THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM

The Beginning of Wisdom
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One in understanding .” — Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the Lord is fundamental to finding wisdom. Without awe of the Almighty, there is no access to His insights. Reverence for God’s holiness is a requisite for understanding His ways. The first step in acquiring wisdom from Almighty God is to fear Him—to worship His Majesty and dread His judgment.
 
God’s Holy Word—the Bible—is to be taken to heart as truth for the purpose of life transformation. At first, the fear of the Lord may be so overwhelming that we struggle to sense His love, and our desire for intimacy goes unmet. Anyone who has been broken understands this process. However, once we embrace a healthy fear of the Lord, the result is peace and knowledge in submission to and love for the Holy One.
 
He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure (Isaiah 33:6)
 
We mock God when we move away from the language of fear, and He is not one to be mocked. So as devoted followers of Christ, let’s sow the seeds of respect, reverence, and the fear of the Lord. This discipline of faith results in a harvest of holiness, happiness, and wisdom. Fear of Him leads to knowledge of Him. Therefore, bowing before Him on your knees in prayer, seek His face for forgiveness and relational restoration.
To Ponder: What area of my life lacks the fear of the Lord, and how can I make myself more accountable.

STAY BLESSED

PRAYER PERSEVERANCE

Prayer Perseverance
SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” — Proverbs 4:18

Prayerful perseverance is the path of the righteous. It is the route the righteous take during recessionary times. Economic downturns can tempt us to take a detour in our walk with Christ, or they can shed light on where God wants us to go. When you persevere in prayer, the voices of worry will eventually go mute, and your Master will guide you onto a productive path.

Recessions also force us to be creative and resourceful in our relationships. Consider reaching out to those who have helped you in the past but now need help. For example, spend time with those who are out of work, and help them find opportunities that match their calling. Most importantly, ask others how you can specifically pray for them. The Lord leads by the light of His love during dark days, so stay connected to Christ and people in prayer. This righteous resolve takes focus and hard work.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised (Hebrews 10:36). The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. This is why it is imperative you feed your spirit in persistent prayer. Stay engaged with God. The gleaming dawn of hope will rise on your shadowed circumstances. As you prayerfully walk with the Lord in the light, a holy security, a serene spirit shines forth from your countenance for all to see. Your humble and good works on earth bring glory to your Father in Heaven.

Prayerful perseverance increases the brightness of your light like the rising sun. So use recessionary days to heal the hurting, rescue the repentant, and comfort the broken. Dark days are opportunities for Christians to demonstrate their faith, compassion, and generosity. Therefore, prayerfully persevere for your soul’s sake, for God’s glory, and in service to others.
To Ponder: Where do I need to persevere in prayer, and whom can I specifically pray for in their dark night of the soul?
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LIVING IN THE LIGHT

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For Thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness”— Psalms 18: 28
When God lights up your life, He lights up  your spirit with His glory. When you were outside of Christ you lived in spiritual darkness – God was a Person you did not know, He had a voice that you did not hear, and He worked in ways you could not see.

Your spirit is like a candle in need of the flame of God’s love. When God places His light within you everything changes – the voice of God becomes discernable, the ways of God becomes understandable, the presence of God becomes enjoyable, the will of God becomes desirable, and the fellowship of God becomes delightful.

The beauty of being in the light and living in the light of God is that you can live in unhindered communion with Him.

STAY BLESSED

ENCOURAGING PSALMS TO PRAY FOR GOD’S PROTECTION

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23:1-7

INTRODUCTION

When times are tough, personally or globally, where can we turn? Especially when things seem out of our control, and we don’t know whether we’ll be safe—or even maybe if we’ll see tomorrow—it’s good to know there is only One who has control over everything.

Luckily, that One, God, did not leave us alone. We can find His words to us in the Bible. One of the best places to turn when we seek protection is to the Psalms.

WHAT ARE THE PSALMS IN THE BIBLE?

The psalms are a collection of poems, or songs. The book was originally titled “Tehillim,” which means “praise songs” in Hebrew. Our modern word “Psalms” comes from the Greek “Psalmoi,” also meaning “songs of praise.” Each of the psalms is an individual song or poem, much like a hymn. They were written by multiple authors, including Moses, Solomon, and David. These were used to worship God in the tabernacle and temple, with different kinds of psalms for all different situations. There are 150 psalms in the Bible.

