Monday, August 27, 2007

God's Grace Favors Hearts Set On Seeking Him

Looking back to those days when I roamed this earth lost and denying there is a God, I can see clearly what I kept brushing aside then. God was always nearby. There was always somebody or something that kept reminding me that God is real and that He loves me so.

Patiently, God did His work until I was at the eve of asking Jesus Christ into my life as my personal Savior and God. What kept me from following through completely was not unbelief. It was more of disbelief. I could not comprehend, knowing how rotten I was, how a holy and perfect God could possibly want to forgive me and welcome me into His family.

A Christian friend introduced me to God's love and grace. She advised me never to underestimate the power of these attributes in God's character. She showed me verses in the Bible regarding grace such as Romans 3:22-24 :
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
And verses regarding God's love such as John 3:16 :
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And many more such verses that set my heart at ease and pointed it towards a course that eagerly sought after Him. I asked Christ into my life to be my Savior and God. And God poured His love and grace upon me, forgiving me of all my sins, and adopting me into His family as a son.

Baby Christian toddles expectedly produced scraped knees and bruises. But in time my steps steadied and here I am, still enjoying this great adventure I have walking with my Father in heaven, the one true God of all Creation.

"Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the LORD. Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people." (2 Chronicles 30:17-20)

Once a people is estranged from God in unfaithfulness and disobedience, they are diseased of spirit and well on their way to dying. Yet, God's grace so defines His character that in spite of being in the thick of ceremonies dictated by the Law, God pardons and heals even those that break the rules so long as they desire more to return to Him with hearts set on seeking Him. Oh, and when a righteous person prays for them, it certainly never hurts. (James 5:16)

I will incline my heart towards God at all times. I will strive to be obedient and faithful. Christ's blood makes me righteous. Still, I will seek to be found righteous yet in what I do. In this, I hope that God will hear when I pray for others.

God, thank You for Your grace and mercy. Holy Spirit, please fill me. Enable me to be faithful and obedient, ever seeking my Father in heaven. Use me so that glory abounds in Christ alone. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

July 20, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Artwork from Morning Star.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Thank You. God Bless You.

I was discharged from the hospital yesterday after lunch. I just went through a procedure that may seem so routine I needed only to stay overnight in the hospital. Yet it was serious enough it could have meant the end of my life if I did not go through it.

All throughout my short stay in the hospital and through today when I caught up with some of my closest friends, I have received nothing but the most touching expressions of love and caring.

My nurses kept checking to see if I was alright even in the dead of night. It can be argued that it was their job to do so. But these people went about it with such a personal touch that, had I not gotten into this serious situation, I would never have found out truly existed.

Hospital staff that I knew personally sent me flowers with a message that in order to maximize my rest time, they were resisting the urge to come and visit.

When my Bible study group mates first saw me when I got back from the hospital, I found them praying for me. They have been doing so ever since I broke out the news to them last Tuesday regarding my health situation. They fell in line, some of them crying, to each give me a tight hug. With my wife and kids, they puttered about me, anticipating my needs, never allowing me to lift anything.

And I know, those of you that visited here and read my Thursday post prayed for me. I know so because I could sense the prayer support all throughout. I was not without anxiety, I confess, but I was not fearful and completely without distress. I was mostly comfortable.

God promised me, as He has promised you, that He will never leave me nor forsake me. He is faithful. But with you petitioning Him in my regard while He walks with me through this valley of trial, that is special!

Thank you! God bless you!

God be praised for you!

Jesus commanded in John 13:34 that we love one another. And in the next verse, He explained why:

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

I have absolutely no doubt that we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish what the Lord has commanded.

Again, thank you! God bless you!

God be praised for you!

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Artwork from Angel Verses. Please support the ministry of Angel Verses.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Joy In The Midst Of Trials

I was in a bus accident several years back. My wife and daughter were with me as our bus cruised southbound in a freeway in the Philippines.

Suddenly, a truck carrying sand from the northbound side veered off toward us, it's driver apparently having fallen asleep. It crossed the grassy median strip, climbed up the embankment supporting our lane and slammed against the left-side of our bus.

Our bus fell off the opposite embankment and rolled three times. When everything came to a stop, and as my wife and I were taking stock of the injuries we sustained (our daughter miraculously came out of it without a scratch), a lady from the back of our bus stood up, began waving her Bible and started saying, "Praise the Lord, hallelujah, praise the Lord!"

