Friday, November 17, 2006

Sermon note for Deuteronomy 20

Sermon Title: “Soldiers with a difference”
Text: Deuteronomy chapter 20

Introduction:
A Christian with a difference---Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 A.D.), son of a wealthy merchant. He served as a soldier, renowned for both bravery and high living.
  • After his conversion the age of 23, he embraced total poverty, in imitation of Jesus.
  • At first, he devoted to repairing a ruined church in his native town of Assisi. Then in 1208 he set out on foot, to preach the Gospel…soon joined by others, who were inspired by his gentle love and radiant joy---Franciscan spirit!

Listen to one of his prayer: “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”
"Most high, omnipotent, righteous Lord, to You be all praise, glory, honor and blessing. To You alone are they due, and no man is worthy to mention You. Praise be to You, my Lord, for all Your creatures, above all Brother Sun, who gives us the light of day. He is beautiful and radiant with great splendor, and so is like You most high Lord. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars. In heaven You fashioned them, clear and precious and beautiful. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Brother Wind, and for every kind of weather, cloudy or fair, stormy or serene, by which You cherish all that You have made. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Sister Water, which is useful and humble and precious and pure. Praise be to You, my Lord, for Brother Fire, by whom You lighten the night, for He is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praise be to You, my Lord, for our Sister Earth, who sustains and governs us, and produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs. Praise be to You, my Lord, for those who forgive sins in Your love, and for those who bear sickness and tribulation. Blessed are those who endure in peace, for by You, most high Lord, they shall be crowned. Praise be to You, my Lord, for our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no living person can escape. Pity those who die in mortal sin. Blessed are those who in death are found obedient to Your most holy will, for death shall do them no harm. Praise and bless my Lord, giving Him thanks and serving Him with great humility."

What is Christians’ crisis today? S.I.N.
Superficial (do not build deep),
Immoral (not serious with repentance, accountability and holy living),
Nominal (not born again, no P.E. = personal and present experiences of God)

Lord Jesus says (Matthew 7:21): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven!”

Apostle Paul says (II Corinthians 3:18): “We…all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord...”

In today’s very corrupted world, God wants Christians to be different from the world, to be the light and salt! In Old Testament's world, God wanted Israel’s soldiers to be different from their neighbors. Soldiers with difference would magnify to nations the glory of the One, true and living God Almighty. That's the message of Deuteronomy chapter 20.

Background:

  1. Israel’s geographical location exposed its people to constant danger. The land was hemmed in on one side by the Mediterranean sea, on the other by mountainous desert. Those who journeyed from Egypt in the south to the Assyrian and Babylonian nations in the north were normally compelled to travel through Canaan. So, the promised land was a place that all great world powers wanted to conquer! Of course, we must remember that Israel’s conquest of Canaan was not for selfish expansion, but was an act of divine judgment on its inhabitants for their persistent evil.
  2. Israel had to fight for survival or would have been totally exterminated as a minority nation. So, defensive warfare was necessary. But they were not to behave as their neighbors. Israelites should have different approach to warfare / military practice.
  3. The cruelty, havoc & devastation caused by invading armies from Egypt, Assyria and Babylon were notorious. For example, the Assyrian troops always caused devastation of natural resources; men and women of their enemies were subjected to barbaric & sadistic punishment. Israel’s soldiers can’t behave like that! God’s people must be different.
  4. The regulations given in chapter 20 look beyond initial conquest to future times when, for their own safety & security, they will be compelled to go out to war against their oppressors.
  5. Israel were lacking in numerical strength, necessary equipment and military skill. As a minority force (20:1), they must march out as a confident minority (vv.1-4), dedicated minority (vv.5-9), compassionate minority (vv.10-20) Soldiers with a DIFFERENCE!

