Tuesday, April 9, 2019

SEX: One of the Devil's Favorite Subjects



“The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall... The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject."1

From the author of the The Lord of the Rings series in a letter written to his son Michael. I think there are other subjects which could be counted among the devil's favorites like pride, love of money, idolatry, etc. But I would affirm that sex is indeed ONE of his favorite subjects. Prudent Christian living involves being aware of the devil's schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesian 6:11).

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FOOTNOTE
1. I don't have a copy of Tolkien's letters. I just saw it cited in R. Albert Mohler's book Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of Sexual Tolerance.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Steadfast Love of the LORD (An Exposition of Psalm 136, Part One): A Word on the Word "Hesed"

“I don't usually build a sermon around a single word study. But I guess it is in order to introduce Psalm 136 with a study of the word that was repeated over and over again from beginning to end. I am referring to the Hebrew word Hesed, which appears in the translation we read as "steadfast love".

Aside from the "unli-repetition" of hesed in this psalm, a sermon on it is warranted because it is "a central theological term" in the Old Testament1. When God described himself in Exodus 34:6-7, "hesed" was one of the key attributes he mentioned. It is also one of the key traits he requires of his people in Micah 6:8.

When I was young, I used to listen to Louie Beltran's program "Straight from the Shoulder" on DZRH. One morning, he remarked that there is no English equivalent for the Filipino interjection "Sayang!". A listener who happened to be a member of a Scrabble association sent a message (probably through a letter) asserting that there is such an English interjection equivalent to our "sayang!" and it is the word "pshaw". But as I look it up into the American Heritage Dictionary, this interjection is used in English to indicate "impatience, impatience, disapproval, or disbelief." Hey, that's not exactly how we use the interjection "Sayang!" I think Beltran is still right in saying that "Sayang!" has no exact English equivalent.

The same is true for the word hesed. This Hebrew word has no exact English equivalent. Bible translators has a long history of trying to render it's full essence. In 1535, Myles Coverdale invented the word "Lovingkindness" to translate hesed into English. This word lovingkindness is still found in NASB. The NKJV translates it as "mercy" but it fails to capture the essence of the word. The closest we could get into the meaning of the word according to the most recent scholarship is to translate in a way that combines love and loyalty.2

When we talk about God’s steadfast love, we are declaring our belief that God is both faithful and loving, and so his promises are unfailing. See how translators bring this truth about in their renditions:

ESV: “His steadfast love endures forever”
CSB: “His faithful love endures forever”
NET: “His loyal love endures forever”

The idea being conveyed in the renderings faithful love (CSB) and loyal love (NET) is its quality of “firm devotion and allegiance” and “worthy of trust/reliance”. What is repeated over and over in this psalm is the confidence of God's people in their immutable God. Since he is unchanging, he will remain steadfast. God’s commitment to love his people is unshakable.

It is true that God’s love is counted among his communicable attributes-- that is his traits that his creatures could imitate. And so it is expected of those who are made in God’s image, and those who are conformed to the likeness of Christ to be like God in how they love. We are to be steadfast and loyal to our love commitments in our family, church, community, friendships, etc.; whether these covenants are written or unwritten. We should not be known as a people given to abandoning and betraying others (Prov.2:17; Malachi 2:14-15) especially when the going gets tough (2 Tim. 4:10; Prov. 17:17).

But though there it is indeed through that we can imitate God’s love being one of his communicable attribute,there is also a sense in which we could never love the way God does. This is because his love is tied with an incommunicable attribute called his immutability--- or in simple terms: God is unchanging.

Why can't you love the way God perfectly loves? It's because you are a changing being. Because you are changing, what was once fervent could grow cold. What was once deep could turn shallow. What was once colorful could turn pale. The truth is you are changing moment by moment. From Feb. 17 to Feb 18, you've grown one day older.These little changes accumulate into big changes. If you don't believe this, let's make a deal: let us all return to this place thirty years from now and let's see the sum of those little daily changes in us.

