Thoughts on Isaiah 43

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1, 2 ESV)

My Creator, and Redeemer, knows my name and calls me his own.. He is with me through the storms and through the fires. He has given up so much just to save me from myself. He says that I am precious in His sight, honored, and loved. So do not fear.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God. (Isaiah 43:10-12 ESV)

A witness proclaims what he has seen and heard. He is a champion of truth, to dispel and destroy lies. I am a witness (noun) – I know and believe and am understanding more and more that the Lord is God and that He is Good! I should witness (verb) more.

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25 ESV)

I have failed so many times. In spite of all of God’s goodness, and blessings, and grace, I still stupidly, stubbornly, illogicaly, choose my way instead of God’s way. Thank you Lord.. by myself I am terribly hopeless.. You are my hope. You are never changing, ever faithful. I can, and I do, put my trust in You. Amen.

Thoughts on Numbers 7

Moses had prepared the tabernacle, then anointed and consecrated it for God. All the preparations has been completed, and the Israelites were now able to worship God in His presence. Then for the next 12 days, the leaders of each tribe brought offerings to the Lord. One tribe per day, bringing the same set of items as a dedication offering.

Yesterday was Resurrection Sunday (of course the timing for today’s reading.) With Jesus’ death, and resurrection, the “ultimate preparation” for all men to be able to come into God’s presence was completed. Tetelestai, Jesus said, It is Finished!

What amazing grace, what an eternal love!

For the next 12 days, just like the tribes of Israel, I want to bring something to God. I don’t know what or how, but I pray God shows me.

For reference, here’s what each tribe brought. (This might make sense sometime in the future.)
• one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels
• one silver basin of 70 shekels
• both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering
• one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense
• one bull from the herd
• one ram
• one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering
• one male goat for a sin offering
• and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen,
• five rams,
• five male goats,
• and five male lambs a year old

Thoughts on Psalm 126

He has done great things. For us. He can do it again, because He is able and mighty.
Have I brought Him glory? Have I given Him praises among the nations?
He restores, thank you Lord that you restore. That you are patient with us, with me.
Restore us Lord, not to worldly fortunes, but to the joy of being in the center of your will, in the center of your work in us and through us.

Thoughts on Numbers 6

Why would anyone take a Nazirite Vow? I looked for physical or material benefits but there was none. Except that, the person who takes the Nazirite vow is considered holy – set apart for the Lord – during the duration of his or her vow. On top of the many rules for the Israelites to follow, you can still go even stricter, and it seems you can even make a vow on top of your Nazirite vow. Wow. Will God love Nazirites more? I don’t think so. Will it secure their place in heaven more than what is required from those who don’t take the vow? Don’t think so. Is it like a deposit, where it allows you some leeway to be disobedient after the duration of the vow? Nope.

A Nazirite vow allows a regular person, a non-levite / non-priest, to be holy for the Lord. That is a blessing in itself. It shows commitment, it shows faith. Faith in action. Being holy allows you to experience God more intimately, and you know from experience that there is no greater feeling than that. It’s not easy, you will be different in both appearance and actions. And you need to obey perfectly – one mistake, even if it is isn’t your fault, and you have to repeat the process all over again.

What amazing grace. I can never set myself apart for the Lord perfectly like that.

Thank you Jesus.

Thoughts on Philippians 2 (part 2)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence (Philippians 2:12a ESV)

It is a father’s desire – may it be biological, spiritual or even professional – that their “children” will take their lessons and obey not only in their presence but even in their absence. This is the true test of the influence and impact of earthly fathers.

What about our Heavenly Father? He is never absent, always present – even though we sometimes think and act as if it’s the opposite. In fact, He is not merely present but actively involved in our lives through his Spirit in us. He both guides us and gives us strength.

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 ESV)

What does God call us to be? Lights – pointing to the amazing grace made available to everyone – in the midst of a confused and suffering world.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:14, 15 ESV)

Finally, some real-time encouragement for recent events:

and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. (Philippians 2:24 ESV)

Being in a different country away from family and friends, we miss out on many events back home. Particularly this year, we have a desire to visit – even multiple times if possible. Unlike previous years where we basically defaulted to a “no, we cannot go”, this year I feel we should be more prayerful in asking God for His plans for us regarding trips to the Philippines. If He has a purpose for us there (like to be an encouragement), I believe God will make happen.