August 31 at 8.30 am – My Utmost for His Highest
MY JOY…YOUR JOY
“That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15: 11
Today the nation Malaysia celebrates its ‘Independence Day’ called ‘Merdeka’. A day of joyous celebration of freedom, independence and sovereignty. The theme for this 57th year of independence is “Malaysia where love grows”, a day of expression of love towards a culturally unique country. The month of Elul is a month to remember the covenant of love and commitment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine’. Song of Songs 6: 3 (see reflections August 27)
Garden of Eden: One of the most beautiful expressions of a communion of love and oneness took place in the Garden of Eden when God created Adam and Eve. How they must have enjoyed the full extent of the Father’s pure joy and divine love in the Garden of love and Paradise till sin stepped in and darkness enveloped all of humankind. My recent visit to the Mulu Caves in Sarawak took me through extremes of emotions – from experiencing the deafening silence of the darkness of the cave to the fullness of wonder and joy to see life in the midst of barrenness and rocks. Such is the awesome feeling when one passes through the Deer Cave, one of the largest cave passages in the world, and suddenly there is this large island of green forest with life in abundance. In the center of the Deer cave flowed a stream of water that flowed through the Garden of Eden and this served as a source of life and the sunlight above brought abundance in growth of green vegetation. Appropriately named the ‘Garden of Eden’, one can sense the overwhelming joy of what it is to serve a living God. From the barrenness and darkness of the soul there is this freedom of inexplicable joy in the Cross of Christ that my Redeemer died and lives for me that I might be free and free indeed. “That My joy might remain in you,…John 15: 11
Also in the center of the Deer Cave was the ‘Showers of Adam’ pouring water from the roof of the cave. But still there was no life in sight because there was no sunlight for growth to occur.
Oswald Chambers writes: Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a center for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. The joy of Jesus was the absolute surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. “I delight to do Thy will.” Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The full flood of my life is not in bodily health, not in external happenings, not in seeing God’s work succeed, but in perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had. God wants to get us to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim who Jesus is: The Light and Savior of the world.
Have I allowed Jesus of Nazareth to introduce His joy to me? Is my life flowing ‘like streams of living water‘ and God’s word ‘a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’? My cave experience brought a new dimension of my understanding of who God is as Creator and the complete joy of knowing Jesus as both my Lord and my God. Today, as a family we also celebrate the birthday of my wife Monica and together we sing: O What A Savior! Amen!
Saturday August 30 – FAITH’S Checkbook – Charles Spurgeon
DAVID’S DYING SONG
Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow. – 2 Samuel 23: 5
As I continue to study Psalm 57, written in a cave by the Psalmist David while he was hiding from Saul, I recall my 2 days of cave experience in the Mulu caves in Sarawak (reflections in August 27, 28, 29) and remember standing in one of the dark clefts in the cave thinking of my own family, my own household. David, even in the midst of all adversities and troubles, had confidence in the everlasting covenant God had made with him and his forefathers. That was his confidence to trust in the saving grace of God to deliver him from ALL his circumstances. This morning’s reading from FAITH’s Checkbook reminds me how important it is to make sure our own household is in order first.
What will be our last dying thoughts when we close our earthly pilgrimage? Will we remember all our achievements done for Christ or will we remember God’s everlasting covenant made with each one of us through the saving grace of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Sobering thoughts but real and confronting. If I had to write my own history, there will be so many ‘althoughs’ and so many ‘buts’ but my greatest desire is to be sure my own household will be in order – that my three children will be born again in love with the Lord and my wife would have found peace to forgive me for all my faults and wrongs I have done, yet, still fervent in her love for the Lord. How we pain deep in our spirit and soul when our own household is not in order and more so if we, individually, are the cause of the disorder.
David, a man after God’s own heart, who tasted the goodness of the Lord, who although raised from looking after sheep to become a nation’s king, yet, had his own “althoughs” and “buts”and the thorn that remained deep in his flesh till his dying day was one concerning his own household. Those are the worst troubles which we have – in our own household.
This morning’s meditation verse in FAITH’s Checkbook is the message titled ‘David’s Dying Song’ given by Charles Spurgeon on April 15th, 1855 at Exeter Hall, Strand, England. Here are excerpts of that sermon: “The greatest trouble with the thorn is when it lieth in our bed, and we feel it in our pillow”.
The Psalmist had sorrow in his house—”Although my house be not so with God.” Secondly, he had confidence in the covenant—” yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” And thirdly, he had satisfaction in his heart, for he says—” this is all my salvation, and all my desire. God puts a thorn in your nest in order that you may sing. Trials are sent to wean you from the world; bitters are put into your drink, that ye may learn to live upon the dew of heaven: the food of earth is mingled with gall, that ye may only seek for true bread in the manna which droppeth from the sky. Your soul without trouble would be as the sea if it were without tide or motion; it would become foul and obnoxious. Firstly, the confidence in the covenant on which David rests and stands secure, is that covenant which God has made with him. “Yet HE hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Secondly, “It is ordered in all things.” “Order is heaven’s first law,” and God has not a disorderly covenant. It is an orderly one. When God planned it, before the world began, it was in all things ordered well. Thirdly, the Psalmist had a satisfaction in his heart. “This is,” he said, all my salvation, and all my desire.”
FAITH’S Checkbook: August 30 – Solace, Security, Satisfaction – The covenant is the ark that contains all things. These are the last words of David but they may be mine. Here is a sigh: things are not as I could wish with me and my household; there are trials, cares, and sins. These make the pillow hard. But here is the solace: “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” God has pledged Himself to me and sealed with the blood of Jesus. I am bound to my God and my God to me. That brings into prominence a security: an everlasting covenant that is well-ordered and sure. The covenant is a foundation of rock to build on for life or for death. David feels satisfaction: he no longer lacks salvation. He is delivered. The covenant is all a man can desire. You may get anything uncertain anywhere else; it is in Jesus alone that we get everlasting things.
“I to the end shall endure
As sure as the earnest is given;
More happy, but not more secure,
Are the glorified spirits in heaven.”
Does our own household stand like a green oasis in the desert of this world? Do I have the heart of a man who has a covenant made with him by God, “ordered in all things, and sure”? O Lord, you are my all in all. Amen!
Footnote: Sermon delivered on Sabbath Morning, April 15, 1855, by the Charles Spurgeon titled David’s Dying Song: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0019.htm
August 29 at 7.00 am – My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers
“Said I not unto thee, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” John 11: 40
Oswald Chambers writes this first sentence in this morning’s reading: Every time you venture out in the life of faith, you will find something in your common-sense circumstances that flatly contradicts your faith.
So true! Yesterday (August 28 – Day 2 in the Mulu Caves, Sarawak) I woke up very early at 4.30 am to write my daily blog and try to see if the new Mulu Resort (still under renovation) we were staying in could assist me to upload my daily devotion. We were due to leave the hotel to see the remaining caves at 7.00 am and I wanted to get it uploaded before we left. I finished my writings, rushed to the hotel ‘business’ room only to be told by the resort staff that the one and only one computer available was not working! My faith hit the floor! I was so disappointed because I had AWAKEN THE DAWN to write the thoughts from my heart and in David’s Psalm 57 and get it uploaded. Dejected, my faith gone with the wind, I picked up my computer to leave the room when in walks the General Manager Grant Young. My first question: “Are you a Christian?” Grant replied, “Yes! How can I help you Sir?” I rambled away about ‘A Slice from the Heart’ and within minutes, he takes out his Mac computer, gets connected to this ‘other’ world we call cyberspace, uploads my daily devotion and my faith is back where it belonged, this side of eternity! My faith was tested because I was standing in the natural not in the spiritual.
AWAKEN THE DAWN: Awake my soul, awake, harp and lyre! I will AWAKEN THE DAWN. I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of You among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; for your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 57: 8-11 Even in the darkest of hour, David saw the glory of God and was able to triumph over his circumstances because he was a man in sublime intimacy with his God. David was able to put God before all his problems, all his failings, all his enemies, and to awaken his soul to praise God in the early hours of daybreak. He chose not to allow his circumstances dictate his responses. His faith in God was strong. David’s unparalled love for God allowed him to not only awaken his own soul but also his gifts to sing and play music to the LORD. This sublime joy of intimacy with God was to not only fill his own whole heart, mind, body and soul but also the hearts of the 400 men around him in the cave and the nations will then see the glory of God through his faith in God. David stood in the spiritual because his heart was fixed, steadfast in his Almighty God. The light of day was an assurance of the unfailing love of God in David’s life of faith.
Oswald Chambers writes: Every time my program of belief is clear to my mind, I come across something that contradicts it. Let me say I believe God will supply all my need, and then let me run dry, with no outlook, and see whether I will go through the trial of faith, or whether I will sink back to something lower.
