Another week of adventure. We’re not sure we can share on a weekly basis, but we’ll try whenever we can. Here’s an update on our life here in Southeast Asia.
Our main mode of transportation in the city is called a “Tuk-tuk” or a modern rickshaw. (Other people have cars). On a daily basis, we travel from our apartment to the radio station office (about 10–15 minute drive depending on the traffic). We thank the Lord for a good tuk-tuk driver, Nara, who drives us to and from the office everyday. Going to other places, we also use a mobile phone app to call a taxi or other rickshaws (like booking an Uber ride).
Visiting the Transmitter Site
One day last week, we visited the transmitter site of Voice of Love. The studio and office are located in the main part of the city. However, the transmitter site is in the outskirts west of the office site, about 5-6 miles drive, again depending on the traffic. One of the engineering staff took us to the transmitter site. We all rode a taxi.
David, as a broadcast engineer is happy to see the FM radio transmitter running well. We were delighted also to visit with the faithful workers who keep the transmitter running day in and day out. We were blessed by their hospitality as they served us drinks and snacks.
For the past few months, David and the leadership of the ministry (VOL) with a project team have been planning the construction of a new tower. Currently our radio station is using a guyed tower. Lord willing, the team here is preparing to have a self-supporting tower and other improvements.
Transportation and Language Challenges
After a good visit with the transmitter staff, and seeing the on-going construction, we prepared to book a ride back to town. We found out that it was not easy to get a regular taxi to go back to town, except for a tuk-tuk or rickshaw. Since small rickshaws can only carry 2 people, the staff suggested we take separate rides. So, we booked our rickshaw. When our rickshaw came, just before we drove away, the driver told our staff in the local language that his phone was not working well. The main language of the people in Cambodia is called Khmer (pronounced Ka-mye). We noticed many of the young people speak some English, but others don’t. Communicating is sometimes a challenge.
So going back to our rickshaw story, in the middle of the ride, the driver said something to us that we did not really understand. We thought he said something in English, the word, “cancel”.
So, we said, “No cancel please”. We didn’t know how to say it in Khmer, and we forgot to use our phones’ translation app. We did not know the road, and we were not sure if the driver was taking us in the right direction to go back to town. So, we started praying. In our phone app, the ride was cancelled, so we could not see if the driver was following the right directions in the map. David and I did not know what to do and how to communicate with the driver. We prayed and trusted God to help us. When we got to the middle of the city, we noticed the driver was not sure how to get to our destination (back to our apartment). With wisdom from our Lord, we told him the nearest landmark, a well-known mall near our apartment. After a few minutes, we arrived at the mall. From there, we knew our way to the apartment. We thank our Lord that even amid language challenges, the Lord took care of us.
So, we started language class this past weekend with a small group of 3 students and 2 teachers (a local teacher and an American).
Last week was our second week in the city of Phnom Penh. We did paperwork for our visa extension and apartment hunting. We thank the Lord for the kindness of Voice of Love (FEBC) staff helping us with the paperwork. At the same time, we looked at several apartment condos in the area. We also thank the Lord for the kindness of the staff of Quality Expat Services who are helping us to look for different apartment condos. Most of the apartment/condos are in high rise buildings.
This past weekend while recovering from jetlag, trying to adjust to a warm climate and different environment, we went to a park and the riverside.
While going around the city, we noticed many places that have altars and images of the traditional religion. It seems many people are engaged in traditional religion as we see food and other items offered on altars and carved images. It is sad to see many people worshipping gods that do not have life. As the Bible says,
“They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; 6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; 7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Psalm 115: 3-7
We are praying for many eyes to be opened to the One True God, who loves and cares for them. When we meet people like taxi or rickshaw drivers, shop workers, and others, we try to tell them, “Our God in heaven bless you!” Sometimes we say, “Our God in heaven cares for you, His name is Jesus!”
It feels overwhelming sometimes to see many people who need to know the One True God who created and saved them. We are praying that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers to the harvest field. (Matthew 9:37-39).
We are also grateful to our Lord for His provision, faithfulness, and protection. The Lord provided for us even before we arrived. We have household stuff that we are using now from friends who used to live here, Mike & Brigit. We are thankful to the Lord for keeping us safe while we ride around the city, and for a trusted driver, another blessing from Mike & Brigit. We are thankful also for little ways God encourages us, like finding almond milk, breakfast cereal and other USA products we are familiar with. We thank our Lord God for His faithful provision for all our needs. We thank Him for friends and ministry partners who pray and support us.
A Little Adventure to Share:
Here is a little adventure to share about the first day we arrived in the city. After checking into the apartment/condo and getting into the room, I said a little prayer. We needed to go out to buy some items at the store. When I saw a safe deposit box in the closet, I thought we could keep our passports there and not carry them around. It did not look like the regular safes I had seen in other hotels that have numerical keypads. (Later, I found out, it had a numerical keypad behind a cover). After I placed my passport in the safe and shut the door with the key, I tried to open it but it would not open. After several tries, still it wouldn’t open. We asked help from the hotel staff and they could not help either. They said, somebody will come in the morning to help. David and I spent a lot of times in the afternoon and the following morning trying to crack the safe. David researched online how to open or crack a safe. We were getting anxious about the situation. We prayed hard and earnestly.
The following morning, we again asked the staff for their help. They kept telling us, the manager was on her way.
That morning, as I prayed and had my morning time with the Lord, He reminded of His Words in Ephesians
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. … 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.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Ephesians 6:10-17 NKJV)
The Word of God in Ephesians 6 spoke to me, first to be strong. When I started to think of the worst, and when doubts and fears started to creep in, the Words of the Lord encouraged me to be strong and to take “the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:16)
Instead of fear and doubts, I was reminded to have faith that our Lord God would send help and will take care of us.
After asking a few times, the manager finally arrived just before 12:00 noon. She had the passcode of the safe box, opened it, and got my passport, PRAISE the Lord! Thank you Lord Jesus!
“The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 121: 8
After many months of cleaning, sorting and packing, the past few weeks have been like a whirlwind for us! We had several get togethers with extended family, friends, church folks and neighbors. We thank and praise the Lord for the outpourings of love through potluck meals, well-wishes, prayers, cards, gifts, etc. Though emotional to say goodbye to everybody, we are grateful to our Lord for His love and goodness expressed through every individual.
One of the greeting cards that touched our hearts was a handmade card from the children of our home church, Christ Central Church.
We praise and thank the Lord for His grace, wisdom, and strength and for sustaining us over the past few months in the most challenging and difficult time of transition. Changes are not usually easy. Moving house, especially international moving is not fun. But we thank and praise our Lord for everyone who gives to our ministry and for everyone who prays for us so we could serve Him. It is a privilege and honor to serve our Lord and to be called by Him. We also thank everyone who helped us in practical ways such as transporting items to storage, and those who helped in other ways.
Again, it’s all about Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, the very first missionary, who came from His heavenly home to earth.
This is not the end, but just the beginning of a new adventure – Jesus’ Call to His Harvest Field, Adventures in the Mission Field
Part 2 – In Singapore
We started our long journey from Alabama on February 27th, going first to Houston, then to San Francisco and arriving in Singapore on March 3rd. While staying at the Retreat Center of Salvation Army, the Lord encouraged us with the words written on the wall: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
While attending a church there on Sunday morning, again the Lord encouraged us through His words:
“The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.” (Psalm 121:8)
Singapore is an interesting place, a melting pot of all kinds of people in Asia. We saw many people from different backgrounds; Islamic people perhaps from Indonesia and Malaysia. There were also people from Hindu backgrounds, Buddhists, Christians, and perhaps people from non-religious backgrounds. We enjoyed a couple of days as we recouped from our long journey.
Part 3 – Cambodia
On March 6th, we finally arrived in the city of Phnom Penh.
We received a warm welcome from FEBC Voice of Love.
It’s nice to reconnect with the staff and workers of Voice of Love Cambodia (FEBC Cambodia). We are touched by their warm welcome, as they presented us with a nice gift of a purple shawl with the official logo of the ministry and with matching white flower-garlands.
Again, we praise and thank the Lord for His faithfulness, for His love and kindness He has shown through our families, friends, neighbors, and church family. We are grateful also for each and everyone who prays and supports our ministry so we can serve Him.
In a recent message we heard, we were reminded that Mission is worship.It’s all about God, His heart for people from every nation and every tongue, to know Him and His love for them. And for them to worship Him.
We would appreciate your prayers as we adjust to a new culture, as we apply for a visa extension, and as we look for housing. Please pray also for wisdom and fruitfulness as we share the love of Christ in Cambodia. Thank you all, and our Lord Jesus bless you all!
“If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, “Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:9-10
Bible Reading: Psalm 139:1-12
Life is always busy, but the past few months have been especially hectic. Packing, unpacking, and road trips to visit churches and ministry partners have kept us busier than usual. On top of that, unexpected and unwelcomed health issues came up for both my husband and me. A writer’s workshop was coming up, and I was interested in going. However, with other pressing matters and a long to-do list, I faltered and hesitated to go. I thought to myself, “How could we squeeze in a seven-hour drive to the coast? Surely, it would be more convenient to join online to save us time and money.”
Though hesitant, my husband suggested we go. When I got to the workshop, I tried to keep my mind off the next thing on my to-do list. After a couple of hours sitting and listening, I felt calm and peace. My mind stopped racing from concerns and the many things I needed to do. It helped me to sit still and focus. I was glad I came! I realized too, the Lord gave me the time to be away from the chaos and busyness of life, to just sit still and enjoy the moment. My husband and I even enjoyed a couple of days at the beach. Through the kindness of a friend, the Lord even took care of our accommodation, a nice condo by the beach with a breathtaking view of the ocean! Thank you, Lord!
While staying at the beach, I sensed the gentle whisper of the Lord saying something like, “Remember the time you made a commitment to follow Me as your Lord and Savior? Since then, your life has been in my hands.” I then realized that even when I stumble, falter, or fall – no matter what happens – my life is still in His hands. He is the One taking care of me and holding me still. I was not even aware that both my husband and I needed that that little break, a time off from the chaos of life. I learned, too, that God knew exactly what I needed. Even when I am not sure what to do, God still leads me. Since my life is in His hands, I can rest in His loving arms.
As the psalmist says in today’s reading:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?… If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139: 9-10 (NKJV)
Prayer: Thank you, dear Lord, for your love and care. Help us to trust you always even amid chaos, and to remember our lives are secure in your loving hands.
Thought for the Day: When we follow Jesus as Lord and Savior, our lives are secure in His hands.
(Note: Written in November 2022 as a devotional writing for Southern Christian Writers Conference, SCWC).
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 NIV
Reading: Matthew Chapter 1
The name of Jesus literally means “Savior”. The angel was clear to Mary and Joseph when he said, Jesus will save His people from their sins, and not from the Roman rule and oppression, but from SIN. The people of Israel at that time of history was ruled by the Roman government. And according to history, many of the people suffered and were oppressed by the tyranny of the Roman rule. So many of the Jews or people of Israel were expecting and waiting for their Messiah, their Deliverer. They were expecting somebody that maybe like Moses or King David in the Old Testament who delivered the people of Israel from slavery and oppression. King David had fought many battles against the enemies of Israel- neighboring countries who tried to oppress them. So, many of the people of Israel on Jesus time on earth were waiting for their Messiah, someone to deliver them from the oppression of the Roman rule.
However, from the start and the plan of God was to send Jesus to save His people from their sins- from the bondage of sins. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. The apostle John says, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! “ (John 1:29)
We may not be like the people of Israel in the past who were oppressed by foreign rule. However, many today are oppressed and in bondage to sin. Sin and evil has power over people’s lives. It is not easy to be released from the power of sin. No matter how much one tries, or do all the self-help and positive thinking, only Jesus has the power over sin and the evil one.
Only Jesus can save Israel and the people of the world from sin.
Christmas is love!For God so loved the people of the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) shall not perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16).
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you that You came us a humble baby to save us from our sins! I thank you for Your forgiveness and mercy. I praise You that you are the lamb that was slain and the only atonement for our sins.
“Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us.”
A quote from Zacharias, Luke 1:78 (NKJV)
Have you ever believed for something, got disappointed, and lost hope? Here is a story of a man who had faith but lost hope – the story of Zacharias and Christmas from Luke chapter 1.
The young woman from Nazareth, Mary, received news from an angel of God that she would conceive a child who would be called Jesus, the Savior of the world (v. 26-35). The angel also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was also expecting a baby. Elizabeth and her husband Zacharias were an older couple who had no child. Zacharias was a priest and lived in Judah (v. 5-6). An angel of God also told Zacharias that his wife would conceive a child (v. 13-14). The angel also told him the plans and purpose of God in the life of their coming son (v. 14-17). But Zacharias had difficulty believing that they would have a child since he and his wife were both old and past the age of bearing children (v. 18). The angel was grieved because of Zacharias’ unbelief, and he was struck with dumbness, unable to speak (v. 20). However, God still fulfilled His words and plans for the family.
Elizabeth conceived and gave birth to a son (v. 57). When the baby was about to be named, Zacharias was released from being mute. His first words were praise to God (v. 64). He was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke prophecy:
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people…” (v. 68-79)
Imagine that for nine months, Zacharias was unable to speak – perhaps not for punishment but to discipline him for his unbelief. Perhaps God did not want Zacharias to mess up the plan by speaking negative words. However, God used the nine months of silence to work in Zacharias’ heart and mind. In those nine months, perhaps the Holy Spirit reminded Zacharias of the words of God:
“As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began…” (v. 70)
As a priest, he knew all the words of God – the Law of Moses and the Prophecies (v. 71-75).
He knew and perhaps memorized the prophecies about the coming of a Messiah, the Savior or Deliverer. In the book of Isaiah, which was written 700 years earlier, it says:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God…’” Isaiah 40:3 (NKJV)
Zacharias knew all the words in the written Scriptures. However, he was not expecting that these prophecies would be fulfilled in his lifetime or that he and his family would play a part in their fulfillment. He was very surprised, and almost in disbelief, that he would see the fulfillment in his days!
Because God Elohim is a covenant-keeping God, He kept His words spoken through the prophets that He would bring deliverance, that the Messiah would come. Zacharias, though not expecting, became part of the fulfillment of the prophecy. His very own child was part of the fulfillment, as spoken in Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare the way…”
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways…” Luke 1:76 (NKJV)
For nine months of silence, Zacharias went back to studying the words of God. At the same time, the Holy Spirit worked in his heart despite his unbelief. Zacharias saw the fulfillment of God’s plan.
Through God’s tender mercy, God restored Zacharias’ ability to speak. He was a changed man. During nine months of silence, he re-learned the words of God, believed in his heart, and learned to praise God from his heart. He learned to use his mouth to give praise and adoration to God.
Perhaps some of us are like Zacharias, we believe but may have lost hope after many years of waiting. This Christmas may our Lord God, who is faithful and true give you a renewed hope and faith that He will do what He says He will do.
Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth to give us a baby. Help us as we celebrate Christmas to have a renewed hope as we trust and wait on You.
“…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke 1:4 (NKJV)
“…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31 (NKJV)
Reading: Luke 1: 1-4
As we approach Christmas, a very important holiday in the Christian tradition, we would like to share the story of how it all began. Christmas is not just about toys, gifts, and Santa Claus; it’s really about the coming of Jesus to the earth. It’s a story of love. Most religions claim their founders as men who became gods, but only Jesus is the God who became a man because of God’s great love to save people from sin. God knew there was no way people could reach Him and meet His standards, so He sent Jesus to reach down to us, His created beings.
Although I have not seen Jesus physically, I know He lives! His story of coming to earth from heaven as a baby, His life, death, and resurrection are true facts. The story of Jesus is not a myth, nor a legend, but a real story that was written in accurate and orderly narrative as shown in Luke 1:4, “…so that you might know how well-founded are the things about which you have been taught” (Complete Jewish Bible). To give a short introduction to the writer of the third Gospel in the New Testament, here is a brief background of Luke who did a thorough investigation and research of the life of Jesus.
Luke the writer of this Gospel was a highly educated person. According to tradition, Luke was a medical doctor, perhaps a personal physician of Paul. According to the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB), Theophilus was a high priest during or around the years 37-41 A.D. Theophilus may have been retired when Luke met him in A.D. 60. Other Bible scholars think Theophilus may have been a Roman official.
Luke was not around during the time of Jesus but had met some of His followers. He was taught by some of the followers of Jesus, like the Apostle Paul. Luke became a faithful companion of Paul in his missionary journeys, even during times of imprisonment. Paul, during his imprisonment and last days, wrote, “Only Luke is with me” 2 Timothy 4:11 (NKJV). Luke later wrote the book of Acts.
In his Gospel, Luke wrote an orderly narrative from eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus when He was still on earth. (See Luke 1:2.) Luke did a systematic investigation and research of the life of Jesus through the personal testimonies of the people who had personally seen and known Jesus. Perhaps Luke interviewed some of the original disciples of Jesus, some of His friends, relatives, and family members such as His mother and other followers. Perhaps Luke even talked to some of those who had received healings and miracles directly from Jesus when He was still on earth.
So, from “word of mouth” oral tradition, Luke carefully investigated and wrote down testimonies and stories from eyewitnesses and from those who received teachings from Jesus.
Even though Luke did not meet Jesus in person, Luke heard many amazing stories about Jesus including His miraculous birth, teachings, healings, and miracles. According to some Bible scholars, Luke was a Gentile who became a Jewish convert. As mentioned earlier, He wrote the account of Jesus’ life to address a prominent person named Theophilus – to know for certain, to believe and receive Jesus as the Messiah, the Deliverer.
“…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” Luke 1:4 (NKJV)
Perhaps, Theophilus had already heard the Gospel of Jesus and was sincerely wanting to better understand who Jesus was. So, Luke took time to research, investigate, and write the story of Jesus from firsthand eyewitnesses.
God, in His providence, allowed Luke to write the account of Jesus’ life which was backed up by research, stories, and testimonies of eyewitnesses. It was written that we might believe Jesus is the Christ. (See John 20:31.) It was written and later translated into our language (English) so that we might understand. This was done at great cost. As we read in church history, some people risked their very lives and others lost their lives translating the Bible. They sacrificed their lives for these stories to be written, translated, and printed. Thus, we have a sure foundation for our faith in Jesus. Currently, after more than 2000 years, there are still Bible translators working diligently to get this story, the Gospel in other languages so that they may hear and know Him, Jesus, as Lord and Savior.
Prayer: Thank You Jesus for your gift of faith. Thank you for your providence in having your story written and translated into many languages, so that every person in every tribe and nation can know You and have a well-founded faith.
For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 136:1-3
The Alphabet of Thanks!
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” (From an old hymn)
“Count your blessing, name them one by one.” (Another old-time favorite song)
We are thankful, hopefully not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of the year. I pray that the Holy Spirit will help me be a grateful person, to give thanks to our Lord God, our maker, and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ every day. Just today, I felt the Lord opened my eyes to see the countless blessings He has given us. So, I would like to share some of those blessings here in alphabetical order. This concept of “alphabet thanksgiving” is borrowed from a dear neighbor and friend. However, the content of thanksgiving is from our hearts.
Here is our “alphabet thanksgiving list” to our Creator God, the Giver of all blessings. We praise and thank our Lord God for the following physical and spiritual blessings:
A – Apostles (the 12 original disciples of Jesus who spread the Good News of salvation); Air we breathe, Animals (pets).
B – The Bible, the written Word of God in our language; the Bible is the Word of God.
“ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)
Birds, books, babies, bread
C – Church family, Christians, and children. Also thankful for the blessing of computers to use and candies and chocolate to enjoy.
D – Devotions/devotional books to nourish our soul.
E – Eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We also thank God for electricity, eyes, eyesight, and ears.
F – Freedom, both physical and spiritual; the blessing of being in a free land.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 (NKJV)
Forever grateful also to our Father God for His forgiveness and faithfulness.
Thankful also for the blessings of families, friends, flowers, and food!
G – Goodness of God
H – Holy Spirit as our comforter and guide to all truth.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26 (NKJV)
Thankful also for the hope of heaven, health, and healing.
I – I AM (the eternal existing One)
“And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 (NKJV)
J – Jesus Christ. Very grateful for the love and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on the cross, the lamb who was slain.
K – Kingdom key
“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16: 19 (NKJV)
L – the gift of Love, love of God, families and families,
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7 (NKJV)
M – Mercy of God and the blessing of mothers, moon, mouth,
N – New beginnings and new life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
O – Omnipotent (all-powerful) and Omnipresent (always present) God
(Others: oxygen, ocean)
P – Sweet Presence of Jesus
Q – Quiet times in prayer and Bible study
R – the gift of Rest
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)
S – Salvation
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NKJV)
Sun (sunrise, sunset), Sisters, Stars, Sleep, Skills
T – Talents and/or spiritual gifts
“And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability.” (Matthew 25:15 (NKJV). Also see I Corinthians 12.
U – Universe “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)
V – Victory in Christ
“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” I John 5:4-5 (NKJV)
W – Wisdom
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (NKJV)
X – X-ray machines used to check health, Xerox machines to make copies
Y – Yahweh (I AM)
“And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them.” Exodus 6:2-3 (NKJV)
Z – Zebras, Zoom, Zest, Ziplock storage bags
Perhaps you can add some of your own “items for thanks” to this list!
Key verse: “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” (v.25)
The Holy Spirit gives peace and encouragement in the midst of storms.
Last week, many people in the southern part of the United States experienced a strong category 4 hurricane. Many experienced damage to their homes, properties, and roads. Thousands lost electricity and experienced flooding. We saw on live TV news the strong winds due to the hurricane. Almost at the same time, in the Far East on the other side of the Pacific, a powerful typhoon hit some parts of the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Perhaps some of you are experiencing some kind of storm in life, too.
In the Bible, a man named Paul also experienced all kinds of storms in life. Here is the story from the book of Acts:
Paul was falsely accused by some religious leaders in Israel and was put in jail (Acts 23). He was transferred from a prison in Jerusalem to Caesarea. For two years he went through court trials and testified before two governors and the king of Israel, Herod Agrippa (Acts 23-25).
He remained steadfast in his faith and plea for innocence.
Paul was granted his request to appeal to Caesar. “Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’” (Acts 26:32 NKJV)
Paul knew and was certain of the Lord’s will for him to go to Rome to witness for Him: “‘Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.’” (Acts 23:11 NKJV)
Preparations were made and logistics lined up for Paul and other prisoners to be transferred from Caesarea to Rome. They were under the care of Julius, a Roman official centurion ( a commander of 100 soldiers). “And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment.” (Acts 27:1 NKJV)
They all sailed from the port of Caesarea to Sidon, Cyprus, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia, and Crete. As they set sail from Fair Havens, Crete they encountered strong winds and stormy seas. The captain of the ship and the crew did everything they could to keep sailing in the midst of the storm. (See Acts 27:2-21 for the full story.) In the meantime, Paul kept praying and encouraging everyone:
“And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” (Acts 27:22-25 NKJV)
The situation was dire with the strong winds and storm beating the ship. Most of the people in the ship were fearful and did not know how they would survive the strong storm in the middle of the sea. They even stopped eating. But Paul was at peace, as he trusted the words of God that were given to him by the angel (Acts 27:23-24). The Holy Spirit gave Paul peace and calmness during the tempestuous storm that threatened their lives. He even encouraged everyone in the ship:
“Therefore, I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” (Acts 27:34 NKJV)
Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ( John 14:26 27 NKJV)
The Holy Spirit gives the followers of Jesus peace and calmness even in the midst of the storms of life, so we can encourage others.
Dear Father, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to us as our Comforter. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving us Your peace and calmness in times of distress amidst the storms of life. Please give us your strength, courage, peace, and comfort so we can encourage others who are going through storms in life. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen!
