Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Blessings Restored

Moses:  2 “If at that time you and your children return to the LORD your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today, 3 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy (compassion) on you and gather you back from all the nations where He has scattered you…. 6 The LORD your God will change (circumcise) your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love Him with all your heart and soul and so you may live!... 9 The LORD your God will then make you successful (abundantly prosperous) in everything you do. He will give you many children and numerous livestock, and He will cause your fields to produce abundant harvests, for the LORD will again delight in being good to you as He was to your ancestors. 10 The LORD your God will delight in you if you obey His voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul….

15 Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity (good life) and disaster (death). 16 For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. 17 But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed (eternal death, depression, destruction). You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly (cleave, cling, hold on) to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  Deuteronomy 30:2-3, 6, 9-10, 15-20 (NLT)

In Deuteronomy 30, Moses ends his farewell address he began to Israel starting in Deuteronomy 1 on the borders of God’s Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 1:1-5). Moses once again strongly instructed the people to LOVE the living LORD God and OBEY the living God’s moral commandments (see Deuteronomy 30:2-3, 6, 8, 10-11, 16). In fact, Moses repeatedly taught Israel throughout Deuteronomy (also known as “Second Law”) to love and obey the living God and His moral commandments from your whole heart, mind, and soul (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:29; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 20; see also, Matthew 22:37; John 14:15; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12). Moses knew that our wholehearted love and obedience to the living God and His righteous ways lead to God’s blessings, restoration, and good life (Deuteronomy 30:3, 6, 9, 15-16, 20; see also Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 6:2, 18; Deuteronomy 12:28). God is life and blessedness (Deuteronomy 30:20; see also Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 8:3; Job 12:10; John 5:26; Acts 17:25, 28).

The connection is obvious: if you turn from your sins and rebellion to wholehearted love and obedience to God and His moral commandments, you will find and enjoy life (Deuteronomy 30:15-16; see also; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Even more, when you love and obey the living God and His righteous commands, not only do you receive God’s abundant blessings, but you also receive His Presence as the living God comes and lives with you (e.g., see Leviticus 26:1-3, 11-12; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 11:4; Jeremiah 24:7; John 14:15-17, 21, 23-24; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, God’s abundant blessings and Presence (Holy Spirit) are all linked to love and obedience to the living God and His righteous ways (e.g., John 15:10; Galatians 6:7-10; James 1:22-25; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 5:2-3). In other words, there is a Spiritual union with the living God when you love and follow His good ways (e.g., see John 17:21).

The living LORD God wants to do good for you and your family and not evil (Deuteronomy 30:5, 9; see also Deuteronomy 6:3, 18, 24). Besides, everyone who seeks the living God and does what is right and good are children of LORD God, while those who seek wickedness, evil, and sin prove they are far away from God (e.g., see Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:6-10; 3 John 1:11). However, Moses taught the people that if your heart turns away from serving the living God and His righteous ways and are drawn to worship other gods, your life will lead to death and destruction (Deuteronomy 30:17-18; e.g., see also Exodus 20:3-4; Leviticus 26:1-3, 14-39; Deuteronomy 28:15-29:28). Those who reject and disobey the living LORD God bring punishment and wrath upon themselves (e.g., see Deuteronomy 29:19-20).

Amazingly, Moses looked down through the human history and predicted Israel would turn away from wholeheartedly loving the LORD God (idolatry) and obeying His moral commandments (rebellion) (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Deuteronomy 28:45-46; Deuteronomy 29:18-29). Such verses as Deuteronomy 28:25, 32-33, 36, 38,41-42, and 53 predict historical facts now recorded in Jewish history, both sacred and secular. Deuteronomy 28:62 foretells how not only the Jewish people but all people receive God’s wrath and scattering because of their reckless indulgence of evil, idolatry, and rebellion against God and His moral commandments – His Voice (e.g., see Deuteronomy 29:18-19, 28; Ezekiel 3:20-21; Ezekiel 18:24-26 Galatians 6:8; Revelation 22:14-15). The commandments of God is the Voice of God, and He expects everyone to obey His Voice (commandments).

The living God brought the punishment and curses of Deuteronomy 28 and 29 as well as Leviticus 26 in 722-721 BC and 586 BC when He allowed the Assyrian and Babylonian armies to defeat, destroy, and scatter Israel (Jews) throughout the world because of their repeated idolatry, rebellion, and disobedience and the land finally enjoyed the Sabbath rest (Leviticus 26:33-35; Deuteronomy 28:49-52, 64-65; see also 2 Kings 17:5-23; 2 Kings 25:1-26). Moreover, the Roman emperor Hadrian and Titus oppressed and ravaged the Jewish people in the first century A.D. as predicted in Deuteronomy 28. Finally, the Jewish people suffered many of the curses and diseases during the Middle Ages as predicted in Deuteronomy 28. The living God was using His punishment and discipline of His people to lead to their restoration and repentance – turning from sin and turning God with love and obedience (e.g., see Hebrews 12:10-11).

Moses also rightly predicted Israel’s future salvation, restoration, and blessings when they wholeheartedly returned and sought the living God and obeyed His commands after their idolatry and rebellion (Deuteronomy 30:1-5; see also see Leviticus 26:40-45; Deuteronomy 4:29-30; Deuteronomy 11:26-28:  1 Kings 8:47-50; 2 Chronicles 15:4; Nehemiah 1:9; Isaiah 55:6-7; Joel 2:12-13). The living God abundantly blesses those who wholeheartedly seek and obey Him (e.g., see Deuteronomy 28:1-14; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Hebrews 11:6). If you seek the living God from your whole heart, you will find Him, find abundant life, and God’s goodness (Deuteronomy 30:9-10; see also 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 29:13-14; Amos 5:4, 6, 14-15). Even more, the living LORD God is gracious, kind, loving, compassionate, and forever merciful to those who turn away from evil and sin and turn to Him in faithfulness and obedience (Deuteronomy 30:3; see also e.g., Deuteronomy 4:31; Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:17-18; Psalm 145:8-9; Nahum 1:3; James 5:11).

Still more amazing, Moses looked down through the ages and predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit of God to change and circumcise the people’s hearts (Deuteronomy 30:6; see also Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4). In reality, the heart is the very source of all your sins because God had to give Israel the will and power to love and obey Him. Moses predicted that when the people REPENTED and TURNED from their rebellion to the living God and His moral commandments, the living LORD God would perform a spiritual “operation” and circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants to love and obey Him with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul (Deuteronomy 30:6; see also Deuteronomy 6:4-6). In other words, Moses predicted the coming of God’s Holy Spirit to give God’s people new Spiritual life – a new heart, soul, and mind! Just as physical circumcision identified one as belonging to the Abrahamic covenant, spiritual circumcision would be the seal of membership into God’s family – the new Israel (see Genesis 17:13-14; Romans 2:28-29; Ephesians 1:13). When you repent (turn from evil and turn to God), the living God by His Holy Spirit performs a spiritual operation that bring you a new heart, new soul, and a new life (e.g., see Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 24:6-7; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:39-40; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26-29; Joel 2:12-13; John 3:3-8). In other words, God will come live inside you with the Helper – the Holy Spirit – to help you love and obey His righteous ways – inward spiritual renewal (see John 14:16-17, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7; Acts 2:38-40)!

Moses made clear that finding new and true life is NOT a difficult decision, too far off, placed in the heavens, nor beyond the sea (see Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Amazingly, the Apostle Paul of the New Testament agreed with Moses’ teaching from Deuteronomy 30 (e.g., see Romans 10:6-10). Both Moses and the Apostle Paul agree that no one must go up to heaven or across the sea to another country, because the living God freely gives everyone life by choosing Him! Incredibly, the Lord Jesus Christ taught the same message of Moses and the Apostle Paul: repent of your sins, love His Father the living LORD God with all your heart (faith), and obey God’s moral commandments (Deuteronomy 30:15-16; see also e.g., Genesis 15:6; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 6:33; Matthew 22:37; John 14:15). Repentance, love, and obedience to GOD BRINGS LIFE, restoration, and blessings (see Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 20). Through our love and obedience to the living God, we live, move, and have our being (see Acts 17:28). Life depends on your absolute allegiance to God!

