Tag Archives: Jesus

Abiding in Scripture: Week 3

17 Sep

Alright everyone, we are two weeks into this program. Let’s make an effort to abide in God’s word.

For the past two weeks, we’ve been memorizing Psalm 73:25-26. This week, it’s a verse that Jesus himself said to the crowds of people who were following him and asking him questions.

This week’s scripture: John 6:35

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Let’s never forget that we don’t thirst or hunger when we go to Jesus. He satisfies everything. So make sure you don’t go to anything else because you can have Jesus.

“Very Early in the Morning”

10 Jul

Mark 1:35-38 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

The more I think of it, I realize that if I don’t spend time in prayer and in the word right when I wake up in the morning, I spend the day not giving much glory to God. I’m not exactly what you would call a “morning person”. I prefer late night to early morning. I even sometimes convince myself that reading the bible at night before I go to bed is better than early in the morning. Maybe you do the same.

The bible is inspired by God according to 2 Timothy 3:16. That means that the writer of the gospel of Mark was inspired by God and that there’s a reason why this book includes a few verses where Jesus wakes up early in the morning, goes to a place of solitude and prays.

Allow me to apologize to everyone who likes to read the bible and pray before going to bed as opposed to reading and praying in the morning. I’m in the same boat and I’m sorry if I offend you, but I think we have it wrong.

Jesus prayed in the morning. More than that, he got up while it was still dark and went to pray. Almost no one wakes up regularly when it’s still dark, right? When we read on, we see that his disciples came to him and told him that people were looking for Jesus. This means that Jesus started praying when it was still dark and nobody was up and finished praying when everyone was already awake. Wouldn’t that be like today’s 5am to 7am? Jesus prayed for around two hours! If a prefect Jesus needs to pray for two hours, how many hours should we pray in the morning?

When we pray in the morning, we prepare our minds and our hearts for the spiritual battle of that day. We also show that, by making prayer and meditation on God’s word the first thing we do when we wake up, God is the number one priority in our lives.

So, to those who do read and pray in the morning, never quit. To the rest of us (including myself) who prefer reading and praying at night, I think we need to change our habits. Don’t you agree?

The Rabbit That Stayed in the Hat

7 Jul

We can do so many things instantaneously these days. If you don’t feel like going through the trouble of measuring cups of water and preparing the coffee machine, you could always just add a tablespoon of instant coffee to some boiled water and you’ll have a hot cup of joe in no time. Are you hungry and craving some pizza? Well there’s no need for you to make the dough and pizza sauce, just pop a frozen pizza in the oven for about 20 minutes and your craving will disappear with every square inch of golden cheese. Feel like kicking back and watching a movie tonight? Well you don’t even have to leave your home, you can have a service like NetFlix deliver the movie to you and…  I think you get the drift.

My point is that we expect everything to happen quickly and easily. We’ve become impatient, we’ve lost the sense of working for something that takes a while to get.

So many people out there are looking for that magic formula that leads to happiness, no matter what religion or sect they’re part of. Whether you’re a Christian or a Hindu, you always try to find that great combination, that wonderful formula that makes you magically strive in your spiritual journeys. I’m saying this because I’ve experienced it myself, and we learn from our mistakes.

I mostly thought before that if I read the bible and pray daily and earnestly seek Him that all will go well. I thought that it was like magic, like that famous trick of the rabbit jumping out of the normal-looking top-hat. It’s supposed to be quick like instant coffee. We’re supposed to be changed quickly and never look back. Right?

Not exactly.