What is your faith up against just now? Faith must be tested. The test will either prove that your faith is right, or it will kill it. Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Believe steadfast on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith, and the last great test is death. Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us. May God keep us in fighting trim!
As I continue to study Psalm 57 and learn how David could cry out ‘Al-taschith’ meaning ‘DO NOT DESTROY’, may God have mercy on our lives and grant us more grace to see beyond our trials and common sense circumstances till we reach that spiritual place of sublime intimacy with Jesus of Nazareth and together we shall sing and AWAKEN THE DAWN like David did with this song of praise: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. Amen!
Thursday, August 28 at 5.00am – Day 2 – A Cave experience in Mulu Caves, Sarawak – FAITH’S Checkbook, Charles Spurgeon
OUT OF ANY CIRCUMSTANCE
As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Psalm 55: 16
But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. Psalm 55: 16 -17 : – I write the words from this prayer of David (Listen to my prayer, O God: verse 1) in the early hours of this Thursday morning with deep emotion and yearning of my soul to feel the troubled and distraught spirit of David as he faces the tempest and storm of the circumstances that surround him. A man after God’s own heart, David cries out in distress three times during the day to plead for the saving grace of God upon his life.
One of the most breathtaking experiences in my whole life was to enter a limestone cave measuring 150 meters high by 100 meters wide in its deepest ‘belly’. It was as if I had entered an abyss, a massive cistern, a massive dark cavity of stone. The cool wind blowing against my face, the sound of a rushing stream, the sound of bats, the smell of bats dung and the glimpses of the evening light just shining through the clefts of the cave just overwhelmed me. This was ALL too much for me. I had prepared my heart, soul, mind and body for this experience because I wanted so desperately to feel the heart of this man David. How could such a man who tasted the goodness of an Almighty God know his God so deeply and closely and wholeheartedly and yet be enveloped in such torment of his soul? In the darkest hour of his soul, what else could David do…but to pray to his God whom he trusted and knew. Against all odds, this living God will save him in his hour of distress.
Charles Spurgeon writes in FAITH’S Checkbook – August 28: YES, I MUST AND WILL PRAY. What else can I do? What better can I do? Forsaken, grieved, baffles, betrayed, O my Lord, I will call upon You. I encourage my heart in the Lord, who will bear me through this trial as He has borne me through so many others. God will save me; I am sure He will, and I declare my faith in God. The LORD and no one else will save me. I desire NO other helper and would not trust in an arm of flesh even if I could. I will cry to him evening, morning, and noon, and I will cry to no one else, for He alone is all-sufficient.
I cannot guess how God will do it, but this I know, HE WILL DO IT. He will do it in the largest, truest, and fullest sense. Out of this trouble and all future troubles, the great I AM will bring me as surely as He lives; when death comes and all the mysteries of eternity follow thereon, still this will be true: “THE LORD SHALL SAVE ME.” This will be my song all through this day. I will feed upon it. How sweet it is to my taste!
Yes, I take this writing from Charles Spurgeon to heart. As large as my human eyes can see the size of this cave and hold my breadth as to its dimensions, how much more is the love of God as high as the heavens and from east to west. This God we know and serve is indeed a mighty God who saves and will save me. My FAITH’S Checkbook for today!
Through my darkest week from August 11-21, 2011, my armour-bearer was Jeremy, my eldest son. He sat and watched me struggle through the difficult week as I faced my open heart surgery 3 years ago. Today, I am blessed to have my second son David (named after King David!) to be my armour-bearer and walk with me through another difficult emotional period in my life. I shared the Psalms that King David wrote while he was hiding in a cave with my son David and I thank God for these two armour-bearers. The next visit to my 4th ‘city of refuge’, I pray my daughter Sarah will be with me.
This morning my heart is beating so fast to see what the cave looks like at dawn. What it must have felt for David to sing: Psalm 57: Awake my soul, awake, harp and lyre! I will AWAKEN THE DAWN. I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of You among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; for your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. Amen!
Footnote: 6.30 pm; Deer Cave: 150 meters high is approximately the height of a 50 storey building and 100 meters wide is approximately the length of a football field.
Wednesday, August 27 – Day 1: A Cave Experience in Mulu Caves, Sarawak, Malaysia
A CALL TO RETURN TO THE LORD (Please read NEW POST on the Homepage)
“Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 1: 3, KJV
The Sixth Hebrew month Elul – begins the evening of August 26 – is a month of reckoning of past mistakes, repentance to and reconciliation with God. During the month of Elul, the people of God remember the words recorded by the Prophet Zechariah in Chapter 1 :3: RETURN TO ME AND I WILL RETURN TO YOU. We have the opportunity to return to God and plead for mercy and forgiveness and to start a new walk of obedience and resolution to correct past mistakes and make it right with God. There is a deep desire to connect with God and be one with God. God should be our ONLY love and there should be no other love outside of God.
The month of Elul (E,L,u,L -aleph, lamed, vav, lamed) has 5 basic acronyms that allude to 5 basic responsibilities that one should focus on throughout the month:
- A Study of the Torah – To study the Word of God is the highest form of worship. In this month, the Hebrew tradition is to seek “protection”. In the month of Elul, we are to seek protection from every evil inclination of our hearts to sin before God. Elul is a month of returning to God with a broken spirit and a fixed and contrite heart. Genesis 6: 5; KJV: And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- The Concept of Prayer: Prayer is a romance. It is spiritual intimacy between man and God. Prayer / Tefillah means connection.When a man prays, he has to know to whom he is praying to: ‘KNOW BEFORE WHOM YOU STAND’. To ‘know’ is a euphemism for intimacy. John 17:3 Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.
- The Concept of Charity: It represents the idea of giving and giving generously. Repentance / Teshuvah is always linked with Tzedakah / Charity.
- The Gift of Repentance: The word “Elul” is similar to the root of the verb “search” in Aramaic. Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God. God will circumcise the hearts rendering the heart steadfast and fixed. Repentance / Teshuvah takes place in the heart. It is not of our own doing but a gift from God. By circumcision of the heart, a covenant is made with God to act justly, walk humbly and love mercy (Micah 6: 8). Only when the heart is fixed can one return to God. Only when the heart is fixed can one praise God. Only when the heart is fixed can one love God wholeheartedly.
- The Call to Worship: To sing to God. When Moses sees the parting of the Red Sea, they sing the Song of Moses, a song of liberation (Exodus 15). Elul represents a sense of liberation from all previous mistakes, and from all limitations and to move on to a new reality, a new beginning with the LORD.
Elul is a season of Reconciliation: Rabbi Sha’ul, Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God writing to the church of God in Corinth says in 2 Corinthians 5: 17-19:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Come, let us return to the Lord Jesus and bless His Holy Name for the Lord alone deserves ALL our praises, ALL our love and ALL of our being because He is Above All. Amen!
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. John 3: 31
BLESSING OF THE NEW MONTH, ELUL – BIRKAT HA’CHODESH
May it be Your will, O Lord, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You inaugurate this month of Elul upon us for goodness and for blessing.
May You give us long life,
a life of peace – Shalom
a life of goodness – Tovah
a life of blessing – Bracha
a life of sustenance – Parnassa
a life of physical health – Hilutz Atzamot
a life in which there is a fear of heaven and fear of sin
– Yirat Shamayim ve’ Yirat Chet
a life in which there is no humiliation – Ein Busha u’Chlimah
a life of wealth and honor – Osher ve’Kavod
a life in which we will have love of Torah and awe and reverence of God – Ahavat Torah ve’Yirat HaShem
a life in which Adonai, the Lord, fulfills our heartfelt requests for good. Amen. Selah.
Tuesday, August 26 at 7.15 am – My Utmost for His Highest
ARE YOU EVER DISTURBED?
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” John 14: 27
Have you ever been in a situation or crisis where you were so troubled and disturbed deep in your soul and at your wits end and you just wanted to run away and be alone with God? You are not alone. Over the past few months I was painfully disturbed in my spirit, mind, body and soul. I was ‘at the end’. I had arrived at “my own Jordan”, “my own Jericho” and “my own Bethel” (please read reflections on August 11, 12, 14). I found myself seeking refuge in ‘cities of refuge’ just to be alone and to seek after the heart of God. On June 26 this year I went to Cebu, Philippines, my first ‘City of Refuge’, to meet with God. Immediately on my return, I started this blog ‘AWAKEN THE DAWN’ on July 8th to share my deep struggles on this journey to make peace with God. On July 26, exactly a month later, I went to Can Tho city in Vietnam, my second ‘City of Refuge’.