Some people will argue and say, “I only worship and accept God but not Jesus!” The Holy Scriptures declare that the Lord Jesus Christ is God (e.g., see John 1:1-5, 14, 16, 18; John 20:28; Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:1-3). In the Lord Jesus Christ is the fullness of God (e.g., see Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9-10). The Lord Jesus Christ is One with His Father, the living LORD God (e.g., Deuteronomy 6:4; John 10:30; John 14:9-10; John 17:11, 21-23). Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen living LORD God, His Father (e.g., see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 1:3). Finding restoration, blessings, and life also means fully accepting, believing, and worshipping the living LORD God’s only begotten Son, Jesus the Messiah (e.g., Mark 1:1; John 8:24; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 20:30-31). Just as the living LORD God has life, God’s Son also has and gives life to those who love and obey Him (e.g., see John 1:4; John 5:26; John 6:57; Acts 3:15; 1 John 5:11, 20; Revelation 1:18).

The Holy Scriptures teaches that you must believe and obey BOTH the living LORD God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to have life (e.g., see John 11:25; John 12:44-45; John 14:1, 6, 15; 1 John 3:24). Life comes when you love and accept the only true God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who He sent to earth (e.g., see John 3:15-16, 36; John 6:40, 47; John 17:3, 8, 21, 23; 1 John 5:12-13, 20). The Lord Jesus Christ lives in His Father the living LORD God, and the living LORD God lives in His Son as One (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; John 14:7, 9-11; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:4). The living LORD God of heaven and earth graciously sent His only begotten Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world (e.g., see Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:10-11; John 1:29; John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:14; Romans 10:9). Everyone who believes and accepts Jesus as the Son of the living LORD God has the true God living in them, and they live in God (e.g., see 1 John 2:23; 1 John 4:15).

After Moses’ farewell address, he turned the people of Israel over to Joshua to lead God’s people into His Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Deuteronomy 34:9). Then, Moses blessed the people (see Deuteronomy 33), and then the living God buried Moses’ body in an undisclosed location (see Deuteronomy 34:5-8). 

Some biblical scholars see Deuteronomy 30 as a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ’s second coming at the end of the age. The Holy Scriptures predict the future restoration, blessings, and regathering of Israel as a nation (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; see also, e.g., Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 32:37; Ezekiel 34:13; Ezekiel 36:24). Moreover, some biblical scholars see Deuteronomy 30 as the restoration Israel and their land of Palestine (see Deuteronomy 30:5, 9; Amos 9:11-15); a work of grace in the people’s hearts (see Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31-34); and judgment of Israel’s enemies (see Deuteronomy 30:7). It is important to note that Israel has never taken the land under the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant, nor has Israel possessed the whole land (e.g., see Genesis 15:18).

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1995).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Repent and Live!

1 “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink — even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of (priceless, spiritual) wine or milk — it’s all free! 2 Why spend your money on food (bread) that does not give you strength? Why pay for food (bread) that does you no good? Listen to Me (the living LORD God), and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food (bread). 3Come to Me (the living LORD God) with your ears wide open. Listen (pay attention, hear), and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David….”

6 Seek the LORD while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. 7 Let the wicked change (forsake, abandon) their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive (pardon) generously.

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. 10 The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with My Word. I (the living LORD God) send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it….” Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-11 (NLT)

The beauty of the true and living God is that He accepts and loves ALL people – black, white, male, female, young and old – who turn to Him and His Son Jesus by faith (belief) and repentance (turning from sins) (e.g., see John 1:12-13; John 3:16-17; Romans 3:30; Romans 10:12-13; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:26-29; Colossians 3:11). God extends an open invitation and welcome for ALL people to come to Him and His Son Jesus to receive His FREE and unending mercy, faithful love, and spiritual blessings (grace) (Isaiah 55:1; see also Proverbs 9:5; Isaiah 41:17).

In Isaiah 55, the living God through His prophet invite ALL PEOPLE to come to Him and find lasting life, peace, and joy (see Isaiah 55:1-3, 6, 12). The living God sends out His great invitation to all people: “Come, everyone who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, …. buy wine and milk without money and without cost!... Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, … Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live….” (Isaiah 55:1-3, HCSB; see also Proverbs 9:5). In the Holy Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are defined as spiritual nourishments graciously given by the living LORD God without money and cost to everyone that comes to Him (e.g., see John 4:10-14; John 6:27, 35; John 7:37-39; Ephesians 5:18; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:17).   

When you come to the living LORD God, He sends you His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to give you a new spiritual life and spiritual nourishment for your minds, hearts, and souls as well as salvation and eternal life (Isaiah 55:1-2; see also Isaiah 1:19; John 6:27; John 7:37; Ephesians 5:18; Revelation 21:6-7; Revelation 22:17). Coming to the living God by faith and repentance bring His Son Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit to live inside and transform your hearts (Isaiah 55:1; see also Isaiah 44:3; John 4:10-14; John 7:37-39; Acts 2:33). The Holy Spirit gives all faithful and obedient believers of God and His Son Jesus blessing upon blessing (e.g., see John 1:16; John 14:15-17, 21), including a new and eternal life (e.g., see John 3:3-8); adoption into God’s family (e.g., see John 1:12-13; Galatians 3:26); union and reconciliation with God (e.g., see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21); and peace of mind and heart (e.g., see John 14:27; Romans 5:1-5).

But to receive all God’s blessings and new life, you must FIRST REPENT! You may ask what repentance is. Repentance meaning turning from your sins – physically and mental – and turning to the living and true LORD God and His Son Jesus with all faithfulness, love, and obedience (Isaiah 55:3; see also Leviticus 18:5; Psalm 78:1; Proverbs 4:4; John 14:15-21; Acts 20:21). Sadly, sin and disobedience stop God’s spiritual blessings and grace from flowing into your life. However, the living God gives new spiritual life, abundant blessings, and eternal covenantal love when you wholeheartedly REPENT of your sins and turn to Him and His Son Jesus with faith and obedience (Isaiah 55:3; see also Isaiah 59:21; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 37:26; 1 Peter 2:2). True repentance demands a changed lifestyle and mindset (e.g., see Isaiah 1:16-17; Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 59:20; Acts 3:19).

SEEK AND LOVE the living LORD God with your whole heart while you can find Him and call upon His Name to find salvation and life (Isaiah 55:6; see also 2 Chronicles 15:2; Jeremiah 29:13-14; Hosea 3:5; Amos 5:4, 6, 14; Isaiah 45:22; Isaiah 58:9; Acts 17:27). The living God and His Son Jesus will graciously love, accept, and protect you (e.g., see Psalm 50:5; Jeremiah 29:11-14). Yes, the living God punishes sins and wickedness, but He also stands ready to quickly forgive you when you turn to Him in true faith and repentance (Isaiah 55:7, e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalm 34:22; Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 54:81, 10; Ezekiel 18:27-28, 32). The living God freely pardons all your sins, heals your hurts, and restores your life when you REPENT and TURN to Him in obedience and love (Isaiah 55:7; see also Psalm 103:3, 8-9; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 John 1:9). The living God generously forgives all your sins and give you blessings and mercy when you turn to Him in faith, repentance, and obedience (e.g., see Exodus 34:6; Psalm 36:5; Psalm 103:7, 11, 17-18, 20; Isaiah 26:9; Lamentations 3:22-23, 25; John 14:15). Therefore, cast off and turn away from your wicked and evil deeds and banish sin and wrongdoing from your minds and hearts (Isaiah 55:7; see also 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Isaiah 1:15-19; Isaiah 44:22). COME TO GOD and you will find life, heart satisfaction, and true love (see Isaiah 55:1-3)! The living LORD God asks you “Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy, and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost!” (see Isaiah 55:1, HCSB).

