Credit to whom it is due

Thoughts on Hosea 2

It is disastrous to wrongfully attribute life, basic necessities, protection, and other blessings as coming from anyone other than God.

Like when my son almost thanked “Santa” for the gifts I bought him for Christmas. Nope, sorry for being a kill-joy, but I worked hard to get him those gifts, I’m not going to let someone else get the credit.

That was an oversimplification. It’s not just about attribution or thanks. In the case of Gomer (then metaphorically, in the case of Israel as a nation) she gladly gave all of herself to someone else. Someone absolutely undeserving.

It is not as if God withheld blessings on Israel. On the contrary, God has given so much – it is usually when people have so much that they begin to go astray.

I understand now.

If blessings and comforts are turning me away from God, then all God really needs to do is to take them away so thay my eyes will be (re)opened.

It is then we realize, “oo nga pala.” The heavens and the earth, and everything in it belongs to the God. He is Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of all good gifts. He is the good good Father.

Then just like in Deuteronomy 6, God’s redemption story unfolds. Just as the prodigal son, God joyfully welcomes anyone who ‘comes to his senses’ and returns to God.

Real Love remembers

Thoughts on Deuteronomy 6

For Day 1 & 2 of our Quarterly “Fast” (or, more appropriately, “Life Assessment and Planning with the Big Boss”), God reminds me of the big picture and practical actions we can apply for our household. (My household.. I sometimes forget that I am no longer just a member, but actually leading my own household..)

These actions will help in reminding us to fear the Lord. To not forget His greatness, and the great things he has done and will do.

***

““Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The simplest commands (to understand) are often the hardest to do.

Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your might. What does that look like? It could mean that with everything we say (from out of the mouth, the heart speaks), everything we think, and everything we do, it all revolves around the goal of pleasing God. Simply – if you love someone, you would want that person to be happy. Make God happy.

***

Some practical actions:

  • “These words shall be on your heart” : Read and Meditate on God’s word regularly. And, our new target for this year, Memorize scripture.
  • “Teach and talk about it to your children, when you sit, walk, lie down, rise” : Make a habit to talk spiritual things during meal times (sit), travel times (walk), before sleeping and weekend mornings.
  • “Bind them on your hands, write them around house” : Set up reminders on our phones (hands), and around the house.

***

The important thing is this, and this will be repeated again and again in Deuteronomy:

“then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

***

This is what I am looking forward to:

““When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/deu.6.20.esv

Then we can share to them – God’s great story of Redemption.

***

Generally speaking, people are drawn to the idea of self redemption – “there is good in you” a la Star Wars (Original Trilogy). But the Christian believes that “there is good only in God”.

We know and understand that we are unable to redeem ourselves. There’s just no way. This seems like a defeatist point of view. Though perceived as weakness, this is actually our greatest strength.

Get back on track

Thoughts on Proverbs 3:1-12

45 Days since my last Quiet Time journal.. what better time to restart than the start of the new year.

Is Christianity a Sprint or a Marathon? In light of eternity, our joys and struggles are just a breath, a dot in the expanse of forever. But how significant that dot is! How we live in that dot determines our place in eternity.

But in the day to day grind, Christianity feels like – and probably should be lived as if on – a marathon. Long, tiring, and needs to have good discipline and strong motivation.

Disclosure, I’ve only experienced running a marathon once, and it was a half-marathon, not even “running to win” but just be able to get to the finish line.

It’s easy to follow the wisdom in Proverbs 3 for one day. Maybe two or three. But daily for one week? For one month? I couldn’t do it.

Do we just give up? No.

We are on this race whether we like it or not (all the way to eternity). We have grace to continue this race even when we stray or stumble. We have power to finish this race not through our own strength but through the Holy Spirit.

May God bless us as we get back on track this year.

Endure. It’s worth it.

Thoughts on 2 Timothy 4

The charge:

“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;
reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Why?

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Do your best. Do the work diligently, endure. Be sober-minded, always be ready. Correctly handle the word of truth.

It’s going to be worth it.

The prize is not the crown in itself, but the acknowledgement you will receive from God – the all powerful, Creator, Lord of all.

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To be honest, and to my shame: I have not endured, I have not done my best..

10 Simple Rules

Thoughts on Deuteronomy 5

10 Commands, 10 Covenant Promises.

What we need to have is the realization, understanding and acceptance that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. The Savior Redeemer, that without Him we would still be lost slaves. He is the maker and owner of all things. He gives according to His infinite wisdom and the richness of His grace.

This realization will give us a correct image of who we are, in relation to God and in relation to other people. 

To remember.

“Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭5:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

and, 

“You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭5:33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hosea is a difficult book

Thoughts on Hosea 1

Hosea is a difficult book.

I understand the allegory, that it serves as a real-life representation of God’s relationship with the Israelites at that time. And since the Old Testament also mirrors certain events in our lives, the book of Hosea is also representative of God’s relationship with us.

But there’s just too many things to process:

  • What Hosea must have felt
  • What was going on in his mind
  • What was going on in Gomer’s mind
  • That what Hosea was going through was what God was (is) going through
  • Why were the Israelites idolatrous/adulterous
  • Why are we idolatrous/adulterous
  • How can Hosea/God be faithful in spite of an unfaithful partner?

***

Can the faithfulness of one partner cover up for the unfaithfulness of the other? It doesn’t seem like it. This kind of relationship only brings sadness, pain, suffering, missed blessings, missed opportunities.