The Scriptures tell us in Joshua Chapter 20 that God had chosen six cities and designated them as ‘Cities of Refuge’.The cities of refuge were part of the distribution of the Promised Land among the twelve tribes of Israel. Only one tribe, the Levites, was not given land to develop. Instead, they were to be the priests of the Lord and the overseers of the tabernacle and all its rites. Part of their inheritance consisted of forty-eight cities spread throughout the land (Numbers 35:6-7). Of these forty-eight cities, six were designated as cities of refuge. The cities were Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Romath, and Golan (Joshua 20: 7-8). Anyone who had disobeyed the Law of Moses could seek refuge in any one of these 6 cities. By their consecration as priests, the Levites were mediators between the Israelites and God.
We have a High Priest in Jesus of Nazareth in whom we can find refuge from the destroyer of our souls. We run to Christ from the wrath of God and from an eternity in hell. Only Christ Jesus, the mediator of our souls, can provide the peace we desperately seek after if we turn away from sin in penitence to God.
Oswald Chambers writes: Reflected peace is the proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Jesus. If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself. If you allow anything to hide the face of Jesus Christ from you, you are either disturbed or you have a false security. There are times when our peace is based upon ignorance, but when we awaken to the facts of life, inner peace is impossible unless it is received from Jesus. When Our Lord speaks peace, He makes peace; His words are ever “spirit and life”. Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “My peace I give unto you” – it is a peace which comes from looking into His face and realizing His undisturbness. We get disturbed because we have not been considering the Prince of Peace. Lay it all out before the Lord, and in the face of distress and despair, bereavement and sorrow, hear Him say, “Let not your heart be troubled.”
Tomorrow I leave for my 3rd ‘city of refuge’ – Miri in Sarawak, Malaysia. Every one needs ‘cave time’ and this was my turn to seek refuge in a cave. These past few weeks the Lord has led me to study the Psalms that David wrote while he sought refuge in caves. It was in the cave that David met with God. In the darkness of the cave, David was able to focus his heart and mind on the majesty and mercies of God Almighty. In order to get some sense of the depth of anguish and despair in the heart of David while he wrote Psalm 57 when he fled from King Saul, I leave for the Mulu Caves in Miri to get a cave experience of what this environment might have been for David even though the Desert of En Gedi would have been different (1 Samuel 24).
Also, this evening begins the month of Elul – a month of reckoning, a month of repentance, a month of returning to the Lord and seeking after the mercies of God. A timely season of TRANSFORMATION to make peace with God and receive the peace from Jesus of Nazareth that passes all understanding. May the Lord be gracious and enable us to receive the gift of repentance and redemption through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7, KJV
August 25 at 7.30 am – My Utmost for His Highest
FRUITFULNESS OF FRIENDSHIP
“I have called you friends.” John 15:15
My family would totally agree that I have very few friends! Over the past 30 odd years, I can count the number of friends I have and out of that maybe one or two I would say are close friends. But how close is close? Recently, I went through a difficult patch in my life and those whom I trusted and confided in and I thought were ‘close’ and would give me a ‘ear’ and listen to my heart, those are the very ones who hurt me deeply and I lost my trust in them completely. True, trusted friends are few, indeed. Meals and friendship go well together. I can count the number of friends I have by naming those whom I would be happy to join them for a meal. Jesus of Nazareth revealed the full extent of His unconditional love for His disciples when He broke bread and shared the cup of suffering during the Passover meal in the Upper room. Through this communion each week we establish this covenant relationship of friendship with Jesus.
True friends are those who came into your life, saw the most negative part of you, but are not ready to leave you, no matter how contagious you are to them. Michael Bassey Johnson
Joshua ben Prachia, Jewish author and teacher says: “Make for yourself a mentor, acquire a friend and judge everyone favorably.” Why are these three concepts lumped together in one teaching? We can appreciate the connection between a mentor and a friend. They are both relationships that support the growth of the individual. But why is the lesson of judging people favorably taught in the same sentence? Often we meet people who initially impress us, and based on this first impression we hold them in high regard. However, as we get to know them a little better, forming a closer relationship as friends, we discover their deficits and the dark sides of their personality. At that point we are disappointed at how someone who presented so well could fail us in that way. For the development of any person it is essential to have spiritual mentors and good friends whom we can trust, confide in and share our lives with. But everyone has weaknesses and deficits that were initially hidden and carefully camouflaged. So as we succeed in forming these important relationships of friends, we also have to learn the art of accepting people’s faults and judging them favorably. Learning to trust someone also means learning how to accept the whole person and see them in a positive way.
Oswald Chambers writes: Self-sacrifice is the most difficult thing – I will if…! When we abandon ourselves in every particular way, the Holy Spirit gives us an intimation of the joy of Jesus. The final aim of self-sacrifice is laying down our lives for our Friend. Our Lord is an example in the life of self-sacrifice – “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” Have I yielded in absolute submission to Jesus Christ? When the sacrifice is made with eyes on Him, slowly and surely the molding influence of true, trusted friendship begins to tell. “I have called you friends.” It is a friendship based on the new life created in us which has no affinity with our old life, but only the life of God. It is unutterably humble, unsulliedly pure, and absolutely devoted to God.
Have I often looked to Jesus as a ‘Friend’? No. I revere my Lord Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, as my Lord God, Savior and Redeemer but seldom as ‘friend’. Oswald Chambers gives the reason why: It is because I have not yet abandoned myself totally and completely surrendered to the Lord. I have not laid down my life in total submission to the Lord to allow Jesus to ‘Have thine Own Way Lord’. But when you are in the valley, you have fallen into a pit, or when you are hiding in a cave from all the ‘happenings’ around you and searching for God, you need a friend. I am beginning to look at Jesus in new light as a friend, a beloved friend, whom I know will never ever leave or forsake me, never, as I continue this journey to rekindle my first love in Christ and make peace with God. Amen!
The subject of the hymn ‘What A Friend We have In Jesus’ written by Joseph Medicott Scriven is the friendship of Christ. We can summarize the three verses as follows: ‘our sins’, ‘our sorrows’, ‘our sighs’. Are we facing ‘dispeace’, ‘discomfort’, ‘distress’? – “Take it to the Lord in prayer”. In the face of devastating pain, Joseph wrote, “The bottom of my world just seemed to disappear but what a friend we have in Jesus.”
August 24 at 8.30 am – My Utmost for His Highest; Walking In The Dust of Rabbi Jesus
THE SPIRITUAL INDEX OF PRAYER
“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask for bread, will he give him a stone?” Matthew 7: 9
It’s interesting that when I turn on my Samsung mobile to ‘Phone Options’, there are several modes offered that I can choose from: Silent mode, Data network mode, Flight mode and lastly Power off. If there is one area in my spiritual walk with God where I often turn on the option of ‘pious platitude mode’ is in my prayer life. And when the mode is in function, it invariably slips into ‘Power off’! Platitude is a state of attitude of being sluggish, dull, flat, insipid, meaningless. Why? Oswald Chambers gives the diagnosis: It is because I presume that God has heard my prayers irrespective of my relationship to and with Him. It is because I have not looked at the index. This morning as we turn up the spiritual index of our prayer life, let us consider the ‘Prayer Options’ that Oswald Chambers and Lois Tverberg (author and Hebraic teacher) offer us so we do not mistake defiance for devotion.
Oswald Chambers writes: The illustration of prayer that Our Lord uses in Matthew 7: 9 is that of a good child asking for a good thing. I am a child of God only by regeneration, and as a child of God I am as good only as I walk in the light. Prayer is an effort of the will. The great battle in private prayer is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering and wandering thoughts. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer. God is in secret, and He sees us from the secret place (Matthew 6:6). When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible to doubt God. It is there we ask these questions: Are you rightly related to your wife, to your husband, to your children – are you a “good-child”. “O Lord, I have been irritable and cross, but I do want spiritual blessing.” You cannot have it, you will have to do without it UNTIL you come into an attitude of a right relationship with God as a child of Light. If we turn up the index, we will see very clearly what is wrong-that friendship, that debt, that temper of mind. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then, Jesus says – “Everyone that asketh receiveth.”