Content:

1. CONFIDENT:

  • Greatest enemy is internal not external. Fear is likely to do more damage in the ranks than any fierce onslaught! Fear is unnecessary & inappropriate (v.1,3) because of: a testimony from the past (v.1---God had delivered us from Egypt), a fact in the present (v.1,4---God goes with us), a promise for the future (v.4---God will give us victory!)
  • Application: Are you in crisis of confidence, facing “army greater than you”? Unexpected crises are a part of life. Either you got out of a crisis…or you are in a crisis right now…or you are headed into a crisis.
  • Crisis management: Determine the reason: “What is really the reason behind the crisis?” The reason is often deeper than what appears on the surface. If difficult, pray about it! Determine the result: “What can I learn from this?” Every crisis is an opportunity to change our perspective, sharpen our skills and develop our character. Determine your response: “What is the best way to respond to this?” Confront the problem, don’t ignore.Confess your part, ask forgiveness.Claim a promise, be confident.

2.

Dedicated:
  • To God, quality is more important than quantity. It is not what we are, what we have got, but whose we are that matter! God wants the nation to trust in Him and not in its superior armies. Therefore, the officers are to single out four groups of people and send them home.
  • Verse 5---Any man who has just finished building a house but has had no opportunity to live in it and dedicate it to the Lord. God wants this particular man to settle his wife and children in their new home first. If the house remained empty and the man died in the battle, someone else might take possession of his property and his family could be destitute. God is deeply concern about the preservation of family life.
  • Verse 6---A man who owns a recently established vineyard must be singled out and sent home. We all know, for the first three years there would be no fruit on the vines and in the fourth year its fruit must be offered to God. So, until the fifth year, its owner has not begun to enjoy its fruit. In other words, there are at least 5 years that a man in this kind of situation is to be exempt from warfare. Just imagine, if a man lost his life in the conflict before he can enjoy the fruit of his toil, another person might easily take his property just at the time when he and his family were likely to benefit from it. What then would happen to his wife and children who relied upon the produce for their income?
  • Verse 7---Anyone who has become pledged to a woman (which means someone firmly engaged and about to be married) must not go out with the troops. 24:5 says that this exemption was to be continued throughout the first year of marriage. This shows that our God is concerned about the establishment of good, secure relationships. He wants the husband to bring happiness to the wife he has married. God knows time is one of the languages of love.
  • Verse 8---Those who were afraid or faint-hearted were best left at home. We must remember that the Israelites were not a war-faring people by nature. All of them were poorly equipped for a fierce encounter with well-trained soldiers. So, fear was natural enough! Fear paralyzes their soldiers, damages the morale of the troops. Fear shows that they lack of faith in God.
  • Application:

(i) God wants you to find satisfaction and enjoyment in your work and labor (Deuteronomy 20:5-6, Ecclesiastes 2:24-25, 8:15; I Timothy 6:17).

I learn from Professor Dr. Leonard Yong a very biblical way of finding godly satisfaction and enjoyment, continual empowerment and renewal in work day by day: By building T.E.N.T. in my heart every three hours!
T hanksgiving attitude and memory;
E njoy our work & lives in obedience to our conscience;
N o coincidence in our lives (Romans 8:28);
T hankful to the Creator God!

This has helped me to reveal my heart to God, to receive joy and peace, wisdom and endurance from God, meantime to remove self-pitying, stress, depression and all sort of negative thoughts and emotions from my spirit, soul and body!

J.I. Packer in his book---"Knowing God ’s Purpose for Your Life" says that: "Wisdom instructs me to enjoy the pleasures God gives without going pleasure mad!"

(ii) God wants you to take good care of your marriage & family (v.7) I learn to practise biblical Covenant Actions in my daily family life:
• To love and be loved;
• To forgive and be forgiven;
• To empower and be empowered;
• To understand and be understood.

(iii) God wants you to fear nothing but God and be dedicated to fight the good fight, finish the race and keep your faith (v.8). God’s will is not constant comfort & worldly success (Hebrews 12:7,11). God wills us to grow in grace & joy (1 Peter 1:1-2). God wills to live eternally with us! (Colossians 1:3-5)

Devotional note for Jeremiah 21-33

Devotional Note for Jeremiah 21-33

Jeremiah 21-33 profoundly enlighten me of God’s heart and passion for ungodly and sinful generation.