Some may wonder how the living God can forgive all your sins and wrongdoing. The Holy Scriptures remind us that God’s ways of salvation, love, and forgiveness are beyond your ways of understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9; see also Exodus 15:26; Exodus 34:7; Psalm 103:11). Yet, the living God has revealed true life and salvation through His Holy Scriptures that He wants everyone to obey from your hearts (Isaiah 55:10-11; see also Deuteronomy 29:29). The Holy Scriptures point to the living God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Savior (Isaiah 55:10-11; e.g., see also John 5:39-40). Jesus is the Word of God – the Logos (e.g., see John 1:1-5, 14). Faith and obedience to Jesus bring wisdom, a transformed heart, and a better life (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Therefore, PAY ATTENTION AND OBEY THE HOLY SCRIPTURES to find life and wisdom (Isaiah 55:2-3; see also Deuteronomy 4:6; Psalm 119:98-99).

The living God and His Word are eternal and always produce a prosperous life and bear abundant fruit (Isaiah 55:10-11; see also Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 4:12). With your faithfulness to the living God and OBEDIENCE to His Holy Word, you will FINALLY find good life, great joy, and heart peace (Isaiah 55:12; see also Isaiah 26:3; Jeremiah 3:22-23; John 14:15-17, 21, 23-24; John 15:9-10; 1 John 2:3-5; 1 John 5:3; Revelation 14:12). This miracle of your new life filled with joy and inner peace will make the God’s Name (Yahweh) very great and be an everlasting sign of God’s power and love (Isaiah 55:13; see also Matthew 5:13-16).

NO ONE can find an abundant and prosper life when you live and walk in disobedience and defiance to the living God and His Holy Scriptures (e.g., see Deuteronomy 29:19; Proverbs 4:4; Jeremiah 7:24). The living God will not forgive and pardon continued disobedience to Him and His Holy Scriptures (e.g., see Deuteronomy 29:20). Such continual disobedience and defiance anger the living God and brings the living God’s curses, punishment, and eternal death (e.g., see Deuteronomy 28:15; Deuteronomy 29:20-21, 27). There is NO peace and happiness for the wicked (e.g., see Isaiah 3:11; Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21). Sin kills but repentance brings new life!

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).

Friday, February 2, 2018

Forgiving Others

Jesus: 9 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may Your Name be kept holy (hallowed, honored, respected). 10 May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today (daily) the food (bread) we need, 12 and forgive us our sins (debts), as we have forgiven those who sin (trespassed) against us. 13 And do not let us yield to temptation (and testing) but rescue us from the evil one (all evil and sinfulness).

14 If you forgive those who sin (trespasses) against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins (trespasses). Matthew 6:9-15 (NLT)

The living and true God, who is our heavenly Father and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, sees EVERYTHING – the good, the bad, and the ugly (Matthew 6:1, 4, 6, 18; see also Jeremiah 17:10; Ephesians 4:6; Hebrews 4:13). The God of heaven and earth sees and knows all – even our secret thoughts and motives (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 33:13-15; Proverbs 5:21; Jeremiah 16:17; Jeremiah 23:24; Daniel 2:22). Because the living God sees and knows EVERYTHING, He cares for and loves you (see Matthew 6:30, 32; John 3:16). Even more, the living and true God of heaven and His Son Jesus want to bless and reward all your good deeds, obedience, and efforts for Him and for others (Matthew 6:1-2, 4-6; see also Matthew 16:27; Colossians 3:23-25). One of the best deeds you can do is to forgive others who have hurt and harmed you!

In Jesus Christ’s greatest teaching, He teaches that Him and His Father, the true and living God (Yahweh, LORD), graciously and freely forgives your sins and trespasses when we seek God’s forgiveness (Matthew 6:12; e.g., see also Psalm 32:5; Psalm 103:3; Proverbs 28:13; Luke 24:47; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:38; 1 John 1:9). Truly, the living God’s mercy, forgiveness, and faithfulness are renewed every day when we turn from sin and wholeheartedly seek His forgiveness and mercy (e.g., see Exodus 34:6; Psalm 36:5; Psalm 103:7, 17; Isaiah 26:9; Lamentations 3:22-23, 25). Part of the LORD God’s Name is forgiveness (see Exodus 34:5-7). The living God is filled with unending and eternal love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and patience (e.g., see Exodus 34:5-7; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; Psalm 103:8; Psalm 111:4; Joel 2:13). Even more, the living God graciously forgives your wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin when you repent and seek His forgiveness (e.g., Psalm 78:38; Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 9:9; 1 John 1:9).

In turn, the living God expects His people to imitate His eternal love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and patience towards others (e.g., see Luke 6:36; Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:1-2; James 5:11). Because the living God graciously and mercifully forgives your overwhelming sins, Jesus teaches you must equally and generously forgive everyone and anyone who sin against and harm us (Matthew 6:12, 14; see also; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 6:36). The Lord Jesus Christ teaches He wants God’s people to be merciful and kind towards others, even your enemies (Matthew 5:7; see also Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-13; 1 John 4:11). In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ COMMANDS your endless mercy, love, and forgiveness towards others, even those who have hurt and harmed you (Matthew 18:21-22; see also Matthew 5:44-45; Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Matthew 22:39; Luke 17:3-4; John 13:34-35; John 15:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 John 4:11). Forgiveness is part of the living God’s will (see Matthew 6:10). Specifically, the Lord Jesus Christ teaches that those who have received God’s forgiveness must also equally forgive others who have hurt and sinned against you (e.g., see Matthew 18:21-35).  Those who have genuinely repented of their sins and accepted God’s forgiveness will also genuinely forgive others! The living God, our Father and the Father of Jesus Christ, is merciful, forgiving, and kind to both the righteous and unrighteous, the good and the wicked (e.g., see Exodus 34:6-7; Luke 6:35). Therefore, the living God wants His people to follow His heavenly example and reproduce mercy, forgiveness, and goodness towards others, even your enemy (e.g., see Proverbs 25:21-22; Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 36; Romans 12:20-21; Ephesians 5:1-2; James 3:17; James 5:11).

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ teaches that before you even bring your gifts, worship, and prayers to Him and His Father, you must seek mercy, compassion, and forgiveness from your heart towards your enemies FIRST (Matthew 5:23-26; see also Mark 11:25). Even if you are own your way to court against your enemy, Jesus teaches to seek reconciliation and a settlement quickly with your enemy (Matthew 5:25-26; see also Proverbs 25:8; Luke 12:58-59; Romans 12:18). As the Lord Jesus Christ teaches, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13; see also Hosea 6;6; Micah 6:8; Matthew 12:7; Matthew 23:23). The living God wants His people to be kind and merciful to everyone, including your enemies (e.g., see Leviticus 19:18; Isaiah 1:17; Zechariah 7:9-10).

True forgiveness means letting go and giving up ALL resentment, hatred, bitterness, rage, and anger against your offenders (see also Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-13).  Even more, true forgiveness of others also means not yielding to the temptation and testing to seek revenge, payback, and retaliation against your trespassers, enemies, and offenders (Matthew 6:13; see also Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:39). In other words, you must resist and flee temptation to do evil for evil, insult for insult, and an eye for an eye (e.g., see Zechariah 7:9-10; Romans 12:17, 19; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 3:9). Sadly, the evil one wants you to “take matters into your own hands” and seek revenge against your enemies (e.g., see Proverbs 24:29). The living God NEVER wants you to do personal wrong and harm others nor seek evil for evil (e.g., see Matthew 5:38-41; James 1:13; 1 Peter 3:9).