But not so with God. He is immutable. He is unchanging. (See Psa. 102:25-27; Mal. 3:6-7)

In a study on the word hesed, which was published in 1951, Norman H. Snaith [[which is interesting because all the translations we considered here predates the said study: ESV,CSB, NET] explains:

“God's loving-kindness (hesed) is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel's persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.”3

Norman H. Snaith however clarifies:
“we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that.”4

In the next few Sundays, we will look into Psalm 136 stanza by stanza and see the things he did for his people out of his hesed.

As for the moment of closing this sermon, let’s turn to Romans 8:31-38. This we will read without further comment from me. This is the NT and it is written in Greek so you will not find the Hebrew word hesed here. But though the word hesed is not here, the concept or the idea of a love so faithful and never lets go is here.

FOOTNOTES:

1 Iain Duguid, Loyal-Love (Hesed); Tabletalk Magazine, Nov., 2011; https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/loyal-love-hesed/
2love and loyalty are combined in this one word”; Iain Duguid, ibid
3 Norman H. Snaith, Loving-Kindness (A Theological Word Book of the Bible; edited by Alan Richardson) (New York: MacMillan, 1951) . Reproduced at http://www.bible-researcher.com/chesed.html
4 Norman H. Snaith, ibid

When the Foundations are Being Destroyed (Psalm 11)


It is good to be surrounded by people we trust. We trust them because we know they love us and they care for us. And it is just right. In Solomon's collection of proverbs, several of them talk about the wisdom of listening to advice. The importance of being surrounded by loving and wise counselors even increases when you are given a big responsibility like leading a nation. If you are given that privilege, of course you want the best and the brightest of your friends to be in your cabinet.

But in this case, David had to reject the counsel of people around him. They were probably the best and brightest in their time, and they were so close to David that they loved him. Yet human advisers are fallible. And sometimes they lack the most important component of all, namely faith.

Observe the quotation marks of the last portion of verse 1 and ends at verse 3. The advice was: "Flee like a bird to the mountain". He was told, “It is best for you to move away, far from Jerusalem; far from the throne; far from the seat of power.”

The reason behind the advice was there was too much danger for him to stay: Verse 2 reads:
"For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart."

The principle behind the advice was this: "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (verse 3)

Wicked men have had grown too powerful. They permeate the whole society. They had become too influential. Wicked men were destroying the foundations of morality and justice in the nation and any opposition was under the threat of their bended bows. And so the counselors say, “There is nothing more we could do. Give it up David. Flee to the mountain, like a bird in danger. Move as far as you can from Jerusalem, because the foundations of righteousness are being destroyed and there is nothing else we could do about it.”

This Psalm was David's response to that advice. He begins with a statement of trust: " In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me...."
This Psalm shall be helpful to us because we face our own troubles in life and it seems to logical to conclude, this is just how life is. There is nothing we could do. The wicked are in control, what can the righteous do? None. So let it be this way. There is neither faith not desire for God to work on our behalf.

David’s knowledge of God that undergirded his faith in those time when it seems there is nothing the rigtheous could do.

1. The Holy and Right King rules from above (v.4)
God still reigns from his temple in heaven. He is still above all. No matter how high and exalted the wicked persons are here on earth, they are still below the lofty King who dwells in heaven. Aside from his loftiness, we also see here that holiness is the nature of his rule-- his dwelling place is holy. And since he is holy, he hates sin; he hates wickedness; he hates injustice; he hates lies. When the foundations are being destroyed, there is a Holy God on whom we could put our trust.

2. The Holy God is interested in the affairs of men
verse 4c: "his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man."
He observes everyone on earth. He examines; he tests; he scrutinizes every heart. And when he sees wickedness, he is not indifferent to it. His holy wrath will certainly be aroused: Verse 5 b reads "the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates." (v.5). They will not go unjudged; verse 6 says "On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot"

3. God loves the righteous and they shall experience his blessing
verse 7: “For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
To see the face of God is to experience divine favors. It is to experience the truth that God is with you. It is the blessing of intimate communion between God and his people. in this context, “yes” on their own the righteous cannot do anything to overturn the acts of wicked men who destroy the foundations. Yet the righteous people could always run to God, their refuge, and they will find the deliverance they are seeking. The blessedness of his presence is a reality.