We did not pay attention to her. We were on survival mode. We just recall vaguely thinking, "What 'praise the Lord', lady? We just nearly got killed."

Looking back now, the lady had the right attitude. My wife and I were baby Christians at the time and could barely understand. But the Bible says God inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3)

In the midst of trials, a steadfast heart that remains joyfully grateful and worshipful to God breaks down any stronghold the enemy may have erected. It declares to the world that God is in charge here. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything...Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him." (James 1:2-4, 12)

The author, known as James the Just, encourages his readers to continue in faith to strive in spite of adversities. His admonition to consider facing trials pure joy does not come from a sentimentalist motivation. James points to the crown of life that Jesus Christ promises to give to those that stand the test. James takes his readers from the folly of romanticism to a conscious moral choice to regard maturity and persevering more important than avoiding the difficulties of trials. In this sense, the believer joins Christ in a very special fellowship, the brotherhood of those who have suffered for their faith in God. That is where the joy lies in spite of trials.

I want the crown of life. I want the loving intimacy that Jesus Christ offers as He invites to His unique fellowship. I want His loving grace that allows me to go through trials so I may gain an ever-deepening knowledge of God's character. I want that joy that anticipates in trials a strengthening in my character. That makes for untold riches in Christ's glory!

Holy Spirit please fill me. Empower me to be joyful in the midst of trial. Enable me to be useful in Christ's glory. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

July 17, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Please Pray For Me

At six o'clock tomorrow morning, I am checking in to a hospital for a procedure.

As with all procedures, it can run routine but it is not without risks. I covet your prayers. I do not want to miss posting here on time so I would like to be back by evening tomorrow to do so. Or, at least within the weekend.

The benefit to me is certain. Nevertheless, I would like for you, also, to not miss out on the opportunity to bless the Lord in obedience to what Scripture prescribes:

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Colossians 4:2)

"pray continually;" (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

See you back here soon.

God bless you.

The Lord Is My Helper

I felt so bad for my wife when someone she loved and has been witnessing to for a long time flatly told her once that he is not believing because he has not seen anyone serving in church ever get rich.

To her eternal credit, my wife continued to just lovingly testify to the greatness of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She said, "It may not seem apparent to you right now but I am already very rich in Christ."

How true! To have a relationship alone with the God that owns all creation is wealth beyond all imagination. Not to mention God's promise to believers to meet all needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Don't get me started. In my life, God has always met my need at the exact time that I needed it.

With such a faithul God, I can be content with what I have. I need not love money. I can truly say that my help comes from God.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
'Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence,
'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?'"

God promised never to leave nor forget those that believe and put their trust in Him. With God always present, He is to be the focus of the believer's heart. We are to love God, not money. God is the believer's helper. He is greater than any fear, so much greater than any man.

I will seek first God's Kingdom and all His righteousness. God said do this and He will give me everything I need. (Matthew 6:33; in context, Matthew 6:25-34)

Praise be to God! Praise You, Father! Praise be to the Son! Praise be to the Holy Spirit! You are my everything. You are all I need. Great and mighty, You are faithful. What You have promised is forever settled. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Praise be to Your Name. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

July 16, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"My Righteous One Will Live By Faith"

One must simply stop and at least consider the way Christ's disciples suffered for their faith. Often in danger, they were imprisoned, beaten up, chained, persecuted. They continued to proclaim their faith even in the face of cruel death.

History is replete with accounts of early Christians being socially outcast, their properties confiscated. Some were forced into slavery. Some died on their knees worshiping God after being thrown to the lions for entertainment.

Today, faithful Christians hold secret worship services in their homes, in the woods, in caves in places like China, Vietnam, the Middle East. Pastors get arrested, tortured, thrown into prisons.

Yet, in spite of centuries of cruelty and mistreatment, Christ's followers continue to grow in number.

We may attribute that to any number of reasons. But to me, the number one reason is that God said, "But my righteous ones will live by faith." (Hebrews 10:38) The faithful understand that they do not belong among those who shrink back and are destroyed. They belong among those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:39)

Persecution, beatings, even death do not destroy those whose faith is in Christ. Their salvation is forever.

