More 

~~MTS-4183
More
“And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”       2 Ch. 1:12
     If we seek for the primary things, all the secondary things will be added to us as well. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” promised the Lord Jesus. We don’t, however, pursue the primary things in life in order to get secondary things; we should be entirely satisfied if we possess the most important things in life, which is the Lord himself with his kingdom and righteousness.
    What do we really crave in this life?
    Surely the Lord is capable of imparting all kinds of good things to us if he so chooses, yet we seek him not because of his capability to give, but for the reason that he is, and who and what he is should be more than sufficient for us. If we get a hold of the primary, all the secondary things are superfluous at best.
    I put very little focus on all the benefits I might be able to obtain before I got married to my wife, even though I was aware of them deep inside, since my future wife was a indeed quite a resourceful woman who is a gift that keeps on giving. I nonetheless concentrated on seeking the woman who was my primary pursuit, setting all the others aside. I would have been a man of ill repute had I married my wife for the green card and the small savings she had accumulated, albeit I got to enjoy both benefits just the same afterward.
    Seeking the Lord himself and seeking his blessings are entirely different, and we should never confuse the two.
    King Solomon was wise enough to ask for the right things from the Lord, not realizing that the things he hadn’t asked for would readily be handed to him as well. Surely the Lord is a generous God and out of his abundance he is free to bless us with all the good things beyond our wildest imagination.
    The choice is rather simple, really. Are we going to seek all the superfluous things apart from the Lord, or pursue the Lord primarily and cast aside all the unessential things?
    The additional things Solomon received from the Lord might not have been that great for him after all. Wealth and honor may be rather enticing and glamorous, yet they may do us more harm than good. Indeed, they may cause us to lose sight of the Lord and mistake God’s abundant blessing as God himself. We may lose sight of our heavenly hope if we are so captivated by worldly pleasure.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, April 29, 2016 7:23:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wisdom and Knowledge 

~~MTS-4182
Wisdom and knowledge
“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people…”    2 Ch. 1:9
     The newly crowned king was probably overwhelmed by the awesome responsibility of governing a nation and it seemed to be natural at the time for him to ask for wisdom and knowledge to carry out his important mission. It wasn’t for selfish reasons that he made such a request and by doing so it greatly pleased the Lord. The young Solomon was rather wise to start with, and he was even wiser by praying a wise prayer. It takes a wise man to pray to the Lord wisely, and such a prayer will always be granted accordingly.
    Was the request rather general and nonspecific so that it would have been hard to tell whether the Lord actually granted his wish or not? How can people know that their prayers are granted if their requests are too general? To be quite honest, I am still not that clear whether my love for the Lord has increased, even though I have been making the same request for years.
    Like all things spiritual, we know by faith, not by sight.
    King Solomon did make some wise decisions and the way he governed at the early stage of his career as a king seemed to prove the case that he had been empowered by the Lord with knowledge and wisdom. In fact, his reputation of being wise and knowledgeable travelled far and wide, and even the queen of Sheba came to inquire of his wisdom.
    Come to think of it, not only should he have asked for knowledge to lead the people of Israel, perhaps the king should also have asked the Lord for wisdom to govern his personal conduct and exercise his power of self-control. He might have built a strong nation, yet toward the end of his life, the man’s moral fiber seemed to be deteriorating rather rapidly.
    Being wise in conducting the business of public affairs and being intelligent in handling personal conduct are two different things. We may be quite capable of doing the former, yet completely miss the boat on the latter.
    Leading the people of Israel was the king‘s public life and it was what he was charged to do; yet leading a life of holiness should have been his concern as well. Compared to his father before him, there seemed to be something missing in the great king. David might have had his flaws as a person and committed some unthinkable sins, but the man’s heart appeared to be in the right place his entire life. So when I consider the renown of both the father and the son, I find myself drawn more to the father than the son, for I too, like so many others, would like to become a man after God’s own heart.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, April 28, 2016 7:45:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Ask Whatever 