GOOD REASON TO TURN TO THE PSALMS FOR PROTECTION

The psalms are prayers to God. Often, it can be difficult to express what we’re feeling or thinking to God. However, the psalms are there to guide us. This doesn’t mean we have to follow the psalms exactly, but it can be comforting to know that others have felt the same way for thousands of years, and they can help us pray and put our thoughts and concerns into words.

10 PSALMS TO REMIND US OF GOD’S PROTECTION

1. Psalm 18:2-3

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.

2. Psalm 18:16-19

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

3. Psalm 23:1-4

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

4. Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.

5. Psalm 46:1-2

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.

6. Psalm 55:16-17

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.

7Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

8. Psalm 116:3-9

The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘Lord, save me!’ The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

9. Psalm 121:1-8

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

10. Psalm 138:3Psalm 138:7

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me…Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.

3 PSALMS THAT ASK FOR GOD’S PROTECTION

When we have trouble putting our petitions into words, the psalms can help us.

1Psalm 16:1

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.

2. Psalm 25:20-21

Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.

3. Psalm 31:1-5

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

END NOTE

In these psalms, and many more like them, the psalmist asks for God’s protection not because of his own goodness or merit, but “for the sake of your name” (Psalm 31:3) and “in [His] righteousness” (Psalm 31:1). The Lord protects us not because we deserve it, but because of who He is—a good, powerful, and loving God.

When we pray for protection, we must put our trust in God, not in our situation. No matter how dark things may seem, we must remember that God is indeed in control and has a plan greater than we could fathom.

Stay Blessed!

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OBEDIENCE BRINGS BLESSINGS

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” — Luke 11:28


The Lord’s simple requests often serve as stepping stones to life’s most wonderful blessings. Simon Peter illustrates what can happen when we say yes to God.
 
One day a large crowd pressed around Jesus while he preached (Luke 5:1–11). The Lord wanted to use Peter’s boat as a floating platform from which to address the multitude, so He asked the future apostle to push the vessel out a little way from shore (verse 3)—not in itself a particularly remarkable request. But Peter’s compliance to His request paved the way for a life-changing blessing. From his example, we also learn how essential it is to obey God in even the smallest matters.
 
The crowd received the first blessing of Peter’s obedience; the people could now clearly hear Jesus’ words. At the conclusion of the lesson, the Lord said to Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4)—a second opportunity to say yes or no. But this time, Peter may have felt tempted to decline. After all, he was a seasoned fisherman. He had worked the entire night for a catch but had returned empty- handed. Now this young teacher—a carpenter, by the way, not a fisherman—was asking him to go fishing again?
 
Peter’s reply demonstrates the beginning of a lifetime of faith in God. He said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). The soon-to-be disciple chose to obey the Lord and to leave the consequences of his decision to Him.
 
But notice what happened as a result of Peter’s obedience—Jesus demonstrated His power and Sovereignty. Peter and his partners may have started the day off thinking their efforts had yielded nothing. But they ended it in complete amazement because they pulled in not one but two overflowing boatloads of fish (5:7). Saying yes to the Lord’s request resulted in a miracle that transformed not only one fisherman’s life, but the lives of the entire group.
 
If Peter had said anything other than yes, he would have missed the greatest fishing experience of his life. But because of Peter’s obedience, the Lord arranged a miracle that he would never forget. When you choose to obey the Lord, He will bless you. This is because obedience always leads to blessing. I have always told people who say they do not understand why God is asking them to do a certain thing that if they will obey Him, He will reward them with a sense of peace and joy that compares to nothing this world has to offer. Therefore, set a goal to obey the Lord and watch Him work in your life.

PRAYER: “Dear Jesus, with your Spirit in me, help me to obey at all times.” Amen. 

STAY BLESSED

WHAT CAN ONE PERSON DO?