"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while,
'He who is coming will come and will not delay.
But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."
(Hebrews 10:32-39)

The believer's confidence in Christ is such that they hold loosely even to their properties. They know they have better and lasting possessions. Believers need only persevere. We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. We are of those who believe and are saved.

All belong to God. What appear to be my possessions are merely heavenly resources that God is entrusting to me to manage for the increase of His Kingdom. I believe. I am saved. I will not shrink back. I will persevere. Christ is coming without delay. I want to be found faithful.

Dear God, You give and take away. My heart will surely say, "Lord, blessed by Your Name." I have Your promise and I know You are faithful. Praise be to Your Name! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

July 13, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Permanent Priest

Growing up, I was attracted to priests. I thought, what a high and noble calling. They were respected. They championed what is right and what is God-ly. Most of my peers went to them for relief whenever something bothered their conscience.

They seemed to be my friends' go-between to God. I thought that I wanted to be like one of them someday.

I happened to be the son, however, of someone who grew up serving priests. My dad was the first to call my attention to the imperfection of human priests.

I will spare you the ghastly details of my father's observations. Suffice it to say that recent headlines corroborate my father's testimony.

Then, as I moved on in my topsy-turvy past, I met Jesus Christ. I began to study His Word, the Bible. That there is only one God was not new information to me, given my religious background. What astounded me in 1 Timothy 2:5 was a truth that I did not know until then: There is only one mediator between God and man. That mediator is Jesus Christ.

I said to myself, how cool is that? Not only is Jesus Christ my personal Lord and Savior, He is also my permanent priest. He is perfect. And He lives forever. I can count on him to mediate in my behalf to the Father forever!

Jesus Christ is the ultimate priest. He will never disappoint.

"Now there have been many of these priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." (Hebrews 7:23-25)

Jesus lives forever. His priesthood is permanent. He is not like human priests who die and could not continue in their work. Those who come to God through Jesus are saved completely. Only Jesus is able to do this because He always lives to intercede for them.

I will keep on trusting Jesus. I need not look far for someone to take my case up to the Father. Jesus is already there seated on the Father's right hand side. He intercedes forever in my behalf. Because He lives, I will live forever!

Praise and all glory be to You, sweet Jesus! You offered Your sinless, unblemished self on the cruel cross of Calvary as the perfect sacrifice that washed away my sins through the precious blood that flowed from your broken body. What a stunning, complete work of salvation! You deserve my thanks. You deserve my worship. You deserve my adoration, my complete devotion. Thank You for being my perfect priest. In Your sweet Name I pray. Amen.

July 10, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Monday, August 20, 2007

It's Only Death And That Is All. No Need To Fear.

A pastor friend of mine who now serves in Troy, Michigan, told me once about how, as a minister, he has been a close observer to the last dying moments of quite a few people he has been requested to administer final rites to.

He said that he could not help but notice how those whom he knew for certain did not have God in their lives struggled hard in their exit. He told of one who fearfully pointed to menacing figures unseen by the others in the room but the dying person swore were outside the windows looking in. The dying man said they have come to get him. He kept saying, "Please, don't let them get me."

In stark contrast, those whom he knew have received Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and God, went away as though only easing into a deep sleep. Peacefully, comfortably they went, some even with almost a hint of a smile in their face.

I have another pastor friend who actually suffered a heart attack and nearly died. When he was revived, he said, "Dying is painless."

Still another Christian friend who recently died spoke in her last moments of seeing angels coming to pick her up. She was hearing angels from far away singing.

The devil enslaves men by their fear of death. Jesus, by his sinless death on the cross and by his resurrection has destroyed him who holds the power of death, the devil, and freed men from their fear of death.

"...he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews 2:14-18)

Jesus was not helping angels but humanity when He left heaven and became a man. God was not leaving one stone unturned in ensuring that Jesus would be a merciful and faithful high priest, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people He is to call brothers. Having been tempted while in the form of man, He is able to help man who, being flesh, is subject to temptation. Christ successfully fought off temptation and died without sin. He rose again from the dead and utterly obliterated the devil whose only hold on man is their slavery to the fear of death.