Do you sometimes feel like the world is spinning out of control? Do you feel like life is tangled up like a spider’s web? Feeling stuck and hopeless? Wishing there was a “reset” button to push? Whispering to yourself, “If only I could start a new life?”
Well, good news friends! A fresh start and a new life are possible!
Sounds to be good to be true, but it’s real and not impossible at all.
You can begin a new life and have a fresh start because God’s mercies are new every morning:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3: 22-23 (NLT)
I have heard countless stories of people whose lives have been changed by God.
For example, a few years ago, my husband and I were invited to a seminar in another church on prison ministry. We heard someone share about guidelines for prison ministry including practical aspects like collecting cookies for inmates. Then, the leader of the group shared his own personal story. Ron shared how his life in the past was a mess. He was in jail and had to serve several years in prison for various crimes such as robbery, drug abuse, etc. Even in prison, he started out as a very tough guy who got into fights with other inmates.
Then one day, he heard a man who came to the prison and talked about the salvation Jesus offers. As he continued to study the Bible and listen to Christian teachings, his life was changed. He accepted Jesus into his heart and became a changed man! His behavior changed, and those in the prison saw this remarkable change. He was given an early release and parole. Later, he met a Christian woman and married. He was even given a pardon and is now a real “free man.” Now, he and his wife are serving the Lord through a prison ministry. He is indeed a free man, both physically and spiritually. The Bible says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 (NKJV)
I was truly amazed as I heard him speak about his past life. It was hard for me to imagine that he had been a bad guy in the past. As I looked at him now, he appeared to be a gentle and kind man. Ron had been transformed into a completely different person. God is still in the business of changing lives!
As the Word of God says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 (NLT)
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)
Perhaps your life is not as bad as Ron’s. However, the Word of God says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23 NKJV) No one, not one person is perfect. Big and small sins are all the same in the eyes of God. Jesus was the only perfect man who walked on earth because He is the Son of God. However, we have hope:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
In John 3:5-8 (NIV), Jesus tells us how to have a new life:
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spiritgives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘Youmust be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Do you want a fresh start, a new life? It is not about changing religions or churches. It is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It is really simple. Believe, repent, have faith in Jesus, and receive the love of God in your heart.
To begin a new life in Christ, here is a simple prayer guide:
Dear God, thank You for your love for me and for sending Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying on the cross for my sins. I believe that God raised you up from the dead. Please forgive my sins. I open my heart to you as my Lord and Savior. Holy Spirit please help me to have a new life in Christ. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Apostle Paul, Acts 17: 23-31
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus Christ, John 4:23-24
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness
Lamentations 3:22 NRSV
When the weather is fair, David and I enjoy walking around our neighborhood for exercise after a days’ work. On some weekends, we do our walking in the mornings. As we walk and stretch, we bask in the warmth of sunshine and blue sky. Sometimes we see white fluffy clouds. We also hear birds chirping and see squirrels running up and down big oak trees. At almost every corner we turn, we see huge, tall oak and pine trees. There are also some Crepe Myrtle trees with clusters of purple, pink, or white petals. During spring and early summer, we see lush green grass that carpets the neighborhood lawns. Some are covered with small white or red clover, and some with yellow and white dandelions. There are also different varieties of beautiful, colorful flowers on well-kept yards.
One morning, I noticed next to the sidewalk the green wild grass was covered with small droplets of water that glistened under the sun. At that time, it had been many days since we had rain. So, I knew the water was not from the rain; it was the morning dew. As I looked at the morning dew which moistens the thirsty and dry ground, I was reminded of today’s verse in the Bible that says, God’s love and faithfulness are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
God takes care of the wild grass, the wild trees, and the wildflowers even though they do not receive care as part of someone’s yard. Sometimes we feel dry and weary from all the cares and concerns of this world. However, like those wild grasses that God refreshes through the morning dew, God refreshes our souls too each morning. The Spirit of the Lord blesses us each morning as we spend time with Him in Bible reading and prayer. Each morning with God is a new beginning because of His mercy and love for us.
Reflection: Like the morning dew, God’s love and faithfulness refresh my soul every morning.
Prayer: Thank you dear Lord God for your mercies and steadfast love that renew my spirit every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezekiel 36:26
“We may think that the more civilized or educated we are, the less likely we will do something evil. But that isn’t necessarily so. Even people who are decent and respectable on the surface may be harboring deep hatred and anger in their heart.
Only Jesus can cleanse us from the moral and spiritual filth we have allowed to accumulate in our hearts. When we go to Him, God not only forgive us of our sins, but He comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit. God’s promise is for all who turn in faith to Christ:” Dr. Billy Graham, Wisdom for Each Day (Daily Encouragement Calendar).
The late Dr. Billy Graham said these words many years ago. Yet, they still ring true today! Only Jesus can change hearts of people. The Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
Would you like a new heart?
Open your heart to Jesus and He will give you a new heart
All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version. thebiblegateway
Inflation, war, violence, shootings, economic crisis, and other crazy things going on in the world can cause one to be fearful! Every time I see the price of gasoline, I pray, “Lord, please let it go down.” One morning, during my Bible reading, I felt the Lord spoke words of encouragement to me from His Word. I usually follow a systematic method in my Bible reading (which I recommend). But that morning, I just felt led to open my Bible randomly, and it opened to Isaiah 51.
Immediately I felt the Words of God speaking to me from these verses in Isaiah 51:
“Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek the Lord… (Isaiah 51:1b)
(The Lord knows my heart; I usually pray for righteousness and justice. My heart longs to see righteousness and justice in the world.)
Look to the rock from which you were hewn, And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. (Isaiah 51:1b)
(Jesus is my rock, the chief cornerstone of my faith.)
Look to Abraham your father, And to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, And blessed him and increased him.
For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
“Listen to Me, My people; And give ear to Me, O My nation: For law will proceed from Me, And I will make My justice rest As a light of the peoples. My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, And on My arm they will trust. (Isaiah 51:2-5)
(Again, this is my heart’s longing and prayer for the Lord’s justice and righteousness. Thank you, Lord, for encouraging me, that Your righteousness is near; Your arm will judge the peoples, and on Your arm we will trust.)
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, And those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished. (Isaiah 51:6)
(Heaven and earth will pass away. All this “stuff” in the world that people pursue – riches, fame, power, and status – will vanish away like smoke. Life is fleeting and temporary; people will come and go, “But My salvation will be forever…” Eternal life in God through His Son Jesus Christ is forever. Only God and His Words are forever.)
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law… (Isaiah 51:7a)
(Again, the Word of God is speaking to me. Since I have Jesus in my heart and have committed my life to Him as my Lord and Savior, I’m called righteous because of Jesus in me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit in me, I keep the law of God in my heart.)
Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment, And the worm will eat them like wool… (Isaiah 51:7b-8a)
(Thank you, Lord, that I don’t need to be afraid what others think of me, and I should not be afraid of insults or negative words others would say to me. It is the Lord who will judge them.)
But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation from generation to generation.” (Isaiah 51:8b)
(Again, the righteousness of God in me through Jesus is for eternity. With Jesus’ death on the cross, I’m saved from sin and from eternal damnation. The salvation of God is from generation to generation. Since Jesus died on the cross 2000 years ago, many people have been saved and have received eternal life.)
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! Awake as in the ancient days, In the generations of old. Are You not the arm that cut Rahab apart, And wounded the serpent?
Are You not the One who dried up the sea, The waters of the great deep; That made the depths of the sea a road For the redeemed to cross over? (Isaiah 51:9-10)
(The Lord God is Sovereign and all powerful – He wounded the serpent, dried the sea, and made a road for His people to cross over. God is reminding me of the many times He has made a way for me when there seemed to be no way – “Red Sea moments.” Each time I had an impossible situation, He had made a way and provided. The Lord God can do it again.)
So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid Of a man who will die, And of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth; You have feared continually every day Because of the fury of the oppressor, When he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor? (Isaiah 51:11-13)
(Recently, I’ve been dealing with worries and fears. I have not shared it with anyone, even with my husband, but God sees my heart. When I get concern with the price of gasoline, inflation, war, and other crazy things going on in this nation and in the world, I know I should not worry about the future. In Matthew 6:33-34 Jesus said,
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.)
The captive exile hastens, that he may be loosed, That he should not die in the pit, And that his bread should not fail. But I am the Lord your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared— The Lord of hosts is His name. (Isaiah 51:14-15)
(Again, the Lord is reminding me who He is, the Great I AM. He is the One who divided the sea. He is omnipotent, all powerful and Omniscient, all knowing. The Lord of Hosts is His name.)
And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, Lay the foundations of the earth, And say to Zion, “You are My people.” (Isaiah 51:16)
(The Lord of Hosts is my Provider, Defender, and Protector because of the Lord Jesus in me. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, He has put His words in my mouth. I only need to obey and to do His will. I should not fear since the Lord of Hosts, the God of Angel armies is with me).
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12)
Thank you, Lord of Hosts, for Your word. Thank you for your encouragement. Please forgive me for fear of man; forgive me for my lack of faith. Help me, Holy Spirit. Please fill me with your Spirit of faith to trust my Lord Jesus to take care of me and my husband. Our future and needs are in Your hands. Lord, forgive me for fear and worries and for forgetting who You are. You are our Creator, our Maker. You are Sovereign, all powerful. Why should I fear? Why should I worry? Thank You that You are a personal God. You are taking care of me and my husband and will take care of us until the end. Lord of Hosts, You are our Provider, Protector and Defender.
If you are thinking or asking the questions, “Does God care? Does God love me?” Try to think and ponder these Words from the Bible.
From the beginning, from the time God created the world and the first man and woman, God has shown His love and mercy.
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-23)
God loved and cared for the first man. He cared for Adam so much that He did not want him to be alone. God loved Adam and brought him his companion, Eve.
Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
God loved Adam and Eve so much that He cared to look for them, even when they messed up and disobeyed His words.
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:11)
Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
God still loved the first man and woman even when they committed sin; He still provided for them tunics of skin for clothing. How merciful God is!
God’s love and mercy continues throughout all generations!
The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)
Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. (Jeremiah 31:3)
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
“As the Fatherloved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:9-10)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:7-8)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” In 2 Chronicles 7:14
“Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone…. And it came to pass on a certain night that the [d]angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. ” 2 Kings 19:19, 35
Quote from Billy Graham:
“Cover to cover, the Bible tells of people whose prayers were answered and who turned the tide of history as a result. Hezekiah prayed, and God spared his nation when the Assyrians attacked. (2 Kings 19).
Elijah prayed, and God sent fire to confound the false prophets and consume the offering on the waterlogged altar. (I Kings 18)
Elisha prayed, and the son of the Shunammite woman was raised from the dead. Jesus prayed, and Lazarus came forth from the tomb. (2 Kings 4)
Paul prayed and new churches were born. (Ephesians 6:18)
The early church prayed, and Peter was delivered from prison. (Acts 12:5)
We can change the course of events if we go to our knees in believing prayer.”
Quote from Billy Graham,”Wisdom for Each Day” Calendar, An Inspirational Dayspring, Daybrightener
Christ is risen, and Christ will come again! Thus, with these words, amidst the crazy things going on in the world, we followers of our Lord Jesus Christ have all the reasons to have hope and to rejoice!
In Matthew 28, the Apostle Matthew wrote the account of the resurrection of Jesus:
Mary Magdalene and other women came to the tomb and found the tomb empty. An angel spoke to them and said, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” (Matthew 28:5-10)
From the previous post, we shared the account of the execution and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.
From the Gospel of Luke:
Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. 51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. 54 That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.
55 And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.
Continuing with the story, the author of the Gospel Luke wrote:
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ”
Even though these events of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ happened almost two thousand years ago, these are true accounts and still relevant to us. The story of Jesus, His life, death and resurrection happened in a real place in a real time.
About two years ago, in January 2020, the Lord blessed David and me to travel and visit the Holy Land. It was an awesome experience to be in the actual where all these events happened.