Regardless of the difference in the levels of commitment each partner gives, both partners should be faithful. God will do His part, we need to do our part.

***

What’s in a name? Memories will fade, and will be replaced with new ones. But a name will remain. Puts more pressure on me on what to name my second-born…

Receive God’s Word, Receive Life

Thoughts on Proverbs 2

Beautiful passage, re-read it many times. Just ended up making a rewrite/paraphrase for easier reading (left-brain thinking).

  • Receive God’s Word
  • Treasure His commands
  • Ears – attentive to wisdom 
  • Heart – inclined to understanding 
  • Seek it like silver 
  • Search for it like treasure 
  • Then you will understand, the fear of the Lord 
  • Then you will find, the knowledge of God
  • The Lord gives wisdom, knowledge, understanding 
  • He stores up wisdom for the upright 
  • He is a shield to those who walk in integrity 
  • He guards the paths to justice 
  • He watches over the way of the saints
  • Then you will understand righteousness, justice, equity, every good path, for
  • Wisdom will come to your heart 
  • Knowledge pleasant to your soul 
  • Discretion – watching over you 
  • Understanding – guarding you 
  • Delivering you from the way of evil
  • From men of perverted speech whose paths are crooked and devious in their ways
  • From the adulteress with her smooth words whose path leads to death
  • So you will walk in the way of the good 
  • So you will keep to the paths of the righteous
  • For the upright will inherit the land, those with integrity will remain in it
  • But the wicked will be cut of from the land, the treacherous will be rooted out of it

Persevere under persecution

Thoughts on 2 Timothy 3

The ‘last days’ will be difficult. Knowing about it beforehand does not make it less difficult, but it does help us be prepared and not be surprised when it happens.

Paul gives a list of negative characteristics of people in the last days – some obvious, some subtle – and gives a simple command, “Avoid such people.”

Two characteristics that made me think: “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”(v.5) and “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” (v.7)

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/2ti.3.12.esv

We shouldn’t be surprised when persecution comes. On the contrary, we should be alarmed when there is no persecution. Jesus himself said that his followers will be persecuted. 

A note of caution : we should be careful on what situations we use the word – the denial of some luxuries or trivial matters is not persecution.

What should we do when we are persecuted? By Paul’s example in v.11 – we are to endure, and trust in the Lord. God will deal with the persecution according to His perfect will. In Christ, things will get better. Without Christ, things will go from bad to worse. 

So, in spite of circumstances, continue learning, continue growing, continue serving. Let God’s Word be your guide.

Know your place

Thoughts on Jonah 4

A prophet is only as good as the fulfillment of the prophecies he has made.

When God relented, Jonah lost his credibility as a prophet. It was supposed to be his identity – the mouthpiece of God to men. Jonah was disgraced, and he felt humiliated.

The Bible says that Jonah was exceedingly displeased, and he was angry. He would rather die (Emphasis mine).

Two things: One, I should be careful about my emotional reactions, especially when things don’t go as I planned or as I want it. Chill. Or at least try, because..

Two, it’s okay (I guess) to get angry and be frustrated with God. Jonah prayed (ranted) to God while he was feeling all these negative emotions, and yet God still spoke to Jonah.

But the biggest lesson for me is, again, it’s not about you. Recurring theme? Yes. 

It’s not about your reputation, it’s about God’s reputation. It’s not about your plan, it’s about God’s plan. As you obey God, be sensitive to His movements. Seek not just the what, but also the why, and the what next.

How vain is it for us to think we have the answers. Vain that we think we’ve accomplished things just on our own strength and abilities. That we deserve applause, that we deserve credit for things and events in our lives.

We cannot see and we cannot control the big picture. We cannot see and we cannot control all the small details.

Plants, Animals, People, Businesses, Nations – all of these rise and fall according to God’s command.

Know your place. 

And as someone forgiven, adopted as a son, as family – it’s an awesome place to be.

To the reluctant leader

Thoughts on Deuteronomy 4

Moses was a great servant leader. He was obedient to God and, by the way he speaks, I can sense that he has a genuine concern for the people he is called to lead.

When times got rough, even impossible, did he give up on God? Did he give up on people? Once – a seemingly trivial and understandable emotional reaction – but one that affected him until his death. But for the many other trials and troubles he faced while leading the nation of Israel to the promised land, he was obedient and had remarkable patience and perseverance. 

“Your eyes have seen what the Lord did…”

Moses was leading the people not to himself, but to God. This takes off a lot of pressure on the reluctant leader. It’s not about you. 

“.. as the Lord my God commanded me..”

Two things : Do you know what the Lord is commanding? Is that what you are teaching?

“Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/deu.4.6-8.esv

A great encouragement and timely reminder as we begin the 10 commandments series at TBC.

““Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/deu.4.9.esv

Take care not to forget the things your eyes have seen. Make them known to your children and your grandchildren. You are responsible for your own faith. Though other people may come and encourage, ultimately the decision and effort is personal. Then, you are also responsible for passing on your faith to your family. Not only because it is commanded, but because you know that this is what is best for them.

“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/deu.4.29.esv

Will you fail? Yes, there will be times of stubborness, stupidity, and bad decisions. You will reap the consequences of those actions. It will be painful. But it’s not, and shouldn’t be, the end.