Chapter 21-24: God condemns the unrighteous and evil kings who do not obey God (21:1-23:8), the deceitful prophets who distort the word of the living God (23:9-40) and the ‘poor figs’---depraved people who do not repent (24:1-10). They had forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and had worshiped and served other gods (22:8-9). Judgment will come (22:25), but great restoration will also take place, particularly through a Davidic King, a ‘righteous Branch’, who would be a good Shepherd of the remnant (23:3-6), blessing the remnant to be fruitful and increase in number!

Chapter 25-29: God conveys His grief over rebellious people and His wrath over unrighteous generation that always follows lies from the false prophets like Hananiah and Shemaiah, but persecutes the true prophets like Jeremiah and Uriah. Seventy years of captivity to Babylon is the punishment from God (25:8-11; 27:6-7,20,22). But Babylon itself will also be punished for their wicked deeds (25:12-14). Israel’s remnant will return (29:10-14).

Chapter 30-33: God consoles the northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah that there is divine purpose for exile (30:24), there is hope for return in the future (30:3; 31:8,17,21-22; 33:7); ungodly people are to undergo radical restoration (31:27-28; 32:42-44), individual repentance (31:29-30) and decisive renewal of covenant (31:31-34; 32:40-41; 33:19-22,25-26), particularly in the Messianic era (33:14-16). People will have singleness of heart and action thereafter (32:39)! Nothing is too hard for God; great are His purposes and mighty are His deeds (32:17,19,27)!

Meditation 1: God will not allow any problem to come to you that cannot be a learning, a turning, or an earning experience."

Meditation 2: Justice is the activity of God's holiness.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Devotional Note for Jeremiah 11-20

DAILY DEVOTION
Psalm 73:28: “It is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Text: Jeremiah 11-20

Discovery through A.C.T.I.O.N.S. (Psalm 119:18-Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law)

Adoration-for who God is

Jeremiah chapter 11-20 are very inspiring and stimulating! These 10 chapters highlight God as a righteous and compassionate Covenant-Keeper, a just and jealous Judge who doesn’t tolerate prolonged wickedness and many backslidings, a good listener to prophet Jeremiah’s bare confessions, and a sovereign Potter to the His people.

It would be very enlightening to note the unique pattern of the message from chapter 11-17: Bad news of destruction...Bare confession of Jeremiah before God...Bad news of destruction again.

1st round (Chapter 11-13):
Covenant with God was broken by house of Israel and house of Judah because of idolatry (11:1-17)...Confession of Jeremiah (11:18-12:4)...Captivity surely comes, God would forsake His house and abandon His inheritance (12:5-13:27).

2nd round (Chapter 14-16):
Calamity (drought, famine and sword) would be poured out on people and four destroyers (sword to kill, dogs to drag, birds of the air to devour, and beasts of the earth to destroy) may come against the people of Judah (14:1-15:9)...Confession of Jeremiah (15:10-21)...Day of great disaster are coming, Jeremiah must not get married; God had withdrawn His blessing, love and pity from His people who had followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts (16:1-21).

3rd round (Chapter 17):
Cursed is Judah who trusted in man and depended on flesh, whose deceitful hearts were beyond cure; God would give all their wealth away as plunder (17:1-11)...Confession of Jeremiah (17:12-18)...Unquenchable fire would be kindled in the gates of Jerusalem if the people still did not keep Sabbath holy (17:19-27).

4th round (Chapter 18-20):
God would mar the pot (Judah) they He shaped from clay and formed it into ‘another pot’ as seemed best to Him, because of Virgin Israel had forgotten God (18:1-17)...Confession of Jeremiah (18:18-23)...God would devastate the city of Jerusalem, smash the nation, and hand all Judah over to the king of Babylon who would carry them away to Babylon, because the stiff-necked people worshipped Baal and the starry hosts, they even persecuted the true prophet Jeremiah by beating him and put him in the stocks (19:1-20:6)...Jeremiah’s confession (20:7-18)

Confession-for what I sin

15:6-7: Forgive me, O Lord, for rejecting You, keep on backsliding, and not changing my ways.

Thanksgiving-for what God does

15:19-21: If I repent, God will restore me that I may serve Him. God will make me a wall to His people, God will be with me to rescue and to save me, to redeem me from the grasp of the cruel.

Inspiring verse(s)-for what help it gives

17:7: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.