More importantly, the Holy Scriptures teach that you are to pray and ask God to keep you from such evil temptation to seek revenge and retaliation against evildoers (e.g., see Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46; 1 Corinthians 13). Instead, the Holy Scriptures teach everyone to patiently wait for the all-powerful and all-knowing God in His righteous anger to handle such harm and hurt against you (see Deuteronomy 32:35; Proverbs 20:22; Romans 12:19). The living God, who is the Judge and King of the world, punishes the unrighteous and wick for evil and harm done to Him and towards others (e.g., see Psalm 37:33; Psalm 109:31; James 5:9; 1 Peter 1:17; 2 Peter 2:9-10). The living God is merciful and forgiving, but He will NOT let the guilty go unpunished for their sin and wickedness (e.g., Exodus 34:7; Joshua 24:19; Nahum 1:3).

Mistakenly, some people believe the Old Testament allows personal vengeance. Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament NEVER allowed for personal and private vengeance, retaliation, and grudges without the establishment of guilt or innocence by a court of law (e.g., see also Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:38-42; Romans 12:17-21). From the very beginning, the living God instructed His people “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people but love your neighbor as yourself” (see Leviticus 19:18, NIV2011). By taking personal vengeance into one’s own hands, one could wrongfully kill an innocent person. From a personal standpoint, everyone must return good for evil, love for hatred, and forgiveness for offenses and hurt (see Romans 12:9-16, 21; 1 Peter 2:11-25), and NEVER “evil for evil” (e.g., see Proverbs 20:22; Proverbs 24:29; Matthew 5:39, 44; Matthew 14:19; Romans 12:17, 19; 2 Corinthians 8:21). For the Holy Scriptures are very clear, the living God is Judge, and He and His Son Jesus will punish all sins and wrongdoing (e.g., see Deuteronomy 32:35; Psalms 94:1-2; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30)!

So instead of anger and revenge, the Holy Scriptures teach that you must pray and love your enemies and do good to those who hurt and harm you (Matthew 5:44; see also Exodus 23:4-5; Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Proverbs 25:21-22; Zechariah 8:17; Matthew 22:39; Luke 6:27-28; Romans 12:14, 20). Goodness always conquers evil (e.g., see Romans 12:21; Galatians 6:10). Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ teaches that you are not to judge, criticize, nor condemn your enemies (e.g., see Matthew 7:1; Luke 6:37; Romans 14:13; 1 Peter 3:9). Besides, even when He was unjustly arrested and crucified, the Lord Jesus Christ did not retaliate against His enemies but willingly forgave His enemies and prayed for His accusers (Luke 23:34; see also Isaiah 53:7, 12; Luke 6:29, 35; Acts 7:60; 1 Peter 2:21-23). The Lord Jesus Christ faithful entrusted Himself to His Father – the living Lord God Almighty – who always judges and punishes the unjust and wicked (see 1 Peter 2:23). Therefore, God’s faithful people are to follow the humble example of the Lord Jesus Christ and forgive others (see 1 Peter 2:21).

Besides, your mercy and forgiveness toward others, including your enemies, bring your personal healing, freedom, and happiness as well as God’s blessings and reward (e.g., see Proverbs 11:17; Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 6:27, 35-36; John 8:31-32, 34-36; 1 Peter 3:9-10). Unforgiveness is a sin, and unforgiveness eventually lead to bondage and slavery (see John 8:34). The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If you refuse to forgive others, then you are only imprisoning ourselves and causing your torment.

Yet obedience to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ brings the Presence and power of God into your life (e.g., see 2 John 1:9). Even more with such mercy and forgiveness, Jesus Christ teaches you will also equally receive forgiveness and mercy from Him and His heavenly Father – the living LORD God Almighty (Matthew 6:14; see also Luke 6:37-38; Matthew 18:35). For the eyes of the LORD God are always on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer (1 Peter 3:12; see also Psalm 34:12-15). However, the living God is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12; see also Psalm 34:16).

Nevertheless, if you are judgmental and negative of others, you will also receive judgment and criticism – the measure you give is the measure you receive (see Luke 6:37-38). Furthermore, continued bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness lead to your destruction and bondage (e.g., see James 2:13). If you refuse to genuinely forgive others from your heart who have hurt and harmed you, then your heavenly Father will not graciously forgive your sins and hurt against Him and His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:15; see also Mark 11:25). For there will be no mercy from the living God to those who have shown no mercy towards others (e.g., see Mark 11:25-26; James 2:13). But if you have been merciful and forgiving towards others, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over His judgment against you (e.g., see Matthew 5:7; Matthew 9:13; James 2:13). Therefore, you should be willing to liberally and generously forgive others who hurt and harm you (see Luke 6:37-38).

Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ calls God’s people to seek peace and goodness towards all people, including your enemies, and not evil (Matthew 5:9; see also 1 Peter 3:10-11). The living God blesses peacemakers with His rich goodness, and they are called children of God (Matthew 5:9; see also Matthew 5:44-45; Luke 6:35; James 3:18). Even if God’s people suffer for doing good, the living God will bless and protect you (Matthew 5:10; see also 1 Peter 3:14, 17).

Friday, January 26, 2018

God Is Bigger!

10 Do not be afraid (fear not), for I am with you. Do not be discouraged (dismayed, anxious, worried), for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.... 12 You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing. 13 For I hold you by your right hand — I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Do not be afraid (fear not). I am here to help you. 14 Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, do not be afraid (fear not), people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’... 17 When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the LORD, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.Isaiah 41:10, 12-14, 17 (NLT)

Every day God’s people face many challenges and difficulties. During these difficult circumstances, many people wonder if God cares. In Isaiah 41, the living God spoke through His prophet Isaiah to remind His people then and today of His divine Presence, love, and grace (Isaiah 41:10, 13-14; see also Romans 8:31; 2 Peter 1:3-4). Throughout the Holy Scriptures, the living God promises to sustain, provide, and protect His faithful and repentant people (e.g., see Genesis 26:3-4, 24; Genesis 28:15; Genesis 31:3; Joshua 1:5; Jeremiah 1:8, 19; Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:9-10; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

Unfortunately, the people of Israel had sinned against the living God through their repeated unfaithfulness, immoral conduct, and utter disobedience (see Isaiah 1:2-4, 16-17, 21-23). Because of their repeated disobedience and unfaithfulness, the living God sent His people into Assyrian and Babylonian exile (see 2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Kings 25:1-21). However, the prophet Isaiah saw hope for Israel’s future! God’s loving punishment and discipline do not mean God’s rejections of His people (see also Psalm 94:12; Psalm 119:75; Proverbs 3:11-12; Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 54:8; Hebrews 12:5-6). The loving God and His Presence (the Holy Spirit) come to those who remain faithful to Him and repent of their sins (e.g., see Psalm 51:1-3, 7-12; Isaiah 1:27; Isaiah 59:20; Jeremiah 35:15; Ezekiel 18:30-31; Acts 2:38-39). Despite their past rebellion and sins, Israel was not cast away by the living God (Isaiah 41:8-9; see also Isaiah 43:5-7; Isaiah 44:1-2). Truly, the LORD God Almighty is our Redeemer to rescue and restore His faithful people (Isaiah 41:14, 17-20; see also Romans 3:24-25; 1 Corinthians 1:30)! The living God was raising up His servant Cyrus of Persia to help His faithful and repentant people returning from Babylonian exile to rebuild Jerusalem and God’s Temple (Isaiah 41:2, 25; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-3, 13; Isaiah 46:11; Isaiah 48:14; see also Ezra 1:1-4, Ezra 6:3-5). Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 BC, and he was responsible for releasing God’s people to return to Jerusalem.

Starting in Isaiah 40, the living God spoke through His prophet Isaiah to remind His faithful people then and today that He was with them and encouraged His people not to fear nor be afraid. The living and all-powerful God is the LORD of all, and He is the First and Last (Isaiah 41:4; see also Isaiah 43:10-11; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 1:8, 17; Revelation 22:13). As the LORD of all, the living God protects, strengthens, and helps His faithful people and upholds His faithful people by their right hand then and now (see Isaiah 41:10, 13-14). One of the great truths of the Holy Scriptures is that living God is with and present with His faithful people (e.g., see, Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 20:1; Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 43:2, 5; Romans 8:31). Truly, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31; see also Numbers 14:9; Psalm 56:9; Psalm 118:6; Isaiah 8:16; Jeremiah 20:11; Hebrews 13:6). Therefore, there is nothing to fear for the LORD God is with His faithful people and the living God is BIGGER and GREATER than any circumstance and any mountain (see also Isaiah 44:6, 24)!