I am not a slave to sin and its wages which is death. Christ is my merciful and faithful high priest. Dying without sin on the cruel cross, and rising again on the third day, Christ paid for my sin debt and moved me from this earthly life to eternal life. I may die a physical death, as everyone would, but it will only usher me into the eternal life that Christ's victory has bought for me.

Praise and glory be to the Son! Praise and glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit! In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

July 5, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

He Heard My Cry For Mercy

Some find God in a foxhole in the midst of war. My pastor received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and God in a bunker in Vietnam as death whizzed by during a full-blown rocket assault.

I wish my salvation were as dramatic. But my decisive encounter with the Lord---He absolutely crushed me---happened in the midst of inexplicable despair so deep one night I just knew I would not have been found alive in the morning.

I was not seeing bombs and bullets coming to an inch of my life. But you can make the point that the barrage of darts and arrows hell was sending my way was every bit as real. And lethal.

That night, I came to conclude that there was everything to lose in not believing. And everything to gain in believing. I told God, "If You are real, I ask for Your forgiveness. I surrender my life to You."

For the first time in years, I slept like a baby. A huge weight, it seemed, was lifted off my shoulders. And what took its place was this peace that is in every way beyond my understanding as my previous despair. A peace that has stayed with me to this day.

God heard my cry for mercy. And He delivered me.


1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.


6 The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.

7 Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.

8 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,

9 that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.


12 How can I repay the LORD
for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD.

14 I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.


16 O LORD, truly I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant;
you have freed me from my chains.

(Psalm 116:1-2, 6-9, 12-14, 16)

He who cries for mercy is broken. A broken spirit are the sacrifices of God; He does not despise a broken and repentant heart. (Psalm 51:17) God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) God saves the lost in their brokenness. He wants them to walk before Him in eternity. He keeps them from death, tears, and error. We that believe could never repay the debt of love we owe God. But because He has given our soul rest and He has been so good to us, we will lift up the cup of salvation, call on His name, and fulfill our vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people. He has freed us from our chains; we are His servants.

God calls to a fresh start. He is cutting off the chains that are keeping me from running hard after Him. God is calling to evangelism, worship, and pastoral servanthood. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.

Holy Spirit, please fill me. Empower me, enable me. Let me fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people. I surrender all to You, my God. I submit my heart, my soul, my spirit, my life to You. Take full control of me. Glorify my Savior, Jesus Christ, through Your work in me. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

July 2, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Righteous Person: Effective Prayer

I am a friend to an American couple who are two of the most steadfast believers in prayer. They served in key leadership roles in missionary Bible translation work in the Philippines.

In one of their e-newsletters, they requested prayer as they had to travel by sea to one of the Philippines' numerous islands at a time when a typhoon was forecast to pass by their route.

The couple has a worldwide team of prayer supporters. They asked their team to petition the Lord for safe passage to their destination and for good weather for the strategic gathering that they were leading there.

When they e-mailed their next update, what do you know? The typhoon actually veered off its course and completely left their area in balmy weather!

The Bible tells of the effectiveness of the prayer of even but one righteous man in interceding in behalf of even an entire nation. This couple, whose righteousness is evidenced by their faithful work, presumably prayed for good weather on their own. Add to them the worldwide symphony of numerous righteous men and women praying for them. How could the heart of a loving and righteous God not be moved?

"Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: 'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.' " Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. (Exodus 32:13-14)

Moses interceded for his fellow Israelites. He spoke to God recalling His covenant with Abraham and the promises this entailed to Isaac and Israel. Moses passed a crucial test of his character here, revealing a shepherd's heart for his people. In doing so, he was speaking to the very heart of God with regards to Israel. So, God relented.

I should be mindful that God retains sovereignty over delivery or denial of His promises or warnings depending on how man responds to Him. I must prove myself true. I should strive to pass God's tests. Still, in Christ, I have eternal life. He is my righteousness. I can be confident that when I approach God, if I ask anything according to his will, he hears me. And if I know that he hears me—whatever I ask—I know that I have what I asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

Dear God, thank You for providing prayer as an ever ready means of access to You. Thank You for answering prayers. I am very grateful for the opportunity to partner with You through prayer in ministering to the needs of those that You have placed in my care. Thank You for the freedom in Christ that You have granted so that I may freely approach You in Your throne room with my requests and petitions. Thank You for Your faithfulness. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

February 1, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Even Greater Things Than These

At East Hill Church in Gresham, Oregon, we are going through a changing of the guards. Our Pastor Ted Roberts is passing the baton on to a young and very capable pastor, Jason Albelo.