Obedience-for what it teaches or orders

18:1-10: I must let God shapes me as seem best to Him, even allow God to mar me and form me into ‘another’ pot.

Now-action-for what I must do

I must imitate Jeremiah to lay bare the struggles of my inmost being before God, pray to God, seek His forgiveness and listen to His response.

Supplication-for strength and wisdom to do

15:15: “You understand O Lord; remember me and care for me…You are long-suffering…When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your name, O Lord God Almighty. I never sat in the company of the revelers, never made merry with them.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Devotional Note for Jeremiah 6-10

DAILY DEVOTION
Psalm 73:28: “It is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Text: Jeremiah 6-10

Discovery through A.C.T.I.O.N.S. (Psalm 119:18-Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law)


Adoration-for who God is

Jeremiah chapter 6-10 highlight God as being filled with wrath because of His people’s idolatry and stubbornness. Idols cannot compare with God of Israel who is great, mighty in power, the King of nations, true, living and eternal. He is the Portion of Jacob, Maker of all things, Lord Almighty (vv.6-7,10,12-13,16). He alone is worthy of Israel’s worship and loyalty!

Chapter 6 is the last chapter that records the earliest discourses of Jeremiah after he was appointed by God as a prophet in his young age (1:6-7). It highlights three ‘S’s:

Sins: The city of Jerusalem was filled with oppression (v.6), wickedness, violence, sickness and wounds (v.7), nobody listened to God, the word of God was offensive to the people (v.10), people were greedy for gain (v.13), prophets and priest practiced deceit (v.13), preaching was superficial (v.14), leaders were not ashamed of their loathsome conduct (v.15), people rejected God’s law (v.19). As a result, people’s burnt offerings were not acceptable (v.20), the refining goes on in vain (v.29).

Storm: God rejected and turned away from Jerusalem, making the land desolate (v.8,30), children, young men, husband and wife, the old would all be under God’s wrath (v.11), they would lose their houses and fields (v.12), all perished (v.21), great and cruel army from the north would attack and bring tremendous anguish (v.22-25).

Solemn Calling of God: God had called His people to ask where the good way was and walked in it (the tried and true ways of Judah’s godly ancestors, Dt.32:7), in order to find rest for their souls (v.16), but rejected by the stubborn people. God also appointed watchmen (prophets) over them to warm them of the approaching danger, but was not noted (v.17).

After the record of these saddening 3 ‘S’s, the book continues with the message of prophet Jeremiah preached at the gate of the Lord’s house (7:1): chapter 7-10---‘Temple Message’. These four chapters can be summarized by the word G.A.T.E.:

G: In chapter 7, God said that people had gone backward and not forward (v.24). God wanted them to reform their ways and actions (vv.3,5), so that they may continue to live in the promised land (v.3,7), but they did not listen, nor pay attention (vv.13,24,26). They had made God’s house a den of robbers (v.11). They worshipped idols (v.18,30). Truth had perished (v.28).

A: In chapter 8, God rebuked His people for ascribing homage and adoration to the heavenly bodies which were actually powerless to help (vv.1-2). People clung to deceit, refused to return (v.5), no one repented (v.6). People did not know the requirements of God (v.7), mistreated the written Law (v.8), rejected true wisdom (v.9), had no shame of their loathsome conduct (v.12). Judah in Babylonian exile was still perplexed at their fate, wondering how God could have permitted the destruction of His land and temple (vv.13-22).

T: In chapter 9, prophet Jeremiah’s eyes were depicted as a fountain of tears (v.1), he wept day and night for his nation (vv.2,10,18). There were adulterers and unfaithful people, deceiver and slanderer (v.4). They refused to acknowledge God (v.6), were not obedient (v.13-14), were uncircumcised in heart (vv.25-26). God would scatter them among nations (v.16), so that people would boast of nothing but understanding and knowing God as the Lord who exercised kindness, justice and righteous on earth (v.24).

E: In chapter 10, Jeremiah elaborated the vast difference between idols and the Lord (vv.2-16). Jeremiah condemned idols and their worshippers (vv.2-5,8-9,11,14-15), while praised God (vv.6-7,10,12-13,16). Destruction was approaching, senseless shepherds and ungodly people would be scattered as the result of a great commotion caused by the invaders from the north ---Babylonia (vv.17-22). Jeremiah prayed that God’s justice would be done in the world (vv.23-25).