~~MTS-4181
Ask Whatever
“That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’”        2 Ch. 1:7
     If there were only one thing that we could ask from the Lord and it would definitely be granted to us, what would that one thing be? Tough question, isn’t it?
    What about longevity? That’s what most people are longing for and we would do just about anything to prolong our days on earth. “We exhaust our health to earn money when we are young, and yet “we exhaust all we have earned to extend our life span in our old age,” as some Chinese people put it. This is indeed the irony of life from which very few of us can escape. For sure immortality void of eternal youth may turn out to be the worst curse that people could endure.
    What then is the one thing we would yearn to obtain from the Lord if we were given the choice?
    It goes without saying that we all are tempted to ask for temporal things, such as fortune and fame, yet deep inside we know those are fleeting and what we should instead ask are eternal things, things that will remain when the world is no more, things that we can enjoy eternally.
    What we are striving the hardest to obtain here on earth are the things that we truly desire and to claim otherwise is self-deceptive and disingenuous. We are not what we claim to be or even aspire to be; we are what we strive to become and the goals that we labor so hard to reach.
    So let’s be honest with ourselves and answer this question that King Solomon had to deal with a few thousand years ago; the answer you provide, if it is truthful, may determine who you really are.
    Of course I am tempted to ask the Lord to maintain the physical and emotion wellbeing of all my loved ones, including my wife and children, for this is what I desire the most and is my daily concern. Yet I know even this petition is bound by time and doesn’t go beyond the physical and the temporal. So my request most likely will be for their spiritual wellbeing, yet this petition will not be granted, for it’s not personal. I can only ask something for myself, not for other people. So we go back to square one.
    The prayer that I have been making the most consistently since the day I was converted is that my love for the Lord may increase daily. I suppose this is what I truly want, or rather is something that I think I should want. Therefore I would just ask for the same thing that I have been requesting over the years if I were to be given the precious opportunity: “Lord, may my daily prayer to love you more be granted.”
    “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” If we have the chance, why not ask for the greatest?
      

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, April 27, 2016 7:28:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Altar 

~~MTS-4180
The Altar
“But the bronze altar… was in Gibeon in front of the tabernacle of the Lord; so Solomon and the assembly inquired of him there.”        2 Ch. 1:5
     The altar of the Lord was there in Gibeon and that was the high place where Solomon and his people would go to make their sacrifices and inquire of the Lord. There wouldn’t have been any inquiry without first presenting the Lord sacrifices of offering and thanksgiving.
    We should never go to the Lord empty-handed. Obviously the Lord cannot be bribed in any way, but he does demand our deep reverence, and making sacrifices is one of the ways we express our profound gratitude and respect to him. We should not have a cavalier attitude when we approach the almighty God as if he is merely our equal, or just slightly above us.
    The incarnation was God’s act of mercy, but somehow we have managed to bring the Almighty down to our level because of it, and we regard him more like a father or a lover than a sovereign creator.
    Listening to some praise songs does make me cringe, for the lyrics of many of them are just so fluffy and so lacking of a sense of awe and reverence toward God that if the name of the Lord were replaced by the composers’ earthly beloved or close friend, the effect would remain exactly the same. If we are not on our guard, “what a friend we have in Jesus” can just be any other friend and it makes absolutely no difference.
    May we never lose sight of the fact that although the Word has become flesh, he didn’t remain in the flesh, and even though he was once clothed in flesh, we should never regard him as if he were merely flesh and blood. Indeed, I suppose there was good reason why the Lord told his disciples not to touch him after he was resurrected and some of them even failed to recognize him. Surely we should relate to the risen Lord differently, for he is now sitting by the right hand of God and clothed with Shekinah glory.
    What kind of sacrifices do we make to the Lord before we approach the throne of grace? Obviously there is no sacrifice we can possibly render to him to make ourselves worthy of him, for the perfect sacrifice has been made on Calvary hill once and for all. The only sacrifice we can give when we come before God is the sacrifice of our thanksgiving, yet the sacrifice is by no means void of our personal sacrificing. What are the tangible things that we bring to God’s house to show our deep thankfulness toward him? Or do we, realizing that grace is completely free, merely repay him with nothing?
    The way we perceive a person is determined by the gift we bring to him when we pay him a visit. We give nothing if we regard someone as nothing.
        