Even more, the living God can cause His faithful people’s enemies to be confused, shattered, and defeated (Isaiah 41:11-12, 15-16; see also Isaiah 45:24; Isaiah 54:14, 17). In other words, the enemies of God’s faithful people become God’s enemies (e.g., see also Exodus 23:22; Psalm 37:10, 35-40; Isaiah 17:14; Isaiah 29:8; Isaiah 66:14). That is why Jesus commands you to also pray for your enemies (e.g., see Matthew 5:44; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60)! The living God sends His angels to be encamped around His faithful people (e.g., see 2 Kings 6:16; 2 Chronicles 32:7-8; Psalm 34:7; 1 John 4:4). The living God who is LORD and our Redeemer will help, protect, and provide for His faithful people with blessings from above and answer their prayers for help (Isaiah 41:14, 17-19; see also Job 19:25; Isaiah 1:17). So, the faithful people of God should not be fearful, afraid, nor worried about the future or the present circumstances because the living God is ALWAYS with His faithful people (Isaiah 41:10-15; see also Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Psalm 37:25; Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:10; 2 Corinthians 4:9 Hebrews 13:5-6). The LORD God Almighty goes ahead of His faithful people to fight their battles and save His faithful people from danger (see Isaiah 43:1-2, 5). Have FAITH and TRUST in the living God and FEAR NOT (see Isaiah 41:10, 13)! Without wholehearted faith and trust in the living God, we cannot expect the living God’s protection and provision (e.g., see Isaiah 8:13-14).

Instead of being fearful and afraid, the living God encourages His faithful people to rejoice and celebrate (Isaiah 41:16; see also Isaiah 61:10; Philippians 4:4-6, 12). The true and living God promises to graciously give His faithful people His Spirit (strength, empowerment, and help) to accomplish His mission and provide ALL their needs (Isaiah 41:17-20; see also e.g., Isaiah 44:2-3, 8; Isaiah 55:1; Haggai 2:4-5; Zechariah 4:4-7). God’s faithful people can count on the living God and His Presence (Holy Spirit, Mighty Hand) to help us with our fears and hard circumstances, to deliver us from our failures, and to strengthen us in our weaknesses (see also Exodus 6:6; Isaiah 40:28-31). So, we must continually have FAITH in the LORD God Almighty (e.g., see Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21). For the LORD God is our shield, and He gives grace, blessings, and goodness to those who faithfully, obediently, and blamelessly walk with Him (e.g., see Psalm 34:9-10; Psalm 84:11-12; Micah 6:6-8). The living God’s powerful Presence is continually and personally with His faithful people to supply all our needs (e.g., see Genesis 39:20-21; Psalm 23:1; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:19-20). Only the LORD God Almighty knows the beginning and the end because He holds and controls the future for His glory and His people’s benefit (Isaiah 41:22, 26; see also, Isaiah 43:9; Isaiah 44:7-8; Isaiah 46:10; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

Even more, the true and living God can raise up and bring defeat to any world leader or ruler to protect and provide for His faithful people (see Isaiah 41:2, 25). The true and living God is in control of all world empires, politics, and world leaders (e.g., see Proverbs 21:1). Nothing is too hard for the true and living God because with God everything is possible (e.g., see Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37; Luke 18:27). Therefore, God’s faithful people can always know the true and living God, and not some idol or military alliance, is our ever-present help (see Isaiah 41:6-8, 27-29). No money, career, family, or even military power can provide our ever-present help, strength, and power as the living God (see also 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Whether we are concerned about the future or some difficult hardship, we can always turn and talk to the living God, who knows the generations of the future as well as the generations of the past. The living LORD God is trustworthy and forever faithful!

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
Disciple's Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1988).
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Life Application Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2005).
NLT Study Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub., 2008).
The Living Bible Paraphrase (Tyndale House, 1971).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).

Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Obey God? God Blesses Our Obedience

Moses:  1If you fully obey (listen to the Voice of) the LORD your God and carefully keep all His commands (commandments) that I am giving you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. 2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey (listen to the Voice of) the LORD your God: 3 Your towns and your fields will be blessed. 4 Your children and your crops will be blessed. The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed. 5 Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed. 6 Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed. 7 The LORD will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! 8 “The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The LORD your God will bless you in the land He is giving you.”

9 “If you obey the commands (commandments) of the LORD your God and walk in His ways, the LORD will establish you as His holy people as He swore He would do. 10 Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.”

11 “The LORD will give you prosperity (surplus) in the land He swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. 12 The LORD will send rain at the proper time from His rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them. 13 If you listen to these commands (commandments) of the LORD your God that I am giving you today, and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top (above) and never at the bottom. 14 You must not turn away from any of the commands (commandments) I am giving you today, nor follow after other gods and worship (serve) them.” Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (NLT)

This whole chapter of Deuteronomy 28 is a forceful statement of a universal value: those who are faithful to and obey the LORD God will receive His blessings (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14), and those who are unfaithful and disobedient to the LORD God can expect to receive His judgment and wrath (see Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Obedience to the living God and His moral commands leads to God’s blessings such as military success, good crops, healing, and healthy children (see also Exodus 23:22-27; Leviticus 26:3-13; 1 Kings 2:2-4; Psalm 1:1-3). Sadly, our disobedience to the living God and His moral commands leads to suffering such as disease, famine, and military defeat (see also Leviticus 26:14-39; Psalm 1:4-6). Both the Old and New Testament call for God’s people to wholeheartedly and faithfully obey the living God and His moral commandments and point to deserved punishment for those who do not (e.g., see Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 5:17-19; Matthew 7:21; John 14:15, 21, 23; John 15:10; James 2:14-20; 1 John 2:2-3; 1 John 5:2-5; Revelation 14:12). God’s commandments –  not legalisms such as the world’s rules, regulations, and ceremonies – are not burdensome (see Matthew 11:30; Matthew 23:4).

The living LORD God is always faithful to His people (e.g., see Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13), and He expects His people to be faithful and wholeheartedly worship and obey Him (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Deuteronomy 10:12-13). The living God wants to bless you (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:2, 24; Deuteronomy 28:1-14)! God’s abundant blessings take many different forms and not just material wealth since as military success, healthy bodies, peace of mind, and productive lands (Deuteronomy 28:3-13; see also Leviticus 26:3-13). However, when we are unfaithful and disobedient to the living God, then the LORD God will discipline and punish instead (see Deuteronomy 28:15-68). The living God punishes the disobedient not through blind rage but to develop responsibility, character, and obedience from His people (see also Hebrews 12:5-11). In summary, obedience and faithfulness to the living God bring His blessings while our disobedience and unfaithfulness to the living God and His moral commandments bring His curses. Therefore, we should ALWAYS BE FAITHFUL, COMMITTED, AND OBEDIENT TO THE LIVING LORD GOD! There are always consequences to wrongdoing (e.g., see 2 Kings 17:7-20).

In the opening verses of Deuteronomy 28, Moses strongly instructs the people to wholeheartedly listen and obey the Voice of the LORD God and to practice carefully all the living God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 28:1; see also Exodus 15:26). Through our faithful obedience to His Voice and His moral commandments, the living LORD God promised to bless His people and set His people high above all other nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:1-2; see also Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 26:19). If we listen obediently to the Voice of LORD God and wholeheartedly obey all His commandments, then the living God promised the following blessings:

·         blessed shall you be in the city and the country (Deuteronomy 28:3; see also Psalm 119:1; Psalm 128:1, 4-6);
·         blessed shall be your children, the produce of your grounds, and the increase of your flocks and herds (Deuteronomy 28:4, 11; see also Exodus 25:26; Leviticus 26:9; Deuteronomy 7:12-13);
·         blessed shall be your fruit and bread (see Deuteronomy 28:5);
·         blessings shall be in your life when you come in and when you go out (Deuteronomy 28:6; see also Psalm 121:8).