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Desperately Seeking Our All in All (Psalm 28:1-2)



God is our all in all. He is our everything. Like the psalmist, we proclaim: "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing" (Psalm 16:2).

Since we hold this conviction that God is our all in all, the question is how does this influence our prayer life especially in times of great need? I propose that it should make us desperate for him. We should be desperate for him to hear and answer us.

The greatest fear of the psalmist were not his troubles, though they were surely enormous and overwhelming. His greatest fear were not his enemies, though they were surely cruel and brutal. The greatest fear of the psalmist was the Lord's abandonment-- that is if the Lord shall not listen to his prayers.

If the Lord remains silent, he says he will be "like those who go down to the pit"-- which is a euphemism for death. A life without God's involvement is hopeless. It is death sentence. Without God on our side, it's game over. So let all things go wrong! Let all things be out of place! But God must be on your side. You should not pray as if you have other options suppose God doesn't answer. You should not pray as if God is merely Plan A, and you can execute Plan B suppose God remains silent. Plead earnestly, "Listen to me my Lord; You are my only hope. I have no other place to go."

  • He is our light and salvation (Psa. 27:1). Without him, there is only darkness and destruction.
  • He is our bread of life (John 6:35). Nothing else shall satisfy our starving souls.
  • He is our providing shepherd (Psalm 23). Without him, we can never find green pastures and refreshing waters.
  • He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Without him, we shall all go astray.
  • He is our refuge and fortress (Psa. 46:1,11). Outside of him, we will be exposed to all sorts of dangers.
  • He is our strength (Psa. 46:1). Without him, all that is left in us is weakness.
  • He is our wisdom (1 Cor. 1:24). Without him, nothing but foolishness remains in us.

So call upon His name as a person who could go no where else-- a man who seeks his only hope desperately.





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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Birth of the Long Awaited Messiah (Matthew 1:1-17)

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4 Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6 and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8 Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9 Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12 After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,
Abihud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14 Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Elihud,
15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.


Matthew's "Boring" Introduction
It takes some perseverance to read all of the Holy Scriptures. It's not easy reading through the rituals of Leviticus, or the census figures of Numbers, or the strange visions Ezekiel. Any person who embarks on reading the Bible from cover to cover must have some degree of determination.

Genealogies with strange names are some of the less exciting portions of the Scripture yet Matthew introduces his gospel with one. In the few writing workshops I attended, we were told to learn how to compose a good introduction. Potential readers would discontinue reading if you have a crappy first paragraph.

Why then did Matthew begin with a boring genealogy? The answer is that it is boring only to the modern readers. For Matthew's audience, it is the most exciting thing that could be heard. It proclaims that Israel's long awaited Messiah has finally arrived!

Our lack of excitement over these verses indicates that our modern idea on the meaning of Christmas is distant from the ancient Jewish concept of the Messiah. A first century Jewish reader of Matthew would have had his heart thumping upon reading verse 1: "This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham". It calls to mind two important covenants in the Hebrew scriptures: the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.

But before we get into discussing these covenant, we have to tackle foundational matters.

The Promised Seed who will Crush the Serpent's Head
The first two chapters of Genesis give us an account of how the world came into existence. God made everything in six days. Man was the crown of creation for he was made in God's likeness and image. All things were beautiful and perfect: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (Gen 1:31)

The third chapter tells us about the entry of sin into the world. Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent's lies. They rejected God's word. That single act ruined the world which used to be all bright and beautiful. Child-bearing became painful, even life-threatening. The ground was cursed therefore a man must go through painful toil so he could provide for himself and his family. The ground that used to yield only what was useful to man now also yields not just useless stuff but also things that would hurt him (thorns and thistles).

Then the worst of it all, the entrance of death and things associated with it, like suffering, sickness, murder and wars (Gen 3:19). All the heartbreaks and heartaches that you experienced as an individual and even the whole world in general is all because of sin's entry into the world.