Outside observers may wonder, how come, when Ted is at the very peak of his pastoral ministry at East Hill?

Long story short, Pastor Ted is heeding God's call to launch a worldwide ministry he is calling "Pure Desire" in order to address the plague of pornography and sexual immorality that has become such a world epidemic that it is ruining lives even among ministers of the church itself.

But that's for a whole 'nother posting. Yesterday, at mid-week service, I was witness to a spectacle that all the more affirmed in me what God has said in His Word.

The service was utilized to begin to finalize the transition which was already known to the church and has been an ongoing process for nearly a couple of years. Clips of approving well wishes from pastors all over the U.S. and overseas were shown on the big sanctuary screens. Those coming from East Hill churchgoers were so numerous that only a fraction could also be shown.

When Pastor Ted and his wife Diane were called to the stage, a fitting climax to the service ensued. The entire throng of easily a thousand who were present in the packed sanctuary spontaneously stood on their feet and issued a long drawn out ovation with shouts of approval for the couple's excellent tenure as leaders of this respected and well-recognized church family.

What a sight! A decidedly well-loved and effective pastor moving on to greater challenges in God's field of harvest. Ever eager to please his Master, Pastor Ted did as God would have him do. And now he is moving on to do even greater things than these that God said he will also do.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." (John 14:12)

Jesus said that those who believe in Him will do the works He has done and even greater.

I am taking God up on His word that since I believe in Him, I will do the works He has done. In Him, I will also be able to do even greater works.

Father God, please let me claim my Savior's promise. Holy Spirit, enable me to boldly believe, speak and act by the authority of the word of Jesus Christ. He who made the promise is faithful. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.

December 22, 2006 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Smart, Not Wise

My son described to me a classmate of his whom he admires much for his consistent high grades. But my son said in spite of his classmate's brains, he struggles to give him full recognition because he tends to be reckless.

Rather self-centered, he turns everything into a competition that he must always win. And he gets himself into trouble often with spur-of-the-moment decisions which he follows through with apparently not very well thought-out actions.

I thought my son described his classmate aptly when he said of him, "He is smart but not wise."

There seems to be no lack of such characters in life. Who knows but anyone might well be subject every now and then to occasional spells of lack in wisdom in spite of our abundance in intelligence.

Whether it be character or occasional lack, the Bible has a neat little term for it: foolish.

The foolish can sometimes just be funny strange. Or they can be outright dangerous. It is the "smart but not wise" that especially requires caution. They can be so glib in deceiving that they manage to deceive themselves.

It's not so much that they become doubly harmed by their own deception. It is that they believe their own lies so much that they become believable to the not so discerning.

The Bible says nothing gets settled when we make the mistake of getting into a contest with them. It does not matter if the fool finds our challenge laughable or a grievous outrage. There is simply no rest in engaging them.

"If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether he rages or laughs, there is no rest." (Proverbs 29:9 MKJV)

"If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace." (Proverbs 29:9 NIV)

Seeking relief against a foolish person is futile.

At all cost, I will avoid getting into a conflict with a foolish person.

Dear God, please grant me discernment through Your Holy Spirit so that I may distinguish between a wise and a foolish person. Fill me, Holy Spirit. Enable me to be at peace with everyone. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

June 4, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Loving The Pain-In-The-Neck Neighbor

Among my neighbors, there is one that just gets on everybody's nerves. He particularly dislikes barking dogs. He would knock on a neighbor's door even in the dead of dawn to complain about their dog. He is quick to call the cops on them.

Yet, he has no qualms about his loud jamming sessions with his band of ragtag rocker friends. Or his blaring stereo. He seems unable to control his rowdy sons from their roughhousing play that sometimes does damage to neighbors' properties.

Through it all, the other neighbors do their best to be tolerant towards him. They have never raised a complaint against him to the authorities. The most I've seen them do is compare notes with each other about his offenses.

It is all I could do, too, to be gracious towards him. But, I am thankful to God I have him for a neighbor.