Moreover, through our obedience to His Voice and moral commandments, the living God will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face (Deuteronomy 28:7; see also Exodus 23:22, 27; Leviticus 26:7-8). The living God will cause your enemies to come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways (see Deuteronomy 28:7). A part of the blessing of obedience to God is that enemies, concrete or abstract, flee. Even more, the LORD God will command His blessing on you, bless your land, and prosper the work of your hands (Deuteronomy 28:8; see also Leviticus 25:21; Deuteronomy 15:10). The LORD God will guarantee His blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with plenty (see also Leviticus 26:5).

Then, Moses declared to the people that through our keeping the living God’s moral commandments and walking in His righteous ways, the living God will change and establish you into His holy people dedicated to Himself (Deuteronomy 28:9; see also Exodus 19:5-6). Afterwards, all peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the Name of the LORD God, and they will be afraid and in awe of you (Deuteronomy 28:10; see also Exodus 34:6-7).  Through our obedience to the LORD God’s Voice and His commandments, the living God’s Presence (Name) will be with you – that is the Holy Spirit of God (Deuteronomy 28:10; see also Exodus 23:20-33; Leviticus 26:3, 11-13; Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 11:4; John 14:15-17, 21, 23).

Even more, through our obedience to His Voice and keeping His moral commandments, the LORD God promised to give you an abundance of many children, many cattle, and abundant crops (Deuteronomy 28:11; see also Leviticus 26:9).  Also, the living God will open to you His wonderful treasuries from heaven and give His rain for fine crops every season (Deuteronomy 28:12; see also Leviticus 26:4; Deuteronomy 11:13-15). Moreover, the living God promises to bless the work of your hands and everything you do through our obedience to His Voice and keeping His moral commandments (Deuteronomy 28:12; see also Deuteronomy 8:17-18). In other words, the living God will bless His people in their daily work, care for them, and prosper their efforts. Furthermore, you will be a lender to many nations, but shall not borrow from anyone through obedience to His Voice and keeping His moral commandments (Deuteronomy 28:12; see also Psalm 37:26). Finally, the living God promised if you will obey His Voice and keep His moral commandments, then He will make you the head and not the tail, above and not beneath (see Deuteronomy 28:13).

Moses strongly proclaimed that all God’s abundant blessings depend upon His people wholeheartedly obeying the living God’s Voice and His righteous commandments (Deuteronomy 28:14; e.g., see also Deuteronomy 5:32; Joshua 1:7-8; James 1:22-25). The greatest of all God’s moral commandments is to never seek after and worship other gods (Deuteronomy 28:14; see also Leviticus 26:1-2; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:37). The Holy Scriptures clearly proclaim that God’s abundant blessings and His Presence comes to those who honor and respect Him and humbly walk in all His righteous ways (e.g., see Psalm 119:1; Psalm 121:3-8; Psalm 128:1-4; Revelation 21:1-8). Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD (e.g., see Exodus 19:5; Psalm 33:12; Psalm 144:15; Psalm 146:5).

The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed in the great Sermon on the Mount that He did not come to cancel the commandments of God nor the writings of Old Testament the prophets but obedience to His Father’s commandments (Matthew 5:17-19; see also Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17; Romans 3:31). In fact, believers of Jesus are under the same covenant originally given to Israel at Mount Sinai (e.g., see Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; John 14:15-16, 20-21, 23; John 15:9-10; 1 John 2:3-5; 2 John 1:6). The old covenant – the Ten Commandments – was written on stone by the LORD God’s finger for Israel to obey (e.g., see also Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:15-16; Exodus 34:1, 27-28; Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 5:22; Deuteronomy 10:1-4). However, the ancient Israel often broke and disobeyed God and His righteous laws (e.g., see Exodus 32; Jeremiah 11:10-11; Jeremiah 34:18; Malachi 2:8). The LORD God wrote His moral commandments given to Moses on stone tablets and not on the human heart. Thus, the old system of the law on stone tablets was powerless to purge away our sins and transform our heart and minds from within (2 Corinthians 3:3, 7; see also Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 32:15-16; Exodus 34:1; Deuteronomy 9:10; Romans 8:3).

The Old Testament prophets predicted that this old covenant will now be written on our hearts which is what the Lord Jesus Christ has done through faith in Him (e.g., see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-21; Ezekiel 36:24-27; Hebrews 8:8-12; Hebrews 10:16). Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we become one with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and the living God writes the covenant – the Ten Commandments – on our hearts! The new covenant instituted at Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death brings a new and transformed heart and mind by the Holy Spirit and declares everyone righteous who believe and obey Jesus and the Gospel message (2 Corinthians 3:6-9, 11-12; see also John 3:3-8; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1-5; Galatians 3:2-5). Through faith in God’s Son Jesus, God’s original commandments are now engraved inwardly onto believers’ hearts and minds and it is no longer an external set of rules and principles (2 Corinthians 3:3-4; e.g., see also Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-21; Ezekiel 36:24-27). The Holy Spirit works inside believer to activate our consciences, influence our motives and desires, and make us want to obey God (see Romans 8:2, 5; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

Sadly, during Jesus’ years on earth and even today, many religious leaders are guilty of taking away from God’s Law – the Ten Commandments – by replacing God’s commandments with their own traditions and rituals that were not given by God (e.g., see Matthew 15:3-9; Mark 7:1-13). Such rules and regulations may seem holy, but they are legalism. Jesus rebuked these religious leaders for adding to God’s laws (see Matthew 23:1-4). The living God wants everyone to listen to His Voice and practice commandments down in our hearts because obedience to God’s Voice and His commandments brings our salvation and blessings (e.g., see Deuteronomy 26:16-17; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Malachi 3:14-18; Matthew 12:36; Matthew 19:16-19; Luke 8:12, 15; Romans 2:16; Romans 14:10, 12; 1 Corinthians 4:5). 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

From Our Heart

Moses: 16 “Today the LORD your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey (do and keep) them wholeheartedly (all your heart and mind). 17 You have declared (openly) today that the LORD is your God. And you have promised (pledged) to walk in His ways, and to obey (keep) His decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything He tells you (listen to His voice). 18 The LORD has declared today that you are His people, His own special treasure, just as He promised, and that you must obey (keep) all His commands. 19 And if you do, He will set you high above all the other nations He has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the LORD your God, just as He promised.” Deuteronomy 26:16-19 (NLT)

The Law of God from the Old Testament has many rules and regulations, and the book of Deuteronomy summarizes these many rules and regulations. Thus, Biblical scholars often call the book of Deuteronomy the “second law.” In Deuteronomy, Moses summarizes God’s teaching and events from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Moreover, Deuteronomy repeated verbatim the Ten Commandments and other laws given at Mount Sinai as recorded at Exodus chapters 20 through 24 (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:44 – 5:33).

The first generation of Israelites leaving Egypt and many other Israelite generations thereafter were often unfaithful and disobedient to the living God and His moral commands (e.g., see Exodus 32:1-35; Deuteronomy 32:8-14; 2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Kings 18:9-12; 2 Kings 21:2-16; 2 Kings 23:26-28; 2 Kings 24:3; 2 Kings 25:1-22; 2 Chronicles 33:1-9). Often, the ancient Israelites did not have faith (trust and belief) that the living God would care and provide for them and they looked to other gods (e.g., see Deuteronomy 9:23-24; Deuteronomy 31:27; Psalm 106:24-25)! The living God is faithful and loving (e.g., see Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:9), and He wanted to be Israel’s protector and provider (e.g., see Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:9, 12-15; Ezra 8:22; Psalm 7:10; Psalm 119:64). Sadly, lacking faith and obedience to the living God brings His displeasure and grievance.

