World Refugee Day 2017: Keep Holding On

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Hebrews 13:1-2

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me – Matthew 25:35

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 19:33-34

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 5:12

This entry was posted on June 20, 2017. 1 Comment

How Majestic Is Your Name

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth! – Psalm 8

In You Do I Take Refuge

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
    save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
    rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

O Lord my God, if I have done this,
    if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
    or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
    and let him trample my life to the ground
    and lay my glory in the dust. Selah

Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
    lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
    awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
    over it return on high.

The Lord judges the peoples;
    judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
    and according to the integrity that is in me.
Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
    and may you establish the righteous—
you who test the minds and hearts,
    O righteous God!
10 My shield is with God,
    who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge,
    and a God who feels indignation every day.

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword;
    he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
    making his arrows fiery shafts.
14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
    and is pregnant with mischief
    and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out,
    and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head,
    and on his own skull his violence descends.

17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
    and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. – Psalm 7

Our Story: Dead to Sin, Alive to God

In His unfathomable grace and love, God gives us salvation.  We receive this gift of salvation by the grace of God through believing in Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God who died on the Cross for our sins and rose from the dead for us to have eternal life.  I have long accepted salvation through faith in Jesus, not by my works, and the future promise of eternal life in God’s heavenly kingdom.  Nevertheless, I have struggled with the “here and now,” thinking that I had to work to keep pleasing God.  I had turned Jesus into a future promise that had little to do with my life now.

God reveals to us a much different and deeper truth in Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In a miraculous, mysterious way, we spiritually joined Jesus in His death.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  [Romans 6:6].

“Our old self” – we are no longer who we were before.  Yes, in our flesh we still fail and commit sins.  However, our true self is no longer that of a sinner drawn to evil.  Our true self was freed from sin because Jesus gave us His righteousness, holiness, and perfection.

However, the wonder does not stop there.  Not only did we die with Christ.  We also live with Christ. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  [Romans 6:8-11].

Christ now lives in us and we live in Christ.  Our spirits are one with His.  We are pleasing to God because Christ’s nature is now our nature.  Our “work” is now to believe and receive God’s grace for our daily living.  Our “work” is to put aside our efforts – to “die to self” – and rest in the fact that the love of Christ is living in us and through us to transform us and to change the world.

On Good Friday, Jesus Christ died and we died with Him.  Three days later, He rose from the tomb and we rose with Him.  We died with Christ, and we live with Christ.  The Easter Story is not just a legend.  It is truth.  It is God’s story and it is our story. Alleluia!

A Prodigal Daughter is Welcomed Home

Luke 15:11-32

The parable of the Prodigal Son could be about any of us.  For many years, it was my story.  I was the prodigal daughter.

In the parable, the young man had a good home, a home with a promised inheritance. Yet he wanted to leave that home.  I was a churchgoer, a believer.  I had a good home with God.  Yet I wanted to leave that home for the attractions and self-centered freedoms of the secular world.

In time, the young man’s prodigal life spiraled down to the point in which he even desired to eat the inedible pods fed to the pigs.  As my prodigal life spiraled down, I sought spiritual food.  However, like those inedible pods, it was the spiritually inedible food of astrology and spiritualism.

The young man in the parable decides to repent and return to his father, hoping for a bit of solace and welcome.  I cannot say that my return was initiated by me.  I was lovingly lured by our Provident God to repent and return to my true home.

We may think that the parable is primarily a morality lesson about turning away from a wanton lifestyle.  It is so much more.  Yes, my returning to my Lord is huge.  But the story is not only about the prodigal one.  It is about our awesome Provident God.  In the parable, the father runs to his wayward son, clothes him with the best robe, puts a ring on his finger, and gives a feast to celebrate his return.  The father was ready and eager to welcome his son home.

That’s our God, “ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” [Nehemiah 9:17] Gracious and merciful, he does not shame us. He waits for us to repent, to turn away from our sin. When we do, then “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” [Psalm 103:12]

God, who gave me the freedom to wander, forgave me for turning away from him. All the while I was wandering, our Provident God, who was luring me back to his loving embrace, was ready to celebrate my coming home.

O Lord, Deliver My Life

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment. – Psalm 6

Lead Me in Your Righteousness

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
    in the fear of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies;
    make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouth;
    their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
    they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
    let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield. – Psalm 5

Answer Me When I Call

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
    How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the Lord.

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4