One of the Bible sites we visited in Jerusalem is a place called the Garden Tomb. This is another site many Christian groups believe to be the traditional site where Jesus was buried. Adjacent to the park is a hill that looks more like the description of Golgotha. In the Gospels, it says, “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”(John 19:17-18)
Inside the park was a nicely landscaped garden of beautiful and colorful plants, flowers, and trees. I enjoyed the peaceful, serene atmosphere, and it was not too crowded. In another corner of the Garden was the Tomb which was cut from a rocky hill. Inside the tomb were two chambers with an iron fence between. The inner chamber is the main tomb in which the body of Jesus was laid to rest after He was crucified. The tomb was believed to be owned by Joseph of Arimathea.
“Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid” (John 19:38-42).
As I entered the empty tomb, it was an awesome experience seeing and touching with my bare hands the rough and cold stone where my Lord Jesus was laid some two thousand years ago. I’m at a loss for words; it was truly an indescribable experience. It was a surreal moment to be right there at the spot where Christ arose from the dead – a foundation of my faith, the Christian faith, the empty tomb. As the apostle Paul says,
“And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! …But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Corinthians 15:17, 20)
For many years I have read the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, but to see, touch, and feel the actual place where those events happened made my faith more real. I became more certain that those stories were not just fairy tales, legends, or myths. They were true accounts of the death and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ. He died on the cross because of His great love for you and me. And when Jesus died, He did not stay on the cross. He did not stay in the tomb; Jesus rose again and is now sitting at the right hand of God the Father in heaven interceding for us.
Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
Again, the Apostle Paul said, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
Christ is risen, and Christ will come again! Thus, with these words, amidst the crazy things going on in the world, we followers of our Lord Jesus Christ have all the reasons to have hope and to rejoice!
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, NKJV.
Today, on Good Friday, we remember the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross as a sin offering for all people of the world.
Here is the account of the road to suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem which happened about 2000 years ago from the Gospel of Luke chapter 23
Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross that he might bear it after Jesus.
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. 28 But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.
There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
And they divided His garments and cast lots. 35 And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.”
The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.”
38 And an inscription also was [i]written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew:
THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.
47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous Man!” (Luke 23)
(Thank the Lord this is not the end of the story, to be continued)
v.38 Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
// “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. ” Zechariah 9:9
Jesus started His journey from Capernaum to Jerusalem. After 3 years of teaching, preaching, healing sick people, and other miraculous acts of kindness in different parts of Israel, He was ready to go to the city of Jerusalem. He made some stops along the way in different cities like Jericho and Samaria, ministering to the people. He healed some blind people in Jericho and touched the family of Zacchaeus (Luke 19). However, Jesus was still focused on His final destination, Jerusalem, even though He made some stops and detours. Just before heading to Jerusalem, Jesus told His disciples the events that would take place there, His death on the cross and resurrection (Luke 18:31-33). Jesus knew what would take place in Jerusalem, His suffering on the cross, but He was determined to fulfill the call of God in His life.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem with His disciples, He instructed them to get a certain colt that nobody had ridden (Luke 19:29-34).
The disciples brought Him a colt, and Jesus rode on it as he entered Jerusalem.
And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,saying:
“‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of theLord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38)
The followers of Jesus believed He was their long-awaited Messiah, the Savior. So, they praised and worshiped Him. Jesus also fulfilled the words of the Prophet Zechariah which were written several hundred years earlier:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)
In ancient history, when a king was inaugurated as the ruler of a land, they rode a mule or a colt and were paraded around the city. When Solomon was proclaimed king in Israel after his father David, it was written:
“…Solomon ride on King David’s mule, and took him to Gihon….And they blew the horn, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” (I Kings 1:38-40)
In fulfilling the words of God through Zechariah, Jesus made it public that He was the Messiah, the Savior and coming King. With this gesture, He gave opportunity for the people of Israel, especially the religious leaders (Pharisees, Scribes, Priests, Elders, etc.), to recognize Him as their Messiah. Sad to say, some religious people did not recognize Jesus:
“And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’” (Luke 19:39)
However, some of His followers believed and praised Jesus as their Messiah, the promised King from the line of King David. They may not have fully understood its full meaning; some of them thought Jesus would be their king to overthrow the Romans and the puppet King Herod.
But the mission and purpose of Jesus from the beginning was to seek and save the lost, to deliver people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
Jesus was and is indeed the King of Israel, if only they would allow Him to reign in their hearts. Jesus is indeed the Savior, King, and Lord for all people of every nation. The King is coming. Are you ready? Is Jesus King and Lord of your life?
If you open your heart to Him, He wants to be your Savior and Lord, too. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Someday Jesus will come again here on earth and establish His kingdom. Jesus will come again to bring final justice on earth. Jesus will come again to execute justice and vengeance for the oppressed.
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war….
And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, You are my King, the King of kings and Lord of lords! I praise and thank you for your words. Thank you that you came to seek and save the lost. Thank you that you are coming back to establish Your kingdom. Judge of the earth, ruler of all nations, please come. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus, come!
All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version (NKJV)
Do you know that when you pray to Jesus, He also prays for you?
As a follower of Jesus, I pray to Him most of the time. I also ask others to pray for me. But today, in my study of Luke chapter 22, I learned that Jesus also prays for me. Here’s the story. For the past few months, I’ve been reading and studying the Gospel of Luke. My reading today was Luke 22:24-38. This is where Jesus is having the last supper with His disciples before the Passover Holiday. Passover is one of the most important religious holidays for the people of Israel as they commemorate the time when God freed them from Egyptian bondage. (See Exodus 12.)
During dinner, the disciples had a dispute about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24-27). Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to show them that to be great means to serve (John 13:3-10). Since this was the last supper before the crucifixion of Jesus, He spent good quality time with His disciples. He loved them and encouraged them to be prepared for the time when He would not be with them physically. Jesus saved the last, but the best, teachings for His beloved disciples. The apostle John shares more details on the words of Jesus during that last supper in John 13-17. Take note that these last teachings of Jesus were not given to the crowds but were reserved for His 12 disciples only. However, I believe these words are specifically for the followers of Jesus – both then and now – including us. Yes, you and me!
Then Jesus broke some bad news to Simon: “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22: 31)
Simon may have looked to the left, to the right, and at his back. Using my sanctified imagination, perhaps he said, “Me? Are you talking to me, Lord?”
“But he (Simon) said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)
But then Jesus gave Simon some good news: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22: 32)
Most of us know the rest of the story:
Then He (Jesus) said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (v.34)
In this study, however, I’m not focusing on the failure and weakness of Peter. We all know that Peter denied Jesus – a big smashing failure! But again, my focus here is not on the humanity and failure of Peter, but on the love and care of Jesus for His followers.
Remember that Jesus assured and encouraged Peter: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…”
Jesus loved Peter, despite his weakness, and prayed for Him. But not just for Peter – Jesus prayed for all His followers. At the ‘last supper,’ the apostle John recorded these words, the prayer of Jesus for His disciples:
-I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. (John 17:9)
– Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. (John 17:11)
– I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. (John 17: 15)
-Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
Again, these prayers are for the followers of Jesus. He is praying for us! The writer of Hebrews also says:
“Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
And even the Holy Spirit prays for us! The apostle Paul said:
“Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
Jude, another follower of Jesus, said:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless. Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…” (Jude 24)
I don’t know about you, but I’m very encouraged by these words. Jesus is praying and always interceding for His followers. Jesus is praying for me! No matter what the adversary and the evil ones do against the followers of Jesus, He has already covered us, just like He did for Simon Peter. No matter what happens, Jesus has hold of me, so there is no need for worry or fear. While we often think that we only pray to Jesus, Jesus is praying for us – with the full backup of the Holy Spirit and the love of our Father God.
Oh Lord Jesus, thank you for Your words and truth. Thank you for praying for me, interceding for me, holding me tight, and keeping me from falling. I love you Lord! Thank you for this assurance, that You won’t allow me to be given over to the adversary. Thank You, Jesus, for keeping me in the palm of your hand. Thank you for praying for me.
A couple of years ago, in January 2020, God blessed David and me to travel and visit the Holy Land with a tour group. Six of us from Alabama joined a larger group of people from different parts of the country for a 10-day trip.
We visited several well-known Biblical sites such as the Upper Room and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and Bethlehem which is the birthplace of Jesus. We also visited the Garden of Gethsemane, the Sea of Galilee, the Judean Wilderness, the Dead Sea, Jericho, Caesarea Philippi, Capernaum, Nazareth, Jericho, and other places in the Holy Land. Bible stories came alive as we saw and experienced those places. For example, when we were driving across the Judean Wilderness, I saw mountains with huge rocks and caves. In the Old Testament, David spent many years hiding in the caves in the wilderness to protect himself from his enemies (I Samuel 22-23). When I saw the huge rocks and mountains in the Judean wilderness, I remember the verse that David wrote in the book of Psalms:
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
While touring the area around the Sea of Galilee, I remembered the story in the Gospels where Jesus met His disciples, and the time He walked on the waters of this huge lake.
There is so much to share about this trip. I hope to write a book about my experiences.
Another touching and significant experience from this Holy Land trip was the visit to the Garden of Gethsemane. The modern-day Garden of Gethsemane is managed by the “Church of All Nations” or the “Basilica of the Agony.” Many churches from different countries contributed to the preservation of the site and built a beautifully magnificent cathedral adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane.
In the Bible, the Garden of Gethsemane is the place where Jesus spent a late night praying before His arrest. According to the Gospel of Matthew, “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” (Matthew 26:36)
As soon as we entered the Garden area and saw the rows of ancient Olive trees, I felt the strong presence of the Lord. It was an awesome experience! I was in tears. I almost felt the agony of the Lord Jesus when He wrestled and prayed, “God’s will, not my will be done…” It was also surprising to see some old olive trees, hundreds or even thousands of years old, still bearing fruit.
I often hear preaching and teaching that Christ won the victory over the enemy at the cross when He gave His life on Calvary. While at the Garden, I felt a sense of revelation that Jesus had actually won the battle, not at the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane. There in the garden, Jesus prayed a prayer of surrender. Jesus had an absolute surrender to His loving Father, trusting Him for the best outcome. It was a time of surrender to God’s perfect will for Him, and for the salvation of many. It was Jesus’ battle against human flesh and against Satan’s final temptation. He had overcome the battle with a complete surrender to the Father. Thus, the Father made Jesus the Triumphant Winner! It was a complete Victory in the Garden.
From the Gospel of Matthew:
“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will…’”
“Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.’” (Matthew 26:39, 42)
Whatever struggles and challenges you are going through in life, Jesus knows and understands. Like Jesus, as we surrender our lives and will to Father God, He will give you the victory!
When our team came back to our hotel at the end of that day, during my personal time with the Lord, the Holy Spirit gave me this poem, “Victory in the Garden:”
Victory In The Garden
There in the Garden
My Savior pled,
There in the Garden
My Savior knelt down and prayed, “Father, not my will
But Your will be done”
There in the garden
My Lord surrendered
To His Father’s divine plan
Yet He had won
the Victor’s crown
There in the garden
My Savior wept
He cried bloody tears of surrender
There in the garden
My Savior won over sin and temptation
Death and evil no longer have dominion
There in the garden,
My Savior won Victor’s Crown.
Other Bible Readings: Mark 14:32-36; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1-11
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, NKJV.
The Lord gave this message a year ago when I was struggling with the wickedness, corruption, and other evil things I see and hear in the world. May the Words of the Lord through Habakkuk encourage you also in this time of crisis and distress.
The Prayer of Habakkuk
The global pandemic, upheaval, and turmoil in the nations, people suffering for their faith, political and religious oppression, violence against innocent people, unrighteousness, godlessness, injustice, and other wicked deeds sometimes are overwhelming. One time I was praying to the Lord for His justice and righteousness. He reminded me of the prayer of a man in the Bible named, Habakkuk.
“O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore, perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk was a man who lived during the kingdoms of Judah and Israel around 600 BCE. He wrote His prophecies before the Babylon invasion. God used Habakkuk to warn the people of Judah to repent and turned from their sinful ways.