Confession-for what I sin

6:14; 8:11: Spiritual leaders preached superficial sermon: “They dressed the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”

Thanksgiving-for what God does:

9:24: Thank You God for Your kindness and mercy on me everyday: “I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth.”

Inspiring verse(s)-for what help it gives

9:1: “My eyes a fountain of tears. I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.”

Obedience-for what it teaches or orders

10:23-25: Pray for divine justice on the earth among the nations.

Now-action-for what I must do

Pray with deep compassion for God’s mercy upon me and nations, like Jeremiah (9:1,10,18).

Supplication-for strength and wisdom to do

Monday, November 06, 2006

Devotional Note for Jeremiah 4-5

DAILY DEVOTION
Psalm 73:28: “It is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Text: Jeremiah 4-5

Discovery through A.C.T.I.O.N.S. (Psalm 119:18-Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law)

Adoration-for who God is

Jeremiah chapter 4-5 highlight God as a jealous God who would punish sin justly but still show mercy.

The message of these two chapters can be summarized by three ‘R’s:
God reproached Israelites: they were fool, didn’t know God, senseless, had no understanding, skilled in doing evil and knew not how to do good (4:22; 5:21), refused correction and repentance (5:3), didn’t know God’s way (5:4), broke off the yoke (5:5), their rebellion was great and backslidings many (5:6b), their children forsook God (5:7), they committed adultery (5:7), were lusty stallions and each neighing another man’s wife (5:8), utterly unfaithful (5:11), lied about God (5:12), served foreign gods (5:19), stubborn (5:23), full of deceit (5:27), evil desires had no limit (5:28), injustice (5:28b), prophets prophesy lies and people loved it that way (5:31).

Retribution would come: A distant nation from the north (Babylon) would attack and destroy Judah (4:6,7,12,16,18,20,22,27,29b,31; 5:3,9,15-17). But God would not completely destroy His chosen people (4:27; 5:10,18).

God called His people to return to Him: to put idols away (4:1b), be truthful, just and righteous (4:2), circumcise your hearts (4:4), wash the evil from your heart (4:14), not harbor wicked thoughts (4:14), deal honestly and seek the truth (5:1), fear God and tremble in His presence (5:22).

Confession-for what I sin

5:25b: “Your sins have deprived you of good!” For the sin of self-pity and hidden pride that always make myself stressful and easily get upset, forgive me, O Lord. Set me free by the power of the Holy Spirit! Make me joyful, determined and humble like Jesus my Savior!

Thanksgiving-for what God does

5:1: “If you can find but a person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city!” God is merciful and forgiving, He is seeking for godly person(s) to be His instrument for noble purposes, to make an impact, drawing sinners back to the path of holiness and righteousness and eternal life.

Inspiring verse(s)-for what help it gives

5:14: “I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.” God, bless me to preach your word with the fresh fire of the Holy Spirit that refine people’s hearts and souls!

Obedience-for what it teaches or orders
4:4: “Circumcise your hearts…or my wrath will beak out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done.” O Holy God, circumcise and purify my heart, so that in deep covenant relationship with You and Christians, I myself and the people called Methodist nowadays would be revived to shine brighter!

Now-action-for what I must do

By the grace of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, I will learn and strive to be that “person who deal honestly and seek the truth” (5:1), so that God’s Gospel of forgiveness would come upon many people around me.

The great evangelist D..L.Moody one day heard this challenging words which marked the beginning of a new era in his life:
“The world has yet to see what God will do with, and for, and through, and in, and by, the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.”

“He said, ‘a man’,” thought Moody. “He did not say a great man, nor a learned man, nor a rich man, nor a wise man, nor an eloquent man, nor a ‘smart’ man, but simply ‘a man’. I am a man, and it lies with the man himself whether he will, or will not, make that entire and full consecration. I will try my utmost to be that man.

