ESV)

    Another way to look at this concept is, “Be still because I am God.” As God, he has the final say. Whatever anyone else says, God’s perspective is final. Anything that others would do can be undone by God. Just because he is God. So be still. 

    Be still because God will be exalted among the nations. Nations seem to wield a lot of power. It’s the power of the collective force of wealth, knowledge, wisdom, and cooperation. Those are some of the basic things that exalt a nation. But after a while, nations can become arrogant and think they can do anything (practically). But God always has the upper hand over all nations. So, be still. 

    Be still because God will be exalted on the earth. The forces of nature seem to have a mind of their own. Rain, floods, Cyclones, Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and other natural calamities are beyond our control, but God has ultimate power over the earth. He created it. The forces of nature can be fierce and fearful. But our God has ultimate control over nature. So be still. 

    Be still because the Lord of hosts is with us. This means he rules the unseen army of angels that God created to be at his service. This Lord of hosts is with us. He is our father. We are his children. All the resources available to the Father are also available to us. So be still. 

    Be still because the God of Jacob is our fortress.l He will be our defense against all that comes against us. Yes, you will have enemies. You’re in a war. That’s why the Lord of hosts (the armies of heaven) is with us. Since we are in a war, there will be attacks, calamities, and even casualties. That’s part of warfare. But God is our fortress. We can run to him anytime. He gives strength, energy, and protection. So be still.

  • The Two-Way Heart

    “Of course, I love God with all my heart. Who else could I love so much but God?” These are our words and thoughts. They’re good thoughts. They sound even better.

    “Have you not just now called to me, ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth – will he be angry forever, will he be indignant to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken, but you have done all the evil that you could.” (Jer 3:4,5)

    The prophet Jeremiah dealt with people who spoke words like we speak. They said to God, “My father, you are the friend of my youth.” they clearly expressed their love for God.

    But now, their land was about to be taken over by foreigners. This was truly a fearful experience. They don’t have any hope for a normal life. They knew the experiences of other nations, and they knew what horror awaits them.

    Yet they could not imagine that such horrible things would happen to them. After all, they were the people of God. They were God’s chosen people out of all the nations on the earth. Such terrible things could not happen to them.

    Their hearts were devoted to God, but their actions proved the opposite. They worshipped God in the temple with all the sacrificial requirements but continued with their evil practices. They were known as the people who worshipped Yahweh, but they didn’t live like the people of Yahweh.

    Their heart was a two-way heart. One part was devoted to God and the other part simply deviated to their own ways. You simply couldn’t predict which way they would turn.

    But did God love them? Of course, they were loved by God. The promises to their forefathers still held value. This is why God brought correction to them. He sent them away for 70 years because of God’s love for them.

    God just could not tolerate a two-way heart. He wants them to be devoted to him only. A one-way heart was what God expected.
    – – –➤

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  • Righteous Loser

    Righteous living isn’t always profitable (in the short term). Getting ahead in the game is the game – or so it seems. Those who cut corners and make appropriate “adjustments” are quite often the winners. They get applause and accolades. The system is rigged in such a way that only those who “play the game” get ahead and stay ahead.

    But due to your unwillingness to move with the crowd, you’ve been sidelined, ignored, or even ridiculed. Others have been asking what is wrong with you, and now, you’re wondering what’s wrong. Your stand for righteousness seems to have brought more trouble on you than the good that you expected.

    The psalmist clearly recognized that God is on the throne and that He deals with righteousness. Due to his stand for righteousness, he endured numerous hardships and dangers. But he was not deterred in any way. He knew that God is the king of all the earth and that he rules with uprightness and loves righteousness.

    “Your throne O God is forever and ever. The scepter of your Kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions” (Psa 45:6-7).

    So if living upright brings you loss, stay with it and make sure your ways are righteous. There is no need to “get ahead” when the king of all the earth is on your side. When God makes his decisions, he does it with uprightness. He’s not influenced by those who push themselves forward for favors or recognition.

    As you keep your ways aligned with God’s ways, God’s attention and favor will be turned toward you. He will anoint you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

    – – –➤

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  • God’s Wife?

    Throughout the Old Testament, God uses the marriage relationship as a metaphor for his relationship with the people of Israel. God uses metaphors for the sake of communicating with us. Since he is in the spirit realm, we would not be able to grasp everything. But when he uses imagery from our physical realm, we get “closer” to grasp what he wanted to communicate.

    So when God uses the imagery of the marriage relationship to describe his relationship with his people, that communicates to us. But when metaphors are used, not all details will apply. Only what the speaker wishes to highlight.