Lois Tverberg writes in “Walking In The Dust of Rabbi Jesus”: The prayers that Jesus and Paul used are a powerful experience in prayer which can transform a person’s spiritual life. What was this wonderful style of prayer? It is the habit of “blessing” the Lord. It is an attitude of continual thankfulness toward God that expresses itself through brief prayers that acknowledge God as the source of every good thing. It ultimately comes from the Scriptures, when Moses admonished the Israelites not to forget the Lord:
When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God…(Deuteronomy 8:10-11)
It was easy for the Israelites to cling to God in the desert, but very easy to forget God when times got better and they prospered in the Promised Land. The cure, according to the rabbis, was to continually remind themselves of God’s care by uttering a short prayer of thanks, to “bless the Lord.” This pervasive act of prayer kept God’s presence and love continually on their minds. The Apostle Paul had it in mind when he told the church of the Thessalonians to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The word for bless, barak also means “to kneel,” suggesting that when we bless God, we mentally bow on our knees to worship him. In the gospels it says that Jesus “took the bread and blessed.” (The NIV says “gave thanks” but more literal translations use the word “blessed.”) The idea of blessing the Lord is to thank Him for providing, not to confer holiness on the food. When Jesus did miracles, the people “glorified God”. So when Jesus healed ten lepers and only one, a Samaritan, came back and loudly blessed God, Jesus wondered why the other nine hadn’t returned to do the same thing (Luke 17:12 -19).
For Everything a Blessing: In Psalm 24:1 it says that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” and the rabbis of Jesus’ day and earlier decided that everything that we enjoy in life should cause us to bless God. It’s easy to start worrying that God is not in control, and not remember his continual faithfulness that sustains every minute of the day. In Psalm 103, David shares the secret for how to keep God’s loving care on our mind:
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5, KJV
Today is ‘The Lord’s Day”. Come, let us turn up the spiritual index and AWAKEN THE DAWN and bless the Lord in prayer from a heart that is grateful and thankful for ALL His provisions and blessings. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of The Lord. Amen!
Matthew 23: 39; Psalm 118: 26 Blessed is He Who Comes in The Name of The Lord: Baruch Haba B’shem Adonai
August 23 at 7.30 am – A Taste of Torah – Keren Hannah (his-israel.com); FAITH’S Checkbook – Charles Spurgeon
BLESSING AND CURSE
A Taste of Torah: 23 / 08 Re’eh – Behold Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17; Isaiah 54:11-55:5
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known. Deuteronomy 11:26-28, KJV
We have all gone for movies at some time in our lives and before the actual movie begins, we have advertisements in the form of slides for three to five minutes warning us to turn our mobiles to ‘silent’ mode; promotion slides and short trailers. Usually my children will enter in late enough to miss the first 3 to 5 minutes because of these trailers and promotion slides. Then…the trademark lion roars twice and the 21st Century Fox movie begins…The inscription on the trademark logo reads: Ars Gratia Artis meaning ‘art for art’s sake‘.
I was reading the Torah portion for this week: Re’eh – behold in Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and wondered, what if I was making a movie on Deuteronomy Chapter 11 and the trademark logo read: Sin Not for His Name’s Sake and I show these hallmark 7 verses of Scripture taken from Deuteronomy Chapter 11 as 7 slides BEFORE the actual movie begins. How many would miss these headlight warnings by coming in late and, as a result, walk away from God?:
Slide 1: 1 Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, always.
Slide 2: 2 And know ye this day: I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,
Slide 3: 16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
Slide 4: 17 And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven,
Slide 5: 22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him;
Slide 6: 26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:
Slide 7: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
And He said, The Lord will roar from Zion,…Amos 1: 2
Behold, I set before you this day…TODAY: What if we AWAKEN THE DAWN every morning and read these 7 slides from Deuteronomy Chapter 11 before we start the day lived before a Holy God? What a ‘life-changer’ this would make if at the end of the day we play back the events that took place as if it was filmed, as in a movie, and ask ourselves if God will be pleased? Will the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, Jesus of Nazareth, roar from Zion with pleasure or anger? I know after each movie I watch with my children, the moment it is over I would ask: “How was it?” What if we seek the Lord and ask of the Lord at the end of each day, “Lord, how was it today?” What if I had begun my early years of life reading these 7 slides and AWAKEN THE DAWN and memorized them to heart, how much I would have learnt about the plague in my own heart and how deceitful the heart is and turned away from the world to love, serve, seek and worship God only.
Keren Hannah writes in ‘A Taste of Torah’: The portion, Re’eh, this week begins with Moses saying: “Behold! Re’eh – See! I am setting before you today blessing and curse.” An emphasis can be placed on today as we have the choice every day to follow the good way that God sets before us in His Torah – His teaching and instruction – and to walk in it. Or, we can choose to go our own way. The latter ultimately will lead to curses and sorrow rather than His blessing.
Charles Spurgeon in FAITH’S Checkbook for today August 23 writes: Love and Seek True Wisdom:-
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. – Proverbs 8: 17
Wisdom loves her lovers and seeks her seekers. True wisdom is embodied in our Lord Jesus. We are to “love” Him and to “seek” Him; and in return, we will enjoy His love and find Him. Our business is to seek Jesus early in life. Blessed are the young whose morning is spent with Jesus! Early seekers make certain finders. We should seek Him early by diligence. Those who find Jesus to their enrichment give their hearts to seeking Him. We must seek Him first, and thus earliest.
The blessing is that He will be found. If we follow the Lord and His commands, He reveals Himself more and more fully to our fellowship. To love the Lord our God with all our hearts is a blessing. Blessed are they that seek the One who, if He is found, remains with them forever, a treasure becoming increasingly precious to their hearts and understandings.
Lord Jesus, I have found You; be found by me to follow after your commands and decrees to love God in an unutterable degree of joyous satisfaction. Amen!
August 22 at 6.30 am – My Utmost for His Highest
AT THE END
“I indeed baptize you with water…but He …will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” Matthew 3:11
Oswald Chambers writes: Have I ever come to the point in my life where I can say, “I indeed…but He…”? Until that moment comes, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means. I indeed am at the end, and I cannot do anything more – but He begins right there – He does the things that no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come and do His work in me as long as there is anything blocking the way, whether it is something good or bad. When He comes to me, am I prepared for Him to drag every wrong thing I have ever done into the light? Wherever I know I am unclean is where He will put His feet and stand, and wherever I think I am clean is where He will remove His feet and walk away. That is exactly where He comes.
A friend of mine whom I have been blessed to know for the past 20 odd years sent me a text message advising me not to dwell too much in the past but to move on into the future. He has been reading my blog and I thank the Lord for all who stop by and join me to ‘Awaken the Dawn’ each day with the Lord. This is the point that Oswald Chambers is making in today’s reading: ‘Wherever I know I am unclean is where He will put His feet and stand,…’ For some, this ‘stand’ of discipline and chastisement may take just 11 days (as was the intended duration of the journey for the children of Israel out of Egypt into the promised land) and for others this ‘stand’ can take 40 years in the wilderness, as it turned out to be for God’s chosen people of Israel as a result of the plague in their own hearts. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and no matter how long the Lord stands in an area in my heart that is offensive to God, I must be willing to allow God to be God in this life because He alone will call me into account for all that I have said and done before His eyes on Judgment Day. I indeed…have reached the end of my life’s journey with me in the driving seat and I am slowly but surely learning to LET GO and allow God to be God and take over so He must increase and I decrease. Have you reached your ‘end’ too?
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24, KJV
Oswald Chambers writes further: Repentance does not cause a sense of sin – it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realise that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance. Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where God the Holy Spirit does everything.
August 22, 2011 was my 2nd night in the Intensive Care Unit in the National Heart Center in Kuala Lumpur 3 years ago after my open heart surgery. A humbling experience, a lonely experience, a trying experience. Life is so fragile and I pray for a heart of wisdom to live each day in the light of the Lord’s favor and to walk right before God. Is your repentance complete? Again, I ask? Have you reached your end too and surrendered ALL to Jesus? Let’s face it. It’s difficult but we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Come, let us continue to walk together and allow the Spirit to open the Scriptures for us so our hearts will burn like it did for the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24: 13-35.
Reflection for today: Luke 24:32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due to you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90: 11-12
August 11-21, 2014 is archived separately in another page. This week reflects my journey with God during the most difficult time of undergoing Open Heart Bypass Surgery from August 11-21, 2011 at the National Heart Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
August 10 at 5.40 am – (Please visit Featured Posts / Recent Posts / Categories-Heart Matters for the full text of the sermon)
The Plague of the Heart – Sermon on the Lord’s-Day Sunday August 10, 1879 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:” 1 Kings 8:38, KJV
135 years ago on Sunday August 10, 1879 Charles Haddon Spurgeon preached a sermon entitled: The Plague of The Heart, 1 Kings 8:38 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, England. C.H. Spurgeon was England’s best-known preacher for most of the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1854, just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon, then only 20 years of age, became pastor of London’s famed New Park Street. The congregation quickly outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall, then to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon frequently preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000—all in the days before electronic amplification. In 1861 the congregation moved permanently to the new Metropolitan Tabernacle.