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, April 26, 2016 8:24:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Greatness 

~~MTS-4179
Greatness
“Solomon son of David established himself firmly over his kingdom, for the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.”        2 Ch. 1:1
     Solomon achieved greatness by virtue of his birth, not through his own effort at all. The kingdom was established by his father, with the sacrifices of many people’s lives. It was the Lord who “was with him and made him exceedingly great.”
    The king could have been easily blinded by his own greatness and lost sight of the fact that he was actually born with a silver spoon in his month. What absolute power and great wealth do to a person is beyond comprehension, and we may do the unimaginable of we are endowed with both. To be richly endowed is to be greatly empowered to do both good and evil.
    Even as powerful and wise as King Solomon was, he was merely a pawn in God’s hand, used by the Almighty to fulfill his eternal purposes.
    O how easy it is for us to become envious of the ones who are endowed with greatness, whatever it is, and mourn about the fact that we are outdistanced so much by comparison. How many millions of peasants and artisans were there during Solomon’s time that had to labor day and night merely to earn a simply living? Their breath and names vanished in the air after they died and left absolutely no trace. Isn’t it an injustice of the highest measure?
    Indeed, the man was esteemed as the wisest man in human history and historians have written about him throughout the ages, yet this had absolutely no bearing on how he was measured by God and how he will be judged at the end. “For to whom much is given, much will be required of him.” To whom much is given much, much is required, and compared to what he was endowed with, what he gave might have been rather meager. Of course, “it is before his own master that he will stand or fall,” and who am I to make any sort of judgment concerning the man?
    The life on which I need to spend time pondering is my own, not somebody else’s, not even the supposed wisest king in human history, for his greatness, or lack therefore, has nothing to do with me as a person, and he will never be used as a barometer to make a measurement of my earthly life. I will be found guilty or not guilty by what I have been endowed with and how I have been utilizing what I have been given. I will ultimately be judged by what I have, not by what I don’t have.
    Therefore, what we should learn from this man isn’t really what we should do with our resources, since we fall far short compared to him in that aspect; we instead need to learn what not to do by looking at the king’s chronicle, and avoid making the same errors that he committed.  

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, April 25, 2016 7:12:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Proclamation 

~~MTS-4178
Proclamation
“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”                     Eph. 6:19
     I might sometimes get a cold stare here and there from the audience, indicating that they were not in complete agreement with what I had to say to them, which wasn’t that great of an issue, really. I wasn’t in any sort of danger of persecution by proclaiming the gospel; therefore courage of utterance wasn’t necessary. I have been preaching at the same church for the last twenty plus years and I haven’t encountered any sort of persecution up to this point, which wasn’t the case with the apostle Paul at all. He had been cast out from one city after another and had been cursed, bitten, and stoned, yet he continued to proclaim the mystery of the gospel as if nothing had happened to him.
    Surely it wasn’t through his natural strength that Paul was able to keep on carrying on the dangerous mission of presenting the gospel to a hostile world and risking his life whenever he spoke; it was the Holy Spirit who empowered the apostle and imparted to him the strength, courage, and ability that he needed. Paul knew quite well who he truly was and he was convinced that without prayer support from Christians he couldn’t have accomplished anything that was accomplished in his ministry.
     “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,”
    Not only did Paul ask for prayer so that he would have the courage to “fearlessly” make the mystery of the gospel known, he also asked for prayer so that words might be given to him. The apostle was being empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit even during the process of delivering the message; therefore both the speaker and the audience were enlightened by the same spirit, producing a desirable result and bearing abundant spiritual fruit.
    There appears to be a wall, dividing me and the people sitting in the pews, and the words that I utter seem to bounce back to me void. Why does this happen so often? A severe lack of prayer on my part, evidently. Besides me praying, I do need to ask people to pray for me also so that the stronghold that resists the invasion of the gospel may be taken down and people’s stony hearts may be softened up to receive the seed of salvation when I preach the gospel. There is no such thing as self-reliance when we present the gospel message, for we ourselves cannot save a single lost soul through our strength alone or our eloquence of speech. We are fooling ourselves if we believe otherwise.
    So I always preach the gospel with great expectation, knowing that God can surely perform mighty deeds through the Holy Spirit by using a frail instrument such as me.  
     

