God’s blessing is in our daily lives. As the pilgrims get up early to leave the city of Jerusalem after much celebration and joy, they are encouraged to praise God all the way. Nobody likes to leave the party, but God’s presence is with us. God is in our coming and going. God is in our dawns and dusks. God is in the sunshine and in the darkest valley. Praise Him all the way. This living and breathing God are how we should live. We tend to leave worship for Sundays or when we need a soothing background in prayer times, but worship, praise is all the way, all the day, forever.
Together with Fanny Crosby we can say
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood Chorus: This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.
Unity is rare and precious. Unity is difficult. Unity, brotherly and sisterly love is like the dew, makes life spring, refreshes, revives, strengthens and helps us grow.
We might come from different cultures, countries and costumes but God unites us. There He pronounces His blessing.
The opposite to unity is division. Many of us are deeply divided. So we are tired, we are not growing, we are depressed, dull, discouraged and bored. We pray for unity, but we live division. How? We don’t land a helping hand to a brother who is different from us in doctrine, we don’t give the opportunity to share with a sister that looks strange to us. We don’t extend our hand and prayers to a suffering pastor and his family. We are not willing to let the ‘oil drip’ to the end of the garment, we are stingy, we are proud. The love of God compiles us to ‘love one another’ but do we? In words and deeds? How can we love our enemies if we are not willing to cross the road to see our friends?
Dear Lord, help me to see what you see in people and love them in Spirit and truth.
God is here right now and He has blessed you with Jesus. Most of us think that God is distant and only present for some special religious people, but the truth is different.
God has chosen you and wants to be with you.
(see verse 13). Now, when we speak of ‘God’s chosen’ we tend to think of arrogant people who think they are privileged and can use this position for their gain, but God has chosen us in grace. What that means is that we were not deserving of His choice, we were not special so to speak, but we are made special by Him choosing us. We were not more wise, good-looking or hugely different than others, but God has offered us grace and that makes all the difference. Understanding this will only lead to humility and not superiority. We are chosen to be holy, meaning distinct and different. If the world communities are built in self-promotion, God’s chosen people build communities on self-sacrifice. All aspects of life, self, marriage, work, friendships, sex, money power, the poor, justice, operate completely different in a society that believes and lives like people chosen by God’s grace.
Dear Lord, let us remember who you are and who we are because of you and live humble and bold lives.
Fostering an attitude of trusting hope is our life as believers. This idea of ‘trust’ before ‘have’ can be unusual to many, but it’s not for the kingdom of God. Jesus is the pioneer when it comes to calling his followers to do the opposite of what the world would do.
His well-known sayings include –
Give to get joy Forgive to be forgiven Rejoice in persecution Die to live
The psalmist David voiced the same idea when he uttered ‘I have calmed and quieted myself like a weaned child …’ We are to become like a child, humble, sincere, needy, trustworthy , but not childish- proud, folly, impatient, interest seekers. We enjoy and fully rest in God when we come with a content heart, rather than a contempt one.
Dear Lord let my cravings and desires be satisfied in you so that I can enjoy your love and presence.
There are depths of anguish and sorrows that touch our hearts that self-help or man-help can not bring comfort. Prayer helps, but what helps, even more, is the prayer that waits and watches for God to aid. Only like that revelation like ‘forgiveness is with you’ (see verse 4) will give wings to our sinking hearts.
Our God is a forgiving God.
We may withhold forgiveness, our friends, spouse, children, co-workers and family members may do the same, but not our God. When we belong to Him, nothing can revoke his forgiveness. There is nothing like God’s forgiveness, for it’s the only true agent of change. Forgiveness softens the heart and strengthens the mind. Yes, we can go astray, yes we can be haunted by the devil for sins committed, we can be sad and downcast, but there is forgiveness with Him.
The word rendered ‘forgiveness’ is a late form, being found only in two other late passages. [Nehemiah 9:17; Daniel 9:9] It literally means cutting off, and so suggests the merciful surgery by which the cancerous tumour is taken out of the soul.” (Maclaren)
As believers, we are often knocked down but we are never knocked out.
What keeps us standing even in the worse of the storms is the testimony of our God. The secret to our resilient faith is not in our strength, but the strips of our Saviour. Together with the people of Israel, we can confess the faithfulness of our God. All the time that the ‘enemy’ came, God broke the yoke of the oppression. Our God is good, he has given us freedom already. That’s why we don’t despair although we get disappointed and discouraged. That’s why we don’t let go because nothing can snatch us out from his hand. On the cross, Jesus endured abandonment and despair so that we would gain approval and delight from the Father. His back was brutally broken so that we can stand tall in the presence of the Almighty God. He was oppressed and tortured so that we can live in victory and triumph. Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much. Help me understand this truth so that I would love and show grace to my ‘oppressors.’
The family is the core cell of society. If the family is strong the society will be strong. Many elements that make a healthy family are moved and reshaped by culture and law nowadays, still, the importance of family remains.
The world needs trustworthy fathers and mothers who work together for the well-being of the next generation. Church, the community of people who share the same faith and principles together is a big and diverse family but rarely act like one. We call each other brother and sister and father and mother in faith, but we don’t share lives and love with one another as Jesus taught. How?
We see each other rarely, we share our lives scarcely and we love partly.
Our responsibility, my responsibility is not only to battle for the ‘ideal’ family but to build the family of God. To become the mother, the sister, the child that helps the big family of God to flourish in love and grace. Help me Lord.
Children are not a liability not a burden but a blessing from the Lord. In our modern society, we seldom see children as heavenly gifts. We tend to be more planned to have them and more in control when it comes to their upbringing. We fall into two extremes when it comes to parenting, we either over-manage and get an unhealthy attachment with our children, or ignore them all together to the excuse of independence and ‘self-sufficient.’
God on the other side tells us that unless our children have Him, they and we have nothing.
To build a house with bricks and mortar might be possible for man, but to build a harmonious home where all members of the family dwell in joy and strength is a gift from the Lord.
Children are a gift from the Lord, we, the parents have them for a certain amount of time to appreciate, care, love and prepare them for the future. We can not do that right without the help of the Lord.
Dear Lord help me to see my children as your gifts to me and rely on you for their upbringing.
“People are fast to claim their accomplishments, but for their failures they blame the past, or God” said a good friend of mine the other day as we were sipping hot coffee together.
It’s natural to pat ourselves on the back when we succeed thinking that our gifts and talents came as the result of our own effort, but if we fail we tend to turn to blaming and releasing ourselves from any guilt.
Any building work that leaves God out is heading for crumbling results.
The Latin saying ‘Nisi Dominus Frusta’ Without the Lord, Frustration, rings truth not only to the building of cities and countries but houses and lives. Without God, frustration with accompanying any work. Without God, our houses are as strong as paper shacks. This does not exclude us from doing the work, for there is labour for us to contribute, but with God, at its foundation, the work is blessed with great results that offer the worker sweet sleep and satisfaction.
Jesus prayed for us, His disciples, that we may have joy and that joy might be complete ( see John 15:10-12). Why? Because the good news, the gospel is nothing else but laughter and joy ( Spurgeon ). When we realise that, when we encounter God for who He truly is, that truth will be so good, so great and too glorious to think true. There will be happiness and amazement so large and obvious that all who see will glory God in heaven. I am not talking here about worked-up, hyped-up enthusiasm, but the pure joy that bursts of from a heart set free from the slavery of sin. Sure, there is tears also, for the seed has to be watered before the harvest, but the joy is real, the joy is endless. Dear Lord, I experience so little of that joy you prayed for me, can you help me to behold and live-out the joy of salvation. Amen.