“Habakkuk grappled with God’s economy of justice. He finds it inconceivable that God could use an evil pagan nation to judge His people. However, God uses a vision to convince Habakkuk that His ways are right.”[i]
Habakkuk was not the only one who had struggled with God’s justice. In the book of Psalms, the writer expressed his heart:
“Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph?
They utter speech, and speak insolent things; All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves. They break in pieces Your people, O Lord, And afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, And murder the fatherless. Yet they say, “The Lord does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob understand.” Psalm 94:3-7[ii]
Then the writer of Psalm remembered who God was:
“Understand, you senseless among the people; And you fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see? He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,” Psalm 94: 8-10
Going back to Habakkuk, God spoke to him.
“Look among the nations and watch— Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.“
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”Habakkuk 2:2-3
Then God spoke to Habakkuk about sure judgments for the wicked:
“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house that he may set his nest on high that he may be delivered from the power of disaster… Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establish a city by iniquity…and nations weary themselves in vain?…For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the water covers the sea.”
God assured Habakkuk that He would surely bring justice. When Habakkuk heard the response of the Lord and realized the horrible devastation that will come to the wicked because of God’s justice, he asked God for mercy. Habakkuk even prayed for revival.
“O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2
Then Habakkuk was at peace trusting that God will do what He said He will do – to bring judgment and justice to the wicked in His own time.
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17 -18
I also need to pray for God’s mercy to those who are involved in wickedness, corruption, deceit and unrighteousness – for God to have mercy on their souls. Surely God will bring justice to the wicked, but He is also merciful, waiting for them to repent.
“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy.The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9
A few months ago, we experienced a severe thunderstorm in our area here in the southeast. There was a heavy rain and very loud thunder and lightning. It was the fiercest lightning I have ever experienced in my life! I was trembling in fear and realized the awesome power of God!
It reminded me of the experience of the people of Israel in the Old Testament when they received the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone.
“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off…” Exodus 20:18
The sharp, loud thunder and fierce lightnings were for me a demonstration of the awesome power of God! I felt as if God was saying to me, He is still sovereign and in control, and has the power to do whatever is right for Him to do. I felt like a worm, and was reminded that I’m not the judge, and should not fret about the wickedness and injustice I see in the world. The Lord God in heaven has all the power and might to bring about justice and righteousness in His own way and in His right time. My role is to intercede, do His will and pray earnestly for God’s will be done and His kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven.
[ii] All Scriptures quotes are from the New King James Bible
Prayer: Dear Sovereign Lord, You are awesome and powerful! We praise and thank You for your mercy and grace. Send revival, in your wrath remember mercy.
Currently, (March 2022) after a year the Lord gave this message; another major international crisis and conflict is going on in Eastern Europe.
If we are only looking at the news and what our naked eyes can see, it looks discouraging. It seems the bad guys are winning. But God is doing things beyond what we can see. He is changing hearts and He is saving souls. Many are turning to God in times of crisis and distress.
“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
You may have heard the old expression, “Pay now or pay later.”
Well, the Bible says;
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:10-11
A couple of weeks ago a friend and a dear sister in the Lord in Ukraine sent us a message to pray for them. She asked us to pray for them “not to hate their enemies”. She also said they trust that God is still faithful.
At times I do not know what to say to encourage them, I sent her Bible verses. With our back-and-forth messages, I would like to share some of these encouragements;
February 10th, Psalm 29:10-11
The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. 11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.
February 21- Isaiah 41:10-12
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
11 “Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish. 12 You shall seek them and not find them— Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing.
I sent her another encouragement from Psalm 46: 1-2, 10-11
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
February 24th –
She sent another message that her family is on their way to “a safe place”.
I sent her a message and told her; “Be strong in the Lord, may the angel armies of the Lord be with you all”.
She sent me another message that her family (with 2 children) were driving 35 hours to a safe place…
I sent another encouragement from the Bible; This was David’s reading that day from Psalm 94:1-3, 14,22
O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs— O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render punishment to the proud. Lord, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph…
For the Lord will not cast off His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance….
But the Lord has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge…
February 27 – I sent her another encouragement from Psalm 56:8-13
You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God In the light of the living?
She sent me another message that they reached a city in the western part of the country. But they had to go to a safe shelter (bunker) one time when the siren went off. Then later, she and her family went back to the apartment when they felt safe.
I sent her encouragement from Psalm 57:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.
March 1, 2022
She continues to do her job in encouraging her people through the media.
I sent her another message from Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In closing, we joined the many people who are interceding and praying for the people of Ukraine. “Lord have mercy, may Your will be done, may Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven…
But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them; You shall have all the nations in derision. I will wait for You, O You his Strength; For God is my defense. My God of mercy shall come to meet me; God shall let me see my desire on my enemies. Do not slay them, lest my people forget; Scatter them by Your power, And bring them down, O Lord our shield. (Psalm 59:8-11)
All Scripture quotations are from New King James Version, NKJV, Bible Gateway
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5 NIV
A few years ago, I had an experience that some call ‘a dark night of the soul.’
The doctor told me it was a case of mild clinical depression. A friend who is a professional counselor told me that depression and burnout are common with some Christian workers who have been in the ministry for a long time. She helped me understand some of the things I was going through. I had tried to follow the advice of the doctor and the counselor – supplements, a little sunshine, and physical exercise. I also did the spiritual routine – prayed and read the Bible and went to church. Little by little I made some progress. However, I was still struggling to feel the presence of the Lord. In the past, when I prayed and spent time in worship, I felt almost tangibly the sweet presence of the Lord. I got concerned I had lost the feeling. I used to know where and what I was supposed to do (or life’s goals and purpose). I got concerned that I lost my way. I didn’t think I lost my faith. I knew God was there and I knew He still loved me. But why couldn’t I feel His presence? I felt that I had no hope and no future. I wanted to get out of depression, but the more I tried the more I felt like I was sinking. Even though I was feeling low, every day I looked at the words that I had posted on my bedroom wall then. The words I wrote on a piece of paper and posted on the wall were, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (NIV)
After a few months, while I was praying and worshipping, I felt God reminding me of His words, “For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Then, I sensed Him saying to me, “I am always near and here for you. Because you have allowed grief and sorrow to come between us, you could not feel nor see Me”.
Since then, I have learned to live by faith and not by feelings. And, with God’s help, I am continually learning to trust God’s Words and rely on His steadfast love.
Reflection: I could always trust God’s word, that He loves me and is always with me no matter what I feel.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank You that Your love is always with me no matter what I feel.
Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (v.40)
In Philippine history, when General Douglas MacArthur* told the people of the Philippines, “I shall return,” in 1944, after almost 3 years, he fulfilled his promise. He came and liberated the people of the Philippines from Japanese tyranny.
In the Bible, one time Jesus was talking to His followers, He said;
“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning… (v.35)
He also told them earlier, not to worry about life’s concerns such as food, clothing, etc. He encouraged them instead, “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” (v.31) Jesus was saying to His followers, if they pursue the will of God and His kingdom, then God will take care of their needs. And while serving Him and doing His will, be aware also that Jesus could come back anytime. Jesus told His followers, to be aware, watch, and wait for His return. “And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. “(v38)
“Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (v.40) What Jesus is talking about here is in the context of Jewish wedding customs. He said, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately. “(v.35-36)
In Jewish custom and tradition, when a man and a woman are engaged to be married, the man prepares a house for the future bride. After he has done this preparation, which takes about a year, the groom gets his wedding party, friends, and family, and walks together in a procession to get the bride from her house. The bride’s family knows this will happen, but they do not know the day or hour. During those days, they did not have a telephone or social media to send messages. The groom gets ready and goes to the bride’s house. So, the bride had better be ready when he comes!
In Matthew 25, Jesus talked about the parable of the foolish and wise brides or virgins. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps “(Matthew 25: 1-13).
In Matthew 24:27-28, Jesus spoke to His disciples about His return and the ingathering of His followers: “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
Paul also says, “For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17)
For the past 2000 years, followers of Jesus have been eagerly waiting for His return. Paul also said, “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:52)
This is our blessed hope, the return of our kings, the king of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
“Now, I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
(Revelation 19:11, 16)
Peter also said, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9-10)
The Lord Jesus promised His followers 2000 years ago that He would return. If General MacArthur fulfilled his words, “I shall return!”, how much more reliable are the words of Jesus! The words of Jesus are trustworthy, reliable, and sure. What He says, He will do. Jesus will come back again. Moreover, being ready to meet the Lord is also personal. Anytime, anywhere, death can happen to anyone. The question is, “Am I ready to meet the Lord Jesus anytime?” “Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40)
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your promises. I believe You. I believe Your words, and I look forward to Your return. Holy Spirit help us, Your Church (Your followers), know how to get ready. Help me, Holy Spirit, to get my oil lamp trimmed and ready. Lord, how do I get ready? How do we get ready for Your return?
Key verse: “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (v.7)
Jesus continues to teach and exhort His disciples: “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (v.4-5)
God loves and takes care of His creation – animals, flowers, especially people. Jesus said to His followers, “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.” (v.6-7)
Therefore, do not worry and fear to confess Jesus before people. Do not fear false accusations on account of Jesus’ name because the Holy Spirit will give power and strength in times of persecution. Jesus said, “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (v.11-12) The Holy Spirit gives wisdom about what to say. And the Holy Spirit gives power, strength, and courage to withstand against all kinds of threats and intimidation.
Therefore, Jesus is saying, do not fear people but fear God only. Do not worry about life because God sees everything, and God cares for those who choose to follow His Son, Jesus. God loves Jesus, and God loves those whom Jesus loves. So, we are secure in the arms of God as we follow Jesus, and we have the power of the Holy Spirit. There is no need to worry, no one to fear – fear God alone!
Dear Lord God, thank You for that because of Jesus, I am secure in your arms. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for your power, wisdom, and strength to follow Jesus – to fear nothing and no one, but God. In your powerful name, Jesus, I pray, amen!
“...but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, .” Philippians 3: 14 NLT
” What are your thoughts as you look back over the last year? loss, tragedy, sorrow or happiness, joy, success, etc? …do you close the book on this year with regret, or with relief?
“No matter what your answer is, I hope you will pause and prayerfully ask yourself two important questions: First, how do you think God looks on this past year in your life? Did it bring you any closer to Him? Second, what lessons will you take from this year into next? What did God teach you?
“Don’t be bound by the past and its failures? But don’t forget is lessons either.” – by Billy Graham, “Wisdom for Each Day”
Happy New Year! New year, new blessings!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. ” Isaiah 43:18 -19
“The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; ” Isaiah 22:22
Someday Jesus will come back again, not as a Baby, but as the King of kings!
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He [e]had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in [f]fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a [g]sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” – Revelation 19: 11-16
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. ” V. 25
Luke 2 :25
Reading: Luke 2:21-35
Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7). Joseph and Mary were his earthly parents. The angels of God continued to guide and watch over the family. The angels also made an announcement to the shepherds in Bethlehem. (v.11) The shepherds followed the words spoken to them by the angels, they went and visited Baby Jesus who was with his parents, Joseph and Mary. (v.15-16). When the shepherds saw Baby Jesus with their own eyes, they rejoiced, went out, and spread the good news to their community. (v.17-18).
After 8 days, Baby Jesus was presented to the temple in Jerusalem to follow the custom and traditions. “They brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), Luke 2:22-24.
While in the temple, there was a man named Simeon. He was a devout and righteous man according to their Law. Basically, he followed all the commandments written in the Law of Moses. Maybe not just obeying the rules and traditions, Simeon was considered devout and righteous, as he also believed and worshipped the Lord God from his heart.
Perhaps for many years, Simeon, prayed for the coming Messiah or Savior as told in their Scriptures. It says, he eagerly waited for the salvation of God (Jewish Bible). Not just believing or having faith, but he had hope. He also had anticipation and an expectant heart for the fulfillment of God’s words.
Simeon remembered that the Lord God was faithful in keeping His words. As God spoke to Abraham, Jacob, David, and other men of God, He fulfilled His words. So, Simeon had faith, hope, and an expectant heart to wait for God to fulfill His words.