Yet along with all the sad news contained in chapter 3 is a great promise. This is the first ever Christmas-related verse:

"And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15)

This verse is also known as the proto-evangelion or the first announcement of the gospel. An offspring of Eve would one day give Satan a fatal blow that would crush his head. The mastermind of sin's entrance into the world would be defeated in the end. The wait for the victorious Messiah started in the garden.

With this foundation in the background, we could now proceed tackling the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.

Christmas and the Abrahamic Covenant
Genesis 12:1-3 is the primary verse on the Abrahamic Covenant: 
“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.[b]
Abraham, who was then called Abram, was asked to leave the comforts of his home country to go and live into the unknown somewhere else. Along with it are promised personal, national and universal blessings. In faith, he obeyed.

This covenant also effectively narrowed down the puzzle into one nation. I mean, all the nations in the world came from Eve. From what nation will the serpent-killer come from? With God's dealing with Abraham, Israel is now identified as the home country of the Messiah. For from Abraham came, Isaac. And from Isaac came Jacob. And from Jacob came the 12 tribes of Israel.

A Scripture-informed Jew understood the connection between Abrahamic covenant and Christmas. For instance, Mary the mother of Jesus said:
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
(Luke 1:54-55)

Furthermore Zechariah, the father of the other miracle child (John the Baptist) in the Christmas narratives regarded the birth of the Messiah as a fulfillment of the oath made by God before Abraham that He will be against Israel's haters and oppressors (see Luke 1:71-75)

Christmas and the Davidic Covenant
I have said earlier that the puzzle has been narrowed down into a nation. It has been further narrowed will further be narrowed down into one tribe in Genesis 49:1 & 10 when Jacob said that the scepter will not depart from Judah. David was from that tribe. While reigning as king, God made a covenant with him. The most relevant promise in the covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:16-- "... your throne will be established forever."

When the Angel Gabriel gave the word to Mary that she would be the bearer of the Messiah, he said He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

So it turns out that the genealogy that is uninteresting to us brings so much excitement to the original Jewish audience of Matthew, for it traces the lineage of the newborn-king and connects him to the great promises made by God to Abraham and David.

Doubting Jesus as the fulfillment of the evangelion?
Some may ask, "Whatever happened to the promise crushing of the serpent's head?". This is a legitimate question since we could still see so much evil and suffering all around in the world.

John the Baptist, the one who introduced Jesus to the public as the "Son of God" and "the Lamb" (John 1:34-35) sent representatives to Jesus one day to ask this question: "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" (Luke 7:19). Imprisoned (and eventually beheaded), perhaps he started to entertain doubts because Jesus hasn't been making any political progress.

And at the Emmaus road, there's a couple of men who hoped that Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel but were then frustrated when they witnessed how he was sentenced to death and eventually crucified (Luke 24:20-21).

Jesus told them: "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"

Excited about the sequel of the story
Some promises of God were fulfilled on Jesus' first coming. The reason why there is still sin, pain, evil, suffering and grief in the world is because the completion of the promises is yet future. To put it in another way, Christ's first coming is Part 1 of the story. It was exciting and the climax was when Jesus rose from the dead proclaiming his victory over sin. The sacrifice has been made. The atonement is powerful. “Death has lost it's sting!”

Yet the best is yet to come. And since Part 1 of the story was so much engaging, it should move our hearts to be excited about the sequel. He shall return! We shall soon see the fatal blow upon the serpent's head.
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Romans 16:20)
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Revelation 20:10)
Do you believe these? If you don't, I would like to say this to your face, “"How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:20)

May the promises fulfilled in the incarnation of Christ give us the faith to wait for his return. And while waiting, may we live pleasing lives before our Present and Future King.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Mr. Enoch, how to be you po?"

From the free stock photos of pixabay.com

Key verses: Gen. 5:21-24, Heb. 11:5-6, Jude 14-15

"How to be you po?" is a common remark by social media users addressed to persons they admire or look up to. In effect it means "How do I emulate you?" or “How can I be like you?”. Suppose a good public school teacher received a plaque with the words "Most Outstanding Teacher 2017" engraved on it, and then she posted photos of the awarding ceremony, one of her admiring students may post this comment: "Lodi, How to be you po?”In response, the outstanding teacher would then give tips on how to excel in one's work.