This Sunday morning, 135 years later, on August 10, 2014, let us ‘sit’ amongst the thousands of people at the Metropolitan Tabernacle who would have attended this Sunday service and let us ‘listen with our hearts’ to this sermon by C. H. Spurgeon. Please join me as we read the full text of this sermon on Recent Post / Heart Matters on the Homepage. A timely message for every man to know the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands towards God.
The central key verse of Scripture of My APCOD Blog is taken from the prayer of King Solomon at the dedication of the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem in 1 Kings 8: 38: “What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:” In June 2014 I was at a crossroads in my life and walk with God and the Spirit of the Lord led me to this verse in Scripture to seek out and expose the plague in my own heart and spread out my hands to heaven and repent before God. I started this blog to write about this uncharted journey of repentance and restoration. The invitation to come to the Cross of Christ in repentance can change your life. How we respond to the invitation can change the course of our lives.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9, KJV
“I was 15 years old when I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I remember very vividly we were then staying at Jalan Larkin, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. I would listen and play the guitar and sing every day the Jim Reeves songs ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ and ‘This World Is Not My Home’ as I had found my first love in the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. But as the years went by and I entered Medical School, the world became ‘my home’ and I began to conform to the patterns of this world.
If only I had heard this sermon by the ‘Prince of Preachers’ Charles Spurgeon concerning ‘the plague in my own heart’ I would have rejected the world and followed Jesus. If only I had meditated on God’s word day and night and kept His word in my heart I would have heard the warning from the Apostle John writing in 1 John 2: 15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the the man who does the will of God lives for ever.
After wandering in the wilderness 28 years later the Lord re-visited me on February 22nd 1995 and rekindled my first love for the Lord. The struggle and challenges to reject the passions of the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2: 16) continue but the grace of God is more than sufficient to meet all these thorny challenges every day. A timely moment to ‘hear’ this sermon by C.H. Spurgeon once again 135 years on. Every word preached speaks to my own heart. If only we have ears to hear and eyes to see what the Spirit is saying to every man regarding the spiritual condition of his own heart…and be healed by the power of the Cross of Christ.
“My Friend, do not write that word, “saved,” unless you can honestly and sincerely say, “I have looked to the Savior and He has saved me.” But suppose you are forced, in honesty to your conscience, to write down the word, “lost,” as your true description? It will be both wise and useful to do so. The thorny waste shall bear fruit a hundred-fold! He will take you from among sinners and put you among saints. And putting you among the saints, He will make your very experience of sin to be instrumental for good.” Charles H. Spurgeon, The Plague of The Heart – Sunday August 10, 1879
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7: 24-25
Baruch Haba B’shem Adonai – Blessed is He Who Comes in The Name of The Lord! Amen!
August 9 at 7.30 am – A Taste of Torah – August (apcod.wordpress.com/a-taste-of-torah-august/)
SHEMA ISRAEL: HEAR, O ISRAEL
08/09 Va’etchanan – And I Besought Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11; Isaiah 40:1-26
It was Friday evening, May 17, 1996 in Jerusalem. This was the first time I joined a Messianic Jewish fellowship to remember and observe the Shabbat. It was the first time I listened to ‘The Sh’ma’: The Jewish Prayer of affirmation of faith of the Jewish people in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It opened a new chapter in my life to love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. It is only within the context of hearing the word of the Lord can we respond in obedience through faith in Lord Jesus of Nazareth to observe the greatest commandment that Jesus Himself gave to His people Israel: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38, KJV
The absence of hearing the Word of the Lord results in a spiritual famine – not a famine of food or a thirst for water but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. This is the central vision of APCOD – The Asia Pacific Consultation On Discipleship (www.apcod.net) . It carries the urgent warning from the Prophet Amos to the nation of Israel in Amos Chapter 8: 11-12. Seek the LORD and Live – Amos 5:6
The Torah portion for this week – Va’etchanan – And I besought carries the meaning of: to implore urgently, to request earnestly. It ushers in a sense of urgency for obedience to the will of God by hearing the statues and ordinances taught by Moses to the people of Israel so they may live and possess the land God had given to them. Moses emphasizes that the one indispensable condition upon which the future victory and prosperity of the people depended was obedience to the will of God as expressed in His Word. He urgently proclaims: “And now, O Israel, hear the statutes and ordinances I am teaching you today … so that you may live and possess the Land” (Deuteronomy 4:1).
Keren Hannah Pryor writes: When we truly hear Him our response involves every aspect of our lives. This is highlighted in the Sh’ma: “Sh’ma Yisrael—Hear O Israel—the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might…” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). To achieve this goal, Moses exhorts the people to “…fear the Lord your God” and to “…teach [His Word] to your children” (Deuteronomy 4:10).
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks writes: The Meaning of Shema: What word does the Torah use as the appropriate response to a mitzvah (command)? Shema. The root “sh-m-a” is a keyword in the book of Deuteronomy, where it occurs 92 times, usually in the sense of what God wants from us in response to the commandments. In the Torah there is no concept of blind obedience. God, who created us in His image, gives us the freedom and the power to think, wants us to understand His commands. It is precisely this that makes the Torah different.
Throughout the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), there is the giving of reasons for the commands. Often, though not always, the reason has to do with the experience of the Israelites in Egypt. They know what it feels like to be oppressed, to be a stranger, an outsider. Moses reaches the summit of his leadership, he becomes an educator, explaining to the new generation who will eventually conquer and inhabit the land, that the laws God has given them are not just Divine decrees. They make sense in human terms. They constitute the architectonics of a free and just society. They respect human dignity. They honor the integrity of nature. They give the land the chance to rest and recuperate. They protect Israel against the otherwise inexorable laws of the decline and fall of nations.
Only by recognizing God as their sovereign King will they guard against overbearing kings and the corruptions of power. Time and again Moses tells the people that if they follow God’s laws they will prosper. If they fail to do so they will suffer defeat and exile. That is why Moses, consistently throughout Devarim (Deuteronomy), uses the verb sh-m-a. He wants the Israelites to obey God, but not blindly or through fear alone. The Israelites should know this through their own direct experience. They had seen how God, creator of heaven and earth, had chosen this people as His own, brought them out from slavery to freedom, fed, sustained and protected them through the wilderness, and led them to victory against their enemies. God had not given the Torah to Israel for His sake but for theirs.
Keeping the commands involves an act of listening, not just submission and blind obedience – listening in all its multiple senses of attending, meditating and reflecting about the nature of God through creation, revelation and redemption. It means trying to understand our limits and imperfections as human beings. It means remembering what it felt like to be a slave in Egypt. It involves humility and memory and gratitude. But it does not involve abdication of the intellect or silencing of the questioning mind. God seeks not just our obedience but also our understanding. All nations have laws, and laws are there to be obeyed. But few nations other than Israel set it as their highest task to understand why the law is as it is. That is what the Torah means by the word “Shema.”
The greatest sin of all is to reject the love of God and harden our hearts to not love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul and mind and strength. O Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to acknowledge the plague in our own hearts and the wisdom to number our days so we may live to worship and serve you only. Amen!
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:29-30, NIV
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17, KJV
Sh’ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad. Ba-ruch sheim k’vod mal-chu-to l’o-lam va-ed. Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is One. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.
August 8 at 7.10 am – A Taste of Torah – August – Keren Hannah Pryor (apcod.wordpress.com/a-taste-of-torah-august/)
THE IMAGE OF GOD: RUINED AND RESTORED
The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert.These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. Deuteronomy 2: 7
…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. James 1: 3-4
The Torah portion for the week 02/08 to 08/08 is complete. Here in Deuteronomy Chapters 1-3, we read of ‘The Faithfulness of God’ as ‘a father carries his son’ (Deuteronomy 1: 31). For forty years they have been wandering in the wilderness. A whole generation has been lost and now Joshua is about to take the children of Israel into the promised land of God. An eleven-days journey from Mount Horeb to Kardesh Barnea has now taken forty years! They had been tested in the desert and had now reached a stage of accountability and Moses is trying to impress upon this new generation the lessons that needed to be learned in order to be prepared to enter the Land promised by God. In this discourse, standing on the East of Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses portrays the image of God as a faithful Father whose unconditional love is unending and forgiving. But God is also a God of Judgement.