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, April 21, 2016 6:58:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Pray 

~~MTS-4177
Pray
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”                                Eph. 6:18
     Communication is the key to having a good relationship. When a given relationship breaks down, communication is the first thing to go. When something dies, it becomes silent.
    Whether we spend time praying or not seems to be an accurate barometer of our relationship with the Lord. To love is to communicate.
    How much do we pray daily? Probably very little. Some people don’t even bother to say a blessing before every meal, which is a failure to recognize God’s provision and his daily blessings.
    We need to be in the Lord’s presence and be aware of him being near us so that we can speak to him every moment of the day and build up a strong love relationship with him. Obviously, the Lord is omnipresent and his presence penetrates all things, yet we still need to make an effort to cultivate the sense of his presence by thinking about him. If he continues to dwell within our hearts and we are also acutely aware of his presence, we will be able to “pray on all occasions.” 
    Even at this very moment, I find myself praying, for I seem to have very little to say about this particular topic. It’s just so familiar to us that nothing can really be uttered that hasn’t already been uttered before. We talk about this so much, yet do it so very little. People who are masters on the subject of prayer may actually pray very little, for knowing doesn’t automatically turn into doing.
    Merely speaking about exercising doesn’t do us any good, actually doing it does; so instead of talking about it, we should just bow our heads and start praying “with all kinds of prayers.”
    Then our prayer will become more of a process of deepening our relationship with the Lord and getting to know his will better than anything else, so that we will be able to make all our requests according to his sovereign will, and our prayers will not be actions of persuasion but expressions of our submission. Unless we do so, the way we relate to the Lord will always remain rather rudimentary, and he will forever remain an all-powerful facilitator and provider, and little more that. What a great loss on our part it is if we only know our parents as caretakers and providers and relate to them that way. There is just so much beyond that, and there is no way of knowing that is truly the case unless we deepen and intensify our communication with them.
      How can we not speak to someone who resides within our hearts without ceasing? Indeed, to be aware of his presence is to speak to him.
  
  
  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
      
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, April 20, 2016 5:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Helmet 

~~MTS-4176
The Helmet
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”        Eph. 6:17
     I was a novice as far as riding a motorcycle was concerned, yet I somehow found the guts to take the bike on the road, and the inevitable happened. I wasn’t going all that fast, but the gravel was slippery and I lost control of the bike and I found myself falling to the ground, head first. I hadn’t worn a helmet. I was a little woozy after the incident, but still managed to get up and make it back to my parents’ home in the country. It was the last time I rode a motorcycle. A lot worse could have happened, yet by God’s mercy my life was spared to tell the story. A helmet could have kept me from having headaches after the accident, however.
    Wearing a helmet, nonetheless, may give football players a false sense of security and cause them to play more recklessly. The fact that rugby players don’t have any head protection, yet don’t seem to get head injuries as often as football players may just prove my point. Helmets keep people from suffering head injuries, but the protection is by no means one hundred percent. The equipment may still fail and we can still get injured if we are involved in any sort of accident.
    Will our helmet of salvation ever fail us? We may want to find out the answer to this all important question. We may lose our physical life if the helmet we wear fails to do its job; yet we may be damned eternally if our helmet of salvation doesn’t do what it supposed to do.
    “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies,” we read in the book of Romans.
    We may often bring charges against ourselves, knowing how far we have fallen short in our pursuit of holiness, and we for sure will be condemned if we are saved through our good performance as a person. Indeed, we have absolutely no merit by which we can be saved and apart from the merit of Christ we will become entirely defenseless before the judgment seat.
    The evil one may plant all kinds of doubt in our heads, which causes us to stumble in our Christian walk, for the head is where our entire being is controlled and directed. It is also the main part Satan loves to tinker with, for he knows for sure he will take the control of us if he gets a tight hold on our thinking and directs our thinking process according to his evil scheme.
    To wear the helmet of salvation is to develop a crystal clear idea of what our salvation is, and not to be confused by human perceptions and secular thinking. If we don’t hold onto the orthodox view of “justification by faith alone,” we will be swayed by all sorts of half-baked human ideas, claiming what we can and must do to contribute toward our salvation. Salvation absolutely crumbles if it’s based on human merit or effort in any way. 
    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, April 19, 2016 7:38:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Faith 