The world’s problems look so big that sometimes we aretempted to say, What can one insignificant person do to help solve them? This is really a self-centered thing to say. It is not rooted in good theology. Actually there are no insignificant persons. Even though there are billions of people living right now and billions of others who have gone before, each of us still matter to God. If we were the only person who needed Jesus, He still would have died on the cross. I are redeemed by a personalSaviour who does not think we are insignificant.

Jesus taught thousand of people at times, but at other times He had wonderful dialogues with individuals – the woman at the well, Nicodemus, the man born blind, the thief on the cross, and many others. He didn’t just talk with them at one time, He saw them one at a time too. We also have to do this if we’re going to be significant in His service.

There are so many problems in this world that it can be hard to decide which ones to tackle. Here are my criteria:

1. First, let’s consider PROXIMITY. Which problems are closest to me geographically? Which do I have to walk around every day? It is possible to go to a missions seminar and become deeply concerned about people halfway around the world. Then we may leave the church and drive through a needy neighbourhood in our own city, still thinking about these people on the other side of the globe. Such hypocrisy is unacceptable. We must understand that God calls us to minister wherever we are.

The story is told of an evangelist who was serving in a church in one of the big cities. This church, he said, had compassion. They were always witnessing to people in the city slum districts. One day after the service, this evangelist walked out into the street in front of this elegant church and began to share Christ with people right there. After all, they were close to the church. It was their neighbourhood. And even though the people didn’t look like they needed the Lord, they turned out to be as needy as anyone. We should begin to serve right where we are.

2. Another criterion for deciding which problem to tackle is RELATIONSHIP. If we have a relative or a very close friend who has a problem, that’s the place to start helping. As Paulwrote, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” – 1 Timothy 5:8

3. Moving out just a little, another criterion is IDENTITY. We can help people best if we can identify with them – people who talk our language, who live in our neighbourhood, who have jobs like ours, who like to talk about the things that interest us. We can tackle problems better with people who understand us. Once sociological barriers come between us and others, it gets harder to minister to them.

4. And finally, we can most effectively minister to people who ESTEEM us. If they respect us, they will listen and they will open up to Christ words. If they don’t already respect us, we will have to earn their esteem before we can effectively minister to them. So if we see problems among people who already hold us in high esteem, we can confidently and more immediately offer our help. 

What I’m saying is that we do not need to look halfway around the world to find people to help. We don’t need to seek out strange and exotic people. If we look in our way own neighbourhoods, in our own families, among people very much like we are, who already like and respect us, we can find plenty of opportunity to help. So proximityrelationshipidentity, and esteem are good criteria for helping us decide how and where to start changing our world. If God wants us to serve in some more distant place, He will make this very clear to us, but only after we have had compassion for those ills near at hand.

END NOTE

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” – Ezekiel 22:30

Corruption among the leaders and the people was so widespread in Judah that God could not find even one person (outside of His prophet, Jeremiah, who had desperately tried to warn the people) who was willing to stand against evil and attempt to lead the people back to God. It is a tragedy when God’s people are so caught up in worldliness and spiritual compromise that He can find no one among them to intercede (i.e., to plead a case for others, to pray for their situations and needs) for spiritually lost and rebellious people. Such compassion and selflessness might have built a wall of mercy and protection around the people, shielding them from sure destruction. But no one would “stand in the gap” between God and the people, crying out against sin and leading the way in humble prayer, true repentance and a desperate plea for spiritual revival. Because good people often remain silent because of fear or compromise, they often miss the opportunity to inspire true revival and help people escape God’s judgement.

Stay Blessed!

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KEEPING COMMANDS

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you. . .” — John 14:15-16

Keeping Jesus’ commands means obeying what Jesus tells us to do. That’s simple to understand. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to do.
 
The main command Jesus has in mind here is “Love one another” (John 13:34). That’s a great-sounding command, and I really want to keep it. I think of myself as a loving person. But then I hear or read the daily news about all kinds of crimes and war and people’s abuses of one another. Suddenly I’m struggling to love. How do we love criminals? How do we love oppressors? How do we even love people who simply disagree with us?
 
We also realize there is more to keeping Jesus’ commands than simply obeying. Part of keeping commands means that we hold on to a command even when we have recently broken it. It means that we should try again. And again. And again. Because of God’s forgiveness, we’re not lost forever when we fail. But we must also keep trying.
 