Things like reading the bible and praying daily and talking to Christian friends are great ways for you to strive in your spiritual walk with Christ, and there is truly no other way to have joy in life, so I can’t say that it’s not a magic formula. It actually is a magic formula, but this magic takes a little while longer than normal magic. The rabbit doesn’t quickly jump out of the hat. It stays in there. And just like that rabbit, we don’t become perfect Christians immediately after we’re saved. We’re not running an “Instant Perfect Christian” business here (although a business like that would make a heck of a lot of profit). The path of righteousness is long and sin in you and out in the world want you to turn back because the road is too long, but give it time. Work at it every day. If pain finds you, the only negative response would be to look back. You’ll learn from the pain and trials you meet, and by the grace of God, you’ll learn that the glory you’re pursuing is worth the pain and labor of the pursuit. Things worth having never come easy.

“When worn, distracted with the fight; you Captain gives you conquering might when looking up.”

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Jesus, Thank You

23 Jun

Sovereign Grace Music and Bob Kauflin have once again moved me with one of their songs. “Jesus, Thank You” was recorded live at Next 2009 conference in Baltimore, same as my other favorite, “All I Have is Christ”.

This song hits home on so many different levels. It’s an outpour of what our hearts feel every day. There are so many moments in my life when I just think about the cross and Jesus in agony for our wretched lives. How on earth could the Son of God have died for all my sins,past, present and future? It makes zero sense, but it really happened. God really did send His son and Jesus really did have those nails pierce His palms. Jesus really did hang on that cross for hours. Jesus really did forgive those who mocked Him and Jesus really did die for all sins of those who embrace His sacrifice.

This song brings our confusion of the cross together with what our response should be. The verses show how mysterious and amazing Jesus’ death was; God crushing His very own Son so that His former enemies could be transformed into His friends. Then we respond with the chorus, “Jesus, Thank You”. Such a simple way to express our feelings, but also the most efficient way, but the song isn’t over just yet. In the bridge, we come to God with more than just words expressing our thanks. We come and we say, “Because of what You did for me, I want to live for You.” We need to want to live for Him. If we just say, “Thank You” but we don’t follow up with a testimony of what He did for us in our lives, than those words are useless.

Listen to it and sing it in your heart. He died. We are confused as to why, but He did die. Jesus, thank You. I want to live for You now. Isn’t that the least I can do? Live for You who died for me? Help me to live for You.

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Lover of my soul
I want to live for You

Lyrics by Pat Sczebel, recorded by Bob Kauflin and Reilly at Next 2009 conference.

There Just May Be Another Fisherman

19 Jun

In my last two years of high-school, I decided to start speaking to my friends about God. Some of them were professing Christians, some were catholic, and some just didn’t care about theism, but that didn’t matter. It was pretty cool to see their reactions to my beliefs. I would bring my bible to classes and sometimes my friends would open it, start reading, close it and give it back to me with a grin. They didn’t know what to think, but I made sure that they knew what my faith was all about.

One of my friends in particular, one of my closest friends at the time, became mad every time I talked about God. She was born and raised in a catholic family, but she only went to church for Easter Sunday and Christmas and she didn’t know Jesus as her personal saviour. I remember one afternoon we were both waiting for Math class to start and I mentioned God in our conversation. She was so frustrated that she said, “Do you always have to talk about God?!” She wasn’t happy at all and I think our friendship was affected because of my faith.

I didn’t do much else to introduce the gospel to my friends. All I did was talk about my faith and even though that’s better than not talking about faith at all, I still think sometimes that I could have done a better job at evangelizing.

But God showed me something recently that I wasn’t aware of a couple years ago.

Have you ever watched the movie, A River Runs Through It ? It’s a great film directed by none other than Robert Redford about a reverend in Montana and their two sons who love to go fly fishing. The two sons eventually part ways to pursue their own careers and are reunited later in their lives. It’s a great movie and if you haven’t seen it yet and you love a good motion picture, I suggest you rent it today.

There’s this one scene where Norman, Paul and Rev. Maclean (their father) go fishing in their favorite river, Black Foot. Norman (played by Craig Sheffer) sits with his father (played by Tom Skerritt) and they both watch Paul (Brad Pitt) as he fly fishes. Paul spots a great place to cast his hook and it pays off. A huge fish bites and takes Paul down the river a few hundred meters until Paul finally catches the tired fish. Here’s the clip.

