Encouraging one another

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16 ESV)

So let’s do it!!!

 

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground. Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and rules to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 147 ESV)

Amen!

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Good Friday, Easter… What for?

So many people are commemorating Jesus’ death today and will be celebrating His resurrection on Sunday. But what for?

For me,  it is a celebration of a freedom bought at a great price by a merciful Savior.

It is a celebration of the one who died for me while I was doing all I could to resist, rebel and push Him out of my life.

Those three days are a great opportunity to thank the God who gave me the freedom to be who I was created to be.

So Good Friday, Easter, what for? To remember and say thanks and worship even through tears for the forgiveness of my sins and the reconciliation with the Holy One.

A Gracious and Holy God

Their prince shall be one of themselves; their ruler shall come out from their midst; I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me? declares the LORD. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:21-22

While I was reading through Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, I was awestruck by God’s holiness. People could not come near Him as they wanted. There were rules, conditions, and requirements. Even when you wanted to make a sacrifice and to offer a gift, there were conditions. You could not just bring whatever you wanted, as you wanted. (Exodus 19: 10-25, Leviticus 1; 10, Numbers 4:18-20)

Those books remind me of a song verse, “Grateful that you hear us when we shout your praise.” This song verse and those books remind me that I should be grateful to approach God and to pray to Him. They remind me that God is not obliged to hear me even when I praise Him. When I praise Him, when I sacrifice to Him and for Him, it is a privilege. It is my privilege.

Paul told the Philippians that they have been given the privilege of suffering for Christ (Philippians 1:29). To be with God, to serve Him, to speak to and with Him, to read His word, to suffer and sacrifice for Him, to be persecuted in His name and to be single for his sake are privileges. Privileges acquired for us by Christ on the cross.

God gains nothing when we do those things. He is God and will always be. He will never change. Even if there was no believer in the entire universe, He will still be God. Even if all humans were to go to hell, He will still be God, good and gracious. He is holy and only through His grace can we approach Him and serve Him and suffer for Him. If Christ did not redeem me, I have no idea where I would be. And it is my privilege to say “Thank you Lord.”

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:16-18

Happy New Year!

Here comes the New Year. I made it spiritually alive! I have been carried by an almighty God and I made it thanks to His strength. If I could remember only one thing from this year, it would be that God is merciful. I learned that His mercy is a part of His holiness. He is not holy, then merciful and compassionate and forgiving. His kindness is part of His majesty. Isaiah 40, this great chapter telling of the greatness of God, begins describing it by exposing His goodness. God’s goodness is His glory. Let’s read it.

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)

God is so merciful that He longs to show us mercy.

I have heard Ephraim grieving, ‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the LORD my God. For after I had turned away, I relented, and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was confounded, because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he my darling child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:18-20).

And if there is something I want to take with me in 2015 is that God’s way is different from mine. His way is a way of compassion and forgiveness. He is ready to forgive because He is different. My God is different. What a blessing!

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9)

Grace upon grace

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27

Who does not want God’s favor? Who does not want God’s blessing? Who does not want to be kept by the Lord  and to have His face shine on her /him? Who does not want His grace, His peace  and His mercy ?

If we know who God is, we want it all. He created everything and everything belongs to Him. He is good and mighty (1 Chronicles 29:12; Daniel 4:35; Psalm 119:68). And nothing is too difficult to Him (Jeremiah 32:27). We want His face to shine on us. The good news is that if you belong to Jesus, His face shines on You. If you follow Jesus, God’s grace is on you. He is not there to judge you and punish you, but to give you His grace. Even His discipline is love and grace (Hebrews 12:5-6).

In Jesus, we have all the spiritual blessings of God. In Jesus we have everything we need and more. Not all we want, not as we want it, but according to that grace that chose us and is bringing us home (Ephesians 1:3-5).

Truly “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16