I know that sounds strange. But you know how God's ways are radically different than man's ways. God's ways are so not like ours that it sometimes takes painstaking practice to get to a place where you more readily apply them with grace.

Now, I'm sure you've heard, God says "Love your neighbor." Don't you think I'm blessed I have this guy to practice that with?

"The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous but it is the ruin of those who do evil." (Proverbs 10:29)

"As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'" (Romans 10:11; Isaiah 28:16)

The righteous runs to the ways of the Lord in times of despair, distress, or oppression. Comfort is found in the ways of the Lord. God assures that those who trust in Him will never suffer humiliation.

In the face of an oppressive neighbor, for example, one finds solace in the Word of God which instructs to "Love your neighbor." It is not submission to the wickedness of the neighbor that keeps a righteous person humble, gracious, and peaceable. It is submission to God! The Lord teaches, after all: "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19-21) There is no embarassment in pursuing hard after the ways of the Lord.

God, thank You for reminding me of Your ways. Thank You for shining light on the correct path. Fill me, Holy Spirit. Convict me of unrighteousness. Enable me in the path that honors Jesus Christ. For it is in the sweet name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.

June 29, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

"Artwork by John Bell copyright 1998-2007 ( used with permission".

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Flesh Wars Against The Good And God-ly

I wince when I read in the Old Testament how the Israelites built for themselves a golden image of a calf to worship in the wilderness. (Exodus 32:1-29)

Gone from their memory were God's tempestuous miracles in Egypt culminating but a few months back in the parting of the Red Sea and its annihilation of Egypt's pursuing army, freeing them once for all from enslavement in the land of Pharaoh. (Exodus 7-15)

How could anyone be so forgetful?

Fast forward to the New Testament, over a thousand years later, and we find an Apostle Paul still warning his young disciple Timothy about a coming time when people, "to suit their own desires, will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." (2 Timothy 4:3) A time when "They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." (2 Timothy 4:4)

Alas, we speak of flesh that runs counter to what is of the Spirit and what is truth.

Today is no different. The world only worsens in its fallen state. Flesh wars against the good and God-ly. Even when God is clear that truth is absolute, flesh insists that truth is only what you make of it. Even when God is clear that Jesus is the only way to the Father, flesh insists that all beliefs and religions lead to God.

Believers would do well to heed Paul and receive the same charge he gave to Timothy.

"In the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage---with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:1-5)

In Jesus Christ, Paul charges Timothy to preach the Word, always ready with it, correcting, rebuking and encouraging with great patience and careful instruction. These last two are very important because deception in this fallen world will only get worse, the deceivers themselves being deceived! (2 Timothy 3:13) In all this, he that preaches the Word is to keep his head in all situations, enduring adversities, continually evengelizing, faithfully fulfilling all the duties in his ministry.

I, as a believer, am to preach the Word. God calls believers to constant readiness, applying His Word to correct, rebuke and encourage. He cautions Christians, myself included, to be patient and careful in instruction as decepton in the world grows worse. I am to keep my thoughts clear in all situations, to persevere inspite of hardship, to share the gospel, and to be faithful to all the responsibilities of the ministry He has called me to.

Holy Spirit please fill me. Cause my heart to submit all to God. Empower me so I may discharge all the duties of the ministry God has entrusted to me. Enable me through Your work to glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

June 28, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Yes, The Divine Heart Breaks Too

I was on a train ride to work one morning when I ran into a rude passenger who would not allow anyone to sit beside him, insisting on keeping his backpack on the seat next to him.

The other passengers reported him to the train operator who told him to take his backpack off the seat.

Everyone did their best to be tolerant of him until he defiantly called a friend on his cell phone and started loudly speaking profanely through the phone, interspersing every other word he used with expletives.

The operator threw him out of the train at the next stop to the approving chatter of the other passengers.

Looking back now, I think of how God said in Genesis 1:26 that man is made in His likeness. Just like God is very patient, the train passengers were bearing with the rude one's misbehavior. But when all his bitterness spilled out further in profanity, the collective heart of everyone in the train grieved over the offense and decided discipline needed to be meted out.

How so like the heart of the Holy Spirit!