Whenever we go forward in faithfulness according to His direction, we see the salvation of our God and witness His unfailing love. – Keren Hannah Pryor – A Taste of Torah – August
As a personal testimony, for 28 years since the age of fifteen I was wandering in the wilderness before I received the call of God on my life on February 22nd 1995 at 5.30 am in the morning. A date, time, year and place etched in my heart, soul and mind because I was totally ruined, shocked, and afraid as a result of a visitation from God. These past 19 years have been a time of restoration and sanctification and like the people of Israel, the journey continues to be long and painful because I still struggle with areas of darkness in my soul as a result of the plague in my own heart. During those 28 years prior to 1995, I was far from God making my own ‘golden calf’ and I had developed a very blurred image of God. I was a believer but not a follower of Jesus, not a disciple of the Lord. I knew Jesus as my personal Savior but no knowledge of who God really was and is as a Holy Father, Righteous Father and living God of Judgement. We need to see the big picture of who God really is and His redemptive plan and purpose for each of our lives in God’s purpose for all creation through the vocation of Israel as a people set apart by God. A study of Deuteronomy this month of August from ‘A Taste of Torah’ will give us a biblical worldview of the real image of God as Moses proclaimed to the people of Israel so they would live right, walk right as a ‘royal priesthood and holy nation‘ and worship God in spirit and truth.
My Gratitude Journal: August 4th reflections: We live within a meta-narrative. The word meta-narrative is a compound word coming from the word “narrative” and the prefix “meta.” Narrative refers to story and meta has the meaning of “along with, after, from”. Combined, they give the notion of ‘going beyond the story’. A meta-narrative provides a framework upon which an individual’s own experiences and thoughts may be ordered and is characterized by a form of ‘transcendent and universal truth’ of human existence that encompasses a story with a beginning, middle and an end.
For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. Deuteronomy 32:47, KJV
Professor N.Tom Wright (formerly the Bishop of Durham, England) delivers a message entitled: The IMAGE OF GOD: RUINED AND RESTORED (45 minutes). As we study the Book of Deuteronomy for the month of August let us listen to Dr NT Wright as he gives the big picture of the vocation of Israel for the redemption of all of creation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Questions to consider:
1. How does the image of God come to life in us? 2. What does it mean to say ‘We are in the image of God’? 3. How does the Abrahamic promise to take possession of the land God gives to the nation of Israel become the Davidic promise that a king will reign and rule from Zion over the land (Psalm 2) and ultimately through Jesus of Nazareth this possession of God’s inheritance for the people of God becomes God’s redemptive plan for all of creation.
August 7 at 6.20 am – My Utmost for His Highest
PRAYER IN THE FATHER’S HOUSE
“…they found Him in the Temple…And He said to them, ‘…Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2: 46, 49
Business …In a lighter vein, let me share this with you: 3 young boys were walking down a street in London – one was a Jewish lad, the other was a Scottish lad and the 3rd was an African-American young lad. Along came an Anglican priest who stopped the 3 young lads and asked them this question: “Who was the most famous and greatest person that ever lived on earth? Whoever gives the right answer will get this £5 note in my pocket!” The 3 young lads scratched their heads and then each replied: The African-American young boy said, “I know the answer Sir! Martin Luther King!” The Anglican priest replied, “Well young man that is true but he was not the most famous and greatest of them all”. Then the Scottish lad replied, “I know the answer Sir! St Patrick of Ireland!” The Anglican priest was impressed at all the answers but replied, “Well, yes of course but he was still not the most famous and greatest of them all.” Finally, the Jewish boy replied, “Sir! I know the answer. Of course, Jesus of Nazareth! Who else but Jesus Christ!” The Anglican priest was surprised that the Jewish lad had given the right answer and patted him on his back and gave him the £5 note from his pocket. “Well answered son, here, take this 5 pound reward.” The young Jewish lad took the money, quickly said bye bye to his 2 other friends and ran down the street. While running down the street, the young Jewish boy looked up to heaven waving his 5 pound note and said loudly, “Sorry Moses, but business is business!!”
I remember when I first started my early years as a doctor, folks would normally ask me, ”Charles, how is work coming along?” or “How are the patients?” or “How is the practice?” Today, the question asked is no more about the practice of medicine, it is this: “How is business?” Patients have become commodities and ‘the customer is always right’ kind of approach to the treatment of the sick is the culture of the day. As Christians, there is no dichotomy between the spiritual and the secular. We are servants of the living God in every sphere of our lives. We are a new creation of priests belonging to ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9), the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Every Wednesday we have a Christian Fellowship gathering in my clinic during the lunch hour to pray and worship the Lord. The place of practice is ‘our Father’s house’. Our workplace is ‘our Father’s house’. The Scriptures tell us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28 and it is our joy to go about ‘our Father’s business’ to bear fruit to a loving, gracious God.
What I struggle with almost every day is doing God’s business while still living in the world. That is the challenge of every disciple of Jesus. There is a longing to seek after the heart of God and to make the Father’s house my dwelling place but the sinful cravings of the plague in my own heart are at war against my soul and that is where the power of the Cross in prayer brings the heart, mind, soul and body into total submission to the will of God in my life. If my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), then I take the temple with me wherever I go and if Jesus was found doing His Father’s business in the temple, then how much more I need my Lord to be in my temple and empower me by His Holy Spirit to do the will of the Father. Only by grace can we do anything concerning the Father’s business. Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5. Until we are emptied of everything concerning the self, only then can we be found in His holy temple doing His Father’s business.
Oswald Chambers writes:
The life of your Lord is to become your vital life, and the way He worked and lived among people while here on earth must be the way He works and lives in you. Are you so closely identified with the Lord’s life that you are continually talking to Him and realizing that everything comes from His hands? Is the Eternal child in you living in His Father’s house? Is the grace of His ministering life being worked out through you in your home, your business, and in your circle of friends? The ONLY abiding reality is God Himself, and His order comes to me moment by moment. Am I continually in touch with the reality of God, or do I pray only when things have gone wrong – when there is some disturbance in my life? I must learn to identify myself closely with my Lord in ways of holy fellowship and oneness that some of us have not yet even begun to learn. “…I must be about My Father’s business” – and I must learn to live every moment of my life in my Father’s house.
These are challenging questions that are addressed to my own heart and soul. Perseverance is a long journey in one direction – to the heart of God. Only by the grace of God can we dwell in the Father’s house doing the Father’s business till His work in our lives is completed. ‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost and now am found, was blind and now I see.’ Amen.
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Acts 17:28
And he said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1 Peter 2:9, KJV
August 6 at 8.30 am – My Utmost for His Highest
THE CROSS IN PRAYER
“In that day you will ask in My Name…” John 16:26
Oswald Chambers writes:
The Cross represents only one thing for us – complete, entire, absolute identification with the Lord Jesus Christ – and there is nothing in which this identification is more real to us than the cross in prayer. The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with God Himself. We are not here to prove that God answers prayer, but to be living trophies of God’s grace. Have you reached such a level of intimacy with God that the only thing that can account for your prayer life is that it has become one with the prayer life of Jesus Christ?
“In that day you will ask in My Name…” I remember that ONE day, the date, the year, the time and the place when I asked in prayer for the Lord’s hand to touch a patient of mine. It was a Wednesday morning, on the 5th of April, 1995 at Sabah Medical Centre here in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. It is a day that is well-inscribed deep in the medial temporal lobe of the Limbic system in my brain where my memory bank is located because it started a new beginning and journey in my life to serve God.
(Please read A Must-Read titled: And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”)
A 2 year old child was referred to me from a peripheral hospital with a 5 days old deep, severe scald burns injury to the buttock region. The child was already in established septicaemia (blood infection) and all hope was lost to try and save this child. Because of the site of the burns and the advanced degree of the burn injury and severe blood infection, I too had given up all hope to try and save this child. The family were non-Christians but I was determined to call on the Name above all names to heal this child: Jesus of Nazareth. It was a time when I had just received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (2 months earlier on February 22nd 1995) and I was ‘on fire’ for the Lord. I had tasted the love and forgiveness of God in my life. It was a new journey filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and I knew there was nothing…absolutely nothing the Lord could not do. The parents gave me permission to pray and I prayed each morning and evening by her bedside for the Lord to reveal Himself to this pagan family.
“In that day you will ask in My Name…” I asked in His precious Name- Lord Jesus, please heal this child. And the Lord healed this child with newborn baby skin in 10 days. No scar, no dressing, no operation theatre, no skin grafting…NOTHING…just the power of the Cross in Prayer. In 10 days the Lord Jesus healed this child from her burns and she was discharged home on the 10th day of admission, Saturday 15th April, 1995 with the family praising God for His grace upon all our lives. What a great God we serve. The power of the Cross in Prayer!
Oswald Chambers writes:
We too often think of the Cross of Christ as something we have to get through, yet we get through for the purpose of getting into it. When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to place the blame on someone else. When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason – God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, and it is not for anyone else but you.
So true. When I think of how far adrift my own prayer life has become, I go back to these two pictures of God’s grace to reveal His resurrection power to heal this 2 year old child from severe burns. I still keep these 2 pictures in my drawer and never fail to testify the greatness of God and the power of the Cross in prayer at every opportunity the Lord gives me. O Lord I pray, may His faithful follower I would be for by His hand alone, Jesus leadeth me!
Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. John 16:24, 26-27 KJV
Come let us sing this hymn ‘He Leadeth Me’ together this morning and worship this wonderful gracious forgiving and loving God.
He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.
August 5 at 6.10 am My Utmost for His Highest
THE BEWILDERING CALL OF GOD
“And they understood none of these things:…” Luke 18:34, KJV
The context Dr Luke is taking into account here are the words just spoken by Jesus of Nazareth to His 12 disciples: “We are going up to Jerusalem…for the Son of Man will be turned over to the Gentiles and they will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” Luke 18: 31-32 There are so many occasions where we just do not understand and have no idea what the Call of God really means or what the outcome will be when we step out in faith.
Oswald Chambers writes:
The Call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. If we are in fellowship and oneness with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, then we will no longer strive to find out what His purposes are. A Christian is someone who trusts in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities. The things that happen do not happen by chance – they happen entirely by the decree of God. God is sovereignly working out His own purposes in our lives.
BEWILDERING: confusing, surprising, amazing, stunning, astonishing, baffling, astounding, mystifying: The word ‘bewildering’ sums up all the various emotions that each of these other words try to explain what happens when things happen entirely by the decree of God. We just cannot understand nor comprehend when the hand of God moves us towards His call to ‘go up to Jerusalem‘. We must go!
On Friday 25th July morning I was seated at my desk in the Clinic when I suddenly felt a call deep in my spirit to phone a wonderful brother in the Lord, Pastor Nguyen Tan Lo, in Vietnam and tell him I am coming to see him. Excited to hear my voice Tan Lo asked “Doctor, when are you coming?”. I replied, “Tomorrow!” Confused, shocked, puzzled, amazed…the list goes on..’bewildered’ would be a better word. On Saturday July 26th morning, the very next day, I was on a flight from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur to Ho Chi Minh city in Vietnam. VIETNAM was to be ‘my Jerusalem‘ for the next 4 days. I have never sat on a motorcycle for as long as I can remember and these 1 hour rides took the best out of me. On Sunday morning July 27th in church, I shared the message on ‘Journeys‘ Numbers Chapter 33 (Gratitude Journal July 26-28). I had no idea that my daily reflections from God’s word from July 26-28 were meant for another nation. The Dong Phu Hau Giang Church was on a journey of their own to their new premises and the message from God’s word in Numbers 33 was personal and transformational. The church was going through testing times and like the two Tribes Reubenites and Gadites in Numbers 32 who refused to cross over into Jordan as commanded by God, there were some who resisted the move to go forward to new beginnings in the new premises but how God dealt with these 2 tribes spoke deeply into their hearts. The timing for them to hear the Word of God from Numbers 32-34 was God’s decree.
Recently I was at a crossroad in my own life and journey. There were failures and errors of judgement in my life that had made me run to caves to seek after the heart of God and face the dark sides of the plague in my own heart. But God had other plans for me. True, the Call of God can be bewildering indeed. If we set our hearts to always ‘go up to Jerusalem‘, God is faithful to take us there, only if we are ready to die to self and let God be God. How marvelous, how wonderful my song will be when I see Him face to face in His glory! Amen!
Oswald Chambers writes:
God called the Lord Jesus Christ to what seemed absolute disaster. And the Lord called His disciples to see Him put to death, leading every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. His life was an absolute failure from every standpoint except God’s. But what seemed to be failure from man’s standpoint was a triumph from God’s standpoint, because God’s purpose is never the same as the purposes of man.
I stand amazed in the presenceOf Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!
August 4 at 7.30 am – A Taste of Torah – August
“These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel….” Deuteronomy 1:1
A Taste of Torah is authored by Keren Hannah Pryor, a well-respected Hebraic teacher and author. In May 1996 in Jerusalem, I was so blessed to have met Keren’s husband, the late Dr Dwight Arnold Pryor. Meeting Dwight was revolutionary because it changed the way I read and interpreted Scripture through Hebrew eyes. Dwight was the keynote speaker at the inaugural 1st APCOD Consultation on Discipleship here in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on July 25th, 2001. We all miss Dwight but his legacy continues through the life and teachings of Keren, his dear wife. Keren resides in Jerusalem. Her writings and teachings can be followed from the website HIS-ISRAEL : his-israel.com; The Gift of Torah: his-israel/torah-portion.
A Taste of Torah – for the month of August takes root in the Book of Deuteronomy. Devarim, meaning ‘words’ is the Hebrew name of Deuteronomy with the primary focus of how to live as a people of God.
WORDS: I remember relating this story while trying to explain how much of damage many of the words I have spoken from my own mouth have caused endless hurt to so many people. I can never retrieve the words back nor undo the damage that has been done and I can only pray for forgiveness from those whom I have intentionally or unintentionally hurt from my spoken…words. Here is the story: A man goes up to the Rabbi and explains how much his heart grieves for the words he has spoken to so many people in his life and in particular to the one person he truly loves. He pleads with the Rabbi to help him heal this problem that is eating his soul. The Rabbi thought hard and then said: “Go and take a large pillow case and stuff it with many feathers till it is full and then seal the pillow. Take the pillow with the stuffed feathers to the top of the hill and then take a knife and cut the pillow into many pieces and allow the wind to blow the feathers away…far away”. Then the man asked: “Then what should I do Rabbi after the wind has blown all the feathers away?” The Rabbi answered: “Now go and pick up the feathers, one by one”. The man knew from this teaching that there was no way he could undo the damage that was already done. Words…when spoken …can mean LIFE or DEATH.
We live within a meta-narrative. The word meta-narrative is a compound word coming from the word “narrative” and the prefix “meta.” Narrative refers to story and meta has the meaning of “along with, after, from”. Combined, they give the notion of ‘going beyond the story’. A meta-narrative provides a framework upon which an individual’s own experiences and thoughts may be ordered and is characterized by a form of ‘transcendent and universal truth’ of human existence that encompasses a story with a beginning, middle and an end.
The Exodus story is our story…my story. ‘Out of Egypt I called My son’ fulfils what the Prophet Hosea (Hosea 11:1-2) lamented about God’s love for Israel – “Israel, My firstborn son” Exodus 4:22. The more God called the children of Israel to walk after the LORD and follow His laws and commands, the more they rebelled against the LORD. This is so true in our own lives too. ‘Coming out of Egypt’ is the story beyond the story. We are the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). The more I am blessed, the more I forget my first love for the Lord Jesus and take His blessings and the grace of God for granted. There is this constant craving of the inner man for the things of this world (Egypt) and I need to be constantly reminded to fix my eyes upon Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith in God (Hebrews 12:2). The Word of God reminds us of the saving grace of God in our lives, if we obey His word and always acknowledge the plague in our own hearts.
Keren Hannah writes in ‘A Taste of Torah’ – August: 02/08 – 07/08 apcod.wordpress.com/a-taste-of-torah-august
Devarim, meaning ‘words,’ is the Hebrew name of Deuteronomy, the fifth and last book of the Torah. Moses demonstrates that the great truths of God’s revealed Word need to be constantly learned anew, and that they always yield deeper and richer insights. This first discourse of Moses is a review of the Israelites’ journey from Horeb (Mount Sinai) to Kadesh Barnea. We are informed in verse 2 that it is “’eleven days’ journey” between these two points. The estimated time, eleven days, was extended to forty years! Moses is trying to impress upon this new generation the lessons that needed to be learned in order to be prepared to enter the Land promised by God. They had now reached the stage of accountability. On the long and arduous journey, they had known God’s faithful and tender care and had experienced: “…how the Lord your God bore you, as a man bears his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place” (Deut.1:31).
Moses concludes the parasha with a repetition of the assurance proclaimed in the first chapter (Deut.1:30): “You shall not fear; for the Lord your God, He it is that fights for you!” Whenever we go forward in faithfulness according to His direction, we see the salvation of our God and witness His unfailing love.
We become aware, as we journey, that this walk primarily is a means of growing in loving covenant relationship with God; our Father and the Father of all. Enfolded in this relationship, we grow in ever-increasing intimate knowledge of Him. All of God’s Word, we discover to our wonder, is a gift of life in that it is a gracious revelation of the One who is the Source of Life.
For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. Deuteronomy 32:47, KJV
1:50 pm: FAITH’s checkbook: Charles Spurgeon: Words and Blessings – A man’s blessing may begin and end with words, but the blessing of the Lord makes rich and sanctifies. It is an equally delightful thing to be kept of God: kept by Him, kept near Him, kept in Him. They are kept indeed whom God keeps: they are preserved from evil; they are reserved unto boundless happiness.