During a period of challenges, perhaps one of the most difficult times in the history of Israel because of Roman rule, Simeon kept his faith. He had hope that one day Messiah will come. Some may have lost their faith and hope as some went their own way. Others became tax collectors and some were involved in prostitution, perhaps just to survive. Others focused on keeping the tradition, following rules and regulations like the religious leaders. Simeon like the others, (Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph) kept his eyes on the Lord God and His promises. Simeon kept his devotion and pursued righteousness even in the hardest of times. Simeon was filled by the Holy Spirit.
Not just a general promise in the Scriptures, Simeon had a personal promise revealed by the Holy Spirit. “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (v.26)
So, when Baby Jesus and his parents came to the temple for the baby dedication, Simeon knew right away, that Baby was the One! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Simeon knew without a doubt that Baby Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to them, the people of Israel.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.“
Isaiah 9: 6
Thus, Simeon gave praise, thanksgiving, and adoration to the Lord God. (v. 29-32)
The Holy Bible is filled with the promises of God for Israel and for the followers of Jesus. The Lord God is faithful, Sovereign and has the power to fulfill them as He already did to the people of Israel- to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc. As followers of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, the words of God in the Bible also speak to us personally. God gives us personal promises too. Like Simeon, who was faithful, full of faith, and full of hope, he waited eagerly for God to fulfill His Words to Israel and to him personally.
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: 30-32
The Bible says we are made righteous because of Jesus. We can be faithful and be filled with hope and have expectant hearts through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Questions for reflection:
1. Are you faithful in your devotion to Jesus?
2. Do you have an expectant heart to wait for the promise of Jesus that He will come again?
3. Are you eager to wait upon His promises.
4. Do you have personal promises from God that you are still waiting for His fulfillment?
Prayer: Holy Spirit please help me to be faithful, and hopeful, and to wait eagerly upon the promises of God. Lord Jesus may You come soon!
“The Pilgrims fathers who landed at Plymouth to settle in what became the United States of America can teach us an important lesson about giving thanks.
During that first long winter, seven times as many as graves were made for the dead as homes were made for the living. Seed, imported from England, failed to grow, and a ship that was to bring food and relief, brought instead 35 more mouths to feed, but no provisions. According to today’s standards, the Pilgrims had almost nothing, but they possessed a profound and heartfelt gratitude to God for His love and mercy.
Gratitude is one of the greatest Christian virtues.” By Billy Graham
The First Thanksgiving
“Just over 50 colonists are believed to have attended, including 22 men, four married women—including Edward Winslow’s wife—and more than 25 children and teenagers. These were the lucky ones who had made it through a rough entry into the New World, including a harsh winter during which an epidemic of disease swept through the colony, felling nearly half the original group. Some 78 percent of the women who had arrived on the Mayflower had died during the first winter, a far higher percentage than for men or children. “For the English, [the first Thanksgiving] was also celebrating the fact that they had survived their first year here in New England,” Begley points out.”
We thank the Lord for the first Pilgrims who endured a lot of challenges and hardships in pioneering a new country. They paved the way for many to come to this country to start a new life. Some of them left Europe for religious freedom, to worship the Almighty God in heaven.
According to Wikipedia”
“New England and Virginia colonists originally celebrated days of thanksgiving, thanking God for blessings such as harvests, ship landings, and military victories, or the end of a drought. The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days and was attended by 90 Wampanoag and 53 Pilgrims…
Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by President George Washington a request by Congress…. until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”, calling on the American people to also, “with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience .. fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation…”. Lincoln declared it for the last Thursday in November.”
v.38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Ephesians 4:23-24 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:23-24)
Tired of religion? I remember when I was a small child, around six or seven years old, when I knew I did something wrong, like other children, I did not want my parents to know. So, I hid and did not tell them. One time, I accidentally broke a drinking glass and was afraid to tell my mother. I felt bad, so to punish myself, I took a handful of salt, laid it on the floor of the upper room in our old house, and knelt on it. I prayed and asked God to forgive me. Then growing up, in middle school, I learned I could go to church and confess to a priest. Later on, I learned from the Bible that, Jesus is the Way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6). So, when I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I thought I found the right religion! However, the more I read the Bible, and the more I got to know God and His love, I realized, it is not really a religion. It is a relationship and not a religion. Jesus became my BFF, my best friend forever!
The people in Israel when Jesus was still on earth also got confused with tradition and religion. In the story in Luke chapter 5, some people asked Jesus why the disciples of John and the Pharisees fasted and prayed, while His disciples did not. (Luke 5:33). The people in Israel in those times watched and observed religious people. Some followed John and his teachings, perhaps some followed the Pharisees, and others listened and watched Jesus too. Perhaps some people wondered who to follow and emulate. While the Pharisees and scribes were experts in studying and practicing their tradition and law according to Moses, Jesus was introducing new ways of worshipping God. Jesus said, He did not come to change the law, but to change man-made traditions. (See Matthew 5:17-18).
“No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.” (Luke 5:36)
Jesus came to set people free from the burdens of old traditions and old ways of religion. Religion teaches rituals, practices, traditions, and a system of beliefs to come to God. But Jesus was introducing a new way to come to God, through relationship. “And He said to them, ‘Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?’” (v.34)
Jesus was saying that God the Father wants a relationship, not a religion. God wants a relationship with us like the relationship of a bridegroom and his bride – one based on love and intimacy. God desires a friendship between the bridegroom (Christ) and the friends of the bridegroom (us) which means hanging out, celebrating, eating together, and caring for one another. It’s not about following rules and regulations. It’s about a love relationship – grieving together when one is hurting, celebrating successes, talking about anything under the sun, etc.
It’s like our relationship with close friends. For example, I recall with fondness my relationship with friends in seminary and at church. After class or work, we spent time hanging out, just talking, sharing about life, etc. Another example is the relationship I had with friends when I was in the mission field. We worshipped and studied the Word together, shared concerns, and prayed together. After Sunday morning fellowship, we ate meals together, played games, watched movies, and just talked. That’s what Jesus wanted to introduce to the people of Israel and His followers. Jesus wants to be our friend. God and Jesus want relationship with His people and not religion. (v.37-38)
Jesus is giving “new wine” to refresh souls. He is life, sustains life, and wants to connect His people to the Source of life, God the Father. New wine and new life in Jesus are to know Father God, the Giver of life and source of eternal life. New wineskins mean new ways of thinking, a new heart, and a new mindset – to get rid of old ways, old traditions, and old ways of thinking like those exhibited by the Pharisees and other religious people. The religious people cared more about keeping traditions and man-made rules and regulations than about a relationship. Jesus gives new wine – new ways of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.
It’s not about religion, nor denomination; it’s not about following rules and regulations; not a system of beliefs, rituals, and ceremonies, but a love relationship. We can come to Him anytime. He wants us to hang out with Him and talk with Him – not just perform a ritual of prayer. Talking or praying is sharing our concerns and burdens with Him, sharing our joys and triumphs (thanksgiving), sharing anything and everything in our hearts.
We need a fresh revelation of who God is – compassionate, loving, caring, and fun! God wants a love relationship with His children through Jesus. Know the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide. Ask Him questions anytime about anything or share your deepest thoughts with Him. Talk to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Share your sorrows, pain, grief, and fears. Celebrate with God your successes and joys. It’s about friendship and a love relationship. Similar to a bride to her bridegroom, it’s about romance, love, intimacy, friendship, etc.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You desire a love relationship with us and not a religion. Help me, help us to have a new wineskin – a new spirit, a new heart, and new thinking to worship You in spirit and truth.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:2 NKJV
Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
from the Book “Behold He Prayeth” – by Joshua Stauffer
Reading: Acts 9:1-11
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
If the Lord would behold many people , what would He see? If the predominating thing in their lives were recorded, it simply would be “Behold, he sleepeth,”or “Behold, he readeth the newspaper,” or “Behold, he listeneth to the radio,” or “Behold she seweth,” or “Behold she cooketh.” But of the person who makes prayer the first, greatest, and most important business in life, God and heaven will take notice that, “Behold, he prayeth.” May this be said of us.
“Intercession is prayer, but all praying is not intercession. Intercession is one type of prayer. It is petitioning, or entreating in behalf of another or others…”
The ministry of intercession is one of the greatest ministries. Someone prayed for us to know God.
1.Pray for all men & those in authority
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” I Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV)
2.Pray for Israel
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you…” I Samuel 12:23 (NKJV)
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Romans 10:1 (NKJV)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 (NKJV)
“The Lord said to Abraham, ‘I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.’ (Genesis 12:1) This promise is true today…Christian people would court the favor of the Lord if they would pray for Israel that they might be saved. It was Paul’s policy to preach to the Jews first wherever he went. Nothing would be lost but much would be gained, if the policy “to the Jews first” were practiced by Christian people in their praying, preaching, and giving. J. Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission (OMF), made it his policy on the first day of each year to write out a check for the evangelization of the Jews. This would be a good practice for all Christians to follow, then they would be led to pray for them.”
3.Pray for all the saints/the church
“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)
“The mistake many church people make is they put forth a great effort in getting sinners into church services, then when they get to church, they neglect them…and forget to pray for them.”
When Jesus was here on earth, He did many things. He was very busy with ministry. He traveled often in Israel. He taught many people and healed people from illnesses. He also had power and authority over unclean spirits. Though He had a busy ministry schedule, He took time to pray and fellowship with His heavenly Father.
He (Jesus) Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. Luke 5:16
Then one day, His Disciples said to Him, “Lord teach us how to pray.”
So, He said to them, “When you pray, say
OurFatherin heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread.And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Luke 11:1-4
The Lord’s prayer is not really a formula. I believe it is a model prayer, David and I pray this every day, not just by rote, but with faith and trust in Jesus that He hears our prayers.
And here is another guide we also use in prayer: We use the acronym ACTS, which makes it easy remember.
A- is adoration. Like what Jesus said, “Hallowed be Your name”. We praise God for He is merciful, all powerful, sovereign, loving, gracious, etc.
C- is confession. Again, from the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive others.” We can ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts if there ‘s any thing that is not pleasing to the Lord. And ask God for forgiveness. (See I John 1:9)
T- is thanksgiving. Thank God for 3 things; count your blessings.
S- is supplication – deliver us from the evil one.
For Supplication, some people use the 5-finger model.
Thumb- friends & family
Pointer-Parents and Teachers
Ring-weak and sick people
Whichever prayer model you prefer, prayer is not a ceremony or a ritual. It is a personal relationship. Like with friends and others, prayer is talking, and taking time in fellowship with Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;“
A couple of weeks ago, I took a special time with the Lord as the Jewish calendar of Ellul was closing and the head of the year was coming, Rosh Hashana (September 7th). I asked Him what is His heart for the Church, the followers of Yeshua, the Bride of Christ. I felt the Lord said, “I will put a new spirit within you and will give you a new heart,” (Ezekiel 36:26). Then He also said, He is giving us new wine and new oil. He is also giving us fire of the Holy Ghost to burn the dross, blow away the chaff, burn old wineskin – which is old thinking, old habits, including old beliefs and tradition.
God is giving us new wineskins, to be vessels of silver and gold, (such as cup, oil lamps, etc). New wine is to refresh our souls so we can refresh others. He is giving new oil to anoint us, to give us power for new ministries He is calling us to. God is giving us new oil to be a light burning for Jesus in this dark world.
A few years ago, while praying, the Spirit of the Lord gave me a picture (vision) of earthen vessels or clay jars, of different sizes and shapes. Then I saw Jesus pouring wine into each clay jar. There were many in the room, but Jesus was waiting for those jars to be willing vessels for Him to pour His wine into. Right after that vision Lord gave me, I saw this miniature of Jesus pouring water and wine into a clay jar right in one of the cabinets in our church.
Back to my prayer during this recent Ellul month, the Spirit of the Lord continued to speak as HE impressed upon my heart this word;
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
God is giving us new wine and new oil for a harvest of souls. I heard some prophetic words about a harvest of a billion souls in this new decade (2020-2030) and as we enter a new era. I felt the Spirit of the Lord is saying for the harvest of souls, God needs new vessels (new wineskins) to be vessels for this new wine and new oil.