Our ultimate model of godly living is Jesus Christ himself. The Father predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of His son (Rom. 8:29). Yet the Bible also encourages us to learn from the life of the faithful and imitate them (Heb. 13:7).

We have a long line of heroes worthy of emulation.
Among the dead,
  •  We have notable Old Testament saints
  •  We have New Testament standouts
  •  We have luminaries from church history
Among the living,
  •  We have contemporary inspirations
  •  We have ordinary Christians inside and outside of the local church whose lives spur us toward love and good deeds (Heb.10:24).

Out of that long and rich roster, I have chosen Enoch for today's blog post. One may ask: "Why Enoch? What's so remarkable about him?" There are two reasons for this:

First, the Genesis account of Enoch's life is one of the earliest hints of death's defeat, perhaps second only to the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15). The most telling effect of man's fall in Eden is the penalty of death (Gen.3:19; Rev.21:8). The protoevangelium is the first announcement of the gospel. It says that in the future, one of Eve's offspring will give the serpent a fatal blow to the head thereby destroying Satan and his works. That is the first hint of death's defeat.

For the next hint of death's defeat, we have to go to the genealogy in Genesis 5. There's a clause that repetitively appears at the end of each person's life account: "then he died". Adam died (v.5); Seth died (v.8); Enosh died (v.11); Kenan died (v.14)... We could go on and on with the genealogy, and we can find this clause again and again: "then he died". It continues to our very own ancestry; that's why your great grand father and your great grand mother are no longer around. They lived, then they died because of the penalty of sin imposed at Eden.

The hint of death's defeat is found in Genesis 5:21-24. The refrain "then he died" is not found here:
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
It is further made clear in Hebrews 1:5,
"By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away."

The other remarkable thing in the life of Enoch is how he was commended by the Holy Scriptures. Hebrews 11:5c says, "For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God."

This saying is almost an axiom, "You cannot please everybody." Some will find delight in you. Yet some will also be unimpressed with you, or worse, some will be hostile to you. Enoch identified whom he cannot afford to displease, and that is God. So should we. We can afford to offend everybody as long as we know that the One who sits on the throne is pleased.

Because we believe pleasing God is the only thing that matters, we go to Mr. Enoch and ask him: "Mr. Enoch, how to be you po?"

From the limited biblical data we have, here I present this list on how to be like Enoch.

FIRST, to be like Enoch, you have to be consistent in your walk of godliness.

The key fact here is that he walked with God 300 years.

The ideal path of spiritual growth is an ever increasing progress in sanctification. But because of carelessness in playing with sin, our growth is derailed by our inconsistencies in many areas of Christian life. We fall, we rise again, only to be entangled again and fall by the same sin or another.

Enoch's life is an evidence that a consistent Christian walk in a period of 300 years is achievable. It may be tough and difficult, but it is doable. We should also take into account that our lives are much shorter. We will not even live half of 300 years. If Enoch could sustain a life of holiness for 300 years, then you could consistently pursue righteousness till 70 or 80 depending on the length of your earthly life.

One may say, "it is much easier to live a holy life in Enoch's day. For the modern generation, there is just so much evil influence around that it makes it difficult." But it is wrong to think Enoch was living in some golden age of holiness and morality on earth. We could cite two pieces of evidence:

1st, the Bible's description of the The Pre-Flood inhabitants of the world is this: "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." (Gen.6:5)

2nd, when Enoch prophesied (Jude 14-15), the content of his message was mainly judgment against wicked acts and wicked words indicating that the people around him are evil in their words and deeds. It was the message Enoch received from God because it was the need of the day.

So what can we conclude then? We conclude that even if we are living in an age of rampant evil, a consistent walk in godliness is doable.

SECOND, to be like Enoch, you have to find delight in fellowship with God.

The phrase "walked with God" indicates friendship and intimacy. If walking with someone is not a delightful experience, would it last 300 years? No way! Relationships are broken when at least one party no longer find delight in it. The same is true with our relationship with God. We will not walk with God if we find no delight in his friendship and intimacy.

