November 2, 2005

in spirit and in truth

It is said of the book of Esther that it is the only book in the Bible where God is not mentioned, although He is inescapably present. It can be said of Malachi that God is abundantly present in reference (in 53 of the 55 verses there is a mention of God) yet conspicuously absent in the people’s lives.
--- Ravi Zacharias, Cries of the Heart

For most of my life I would be like the people addressed by the prophet Malachi. I lived in a culture of God, with special dates, prayers, ceremonies, activities, and so on. But I did not really feel God’s presence. It was (as far as I could feel) all routine, it was (as far as I could see) all show…and so, for me, it was all useless.
I grew up in an exclusive girls’ school run by nuns. Our motto was: “Ora et Labora: Pray and Work.” Though I’m sure that motto stemmed from good intentions, I’m sure I’m not the only one who was misled by it (if others even bothered to notice what the motto meant).
True, faith in the God of goodness and love will undoubtedly show in actions…

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
(James 1:22-24)

…BUT good works is not going to earn us salvation. We cannot pay for our entrance to heaven by good works, for our efforts will never be enough.
To be “saved”, meaning, to be rescued from the punishment for our sins, and to have true life now and in eternity in the presence of our loving God, what do we have to do?

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…
To [Jesus] all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.
(Acts 2:37-38, 10:43)

Faith. Faith in God is all we need. The trust in the only One who can save us because of His sinless nature, and the One who did save us because of His overwhelming love for us.

When that simple and yet profound truth finally sank into my heart, I was moved to worship more, not less. For finally, I was not praying like the ‘hypocrites’, to be merely ‘seen by men’ (Matthew 6:5) --- now I am worshipping God ‘in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks’ (John 4:23).

the human way: Noah

“The Noah Way” --- printed in Reader’s Digest in 1976  :)

And the Lord said unto Noah, “Where is the ark which I have commanded thee to build?”
     And Noah said unto the Lord, “Verily, I have had three carpenters off ill. The gopher-wood supplier hath let me down --- yea, even though the gopher-wood hath been on order for nigh upon 12 months. What can I do, O Lord?
     And God said unto Noah, “I want that ark finished even after seven days and seven nights.”
     And Noah said, “It will be so.”
     And it was not so.   :p
     And the Lord said unto Noah, “What seemeth to be the trouble this time?”
     And Noah said unto the Lord, “Mine subcontractor hath gone bankrupt. The pitch which thou commandest me to put on the outside and on the inside of the ark hath not arrived. The plumber hath gone on strike. Shem, my son who helpeth me on the ark side of the business, hath formed a pop group with his brothers, Ham and Japheth. Lord, I am undone.
     And the Lord grew angry and said, “And what about the animals, the male and the female of every sort to come to thee to keep their seed alive upon the face of the earth?” 
     And Noah said, “They have been delivered unto the wrong address, but should arriveth on Friday.”
     And the Lord said, “How about the unicorns and the fowls of the air by sevens?”
     And Noah wrung his hands and wept, saying, “Lord, unicorns are a discontinued line; thou canst not get them for love nor money. And fowls of the air are sold only in half dozens. Lord, Lord, thou knowest how it is.

     And the Lord in His wisdom said, “Noah, my son, I knowest. Why else do you think I have caused a flood to descend upon the earth?”


The fruit of no fruit

A barrenness of spiritual life brings its own judgment --- more barrenness.
     Ravi Zacharias, Cries of the Heart

what is worship?

Worship is giving our all.


Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the:
  • quickening of conscience by His holiness,
  • nourishment of mind by His truth,
  • purifying of imagination by His beauty,
  • opening of the heart to His love, and
  • submission of will to His purpose.
All this gathered up in adoration is the greatest of all expressions of which we are capable. :)
          -- William Temple

November 1, 2005


In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
and He answered by setting me free.
     Psalm 118:5  

Freedom is not the right to do what we want,
but the power to do what is right.
     Steve Murrell, Experiencing Victory

worship God and God alone

And I [John] fell at his [angel’s] feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
     Revelation 19:10

Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.
Revelation 22:8-9

As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him.
But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.
     Acts 10:25-26  

after all is said and done

As a kid, I was really interested in all that end-of-the-world speculation: plagues, dark forces, doom and gloom, demons, and the anti-Christ.

But if my personal experience was any indicator, it seems that many people tend to just look at the “juicy”, “meaty” parts of the book of Revelation instead of understanding it as a whole. (This is like dwelling on the crucifixion and death of Jesus over and over again, without ever remembering that He rose again.)

The Revelation was given to the apostle John, and he was appointed to make it known to all the people. (Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. – Revelation 1:3). And yes, though it does contain the most graphic details of doom and gloom on a cosmic scale, it doesn’t stop there!

The entire Revelation deals with events that will happen “shortly” --- “shortly”, of course, being a relative term. (Relative to God’s view, not ours. In Genesis, God created the universe and mankind in seven days. In my opinion, the Creationists and the Evolutionists can be in harmony if they see that there is the same sequence of events for both theories; and if the ‘seven days’ is not a literal week of (24 x 7 =) 168 hours, say, ‘seven eras’ or such.)

Aside from being a warning to those who continue in their sinful ways, the Revelation is meant to encourage the ‘saints’ --- people who were and still are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. (I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. --- 2 Timothy 4:7) It is an exhortation to continue doing what is good, for goodness will prevail in the end.

God is already victorious! Is He not all-knowing, and all-seeing? He can see the future because for Him, who is eternal, “the future” has already happened! God is not like you or me, who experience time moment by moment. There are seasons in Revelation, as they are in the present, when evil (the dragon, the beast) is given power and authority and cause the world to follow him (Revelation 13). But it does not end there.

Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has come into the world.  
Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. And in that day you will ask Me nothing.

And after all is said and done:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.
And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Then one of the angels came to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
          (words from Revelation 21)

When that day comes, there will be no more temple or church or synagogue, for God will dwell forevermore with His people. :)

No more books, no more blogs too!

All the writings I keep now, are just for this life. At the end of the age, we will come face to face with Truth itself. :)

About a year ago, a friend of mine asked some kids, “If today the world were to end, would you be afraid?” I realized I still was. But after having an idea of God’s love for me (every day I’m still in the process of comprehending it! :) ), I would now just be echoing some of John’s last words, some of the last in the entire Bible:
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


no sacrifice too great

If he be God, and died for me,
No sacrifice too great can be
For me, a mortal man, to make ---
I’ll do it all for Jesus’ sake.
     William McChesney
(who died a martyr’s death while spreading the Good News)