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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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COME, HOLY SPIRIT, HEAVENLY DOVE

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”— Acts 2: 2-4  

Come, Holy Spirit, Heav’nly Dove
With all Thy quick’ning pow’rs;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.


Look, how we grovel here below,
Fond of these earthly toys;
Our souls, how heavily they go,
To reach eternal joys.


Come, Holy Spirit, Heav’nly Dove,
With all Thy quick’ning pow’rs;
Come, shed abroad a Savior’s love,
And that shall kindle ours  

(Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)


Isaac Watts was disturbed with “business as usual” Christianity. He knew that the only way Christians could be shaken out of their lethargy was if they had a fresh touch of the Spirit. Just as Jesus is described both as a Meek Lamb and a Fearsome Lion, so the Holy Spirit is described as both Dove and Fire.

Sometimes Christians need to experience the Holy Spirit as a gentle Dove, but often we need to know Him as a Roaring Fire.

One stanza that is often omitted from this hymn is: “Father, and shall we ever live at this poor dying rate, our love so faint, so cold to Thee, and Thine to us so great?” It was this contrast between our love for God and God’s love for us that disturbed Watts. He knew that only the fire of the Spirit could kindle our hearts into deeper love.

 
PRAYER: Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to kindle your heart to deeper love. 

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LORD JESUS CHRIST, BE PRESENT NOW

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “He who does love love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. These things have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”— John  14:24-26  

Lord Jesus Christ, be present now,
Our hearts in true devotion bow,
Thy Spirit send with grace divine,
And let Thy truth within us shine.


Unseal our lips to sing Thy praise,
Our souls to Thee in worship raise,
Make strong our faith, increase our light
That we may know Thy name aright 


Glory to God the Father, Son
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To thee, O blessed Trinity,
Be praise throughout eternity 

(Cantionale Sacrum, 1651)
(Translated by Catherine Winkworth 1827- 1878)


Jesus said that where two or more gather in His name, He will be there with them. That happens each time we worship. Another verse says that the Lord inhabits His praise. And Christ is in some way present when we observe the Lord’s supper. 
This hymn is a call to worship, inviting Christ to inspire, inhabit, and enjoy our praises. It also serves to remind us that Christ has promised to join us on such occasions.

 
PRAYER: Pray to ask the Holy Spirit to be present 

LONGING FOR HOLINESS

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience … goodness, faithfulness … self-control.”— Galatians 5:22-23  

It’s hard to “be good.” When people ask, “How are you?” I often reply, “Fine,” or, “Good”—whether I mean it or not.
 
But “being good” is much different. Jesus told people to be as holy—or perfect—as our Heavenly Father is (see Matthew 5:48). I don’t come close! Do you?
 
Help is on the way. Receiving the Father’s gift, the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus and delivered on Pentecost, is another element to the faith I receive when I am delivered from sin and guilt through the cross. Because of the cross, the Spirit is poured out on God’s people. The Spirit’s specialty is to empower people to take on the character of Jesus Christ—making them holy. The beauty of our redemption is that when we are made right with God through Christ, we’re also launched on a journey to make our lifestyles right. The Spirit lives in the heart of the believer. If we have new life in Christ, we are being made holy. It is all God’s free gift.
 
The question is, Will I give up my desires to run the show myself, and surrender control to the Holy Spirit?
 
The Spirit’s fruit defines holy living. The fruit is unmistakable and so desirable: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control.” Why not ask the God who saves us to give us holiness too?

 
PRAYER: “Father in Heaven, Your gifts through Christ’s cross are immeasurably rich. Thank you for sending your Spirit. I pray to see the Spirit’s fruit in my life.” Amen. 

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