Thankfully, Jesus provides us with the help we need. Jesus promised an Advocate—an Encourager. Someone who will put His arm around us when we need comfort, and Someone who will spur us on when we need to try again and keep trying. The Advocate is the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent Him to live in us so that we will ­never be alone in trying to keep Jesus’ commands.

 
PRAYER: “Dear Jesus, with your Spirit in me, help me to sense Your grace over my failures and Your power to help me obey.” Amen. 

STAY BLESSED

THE POWER OF OBEDIENCE

SCRIPTURE TEXT: When [Jesus] saw [the men who had leprosy], he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed.” Luke 17:14 (NIV)


Is your trust in God so strong that you act on what He says even before you see evidence that it will work? Just as the ten lepers did, they trusted and obeyed and they received their healing.

 
According to the Mosaic law at the time, a leper should present himself to the priest to determine whether he is healed or not. Jesus asked the ten lepers to present themselves to the priest even though they were not cleansed, yet they obeyed Him and went. On their way, they were healed!

Isn’t it amazing how obedience can bring us blessings? The above is a classical example of obedience being a key to answered prayer.

As Christians, it is sometimes very difficult to obey. The devil tries to make it seem tedious to obey God. However we should strive to trust and obey. We are not left by ourselves to obey, we are enabled by God to do what pleases Him as seen in Philippians 2:13.
 
PRAYER: “Dear God, grant us the grace to stay in obedience so we can enjoy Your blessings” Amen. 

STAY BLESSED

TRUST AND OBEY

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “I will always obey your law, for ever and ever” — Psalm 119: 44


Have you ever heard the term “ear-worm”? It describes how the words or the tune of a catchy song can keep running through our minds. One song that is still lodged in my head after all these years is “Trust and Obey.” At the end of this reflection on Psalm 119, this song is playing in my mind.
 
The writer of Psalm 119 often mentions trust. God’s Word is trustworthy, he says; so he trusts in God’s laws, precepts, commands, and decrees. Along with that, the psalmist eagerly commits to obeying God’s Word. He explicitly speaks of obedience again and again and again. Clearly, the call to “trust and obey” God’s Word is at the heart of this psalm.
 
There’s another theme worth mentioning as well. The psalmist is committed to trust and obey even in times of difficulty. When the psalmist cries for God’s rescue, he affirms his desire to trust and obey, no matter what.
 
This helps us see another way in which Psalm 119 points us to Jesus: on the night before he died for our sins, Jesus faced one of the worst moments of anguish recorded in the Bible, an experience more challenging than any we will ever know. And yet Jesus said to the Father about the suffering that was before him, “Not as I will, but as you will”(Matthew 26:39).
 
Jesus trusted and obeyed. What a blessing it is to know that “while we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey”!

 
PRAYER: “Help us, Lord, to live for you, in the assurance that you love us and will never leave or forsake us.” Amen. 

STAY BLESSED

IS IT EASY TO BE OBEDIENT?

SCRIPTURE TEXT: [Jesus] said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because You say so, I will let down the nets.” — Luke 5:4–5

Would you, an expert, take the advice of a non-expert when you know it may not yield the desired result? I know your answer will be “Why on earth will I do that?” Well, Peter did! Yes, Peter, contrary to his good judgement as an experienced fisherman, followed Jesus’ instruction to cast his net once more. I’m not sure where those fish had been hiding all night, but this time his net was full of fish he had to call for help.
 
Do you think it was easy for Peter to obey Jesus? I don’t think so. Yes, Jesus’ instructions were simple “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish” but it was not easy to follow. Why? Firstly, it seemed practically a ‘waste of time’ because fishermen usually catch fish in the night not in broad daylight. Secondly, he may have been exhausted after working all night and not catching anything. To make matters worse, Jesus was not a fisherman. Yet Peter simply obeyed.
 
It wasn’t easy for Peter to follow but he said “if You say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” That is obedience. We should always trust and obey Christ even if It does not make meaning to our human sense. Peter obeyed and was rewarded. So shall we if we trust and obey.

PRAYER: “O Lord, grant me the humility of heart to be obedient to Your will at all times.” Amen. 

STAY BLESSED