Then God says, “I do not change, I AM, I am gracious and merciful. I hate sin and do not tolerate sin. I’m calling my people to holiness – the church- you are set apart for me to be a light in this dark world. I’m pouring fresh wine, to new wineskins, new oil to new vessel of oil lamp, I’m sending fresh manna from my Word.”
To change old wineskin to new wineskin is to change old habits and old thinking. For me personally the Lord is dealing with me about these sins and wrong ways, such as procrastination, delayed obedience, not paying careful attention to the Holy Spirit’s leading and His Words, holding on to old grudges, resentments, unforgiveness, pride, self-righteousness, etc.
A few weeks ago, I had another dream: In my dream, I was in my room, then my late father came to the room. He went to a clothes drawer where I keep my undergarments. He pulled out old undergarments. As he pulled some old, tattered, gray-looking undergarments one by one, he looked at me and I saw in his eyes, as if telling me, “Why are you holding onto these?” Then he showed me the other part of the drawer, with new and clean undergarments.
In that dream, I felt our Heavenly Father was telling me to throw away the old garments and He is giving me new garments, which means throw away old mindsets, old thinking, old stuff in my heart that are not pleasing to Him. And He wants to give me new garments or new heart, new spirit. Undergarments also represents things hidden and not seen by men.
Then I read this quote from “Billy Graham’s Wisdom for Each Day” Daily calendar on September 2nd:
“To ask God to search out the darkest, most secret corners of our minds and hearts take courage… if we aren’t willing to do this? Then the sins we know about remain unconfessed, and our fellowship with God remains cold and distant. Perhaps more important, the hidden sins we may not even realize we have sins- like pride, suppressed anger, lack of love, jealousy, a secret yearning for recognition- remain firmly in place, manipulating us and eventually destroying us.”
In the Old Testament, Zechariah had a vision of the high priest of Israel, Joshua who was being accused of Satan because of their sins. But God defended Joshua from Satan. ((Zechariah 3:1-2).
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.”
So, they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.” (Zechariah 3:3-5)
Joshua was a high priest in Jerusalem was being accused by satan because of his sins and the sin of the people of Israel, but Lord God defended him. Zechariah 3:1
God forgave their sins as represented by the filthy garments, and gave him new and clean garments.
As God forgave the sin of Joshua and the people of Israel, He encouraged him.
Then the Angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts:
‘If you will walk in My ways, And if you will keep My command, Then you shall also judge My house, And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk Among these who stand here.
Jesus said, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.But new wine must be put into new wineskins,and both are preserved.” Luke 5: 37-38 NKJV
New Wine, new oil, new wineskins to be vessels of honor (silver cup, gold cup, an oil lamp, etc) for the harvest of souls.
To have a new wineskin is to consecrate our spirit anew afresh to the Lordship of Christ, get rid of all thoughts, old habits, old ways of thinking to brin a new wine, new oil, which is fresh power and anointing of God, a new revelation of who He is.
Prayer: Holy Spirit please search my heart, see if there is anything that is not pleasing to you. Dear Jesus please forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me, make me a new wineskin, give me a new heart, and fill me with your spirit.
This morning in my Bible reading, the Lord encouraged me once again from His Word. As we see and hear news of wickedness going on around the world, we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith. We pray for God’s protection for the innocent, vulnerable, children, and women who are in volatile situations. We pray for courageous men and women who put their lives on the line to help these people in need. Though some people may fail, Almighty God does not fail. God loves all people.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The Assured Judgment of the Wicked
“Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Defend me from those who rise up against me. 2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, And save me from bloodthirsty men.
3 For look, they lie in wait for my life; The mighty gather against me, Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord. 4 They run and prepare themselves through no fault of mine.
Awake to help me, and behold! 5 You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah
6 At evening they return, They growl like a dog, And go all around the city. 7 Indeed, they belch with their mouth; Swords are in their lips; For they say, “Who hears?”
8 But You, O Lord, shall laugh at them; You shall have all the nations in derision. 9 I will wait for You, O You his Strength; For God is my defense. 10 My God of mercy shall come to meet me; God shall let me see my desire on my enemies.
11 Do not slay them, lest my people forget; Scatter them by Your power, And bring them down, O Lord our shield. 12 For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be taken in their pride, And for the cursing and lying which they speak. 13 Consume them in wrath, consume them, That they may not be; And let them know that God rules in Jacob To the ends of the earth. Selah
14 And at evening they return, They growl like a dog, And go all around the city. 15 They wander up and down for food, And howl if they are not satisfied.
16 But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. 17 To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.”
But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”
Jesus Christ- Mark 2:10
Other Refences: Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 1:18; John 17:23,29
Jesus healed a paralytic who was brought by his friends. We do not know why the man was born with paralysis. In that time in Israel, the people had the belief that a person is sick because of sin. Jesus wanted to release the blessing of God’s forgiveness and healing to the paralyzed man. “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’” (verse 5)
The religious leaders knew well their Scriptures, too.
“And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (v7)
In the Old Testament God spoke through the prophet Isaiah. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)
In the time past, the people of Israel knew that only the Lord God in heaven could forgive sins. There were men of God like the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel, and great leaders like Moses and David, and priests who prayed for them. However, ultimately only God (Yahweh) could forgive sins. When Jesus came to Israel, many people saw Him as a normal Jewish man. However, Jesus was also fully God. The Father God in heaven gave Him authority to forgive sin because Jesus was His manifestation here on earth. God sent Jesus so the people of the world would know who God in heaven is – so that they might know His love, His mercy, His kindness, and His forgiveness. Jesus showed and demonstrated to the paralytic the heart of God to forgive sins and to show compassion.
As the man was healed, he also received forgiveness of his sins which was the healing of his soul. God’s heart to heal is not just physical healing of bodies from infirmity, but to heal their souls and spirits. And to be set free from the power of evil, to be whole, healing of body, soul, and spirit. This is the power and authority Jesus has from the heavenly Father.
God gave Jesus authority to heal and forgive. Jesus still heals today. The healing Jesus offers is not just healing of the physical body, but the healing of soul and spirit, and the forgiveness of sins.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to earth and forgiving me of my sins. Thank you for healing my body, soul, heart, and mind. Please help me to share your healing power and forgiveness with others, like the friends of the paralytic man who brought him to Jesus.
All Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New King James
As we see turmoil and chaos around, it is easy to be fearful and worry. The other morning I felt God encouraged me from His Words in the Bible. Just in time, these Words have strengthened my spirit.
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
Psalm 46: 1-3
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 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 refuge. Selah – Psalm 46
The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance is of the Lord.
Proverbs 21: 31
Bible Scriptures taken from New King James Version, NKJV
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
by: Jesus- Matthew 6: 25-34 NKJV- The Bible Gateway
Early one morning in September 2020, I had a vivid dream:
My husband and I were in a small room inside a big building. I was not sure, but perhaps it was a hotel. I know the building had many rooms. We were inside huddled together in a corner, sort of hiding. In the dream, I saw our room door was shut, and we looked at the glass window to the hallway to make sure no one could see us. Then suddenly the door opened. A woman came in, with short hair, maybe in her late 60’s. She went straight across the room and stood next to the window to the outside world. It was a small window, and she opened it a little for us to see. As she pointed at the window to the outside world, we could see that the sky was dark and bleak. It was supposed to be daytime, perhaps afternoon, but we could see stormy clouds. Then she pointed to a white stone that looked like a chair or throne which appeared like a vision or an invisible movie screen picture on the wall. It was like a marble stone chair with bits of clay. We saw the picture, like watching a movie scene. Then she said to us, “That’s Jesus, on the throne. He is the rock.” And then the dream ended.
After a couple of days or so, as I pondered and prayed about the dream, I felt that the Holy Spirit revealed to me a portion of the interpretation of the dream. The woman was an angel. The dark clouds outside, were the chaos and all the negative things happening in the world. (During that time in real life, there was chaos happening in the country such as the pandemic, protests, etc.) Then the Holy Spirit led me to Psalm 91:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV)
This is what I felt led me to the meaning of the dream. The room we were in was like a secret room. There were other rooms in the building. The woman was an angel of God.
Despite all the bad things and chaos of those dark days, I was reminded that if Jesus is our Lord, He is our Rock. If Jesus is our Lord and Rock, then we stay in the secret place of the Lord, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” We are safe and secure in the secret place of the Lord. He shall hide us in times of trouble under His mighty wings.
In the dream, as I mentioned, the woman who came to our room represents our angels whom the Lord God sends to guard and protect us in times of trouble. In the Bible we know that angels are also messengers and God’s ministering servants.
“Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.” (Psalm 103:20 NKJV)
We read in the Bible where angels delivered messages to Abraham (Genesis 18), Gideon (Judges 6:11), the parents of Samson (Judges 13:3), and others. In the New Testament, Mary was visited by an angel (Luke 1: 26), as was Zacharias (Luke 1:11), and others.
Let us look at the story of Mary and Zacharias when angels appeared and spoke to them at separate times:
An angel spoke to Mary and said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus.” (Luke 1:31 NKJV)
Mary’s final response was: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 NKJV) Mary just agreed with the message of the angel as she believed in her heart that it was the will of God.
Let’s see the story of Zacharias when an angel told him that he and his wife would have a son, John the Baptist, also in Luke 1:
“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (Luke 1:13 NKJV).
And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.” Because of unbelief, the angel said to Zacharias:
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.” (Luke 1:20 NKJV)
The Power of Words
A few years ago, I read a book by Charles Capps with the title “Angels.”[i] According to Mr. Capps:
“Be careful what you say. Your Angels are listening! Don’t speak negative words before your angels.”
Capps explained further that angels are very much alive on earth. As they worked in the Old Testament and the New Testament times, they are still working now on behalf of God’s people.
According to Mr. Capps, one day the Spirit of God spoke to his spirit:
“One reason the words you speak are so important is because the angels are listening to what you say… I designed them as ministering spirits. They stand beside you daily, listening to words that come out of your mouth. If your words are in line with my Words, then the angels go to work immediately, causing the things you speak to come to pass. But if you speak things contrary to My word, you won’t get an audience with angels. They won’t operate on those words. Words spoken contrary to My Words will bind the angels. They will back off, fold their hands, and bow their heads… You should speak in line with My Word in order for my will to come to pass in your life. Man was designed to speak truth, to speak his will.”
He went on to say how detrimental it is when people say things like, “Nothing ever works” or “I never get healed,” etc.
The Words of God are powerful and very important, as Jesus said to His disciples:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63 NKJV)
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, youwill ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7 NKJV)
Our words are important, too, as the Bible says:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21 NKJV)
Of course, as Christians, we do not pray to angels, but to our Lord God. However, God sends His angels to minister, and to answer our petitions and requests. The angels get their instruction from God as they heed the voice of His words. (Psalm 103:20)
The apostle Paul warned:
“Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, … (Colossians 2:18); and “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8 NKJV)
About prayer and intercession, we pray in faith as Jesus said:
“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says…” (Mark 11:23 NKJV)
Notice Jesus said again, “believe that those things he says will be done…” The use of the words of our mouths is important. “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NKJV)
As we pray in faith, we also must watch what we say. Sometimes, I catch myself after praying for some situation saying something like, “I’m not sure if God listens to such prayers…”
As Christians who are familiar with the Bible, we should try to be careful about saying negative words. However, with some of the negative things going on, it is sometimes easier to paint the worst scenario. As Christians, God gave us the gift of faith. Jesus said His followers are supposed to be the salt and light of the earth.
Derek Prince said, “Christians are responsible for the government they live under, if you would take less time to criticize (which is the use of our mouths), and more time to pray, you would have less to criticize.[ii]”
[i] Capps, Charles, “Angels”, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harrison House, 1984
[ii] IFA, Derek Prince, “Praying for Your Government”, p.18, Intercessors for America, Derek Prince Ministries
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17, NKJV
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9NIV)
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the [remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Jesus is coming back soon!