Supplication-for strength and wisdom to do

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Devotional Note for Jeremiah 1-3

DAILY DEVOTION

Psalm 73:28: “It is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Text: Jeremiah 1-3

Discovery through A.C.T.I.O.N.S. (Psalm 119:18-Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law)

Adoration-for who God is

Jeremiah chapter 1-3 highlights God as the Sovereign Lord (1:6), all-seeing God who is watching the world to see that His word is fulfilled (1:11-12), righteous Judge (1:16), Immanuel (1:8,19), Glorious One and True God (2:11), merciful God (3:12), our Husband (3:14), and Father God (3:19b).

The message and point of these three chapters can be summarized by two ‘C’s:

Chapter 1: The Sovereign Lord (v.6) called Jeremiah to be the prophet of Judah (v.4) during the reign of king Josiah, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah (639-587 B.C.). God commissioned Jeremiah to preach His command and message of destruction and revival to His people (vv.7,10,16-18). Leaders and people would be stubborn (vv.18-19a), but God of Immanuel would make Jeremiah firm, steadfast and bold in his prophetic ministry (vv.8,19).

Chapter 2: Spiritual crisis (that was spiritual ‘prostitution’: 2:20; 3:1,2,6-10,20,23) ruined Judah---loss of first love and devotion to God (2:2-3), idolatry and rebel (2:5-8,11,20,25b,27-28; 3:13,24), they forsook God and dug their own cisterns that couldn’t hold water (2:13,17), wickedness and backsliding (2:19a; 3:22), no awe of God (2:19b; 3:4-5), did not serve God (2:20), did not respond to correction (2:30-35), forgot God (2:32; 3:21), and injustice (2:34). After the exile, God would give His people ‘shepherds’ after His own heart to lead the remnant back to Zion (3:14-15). Man-made tabernacle was no longer significant (3:16), for the true TABERNACLE (Christ/Messiah) would come, bringing spiritual revival and repentance in Jerusalem (3:17) and reconciliation (3:18).

Confession-for what I sin

1:8,19: For often being fearful and giving excuses to not do God’s ministry, forgive me, O Lord! You are with me, will rescue me! You appoint me, you would anoint me!

Thanksgiving-for what God does

1:4: God knows me before He formed me in the womb, set me apart for a definite purpose before I were born, God loves me!

1:18: God would make me strong, firm and steadfast as He sends me to minister to the corrupted world which tends to reject God’s voice: God make me “a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall”.

Inspiring verse(s)-for what help it gives

1:19: “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.”

3:15: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.”

Obedience-for what it teaches or orders

1:10: Here am I, O Lord, send me to preach Your messages of destruction and revival---“to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant”.

Now-action-for what I must do

1. Persevere to fight the good fight and finish the race like Jeremiah who served God for more than 40 years in a country with spiritual crisis and corrupted leadership that did not appreciate his ministry (1:1-19).

2. Preach the message of judgment and revival to God’s people (1:10), that Christians may rekindle our devotion, first love to God, faithfulness and holiness (2:2-3).

3. Purge spiritual backsliding within me (2:19; 3:22). Stand up for Jesus!

4. Pastor more shepherds (spiritual leaders) to take care of God’s flock in today’s world! (3:15) People (the non-Christians) need the Lord; but people of God (Christians) need good shepherds / leaders after God’s heart for discipleship and mentoring, so that they may be 'C.U.T.E.M.' (changed by God, used by God, taught by God, empowered by God, and multiply!).

Supplication-for strength and wisdom to do

Friday, November 03, 2006

Devotional Note for Isaiah 61-66

DAILY DEVOTION
Psalm 73:28: “It is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Text: Isaiah 61-66

Discovery through A.C.T.I.O.N.S. (Psalm 119:18-Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law)

Adoration-for who God is

Isaiah 61-66 highlight God as the Sovereign Lord (61:11), Savior (62:11), righteous and mighty Judge (63:1; 66:15-16), loving and merciful Shepherd (63:9), our Father (63:16; 64:8a), the Potter (64:8b), the transcendent and holy Creator (65:17,25; 66:1-2).

The message or point of the final six chapters of the book of Isaiah can be summarized by the word A.N.O.I.N.T.

61: The sovereign Lord (v.11) through His Spirit would anoint His Messianic Servant to bring the years of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of God (v.1-2). The ministry of this anointed Servant results in deliverance, restoration, reconciliation, riches, joy, and righteous world order.