Do you enjoy spending time with God? Do you find delight in feasting on his word? Do you find pleasure in prayer? Is there joy in your heart when you worship him? Without delight in God's presence, you will never be like Enoch.

THIRD, to be like Enoch, you should submit your will to God in which way to go.

For two people to continue walking together, there should be an agreement on which way to go (Amos 3:3). They cannot walk together if they insist going to opposite directions. They will just quarrel so we could not count them as two less lonely people in world 😞

In walking with God, it will not be the Almighty who will adjust to your wills and desires. He is Lord; you are not. You submit to Him! Find delight in submitting to him knowing he is the all-wise God. He knows the best destination for your journey with him.

FOURTH, to be like Enoch, you have to be a man of faith.

When the author of Hebrews understood the fact that Enoch pleased God, his conclusion was faith must be present in Enoch. For in the theology of the author, it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). His logic goes like this:
  1. It is impossible to please God without faith
  2. Enoch pleased God.
  3. Therefore, Enoch was a man of faith.

Enoch's faith consists of two components (verse 6):

  • Belief in God's existence.
  • Belief that he rewards those who seek him.

The world lives for power and gold. If you don't possess power and gold, the world will brand you as a loser. They will think you're living a miserable life. But if you are a man of faith, you are fully convinced that as long as you are seeking God, you will never be left empty-handed. He rewards men of faith.

FIFTH, to be like Enoch, you have to be a bearer and herald of truth (Jude 14-15).

The revelation Enoch received was scarce. He didn't have a copy of the New Testament. He didn't even have a copy of the Pentateuch. We have a fuller and richer deposit of truth. We have more protection against sin (Psalm 119:9,11). We have a fuller and richer message to share (Hebrews 1:1). We have all the tools that were unavailable in Enoch's day.  If Enoch was faithful bearer and herald of truth with the little amount of revelation he received, then you should be a more faithful bearer and herald of the full revelation we possess.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 6)


You may have had noticed that none of the petitions mentioned so far are concerned with the disciple's personal needs. They are all God-ward in focus: God's name, God's kingdom and God's will. So our prayers should not be motivated by self-centeredness but by a desire to exalt God.

"Give us today our daily bread"-- this is the first petition focused on the disciple's personal need.Yet even this request must be grounded upon the desire to glorify God. We want to feed our body that it might have the energy, strength and vitality to advance causes that are related to the first three petitions:

  • the cause of hollowing God's name
  • the cause of expanding his kingdom
  • the cause of fulfilling God's will

We can understand this better if we have a correct view of the human body:
1. Since God is the Creator of all, every human body belongs to him (Psalm 24:1-2)
2. God's ownership of the human body has a richer sense among us Christians because we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
3. The human body must be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20; Colossians 1:16)
If these three principles are clear in our minds, then it will be easy for us to see that taking care of the human body must have a God-centered focus. There are just so many shallow reasons to be health conscious like having the abs to impress the girls or having the curves to attract the boys. The only reason that matters is so that we can have the strength and vitality to serve God.

This petition also reminds us that our very survival depends on God. The word "bread" here is symbolic of all our physical needs. These are necessities, not luxuries: food, shelter, clothing, and for the sick, medication. And if ever we have so much in life to cover these needs, let us not forget that these blessings are from the Lord's hand (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Your Will Be Done (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 5)

In a world where selfishness reigns, praying for the Lord's will to be done is radical. The knees bow before the Sovereign ruler and the heart submits it's wills and desires to Him who knows what's best. Let us learn this discipline from someone who actually prayed "Your will be done."

Clothed in the frailties of human flesh, he was then thinking about the horrors and pains of his impending crucifixion, plus the experience bearing the weight of sin when he himself is sinless. So he prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42). For our lives to be consistent with this petition...

  • We must prioritize God's will over life's necessities (John 4:34)
  • We must strive to do whatever is pleasing to the Father (John 5:30 and 8:29)
  • We must be obedient to God even if it means suffering for him and dying for him (Philippians 2:8)

"On earth as it is in heaven"
In heaven, there is no rebellion. In heaven, all the angels obey. So we long for the same thing to be true on earth when men submit to God's will without reservation.

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