August 3 at 8.20am – My Utmost for His Highest
GOING UP TO JERUSALEM
“He…said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem…’” Luke 18:31
In my Gratitude Journal on July 29 I recalled the visitation of God in my life on February 22nd 1995 at 5.30am in the morning at home in Lucky Heights, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. I know the date, I know the time and I know the place because the vision changed the course of direction in my life. What direction? Where was I going? To whom could I talk to help me see the next course of direction and purpose in my life. I was not only shocked but confused and afraid what to do next. I prayed fervently that the Holy Spirit would take me on ‘wings of eagles’ to a place and reveal to me the course of direction I should take to serve God for the rest of my life.
On May 14th 1996, a year later I found myself seated on a Royal Jordanian flight to Jerusalem! Within the year after the visitation of God, the Holy Spirit put ALL the pieces of planning together with this one message: WE ARE GOING UP TO JERUSALEM…TOGETHER! Amazing God…how gracious and faithful God is even to the faithless. It was an invitation that changed the course and direction of my life. I attended the Shavuot Conference in Jerusalem on May 16, 1996 and the rest of my life was totally on a new course of direction to serve the purposes of God in my life. The theme of the Conference was this verse from Psalm 137:5 “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,…”. After ‘going up to Jerusalem’ came the birth of Summer Fruit Ministries (1996 with Amos 8:1 as the key verse of Scripture: ‘Behold a basket of summer fruit’); the birth of the vision of APCOD (1997 Haggai Institute); and 5 APCOD Consultations to follow. A totally different course of events for a Plastic Surgeon! – from the operating theatre into the harvest field! I was totally unaware of what the next 18 years would unfold in God’s purpose for my life.
The last book and the last verse in the Hebrew Bible is in the Book of 2 Chronicles Chapter 36 verse 23: King Cyrus gives the call to the people of Israel to go up to Jerusalem and build the house of the LORD. We are the ‘Israel of God’ (Galatians 6:16). It is a personal call to ALL believers to ‘go up to Jerusalem’ because it is there we will meet the Lord Jesus when He returns in His glory. What a meeting it will be! What a fulfilment of His purpose in our lives if we serve Him faithfully.
Oswald Chambers writes:
Jerusalem, in the life of our Lord, represents the place where He reached the culmination of His Father’s will. Seeking to do “the will of the Father” was the one dominating concern throughout our Lord’s life. And whatever He encountered along the way, whether joy or sorrow, success or failure, He was never deterred from that central purpose. “…He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…” Luke 9: 51.
The greatest thing for us to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfil God’s purpose, not our own. In the natural life our ambitions are our own, but in the Christian life we have no goals of our own. We are not taken into a conscious agreement with God’s purpose – we are taken into God’s purpose with no awareness of it all. We may have no idea what God’s goal may be; as we continue, His purpose becomes even more vague because we are too nearsighted to see His end target for each of our lives. The work we do is of no account when compared with the compelling purpose of God.
This is so true in our own lives, is it not? I look back with disappointment many times because I failed to see His hand in directing me to follow His path but the dark sides of my own carnal life, the plague in my own heart, continue to drag me into other directions that are not of the will and purpose of God. Oh may I always set my heart on ‘going up to Jerusalem’ so God the Holy Spirit may complete this eternal life’s journey for me with my Lord and Saviour Jesus of Nazareth! Amen!
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. John 15:16, KJV
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up. 2 Chronicles 36:23, KJV
August 2 at 8.15 am – My Utmost for His Highest
EATING FROM THE TREE OF LIFE
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7, KJV
This morning the Spirit of God continues to speak to me from the Paradise of God. As I continue to look back and reminisce these past 15 years and how each year has been like ascending each step of the 15 steps to the Temple of the Lord singing the Song of Ascents as the people of Israel and the Levitical priests did (please read yesterday’s reflection), I am humbled and thankful this One true living God is a God full of grace and truth. As I read Oswald Chambers ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ this morning, this verse of Scripture from the Book of Revelation spoke to my heart:
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7, KJV
The Lord Jesus addresses the Church in Ephesus: Although they had persevered and served the Lord through their work and endured many hardships, yet the Lord had this to say against them:
You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying….To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2: 4-7, NIV
I saw myself sitting in the Church in Ephesus and listening to this message from the pulpit. How much more personal can the Word of God get if we have the ear to hear and the heart to receive. I know that over these past 15 years I have fallen many times and forsaken my first love for the Lord because of the plague in my own heart. Life is about making choices. We can either continue to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil through disobedience to God (the Origin of Sin in Genesis 3 ) or we can persevere to finish the race and be finally rewarded to eat from the Tree of Life which is in the Paradise of God. The choice is ours…mine.
Oswald Chambers writes:
God does not give us overcoming life – He gives us life as we overcome. The strain of life is what builds our strength. If there is no strain, there will be no strength. The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from ALL adversity. But it actually means being delivered in adversity, which is very different. If you completely give of yourself physically, you become exhausted. But when you give of yourself spiritually, you get more strength. Are you asking God to give you life, liberty, and joy? He cannot, unless you are willing to accept the strain. And once you face the strain, you will immediately get the strength. God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment. Victory is absurdly impossible to everyone, except God.
The Song of Ascents have been sung. The 15 steps (in my life 15 years) have been ascended or overcome by the grace of God. Now it’s time to enter into God’s dwelling place, the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and worship God and ‘eat of the Tree of Life’ – the one place where we are one with God. What a revelation this gives to the weekly Holy Communion that I partake every Sunday morning in church.
This is my prayer that every day I will persevere to serve God with an undivided heart through the power of the Holy Spirit and by God’s grace receive the forgiveness through repentance to ‘eat of the Tree of Life’ with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Only Jesus of Nazareth has the right to welcome me into His Paradise.
I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1: 17-18, KJV
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil be
August 1 at 8.45 am – HIS-ISRAEL
A BLESSED HEART
“Behold, bless ye the LORD,…” Psalm 134: 1 – A Song of Ascents
(Please read the Guest Post on the Homepage for a full reading on Psalm 134 by Keren Hannah)
15 years ago on September 25, 1999 I had the awesome task of presenting the vision of APCOD to the Christian leaders from the Asia Pacific region at the 1st International Consultation On Discipleship in Eastbourne, England.
On my way back from Eastbourne, I visited the largest synagogue in East London as I wanted to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. I had obtained written permission to join them and by God’s grace I was seated next to the Executive Director of the Synagogue. He presented me with ‘The Siddur’ – Jewish Prayer book. I joined them after the service at the roof top to celebrate the feast with them and hanging on the wall were these words: ‘I believe in the future, however distant the day’ – A longing from the inner depths of the heart in every Jew till today to see his or her Messiah, a longing until such a time when ‘they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced…Zechariah 12:10’ and know He is Jesus of Nazareth, our Hebrew Lord and Saviour. Like the night watchman, the Levitical priests who minister by night in keeping watch over the Temple, they were called to bless the LORD both through ‘however distant the day’ and throughout the night till the early hours of the morning.
15 steps have been ascended and the assembly of the children of Israel have reached the entrance to the Temple of the LORD led by the Levitical priests. Having sung the Song of Ascents on each of the 15 steps, their hearts are now ready and prepared to come bless the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As I look back these past 15 years, each year has been one long step of trials and challenges and testings the Lord has placed along my journey to prepare my heart to enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving with a clean and contrite heart. This is the true sacrifice God wants and He will not despise. (Psalm 51: 17) Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and until we abide in Christ wholeheartedly, we cannot worship God in spirit and in truth and bless the Lord.
Keren Hannah writes:
In our great High Priest, Yeshua, we too can rise to our calling as priests in the Kingdom of G-d, and with grateful praise and in constant communion with Him, be those who faithfully extend His blessing to others. In this regard, another interesting facet of this last verse in Psalm 134:3 is that, in Hebrew, the pronoun “you” is singular.
The focus has moved from all Israel to the individual. Then, in the last phrase that refers to the Maker of heaven and earth, we are reminded that the G-d of Israel is indeed the Creator of all and His ultimate will and purpose is to bless all nations and people from His now restored and rebuilt Dwelling Place of Zion. May His Shalom, as you walk in closer unity with Him, fill your days and guide your steps as you now move forward to take the next step He has perfectly planned for your life.
Come walk with me and as we enter into the challenges of today, together we will bless the Lord Jesus with our lives in service to a Holy God. The Aaronic blessing is a beautiful blessing of grace and favour of the Lord on all of us to serve Him only.
The Priestly Blessing: Numbers 6: 24-26
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Yevarechecha Adonai ve’yishmerecha
Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha ve’chunecha
Yissa Adonai panav eilecha
Ve’yessim lecha Shalom.