62: The Savior God (v.11) would name Jerusalem and Zion a new name (v.2), they will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord, the Sought After, the City of No Longer Deserted (v.12); all nations and kings will see its glory and righteousness (vv.1-2,6,10-11).

63:1-6: The Onmipotent God (v.1) would bring the day of vengeance and the year of redemption.

63:7-64:12: God in His love and mercy (v.9) would redeem His people, lift them up and carry them all the days of old, even though they rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit (v.10), God is still their Father who cares for them (63:16; 64:8), their Redeemer (63:16), their Help (64:5), and their Potter (64:8) who would like to forgive them (64:9) and will make His own name known to all nations (64:2).

65: God notes those who did not ask for Him, did not seek Him and did not call on Him (v.1). God would reveal Himself to them, reward those who response and faithfully serve Him (vv.1,13-15); meantime punish those who commit idolatry (v.2-8). New heavens and new earth will come, there will be great joy, peace and harmony (vv.17-25).

66: Transcendent God (v.1-2) esteems those who are humble and contrite in spirit (v.2b) and judges the hypocrites (vv.3-6). He would send His ‘son’ (Christ Jesus) through the Israelites before the great tribulation to establish His Kingdom (vv.7-14). He would execute judgment upon all men (vv.15-17). He would gather all nations, tongues and mankind to see His glory (vv.18-21), to worship Him (vv.22-23), and to see the ending of the rebel in hell where worm will not die, nor will the fire be quenched (v.24).

Confession-for what I sin

64:7: “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of You.” For not praying earnestly and seeking Your face, forgive me, O Lord.

66:3: For hypocrisy and abominations of any kind in my deeds, forgive me, O Lord.

Thanksgiving-for what God does

65:1: God actively seek and save the lost: “I reveal Myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, Here am I, here am I.”

65:13-16: God will reward the faithful and obedient servant: they will eat, drink, rejoice, sing, be given special name, and their troubles end.

65:17-25: God will bring new heavens and new earth where weeping and crying will end, perfect harmony being established.

Inspiring verse(s)-for what help it gives

66:2: “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

Obedience-for what it teaches or orders

66:18-21: Send me and the people called Methodists to magnify God’s glory among all the nations and tongues.

Now-action-for what I must do

1. Praise the gracious God that seeks and saves sinners (65:1), bow down and worship Him always (66:23), bow down to pray for all mankind to worship Him too (pray for a particular non-believer).
2. Pray for islands or nations in the world that have not heard of God’s fame and seen God’s glory (v.19).
3. Preach the bad news of hell and good news of heaven (65:17; 66:24) to at least a person a day, actively, intentionally by giving them a gospel tract or share verbally or inviting them to church or cell meeting or outing.
4. Purge hypocrisy within me, and remain humble and contrite in spirit before God (66:2-3).

Supplication-for strength and wisdom to do

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Devotional Note for Isaiah 48-60

DAILY DEVOTION
Psalm 73:28: “It is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”

Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Text: Isaiah 48-60

Discovery through A.C.T.I.O.N.S. (Psalm 119:18-Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Law)

Adoration-for who God is

Isaiah 48-60 highlights the One, True and Living God as Sovereign Lord, righteous Judge, gracious Savior, mighty Redeemer, faithful Covenant-keeper, and glorious eternal Light.

In the light of chapter 40 (the turning point of the book of Isaiah which highlights the renewal of strength by hoping in the Lord), chapter 41-47 reveal the great H.A.R.V.E.S.T. in the future. Now, chapter 48-52 reveal the great T.R.I.U.M.P.H. in God, chapter 53-55 reveal God’s great L.O.V.E. in Messiah’s sacrificial death for mankind’s sins, and chapter 56-60 reveal God’s great B.L.E.S.S.ing!


The brief outline of chapter 48:1-52:12: T.R.I.U.M.P.H.

Chapter 48: God would tell (v.6b) and teach (v.17) the stubborn and treacherous Israelites of new things (or hidden things) unknown to them (that is return after exile, vv.14-15,20), materialized later through God’s “chosen ally” (Cyrus king of Persia, v.14).