Deuteronomy makes clear; however, that the Law of God was meant to penetrate a person’s heart, soul, and mind (Deuteronomy 26:16; see also Deuteronomy 6:6; Deuteronomy 32:46; Isaiah 51:7; Jeremiah 31:33). Because of God’s gracious love and compassion for all people (e.g., see Psalm 103:8-10; John 3:16), Moses’ primary concern was that Israel responds with wholehearted love and obedience to God (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Deuteronomy 10:15; Deuteronomy 23:5). From the very beginning, the living God was not impressed with our outward rules, regulations, and rituals, but our inner attitudes and motives of the heart were important to God (e.g., see Leviticus 26:41-43; 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 1:10-20; Isaiah 66:3; Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 6:20; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Jeremiah 22:3, 16; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21; Micah 6:6-8; Romans 2:28-29). Repeatedly, the living God commanded Israel to follow His commandments, trust Him with all their heart and all their soul, and walk in all His ways (Deuteronomy 26:17-18; e.g., see also Deuteronomy 4:29; Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:13; Deuteronomy 12:12-13; Proverbs 3:5-6). Unless the Law of God becomes part of a person’s inner attitudes, it will probably make no difference. God has always wanted our wholehearted love, faithfulness, and obedience towards Him (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; see also Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). In other words, God wants our total devotion to Him from our hearts and not our lip service (see Matthew 6:33). Even from the book of Genesis, the living God created the world and people (humans), so they would have a faithful relationship and union with Him and become His holy people like Him (e.g., see Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 6:9-10; Genesis 15:6; Exodus 19:5-8; Leviticus 11:44-45; Habakkuk 2:2-4; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6-9; James 2:23-24).

In addition, God wants our unfailing love, mercy, truth, kindness, compassion, patience, forgiveness and faithfulness towards others (Luke 10:25-37; see also Leviticus 19:18; Micah 6:6-8; John 13:34-35; 1 John 4:19-21). The living God gave the people His commandments and statutes so they that they will love their neighbors and do them good and not evil (e.g., see Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 22:1-4; Romans 13:10). These good fruits (works) reflect God’s very character and nature (Exodus 34:6-7; see also Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-15).

At least 15 times in Deuteronomy, Moses repeatedly tells Israel to wholeheartedly love and obey God. Through our wholehearted love, trust, and obedience to the living God and His righteous commandments, we would be His holy people and receive God’s life, favor (grace), and blessings (Deuteronomy 26:18-19; e.g., see also Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 6:24-25; Deuteronomy 11:9; Deuteronomy 12:28; Deuteronomy 28:1, 9; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Life itself depended on keeping and obeying God’s righteous commandments and ordinances from our whole hearts (e.g., see Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 5:32-33; Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 16:20). Obedience to God’s laws leads to life and possession of God’s good promises (e.g., see Deuteronomy 6:24-25; Joshua 1:7-9).  Even more through our trust and obedience to the living God, He promised to be with and live with us – His Presence (e.g., see Leviticus 26:9-12). God is more concerned about hearts (Matthew 15:16-20), and only He sees our hearts – the way we are deep down (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Matthew 21:27; 1 Corinthians 13:12).

The Law of God is embodied most famously in the Ten Commandments (see Deuteronomy 5:6-21), and most concisely in the Shema (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9). All other laws of God (approximately 613) and the Old Testament Prophets are interpretations and applications of God’s Ten Commandments and the Shema (see Matthew 22:34-40). In Deuteronomy chapters 12:1 through 26:15, the living God through His servant Moses gave Israel specific applications to the Ten Commandments. In these chapters, the living God gave Israel guidelines and applications of the Ten Commandments in everyday life such as appointing leaders, prophecy, generosity, handling civil disputes, military matters, parenting, sexual purity, divorce, and many other regulations.

The essences of the entire Law and the Prophets are to love, obey and worship exclusively the LORD God FIRST and to love one another (Deuteronomy 4:3; see also Leviticus 19:18; Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:7; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:13-14). Loving God and loving others reflect the very nature of God’s Son, Jesus (e.g., see Philippians 2:1-11). Thus, God’s laws are just as applicable today as first given to Israel at Mount Sinai, repeated by Moses in Deuteronomy, and reaffirmed in the New Testament (see Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Matthew 19:16-19; Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 12:9-21; Romans 13:8-10). Jesus Christ extended this all-important law to the church – love His Father, the LORD God (see Matthew 22:37). Israel was never to worship other gods or idols but to seek and worship wholeheartedly the living God (Deuteronomy 4:3-4; see also Amos 5:4-6; Micah 6:6-8; Zechariah 1:3-4). God’s Son Jesus is our primary example to follow because He alone perfectly obeyed all God’s laws and modeled the laws true spiritual intent.

After Moses gave Israel specific applications to the Ten Commandment, Moses and the leaders (priests and elders) of Israel instructed the people to wholeheartedly obey all the commands of the living God when they crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land of the LORD God (see Deuteronomy 27:1-3, 9-10). Once in the Promised Land, Moses instructed Israel to set up some large stones and coat these large stones with plaster and then write this whole body of instruction on the large stones -the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 27:3-4, 8; see also Joshua 8:30-32). Then in the Promised Land, Israel is to build an altar to the LORD God and then set up these stones at Mount Ebal with joyful feasting, offerings, and celebration (see Deuteronomy 27:4-7).

At that moment, Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel and instructed Israel to proclaim blessings that followings obedience to God and curses that followings disobedience to the living God (see Deuteronomy 27:9-14). Moses and the leaders once again announced to Israel that the living God’s curses come upon those who:

1.   makes and worships an idol – handmade gods (Deuteronomy 27:15; see also Exodus 20:1-6, 23);
2.   dishonors and mistreats his father or mother (Deuteronomy 27:16; see also Exodus 20:12);
3.   steals property from a neighbor (Deuteronomy 27:17; see also Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 19:14);
4.   leads and takes advantage of a blind person or anyone with disabilities (Deuteronomy 27:18; see also Leviticus 19:14);
5.   denies justice and fairness to foreigners, orphans, or widows (Deuteronomy 27:19; see also Exodus 22:21-24; Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 24:17-18; Luke 18:1-8); 
6.   violates sexual purity and have sexual intercourse (adultery) with one of his father’s wives, an animal, his sister, or his mother-in-law (Deuteronomy 27:20-23; see also Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:6-23; Leviticus 20:10-21; Deuteronomy 22:30);
7.   who attacks a neighbor in secret (Deuteronomy 27:24; see also Exodus 20:13; Exodus 21:12);
8.   accepts payment (bribe) to kill or harm an innocent person (Deuteronomy 27:25; see also Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19-20).   

Then, Moses gave Israel the final curse (see Deuteronomy 27:26). Everyone is cursed who does not obey and listen to the words of this Law (voice of God) by doing and practicing them (Deuteronomy 27:26; see also Leviticus 26:14-39; Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Psalm 119:21). The Apostle Paul in the New Testament used the last and final course from Deuteronomy 27:26 to show that no one could be justified, saved, and win God’s favor (grace) by obeying the Law (see Galatians 3:10-11). From the very beginning, the living God declared the only way we can be right in His sight is by faith, which means trusting wholeheartedly in the living God (e.g., see Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:2-4; Romans 1:15-16; Galatians 2:16). The Good News is that the Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curses of the Law by taking the curse for our wrongdoing upon Himself (see Galatians 3:13). To say that we have kept some of the Law of God does not excuse us, for to break one is to break them all (see James 2:10-11). 

Amazingly through our faith in the living God’s Son the Lord Jesus Christ, we received the Holy Spirit of God within our hearts and the living God writes His Law on our hearts which empowers and strengthens us to obey the Law (Galatians 3:14; e.g., see also Jeremiah 31:31-34; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 11:19-21; Ezekiel 36:24-27; 2 Corinthians 3:3-4). The Holy Spirit works inside believers to activate our consciences, influence our motives and desires, and make us want to obey God (see Romans 8:2, 5). Now doing God’s will is something believers genuinely desire with all our heart and mind (see 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).