~~MTS-4175
Faith
“…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”       Eph. 6:16
     I was told it could possibly have been viral infection in my right eye, which may have been a cross-infection from the stubborn cold I had suffered a couple of weeks ago. It all made a lot of sense to me and it also gave me a good reason not to visit the doctor, which I dreaded more than the disease itself. Yet everyone I talked to, including my wife, all urged me to go to the doctor to get peace of mind, which I did, and I was again proven right. It was a viral infection and he prescribed some eye drops for me and all was well. Things could have ended up just the same had I waited it out and fought off the virus without the help of anything. I guess we all need to be reassured whatever ailment we may be suffering isn’t serious or even terminal. What faith fails to do for us, a medical doctor’s words may easily do the trick. Instead of living by faith, we tend to live by sight.
    There are flaming arrows flying toward us from every which way and even the medical doctors, who seem to be rather omniscient with the help of modern equipment, may fail to detect some serious issues within our bodies waiting to surface. We may be issued a clean bill of health, yet it may not be all that clean after all. The shield of faith is still needed if we desire to maintain equilibrium between mind and emotion. No one is omniscient but the Lord and only through faith in him can we defend ourselves from the assaults of the evil one.
    Of course I am by no means speaking against modern medicine, since it has brought us many blessings and has reduced a lot of unnecessary pain humans used to suffer.  Yet, it is obviously not omnipotent and it also creates a lot of anxiety in the process of searching for causes of discomfort and cure.  In some cases, prolonging life may just be extending the time of our misery.
    “…take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
    There will always be uncertainties in life and we can’t always foresee what will transpire; therefore faith in the all-knowing and all powerful God is needed for us to maintain our composure in life. Obviously we can do all that is humanly possible and rely on a loving God to help us with the humanly impossible. We are at war and flaming arrows seem to be showering down on us, creating within our hearts a burning sensation and robbing us of our peace and joy. Under these circumstances, I don’t see any way out except to put our trust in God and fortify our hearts and mind with our faith in the loving Heavenly Father, who will never leave or forsake his children and will always give us hope no matter how hopeless a given situation may be.  
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, April 18, 2016 8:12:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The Gospel 

~~MTS-4174
The Gospel
“…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”           Eph 6:15
     I don’t always have an awareness that I am a missionary who has been charged by the Master with an important mission of bringing the gospel of peace wherever I go, here or abroad, within or without the culture. I may just go through each day doing whatever I do to earn a living without thinking about my true calling as a Christian.
    We need to bring this awareness to the surface and be more proactive in thinking about ways to take the gospel to whomever we happen to meet daily. If we truly believe that people are lost in sin and are heading toward eternal perdition without the saving message of the gospel, how can we keep the remedy that can bring healing to their ailment to ourselves?
    I once broke up a fight successfully between two of my classmates when I was in high school, and felt rather pleased with myself afterward, for I was a peacemaker between the two. It was a small matter, come to think of it, compared to breaking up a fight between God and men, for unbelievers are at war with their Creator and only through the gospel of peace can human and divine become reconciled. Do I truly believe this?
    Perhaps I am still secretly harboring the hope that the Lord may actually be more merciful and gracious than what he has been portrayed in the Scriptures and the concept of hell is merely an anthropomorphic idea, sounding a lot worse than what it actually is. By reducing the seriousness of not believing through human rationality, I seem to be able to cope with my inactivity in fitting my feet “with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
    “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation,” we read in the book of Isaiah. There is absolutely nothing that is more worth doing in life and more important than to bring the gospel to the ones who have never had the chance to hear the good news proclaimed otherwise.
    The sea was extremely rough and the fishing boat we boarded was rather small. Many of us college students who were on our way to a remote island off the west coast of Taiwan to conduct a two-week door to door evangelistic activity became sick and were throwing up, yet our hearts were filled with joy, considering it a privilege to suffer a little illness for the kingdom. It was over thirty years ago when this took place, yet I still deem it one of the few highlights in my life, for I was actually doing what I was called to do as a missionary of the gospel. The thought of going back there with the gospel of peace has often surfaced in my mind over the years and I have this nagging feeling that it perhaps is my true calling in life. Isn’t it every Christian’s lifelong mission as well?
         

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, April 15, 2016 6:49:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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