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29-32)

The Christian is not to be foul-mouthed. Instead, he is to be sensitive to people's needs, allowing God to use his mouth to provide grace as needs require and as appropriate. In this, the Holy Spirit is pleased. Otherwise, along with bitterness, wrath, anger, tumult, evil speaking and all malice, the Holy Spirit is grieved. The Holy Spirit is a seal to the Christian until the day of redemption. Believers are to be like Christ to one another: kind, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ has.

I am to be mindful of what comes out of my mouth. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34b) My task is to allow the Holy Spirit to use my mouth to speak grace into people's needs. Especially among believers, I must submit to the gracious workings of the Holy Spirit. I must remember, Christ forgave me. I must be forgiving.

Dear God, please help my ungraciousness. Holy Spirit, please fill me. Fully control me. Let Christ's grace be the abundance of my heart that overflows through my mouth. Let me glorify Christ in this manner. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

June 8, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

God Guards The Course Of The Just

Every now and then, you come across verses in the Bible that turn a switch on in your soul and suddenly, you understand a mystery.

Not that other verses in Scripture do not hold the same potential given the right situation and time. The Bible is THE book of wisdom for all time.

But there are wonders in this life that we know we can only explain if we put God in the mix and still not fully understand how such things happen.

Take for instance people living wrecked lives suddenly turning around. We have plenty of those in our time: drug addicts, hardened criminals, people lost in perversion. When Jesus Christ breaks into their consciousness, they invariably leave their troubled lives behind and turn out to be some of the nicest persons that ever walked. The Apostle Paul was a murderer of Christ's followers. He met Christ one day and immediately after became one of Jesus' greatest spokesmen.

And that's not even the wonder yet that really gets me befuddled. It's that after their lives take a turn towards a good direction, they stay on course. I don't question that God is more than able to do all that. I just want to understand how.

That's where the Bible passage we feature here today comes in.

"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning you ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

"Then you will understand what is right and just and fair---every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

"Wisdom will save you from the ways of the wicked men, ..." (Proverbs 2:1-12)

God causes all sorts of divine benefits to come to the person that accepts His words and stores up His commands. He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones. He provides the way to understanding that in turn leads the way to the benefits.

I accept God's Word and store His commands within me. I turn my ear to wisdom and apply my heart to understanding. I will call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding. I will look for it like it were silver and search for it as I would for hidden treasure. I will seek to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

Thank You, God, for providing the way. I accept Your words and store Your commands within me. I call out to You for insight. I cry aloud to You for understanding. Guard my course, protect my way. Lead me to all good paths---let Your wisdom enter my heart. Let knowledge be pleasant to my soul. Save me from the ways of the wicked. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

May 26, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Spirit Sets Apart The Chosen

It's a big mystery to me. There are those that readily receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and God. Almost like a breeze, they mature and become productive workers in God's harvest field. They become vigorous sowers of the seed of God's Word in others.

Then there are those that take time, friendship, and getting all sorts of their questions answered before they finally make peace with Christ. And even while already walking with the Lord, their steps remain rather gingerly. At the slightest hint of doubt or seeming inconsistency in what they see or hear from fellow believers, they tend to want to go back to living without Christ.

Still, there are those that simply reject the message of Christ no matter how it is presented to them.

I cannot answer such deep mysteries. But I could catch a glimpse of wisdom regarding them in the pages of the Bible.

"But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

God chooses whom He may to save. The Spirit works to set apart those chosen and so that they may believe in the truth. Through the gospel, the chosen are called so that they may share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. From the beginning, God made His choice. He is to be thanked always for it.

I will always carry an attitude of gratitude towards God for those whom He has chosen. I cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His work to distinguish those chosen and by sharing my belief in the truth. My part is to proclaim the gospel to the world so that those chosen may be called to Jesus Christ.

Dear God, Your Word says You do not want anyone to perish. Knowing this, I must share the gospel boldly to everyone and anyone. Only then can I cooperate in ensuring that all whom God has chosen will hear His call. Holy Spirit, please fill me so that I may be bold for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank You for Your elect, those whom You have chosen. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

May 18, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Why The Christian Works, Labors, Endures

I have probably disappointed some of my pre-Christian friends not a few times when their invitations fell on days of the week that my family and I needed to be in church.

Though they are silent about it, I sense sometimes that they rationalize that we volunteer our time to church groups and activities because it is "what makes us happy."