In summary, we must continually stand firm by trusting and obeying the living LORD God and His ways with all our hearts (e.g., see Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 5:8-9) and fleeing evil ways (e.g., see Galatians 5:19-21). Even during times of difficulty and hardship, God’s people must continually have faith and obedience in the living God and His righteous ways. The Lord Jesus Christ continually taught God’s people they may suffer losses and persecution in this world, but they must continually be of good cheer and peace because He has overcome and conquered the world (John 16:33; see also Matthew 10:22-23; Matthew 24:12-14; Mark 4:17; Mark 13:13).

Amplified Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1987).
New Student Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament (Victor Books, 1989).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

God of Hope

1 …. We must not just please ourselves. 2 We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. 3 For even Christ did not live to please Himself…. 5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.... 13 I (Apostle Paul) pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.... 33 And now may God, who gives us His peace, be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:1-3, 5, 13, 33 (NLT)

A New Year always brings hope! Hope for a better tomorrow, hope for new beginnings, and hope for a fresh start! For believers of God, we realize that a New Year brings a better tomorrow and new beginnings because the living God’s tender mercies and committed love are renewed every morning (see Lamentations 3:21-23, 25). Even more, believers of God look forward to a New Year because the living God is our hope for a better tomorrow and new beginnings (Romans 15:13; see also Psalm 33:22; Psalm 130:5, 7; Lamentations 3:21; Micah 7:7).

The living God is faithful, and He will continue to be faithful into the New Year and eternity (e.g., see Deuteronomy 7:9; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 117:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18-20; 1 John 1:9). The Holy Scriptures were written long ago to teach us about God’s unending love (e.g., see Exodus 34:6-7; John 3:16; 1 John 4:7-8, 16), and the Holy Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled (Romans 15:4; see also Psalm 119:49-50; 2 Timothy 3:16). With God’s help and guidance, believers can always expect a favorable and good outcome.

More specifically, biblical hope is the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future (e.g., see Hebrews 11, great chapter of faith and hope). The living God is the Author of hope, and He alone is the ultimate object of hope (see Romans 15:13). Therefore, we can always trust in the living God for a better tomorrow and new beginnings (see Lamentations 3:24, 26, 32). Even more, everyone who looks to Him can absolutely count on His help, forgiveness, and compassion (e.g., see 2 Chronicles 7:13-14; Joel 2:13; Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:6-7; James 4:8).

For example, the prophet Jeremiah saw hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him and his fellow Jews (see Lamentation 3:21-27). Unfortunately, the prophet Jeremiah saw the downfall and destruction of God’s people living in Israel and Judah after their disobedience and unfaithfulness to the living God and His righteous commands (e.g., see Jeremiah 7:9-11, 30). Yet, the prophet Jeremiah also saw hope for the future and restoration (e.g., see Jeremiah 29:11-14; Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 32:37-41; Jeremiah 33:17-18). The prophet Jeremiah discovered, “The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning” (see Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT). Therefore, the prophet Jeremiah knew he could always trust in the living God (see Lamentations 3:24), and he rightfully called the living God the “Hope of Israel” (see Jeremiah 14:8; Jeremiah 17:13). The living God secures the futures of all who trust and hope in Him (e.g., see 1 Corinthians 13:13).

Another example is continual hope in the living God is Job. Job was a righteous and noble man that faithfully loved and obeyed God (e.g., see Job 1:1, 8; Job 2:3). Because of Job’s love and faithfulness to God, Job was a wealthy and blessed man with a loving family filled with happiness and joy (Job 1:2-4; see also Psalm 128:1-2). Despite Job’s faithfulness and obedience, the living God allowed the evil one to test Job, and the evil one brought upon Job a series of disasters on his health, family, and wealth (see Job 1:9-12; Job 2:4-7). Despite Job’s testing and troubles by the evil one, Job never lost his faith and hope in the living God – His Redeemer (see Job 13:15; Job 19:25). Job valued his faith in the living God even above his own life! Because of Job’s continual hope and faithfulness to the living God, God blessed Job with twice the wealth, twice the possessions, and twice the family and Job died an old man with full of days (see Job 42:10-17).

The prophet Isaiah is one more example for trustful hope in the living God. The prophet Isaiah predicted the coming destruction of Israel’s southern kingdom Judah that eventually occurred 586 BC. Around 586 BC, the land of Judah was devastated by the Babylonian army, and the Jews were taken captive. Jerusalem lied in ruins (see 2 Kings 25:1-21) just as Israel northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians around 722 BC (see 2 Kings 17:7-23). However, the prophet Isaiah saw hope for Israel’s future! Beginning at Isaiah 40, the prophet Isaiah predicted future hope and joy for God’s people. The prophet Isaiah predicted Cyrus would arise to defeat the Babylonians and allow the Jews to return home to begin a fresh start (Isaiah 40 through Isaiah 48; see also Ezra 1:1-4). Even more, the prophet Isaiah predicted two further hopes for the future. The prophet Isaiah predicted the coming Messiah – the Lord Jesus, who would come as a Suffering Servant to bring redemption, forgiveness, and deliverance not only to the Jews but to the nations (see Isaiah 49 through Isaiah 55). Finally, in conclusion, the prophet Isaiah predicted a coming peace for all people in a new heaven and new earth when the Holy One of Israel – the living God – will rule as God of the whole earth.  

Therefore, the prophet Isaiah encouraged everyone to always hope in the everlasting LORD God, who is the Creator of all the earth (Isaiah 40:28; see also Genesis 1:1-2; Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 42:5).  The everlasting LORD God never grows tired, weak, nor weary, and He graciously gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:28-29; see also Genesis 18:14; Psalm 68:35; Jeremiah 31:25). The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that everyone who hopes and trusts in the LORD God will renew their strength and will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31; see also Psalm 37:9; Psalm 40:1).

The living God graciously gives everyone His eternal love, life, and mercies who humbly and patiently seek, depend upon, and love Him (Jeremiah 3:23, 25; e.g., see also Exodus 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 5:10; Deuteronomy 7:9; Nehemiah 1:5; Daniel 9:4; Amos 5:4-6). Even more, the faithful and loving God graciously responds with help and rescue when we wholeheartedly seek and ask Him (e.g., see Jeremiah 17:5-8; Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13; Luke 18:1-8). That is why the Lord Jesus Christ teaches that we should always pray and hope in the living God and never give up (Luke 18:1-8; see also Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Even during seasons of difficulty and hardship, the living God brings His discipline to produce right behavior, true living, and genuine worship that pleases Him (see Lamentations 3:38-42). The living God will never abandon nor leave you (Lamentations 3:31; see also Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Psalm 37:25; Matthew 28:20; 2 Corinthians 4:9 Hebrews 13:5-6).

For this reason, it is useless to place our hope in wealth (e.g., see Psalm 49:6-12; Psalm 52:6-7; Proverbs 11:4, 28; Jeremiah 9:23; Jeremiah 48:7); houses and possessions (e.g., see Isaiah 32:17-18; 1 Timothy 6:17-19); government leaders (e.g., see Psalm 118:9; Psalm 146:3; Jeremiah 17:5); empires and armies (e.g., 2 Kings 18:19-24; Isaiah 31:1-3); or even the Jerusalem Temple (e.g., see Jeremiah 7:1-7). The living God is our only hope, refuge, and strength (e.g., see Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18; Psalm 14:6; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 61:3; Psalm 62:2; Psalm 73:28; Psalm 91:9; Psalm 119:49-50; Isaiah 26:4; Romans 15:13). Even more, the living God has given believers hope in His Son, Jesus Christ (see 1 Pet. 1:3). The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope (see Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13). Because in Jesus Christ the living God reconciled the world to Himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:19), hope in the Lord Jesus Christ is one with hope in His Father, the living God. Therefore, believers of God and His Son Jesus Christ can live in the present with confidence and face the future with whatever trials may come with courage and hope (e.g., see John 16:33; Romans 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 6:19-20). Our hope is sure: we are on the victory side!

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J.I. Packer. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1993).
Butler, Trent C. Holman Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991).
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