    Here, God wants to highlight the depth of the relationship that he desires. “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the lord, the first fruits of his harvest (Jer 2:2b-3a).

    The devotion and love that God desires from his people are like that of a bride to her husband. From his end, God has promised the unending, covenant love of a husband. The uniqueness is that God is perfect and unfailing.

    One of the greatest hindrances to this is religiosity. The ecclesiastical focus can become so prominent that the personal love relationship with Jesus can be pushed aside as trivial. The cerebral and institutional can rise to such a high level of importance that Jesus is just another person in your life.

    In Jeremiah 2, God is calling his people back to their first love. In the wilderness, where they had none else, God was supreme. But after being established safely in the promised land, everything changed.

    He wants you back. He wants me back. Separated for him and only for him. Holy to the Lord. For him, and only for him.
    – – –➤

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  • Why are you sleeping, O Lord?

    When the struggles of life become greater than our expectations, we begin to wonder if God has forgotten us. We cry out to God in our distress, but he seems so far away. We cry louder and longer, but there’s no response from God. He must be asleep! This is what the Psalmist felt. 

    Now, is this even possible? I thought God “will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). This was God’s promise to the Israelites, showing how he will diligently care for his people. 

        The Bible is clear, that God doesn’t sleep. God is Spirit and dwells outside the physical realm and does not need physical rest as we do. Only those who have bodies need rest. When God came down and dwelt among us as a human, he needed rest. But God as the divine being doesn’t sleep, nor does he need rest. 

        Yet when God doesn’t respond or when he doesn’t act according to our timeframe, we wonder if he is asleep; we wonder if he cares. Otherwise, he would have responded when we first cried out to him. 

    The psalmist said:

    “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (Psa 44:22-26)

        God views our life from an entirely different timeframe. We see our lives from our day-to-day experiences. All we see is turmoil and agony. But God sees a broader timeframe and has no fear of the daily fluctuations. He is confident he can bring us through victoriously. He has already seen our lives from beginning to end. 

        As we struggle with our limited perspectives, let’s hold on to God. He has promised to bring us through victoriously. He has the broader timeframe of our entire lives and he is faithful to accomplish all that he promised. 

    – – –➤

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  • Words of Power

    The power of words. Who would have imagined? Words have the power to “pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jer 1:10) This reality began with creation, where words spoken by God brought the world into existence. Now his words continue to create through our words. 

    The prophet Jeremiah didn’t think that he was up to the task of speaking God’s words. In modern times, we have reduced the power of words to simply “speeches” of eloquent verbosity. But God’s plan was that our words should tear down, repair, restore, and build that which God wants to do here on this earth through us – through our words. 

    But making this concept personal is not always easy because our situation is quite real to us. The pain is raw. The agony is intense, and It’s difficult to speak with faith. But God wants us to be his voice. Not only in society but also in our personal lives. He wants to speak words of faith into our lives. 

    Maybe like me, you don’t have much faith. You may feel insignificant like Jeremiah. You might even be fearful like him, but all of these things really don’t matter. 

    As your creator, God is more interested in your success than you or others. Even as Jeremiah objected, God takes the initiative to touch his mouth and to put God’s words into his mouth. God didn’t walk away because of Jeremiah’s lack of faith and boldness. 

    But even before touching his mouth, God told him: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” You see, speaking God’s words was really not a choice. It was something placed on Jeremiah from before his birth. 

    Your words clearly have power. They have the power to bring God’s purpose into reality in your life and community. Will you step up and speak God’s words to tear down what is displeasing to God in your own life? Then speak words of faith that will build you up into the person God has always wanted you to be. 

    – – –➤

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  • Self talk

    When things go out of control, your situation may seem hopeless. As you dwell on the situation, your perception may gradually degenerate. Your feeling of hopelessness may go even deeper. 

    But in the midst of our hopelessness, even when we see no solution, God is our solution. The psalmist experienced lots of turmoil and heartache, but he held on to God as his hope. His words show the depth of his trust in God. 

    “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 43:5)

    First, he questions his emotional condition. He doesn’t ignore the physical reality but simply recognizes it for what it is. But he clearly questions his response. “Why are you cast down?” and “Why are you in turmoil?” These are the two questions he asks himself. Both are meant to evaluate his emotions. 

    Second, he refocuses his emotions. He tells himself to hope in God. The words have the force of a command: “Hope in God.” When his soul was “cast down,” he told it to hope in God. His emotions were in turmoil, but he redirects it to hope in God. 

    Third, there is a clear reason for “commanding” himself to refocus and hope in God. He recognizes God as his salvation. He has a history with God as his savior, the one who has rescued him from his troubles. 