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Prayer of repentance and commitment to Jesus as your Lord and Savior:
Dear God, thank You for your love for me and for sending Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for my sin. I believe that God raised you up from the dead. Please forgive my sins. I open my heart to you. I commit and trust my life to Your Lordship. Please help me, Holy Spirit, to live the life God has planned for me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
If you pray the prayer above, you are now a child of God and forgiven because of Jesus Christ! What to do next?
Christianity is not just a religion. It is a personal relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us through reading the Bible every day. (www.biblegateway.com)
We speak to God through prayer in the name of Jesus.
To hear good Bible teachings, look for a good Bible believing Christian church to be part of, or maybe look for online for now.
Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)
Jesus began His public ministry in obedience to the will of God His Father. His obedience began when He stepped down from His heavenly home, stripped off Hs kingly robe, left eternity, came to earth, and became a helpless babe. Jesus chose to enter humanity and became like one of us – in human flesh, with human emotions. He became a child and then a teenager, subject to the authority of his earthly parents – Joseph and Mary. Jesus followed the tradition and culture of His land, spoke the language of the Jews, and worked with His earthly father as a craftsman/carpenter. Maybe when He was little, He also played with His brothers and sisters.
Just before Jesus was known to the public as a prophet of God, John declared His coming:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:3)
To follow the tradition of the priests’ purification, Jesus also came to John for baptism.
“It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up [c]from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:9-11)
After John baptized Jesus, John was put in prison, and just in time Jesus started His public ministry.
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [g]is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (V. 14-15)
Jesus began preaching and teaching the Words of God to the people of Israel. Jesus also knew His time on earth was limited, so as He proclaimed the Words of God, He also chose and called other men to come along and learn from Him. He asked Simon, Andrew, and other men to follow Him. (v. 15)
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (v.17)
Jesus knew those men and their hearts. Even though they were ordinary men, their hearts were longing for the coming of the Messiah, or Savior.
Why did Jesus not call the priests or the Pharisees? I don’t know, and I am not sure why. The twelve disciples believed Jesus was their Savior, and they were not close-minded like the priests. The disciples learned from Jesus. They saw Him heal many sick people, cleanse lepers (v.40), and perform other signs and wonders. They had experienced the power and wonders of Jesus, especially the manifest, physical presence of God on earth.
What does it mean to be “fishers of men”? As fishermen catch fish for living, fishers of men catch people for the Kingdom of God. There are many people who are lost in the ocean of life. If no one catches them, they will drown in sin and die at the bottom of the ocean. They will perish forever in hell, away from the presence of our Creator God. (See Revelation 20: 12-15). Fishers of men are followers of Jesus who chose to do what Jesus did – preach the Good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins, to receive the love of God and to be part of His Kingdom.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
Jesus is still calling men and women to follow Him. The call of Jesus is still the same to those who believe Him,“Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
As the first disciples and followers of Jesus experienced His manifest power to heal the sick, deliver the oppressed from demons, and preach the Good news of salvation. Jesus still gives the same power to those who will follow Him to be fishers of men.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your call and invitation to follow You to be fishers of men. Help us, Your Church, the Christians, to follow Your call to be fishers of men, to preach and teach the Good News of Salvation, and to make disciples.
Key verse : “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)
Other references: John 14:16, John 15:26
//Matthew 3:11& Luke 3:16- I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Lord Jesus spent 3 full years with His disciples. He ate with them, traveled places with them and did ministry together. The disciples studied and learned from Him directly, as they listened to His teachings and preaching. They witnessed and saw miracles He did firsthand. Jesus trained them to be teachers of the Word of God, to be preachers, prophets, and evangelists. However, Jesus had to go back physically to His heavenly home to be with His Father. Jesus had fulfilled His mission and primary purpose when He gave His life as a sin offering for the world. Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world (John 19), then rose after 3 days. He showed Himself to His disciples and others for 40 days. During this time, He gave them His last words and re-commissioned them. (Acts 1:1). Jesus encouraged the disciples one more time (but not the last time).
“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5)
Jesus promised this to His disciples even before He died on the cross.
“And I will pray the Father, andHe will give you anotherHelper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth,whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with youand will be in you.” John 14:16-17
Jesus had to go back to heaven, leaving the earth, but He did not abandon His followers, disciples, and friends.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (v.18)
He already made plans for them, to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. He speaks the Truth, which is the Word of God, to enlighten peoples’ minds and to convict of sin.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26)
The Holy Spirit is also the Helper. Like Jesus, He helps in time of need. Like Jesus, He promised to stay with the disciples forever. As Jesus promised His disciples, I will not leave you orphans (John 14:18)
The Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is Truth and Helper. He continues to do the work of Jesus – to speak the truth of God’s words. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, our help in time of need, whatever the situation, whatever we need – healing of bodies, healing of emotions, healing of minds, providing for financial needs, giving guidance, protection, comfort, etc.
Jesus is back in heaven, but He is still with us, as His followers, through the Holy Spirit. He provides for us, meeting every need we could possibly imagine. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into Truth – to be our Teacher and Helper in times of need. The Holy Spirit abides or stay with us forever.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to us Your followers. Thank You Holy Spirit for helping me in time of need, and for guiding and teaching me the Truth of God and His words. Amen!
Part 2: The Holy Spirit gives power to do the works of Jesus!
Reading: Acts 1:8-26
Key verse: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
//Luke 24:49 – “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
One of the last things the Lord Jesus told His disciples before He returned to heaven was,
“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5); And “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (v.8)
His disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical power.
“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (v.7).
The disciples knew and believed with all their hearts that Jesus was their long-awaited Messiah or Savior. However, their definition of Messiah was different from Jesus’ kingdom’s definition. Perhaps in the minds of the disciples and other people of Israel, they thought the Messiah or Savior was like Moses or David. Moses was their physical ruler who freed them from slavery in Egypt (See Exodus). Later, David led the people of Israel into battles and established his kingdom throughout Israel (See 2 Samuel). Perhaps, the disciples and other people were thinking, Jesus would do the same, delivering them from oppression and tyranny of the Roman rule. However, as the Word says in Isaiah 55:8
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.”
The mind of Christ and the plan of God was far greater than the thinking of men – temporary relief. Men like the people of Israel thought of physical deliverance from hardships, taxation, violence, and other physical oppressions. From the beginning, when Jesus was born on earth, God’s plan was to deliver people from the bondage of sin.
For He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)
The plan of God was not just a temporary relief from hardships and oppression, His plan of salvation was far greater than temporary earthly relief. His plan of salvation was eternal – to deliver people from sin. God’s plan of salvation for the people of Israel is the same for everyone in the world. (John 3:16)
So, when Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power…” (Acts 1:8), He meant the power to preach the Gospel, the power to heal sick people, to perform miracles, so people would believe in Jesus. When Jesus was with His disciples on earth, He did the Father’s will – preaching salvation, teaching the people the words of God, healing the sick, and delivering people from demonic oppression. Jesus’s focus and mission were to set people free from sin, from hell and eternal condemnation. The same power Jesus received from the Father, He passed on to His disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit so they could be witnesses in all places starting in Jerusalem and then moving to other cities, other places, other countries, and to the ends of the earth.
The same power Jesus gave His disciples is available to all His followers even to this day – the power to preach the Gospel, teach the Word of God, heal the sick, deliver people from demonic oppression, set people free from sin, hell and eternal condemnation. As followers of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit is made available to us all.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending Your Holy Spirit to us. Thank You Holy Spirit for coming. Please fill us with your power – Your spirit of strength and courage to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus to everyone, in every place you send us.
Last week, April 27, 2021 we celebrated our seven years wedding anniversary! We praise the Lord for His gift of love and marriage. We thank the Lord God for bringing us to serve Him together in reaching others with the love of Jesus through personal ministry and with Far East Broadcasting Company, (FEBC). Here are some highlights from our ministry and personal trips the past years.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38 NKJV)
Reading: John 7
Power, popularity, prestige, position, food, fashion, success, wealth, passion, entertainment, etc. are the things with which people try to fill their lives. Here in the southeast, where we sometimes experience tornados and severe storms, people who have lost all their possessions often say, “We lost our homes and everything else, but we thank God we are still alive!”
One of the greatest kings who lived on earth was Solomon who had everything – power, wealth, women, etc. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11) However, his cry was, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
But hear the words of Jesus:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)
Once more, Jesus gave an opportunity to the people of Israel to know who He was. He wanted them to know that He is the source of life. He wanted to give them the river of living water. For Jesus is the wellspring of salvation. He is the source of life and the giver of eternal life.
The offer of Jesus is still true today for everyone. Jesus wants to give us the river of living water because He is the source of life, the bread of life, and the living water. Jesus offers His life to anyone. He alone can satisfy the hungry soul. He alone can fill the longing of hearts. Nothing else can fill the emptiness in a man’s soul.
People in the world today try to pursue earthly dreams, success, worldly wealth, good life, and happiness. They try all kinds of things, relationships, and intimacy, but none can fill the void in one’s heart. Jesus alone can satisfy the soul, as He made a way for us to come to the Father, the giver and source of life.
All the striving for happiness, success, and fulfillment cannot be compared with the joy and satisfaction of a relationship with Jesus. In Jesus, there is peace, love, joy, hope, the forgiveness of sin, and eternal life. What Jesus offers and gives is not a temporary solution or a quick fix; He gives eternal redemption and salvation of the soul from sin and hell.
In Jesus, all our needs are met – physical, emotional, and spiritual. He is the Provider of food, shelter, etc. He is the Healer when we are sick. Jesus is the Comforter when we are lonely and sad. Jesus is strength when we are weak. Jesus is Hope when we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Jesus is love when we feel abandoned. Jesus is Wisdom when we need guidance and direction. Jesus is Refuge when we need protection. Jesus is the Good Shepherd when we have lost our way. Jesus is the Resurrection and the life in time of death. And Jesus wants to give us more.
The invitation of Jesus is for everyone to come to Him and be filled. He wants to give us the river of life, the river of living water. He desires to fill the longing of our soul and to satisfy our spirit. Jesus wants to give us eternal life – a life connected to God in eternity.
Dear Jesus, I praise You and bless You! Thank you for your offer to give us the river of living water, that we could live with you here on earth and in eternity with our God. Thank You that I can come to you for everything and anything I need in life and in the life to come.
Key verse: “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” (v.36)
Mark 14: 36
Abba, means “Father.” Jesus called God His Father, meaning He has a personal and close relationship with God. Jesus knew He could call on His Father anytime, especially in times of trouble and distress. “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’” (v.34)
Jesus knew His Father, the Lord God, is all-powerful and all-knowing. “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You…’” (v.36). Jesus knew His Father could do anything. God created the heavens and the earth. He had all the power and resources. He could command His legions of angels to stop and intervene in His Son’s situation if He desired to.
Jesus knew well that His Father is gracious and merciful. “Take this cup away from Me.”
Jesus knew His Father loved Him very much, and He could spare Him from suffering if He wished to do so. However, in all these circumstances, Jesus still submitted to the Father’s plan and will.
“…nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Jesus was humble and submissive to His Father’s will because He knew His Father’s plan of salvation for us all. Jesus was willing to suffer because He knew His Father’s heart was to save everyone from sin and hell. Jesus knew His Father loved Him, but God the Father also loved every person in the world, so He was willing to sacrifice His only Son.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Because of God’s great love for you and me, Jesus gave His life on the cross. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our souls, to give us eternal life.
See: Philippians 2:5-11
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it [b]robbery to be equal with God, 7 but [c]made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Dear Lord Jesus thank you for your willingness to submit to the will of the Father. Holy Spirit please help me be willing to submit also to my Lord’s will and plan. Amen.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Jesus Christ – John 8:32
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, – by Paul, I Corinthians 15:3-4
So, then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away. –
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16: 6-8
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.- John20
The Apostles Commissioned
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
From the Gospel of John Chapter 19, 20
Other References: Matthew 27 & 28, Mark 15, &16, Luke 23 & 24