I think that quietly some feel that we may be sacrificing too much when we give to the church and its various ministries.

I know my experience is not limited to myself and my household but quite common among believers.

My wife, Mila, and I sometimes say to each other that we wish we could just share the joy that we get in doing these things that seem to puzzle our pre-Christian loved ones. In such moments, the verse in Psalm 34:8 that says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him," always comes to mind.

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor produced by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 1:3)

Faith in Jesus Christ produces good work. The love of Jesus Christ causes the believer to labor for His Kingdom's sake and the lost. Hope in Jesus Christ causes the believer to endure.

In faith, I do the work God has set before me for which He saved me. Because Jesus Christ loved me first, I love those whom He loves---mankind, the lost. Because I hope in Jesus Christ, I endure rejection, pain, the imperfection of this world, and the frailness of this life.

Holy Spirit, please fill me. Take control of my life so that as I do the work God has set aside for me, I may do it well. Make me overflow with love so that I may serve well in God's Kingdom. Give me a heart for the lost. Enable me to reach them and build them up. Be my portion, be my strength. Help me endure the vagaries of this world until the Father sees the time fit to bring me home to be with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

May 12, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Only God Is Trustworthy

Tight situations. If you are breathing and alive, you know and understand tough times. No one is insulated from those in this life.

Trying times in a Christian's life? You better believe there's plenty. Even with God in your life? You bet.

But why? My guess is as good as yours. Sometimes our own decisions bring dire consequences that we later regret. Sometimes God allows difficult conditions in the believer's life to grow and equip them further for a specific mission He has in mind for them. And God causes all things, even all sorts of trials, to work out for the good to those that love Him and whom He called to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

This I do know, though: I could always count on God to be there for me whenever I go through seasons of testing. I would fret and worry sometimes because He is never early. But He never shows up late either!

Before God, I have tried everything else: knowledge, philosophy, religion, ideology, systems, politics, people. All held promise. Every one was a disappointment.

Only God has never let me down.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7)

Chariots and horses were dependable tools of war during their time because of the power they brought to the army. The name of the Lord our God is more trustworthy than chariots and horses.

I will not put my trust in tools and implements although they are handy in completing a job---even winning a war. The best tools pale in dependability compared to the name of the Lord our God. I may have the best tools of the trade but without God, I will likely fail---if not outright, eventually.

Father, I praise You because You are trustworthy. In fact, You alone can be trusted to be true and faithful all the time. No one and nothing else comes close. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.

May 5, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

God's Currency Is His Love

In the days before I got saved, I recall falling deeper and deeper into despair. I could not understand it because I thought that at the time I was living my life in complete freedom. I was doing as I pleased and was not worrying about judging anything right or wrong.

Looking back, though, my conscience ---that thingamajig that God has built into every human person--- must have been telling me that a whole lot was not right in my life. Subconsciously, I must have been thinking I was a hopeless case. While I chose vigorously back then not to believe in heaven or hell, something in me kept nagging about the possibility that they may be real. There was no way of finding out except in dying. And I was not getting any younger.

What if heaven and hell were true? At the back of my mind I knew my life would never be assessed as good enough for heaven.

Well, guess what, a Christian friend of mine caught me just when my despair was deepest and told me that no one is so terrible a sinner that God, in His outrageous love, could not forgive!

Oh, yeah. You better believe that constant nagging disappeared and my heart has been dancing in worship of God ever since.

"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matthew 20:13-16)

The landowner in Jesus' Parable of The Workers in The Vineyard is paying as agreed. The agreement was work in the day for one denarius, not work per hour in the day for one denarius per hour. He is doing as he pleases with currency he owns.

The landowner in the parable is God. The currency is God's love. God lavishes His love the same to those who have only recently believed and to those who have labored and sacrificed for Him a long time since coming to know Him as Savior and LORD. God's love is abundantly sufficient for all and for all time.

Father I praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave You glory by personifying Your love and pouring it out so extravagantly by sacrificing Himself so that we may not need to suffer eternal damnation for our sins. Holy Spirit use me so that the Son may be glorified as He glorifies the Father. In Jesus' mighty Name I pray. Amen.

May 4, 2007 entry to the personal handwritten journal I use in my quiet time with God.

"Artwork by John Bell copyright 1998-2007 ( used with permission".