    In the midst of his troubles, it sure seemed like God wasn’t with him, or that God wasn’t for him. But he quickly reassures himself with hope in God as his only source of salvation. 

    Wow! What a reality. How often have I looked at my circumstances instead of God who is my salvation? It’s time for some better self-talk for myself. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and God.” (Psalm 43:5) 

    – – –➤

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  • Fear and presence

    When you are in real and immediate danger, fear is inevitable. Not only is fear a real part of our experience, but we can also easily be controlled by fear. But as a child of God, we are to be in control, not fear. 

    As the Israelites were about to enter their promised land, they were filled with fear. This entire generation grew up in the wilderness and never learned war. Everything was new and fear of the unknown can have a paralyzing effect. 

    Joshua was appointed as the leader, but he also was in the same predicament as the rest of the people. He was not trained for war and was in no way capable of leading in the situation. 

    Yet he was instructed to “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

    In this instruction, I see a threefold pattern. There is a view of yourself, others, and God. We often look at ourselves and others but fail to look at God. But even the way we look at God is certainly skewed. 

    First, we’re to see ourselves apart from how we feel. Take the stance of someone who overcomes. Even before entering the conflict, learn to be strong and courageous. 

    Second, learn to take a predetermined stance of fearlessness. Dread and fear often arise in the midst of conflict. Yet even before the situation, set your mind on fearlessness. It’s more of a mental state rather than a physical reality. 

    Third, accept God’s promise of presence as a reality. That promise was evident in the garden of Edan when Adam and Eve sinned. Later, it was repeated by Jesus to his disciples as he gave them the great commission. 

    These three steps will keep us from being controlled by our emotions. Emotions are real, but they don’t need to control us. Situations can be dangerous, but they don’t need to have the upper hand. Stay in control because God is with you. 

    – – –➤

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  • Why do bad things happen to good people?

    We’ve all heard this statement: “It’s sad, but why does such tragedy happen to such good people?” Surely, no one would speak against this statement. 

    Job was a man about whom God himself bragged on. God said, have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8) Now, what better endorsement can one get? 

    But when bad things happen to such people, there are several common assumptions. Each has its own reasonings but doesn’t provide a comprehensive answer. Job’s friends were quite forceful in asserting his guilt. 

    The most common accusation is that Job had numerous hidden sins that have finally caught up. They assumed that Job was hiding his true self and that all his sins were hidden from public view. 

    Then their accusations continued. They said his children must have sinned so bad that God had to kill them all. In the midst of Job’s losses, such words must have been horrible. 

    The list of accusations can continue endlessly, but the question remains. “Why do the righteous suffer?” An answer hasn’t been given to us, but we know that it happens. This world is just a broken place and we are broken people. We need to acknowledge the brokenness of this world we live in. 

    We also need to understand that just because something bad happens to people, that doesn’t mean that God is angry at us. It doesn’t imply that we are guilty of something terrible, or that we are a bad person. It just means we’re living in a world full of pain. 

    We need to cling to God as our source of strength. We’ve got to accept others as they are with all their pain and brokenness. No judgment, or finger-pointing, but with acceptance. 

    – – –➤

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  • Who cares?

    “Blessed is the one who considers the poor.” Some translations use the word “weak” instead of “poor.” This reminds me of Jesus’ words “poor in spirit.” (Matthew 5:3)

    Quite often, people are so busy with their own matters that they don’t have the time or energy to “consider” anyone else but themselves. Such people are not necessarily selfish. They’re just self-focused (like me?).

    But why are the poor in that condition? Many causes are suggested for such a condition. One popular idea is that the poor are poor because others have exploited them and have gained wealth from the poor. Some are poor because of some misfortune in their lives. Others are like that because of some brokenness they’ve experienced emotionally, mentally, or socially. Still, others may have been handed down such a mindset of lack that their thinking pattern is framed with lack. Then there are those who are in this situation because of wrong choices they’ve made in life.

    Whatever the reasons, God is concerned. He cares about their situation. God has a special place in his heart for the poor. And when we respond to the concerns that are in his heart, he responds to us as well.

    “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him.” (Psalm 41:1)

    In the day of trouble – when no one is there to uphold you when no one cares about you, and when no one even recognizes you, God will respond. He will deliver you. He will sustain you with his strong arm.

    So considering the poor is an investment into your future as well. We don’t know all the difficulties that may come our way. There may be sickness, financial trouble, opposition, or a host of other difficulties, but you will have God as your backup.

    Consider the poor. Back them up by giving, protecting, caring, and encouraging them. It will be a great investment into your future.

    – – –➤

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