Jesus tells his disciples to that they will be “fishers of men”, and if you’re a Christian, then you are called to be a “fisher of men” as well. To be “fishers of men” means to go and tell the world about the gospel of Christ Jesus and actually fish for people to join the kingdom of heaven. We are like Paul, fishing in a river for men to follow God. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of perseverance and dedication before you finally catch a fish, but sometimes they actually get away.

When I left high-school, almost all of my friends weren’t Christian and that made me sad. I often wished that I could have done more to bring them to God and sometimes I even got mad that God didn’t allow them to be converted through my testimony. I know, it sounds really selfish and foolish of me, but it’s the truth. I didn’t realize that even though so many fish got away from my bait and my hook, there may be another fisherman down the river who just might catch one of my friends. I’m not the only fisherman out there and I have to now trust that God will provide the right fisherman for my friends. If it happens that my friends meet many Christian fishermen down the river and escape each one, then so be it. I did my part to spread the gospel in high-school and even though I wish I could have done a better job, I can’t be mad at myself or God because I have no idea if my friends will meet other fishermen. I may even see that girl who got mad at me while waiting for Math class for talking about God in heaven some day.

You’re not the only fisherman. If you’ve been telling friends  about God and they don’t want to hear it or if you’ve failed in the past to lead people to God, don’t beat yourself up. Continue to talk to people about God even if they hate you for it. God may use you to convert your friends or you may be used to first plant a seed in their hearts and another Christian will lead them to Christ, if it’s God’s will for them to be saved. All you could do is persevere and pray for them. Continue to cast your hook into the water and let God take care of the rest.

“He Rejoiced in the Holy Spirit”

11 Apr

Whenever I read a book, I always try to imagine the voice of the author speaking to me and narrating the story in my head. I was never a big fan of reading, but this technique really keeps me interested in whatever I’m reading.

One of the coolest passages in the Bible is in the first half of Luke 10. Jesus sends out seventy-two people, in groups of two, to towns and villages to proclaim the gospel and drive out demons. When they all come back, they tell Jesus of the many miracles that happened.

While you read this, try to imagine Jesus’ voice in your mind.

Luke 10:17-20

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

As marvelous as this passage seems, the best part is yet to come. In the following few verses, Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit. I don’t think Jesus rejoices in the Spirit anywhere else in the four gospels, which is why this passage is so unique and incredible.

Luke 10:21-24

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

I find this passage so cool because I try to imagine what Jesus sounded like and what he did in that hour or rejoicing. Could you imagine hearing and seeing Jesus rejoice in the Holy Spirit? What a sight that must’ve been! He must’ve danced and sung praises in His rejoicing.

We need to be reminded of the joy we find in God. We’re so busy with our work and our jam-packed lives that we forget what it means to live with God’s joy in our hearts. Once in a while, we need to take time to sing and dance and rejoice in the Spirit because, just as Jesus said in verse 20, our names are written in heaven, and the ink that was used to write our names will never wash off.

Forgiven Mocking Forgiver

4 Apr

We often take this time of year to remember Jesus Christ on the cross dying for us, for our sins. We think of the pain of the whips piercing his flesh, the crown of thorns pressed on his brow and the torturous walk up to Calvary. Then we remember how nails pierced his palms and his feet and how he stayed on that cross for hours upon hours and we mourn at the cross as Jesus’ mother did.

But we often forget one important aspect.

Stuart Townend says it perfectly in the second verse of his modern hymn How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.

“Behold the Man upon a cross

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice

Call out among the scoffers.”

We are no better than the soldiers who spat on Jesus 2,000 years ago. We mocked him at the cross and we mock Him when we sin, when we take the cross for granted. We are ashamed at our mocking voice, but in His awesome grace, he says to God to forgive us while we mock Him.

That’s the beauty of the cross: we are forgiven while we mock the one who forgives us.

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