Chapter 49:1-7: God would restore the Israelites through His servant (Isaiah himself and particularly Messiah in the future) who acts as God’s spokesman (v.2); he displays God’s splendor (v.3) by bringing God’s salvation to the ends of the earth (v.6).

Chapter 49:8-26: God would in His time of His favor (v.8a) gather all the scattered Israelites (vv.12,18,22) back to Jerusalem (vv.16-17), massive number will return (vv.18-20), they are protected (vv.22-23).

Chapter 50:1-11 God wanted to use obedient servant (vv.1b,4-7,9-10)

Chapter 51:1-16: God would make Israelites joyous and glad (vv.3,11) with His everlasting salvation and righteousness (vv.5,6,8).

Chapter 51:17-23: God would punish the Israelites in His wrath (vv.17-20) and the tormentors as well (v.23).

Chapter 52:1-12: God would head the exiles who shall victoriously return (v.23) to Zion from Babylon, through which God would humble all the nations to see His holy arm and mighty salvation (v.10).


The brief outline of chapter 52:13-55:13: L.O.V.E.

Chapter 52:13-15: God would lift up (v.13) His suffering servant (v.14) and through Him miraculously cleanse many nations (v.15).

Chapter 53: God’s servant / Messiah would obey the Lord’s will (v.10b), bear the sin of mankind (vv.5,8,11,12), suffer and die as a guilt offering (vv.1-10,12), justify many (v.11b) and intercede for transgressors (v.12b).

Chapter 54: God in His vast compassion, kindness, and love (vv.7,8,10) would bring the exiles back to the promised land (vv.5b,7b); Israel’s shame and God’s wrath would end; righteousness and peace, victory and glory would take place (vv.13-17).

Chapter 55: God in His everlasting covenant with His people (New Covenant, v.3) would pour out unconditional grace(v.1), mercy and pardon (v.7), joy and peace (v.12) on whoever comes to Him (v.1); God’s thoughts and ways, word and purpose shall prevail (vv.8-9,11).


The brief outline of chapter 56-60: B.L.E.S.S.

Chapter 56: God will bless all who will bind themselves to God (Israelites, foreigners, eunuchs: vv.2,3,6) with everlasting name that will not be cut off (v.5); God’s house will be called a house of prayer for all nations (v.7).

Chapter 57: God laments over the sorcery, adultery, prostitution, rebellion, lies, lust, idolatry, pagan symbols, and sinful greed (vv.3-7,9,13,16) found among His people, but for those who are contrite and lowly in spirit, God would revive (v.15), heal, guide and restore comfort to them (v.18), no matter they are far (the Gentiles) or near (the Israelites) (v.19).

Chapter 58: God wants His people to exercise true fasting which involves life transformation and holy living, deliverance and healing, social justice and concern, more fervent intercession and answered prayer, Sabbath-keeping and joy in God.

Chapter 59: God will save sinners who repent of their sins; His arm is not too short to save, His ear is not too dull to hear (vv.1,20); God wants more intercessors to arise (v.16).

Chapter 60: God shines in His glory upon Jerusalem and draws all nations, all kings to Himself (vv.1-3).


Confession-for what I sin

56:7: For not going to the sanctuary to pray for nations, forgive me O Lord!
58:6-11: For not wholeheartedly practicing the true fasting, forgive me O Lord.

Thanksgiving-for what God does

52:13-53:12: Thank God for sending His SERVANT to suffer for my sins and die to save me! “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Inspiring verse(s)-for what help it gives

54:10: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

56:7: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

58:10-11: “…(the kind of fasting I have chosen)…then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always…”

60”1: “Arise. Shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you!”

Obedience-for what it teaches or orders

59:16: “God saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene.” I should join Jesus’ interceding ministry at the right hand of my Father God! (Romans 8:34)

Now-action-for what I must do
Truly fast
to please God and to purge evil (58:6-11).
Obey God’s Spirit on me and Word in me (59:21).
Persist in shining for God is my everlasting Light, rid my emotion of self-pity, sorrow and bitterness (60:1-3,19-20)

Supplication-for strength and wisdom to do