The Throne 

MTS-3508

The Throne

“Then the king made a great throne
covered with ivory and overlaid with fine gold.”            1 Kings 10:18

 

Sitting is a position for kings

Whose intention is to listen

And to look down, at the ones

Who are forever standing

Beholding, the throne of gold

With awe, and the man

Bathed in earthly glory untold.

 

I, also, have been erecting

A throne hardly invisible

With rhymes and songs

Or words revised and refined

To gloss over reality with a façade

Shining and fragile as broken glass

Reflecting a soul that was lost

To entertain the crowd

And to divert the throng from their woes.

 

Those who wait remain standing

To envision a paradise that was lost

And regain the sight that was missing.

As a musician becomes deaf to hear

And thousands die to live,

For the gold thrones that are composed

Will dissolve and become dirt on the road

And all who have been standing

Remain standing still as before

And the thrones will be no more

And sitting will no longer be a position

For kings and queens

And for all with such aspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, May 31, 2013 6:35:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Questions 

MTS-3507

Questions

“Solomon answered all her questions;
nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.”           1 Kings 10:3

 

Solomon
wasn’t all-knowing by any means; what he needed to know was revealed by the
Lord. The queen of Sheba only asked the questions that puzzled her; and what
bewildered her might not have been that difficult after all. One must dive deep
into the ocean of knowledge to know how to ask deep questions.

King Solomon
was the wisest person of his time, for most people weren’t that knowledgeable.
Knowledge had to be acquired through studying what had been accumulated and
proved, and what had been collected wasn’t all that much. What set the king
apart from other people was, through the revelation of God, he had became the
discoverer and the forerunner of many branches of new knowledge.

The queen of Sheba
was overwhelmed by Solomon’s deep wisdom and depth of knowledge, for she
herself was lagging far behind in her understanding of things and many of her
questions for the king might have been quite rudimentary.

She should
have been more impressed by the One who endowed Solomon with wisdom and
knowledge than the one who was on the receiving end. The king should have made
this abundantly clear to his admirer. God alone should have gotten all the
credit.

It might have
been humanly impossible for Solomon to remain humble throughout his entire
life. Had he not strived to put his feet on the ground with the best of his ability,
he would have been crushed by the weight of glory. He might have tried to do so
in the initial stage of his kingship, but as days went by, people’s praise
started to rub off on him and how others perceived him finally turned into his self-perception.

May this
never happen to us.

We may not
rule over a kingdom as spacious as King Solomon and our knowledge and wisdom
pales greatly compared to him, yet we are all kings and queens of our little
domains and we all have some things of which we are very proud, some things
with which we identify ourselves. I may not be as beautiful as so and so; at
least I am not a beautiful little fool. Don’t we all have this kind of mindset
that causes us to define ourselves by comparing ourselves with others and
building ourselves up by tearing others down?

“But by the grace
of God I am what I am,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians.

It would have
been far better had the queen of Sheba learned more from the Lord than from
Solomon. This could have taken place only if she had asked the right questions,
which might not have happened. She seemed to have been more overwhelmed by the
human than the divine.        

  

  

Thursday, May 30, 2013 7:06:00 AM Categories: Devotional

I AM 

我是

-“我是自有永有的”

 

時間如火焰

熄不了

成灰的聲音

焚而不毀的現在。

 

靜止的時鐘還在滴答

停止的心跳還在說話

無聲的音符不會消失

愛能掙脫時間的束縛

我的過去是你的現在

我的未來原在你面前

你的掌心銘刻我名字

你眼睛印著我的牆垣

我眼淚落入你的皮袋

我嘆息長在你心呢喃

 

你是,我就是

你有,我才有

你在,我才在

你是荊棘成灰的聲音

焚而不毀的愛情。

 

I AM

     “I AM WHO I AM”

                 
Exodus 3:17

 

Time, the burning fire,

Does not silent

The voice that was turning to ashes;

The eternal presence was scorched

Yet not consumed.

 

A clock is stilled, yet ticking still;

A heartbeat ceased yet continues to speak;

Unheard music remains in the autumn air

And love from the bondage of time us has liberated.

My past is your present

And my future is forever in your countenance;

My name is engraved on your palm

And my walls on your eyes imprinted;

Into your bottle my tears silently fall

And murmur is my sigh within your soul.

 

You are, therefore I am;

You have been, therefore I will ever be;

You possess, therefore I have possession;

You are the voice from the burning bush,

Love scorched yet not consumed.

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:02:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Fame 

MTS-3506

Fame

“When the queen of Sheba heard about the
fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord…”          1 Kings 10:1

 

I knew no
math and very little English when I enrolled in a high school known for its
mischievous students and low academic standards. In fact, the motto of the
school was a famous saying of Confucius: “Teaching should be done
indiscriminately.” I suppose my high school was likely the only private school
that would accept me. I was about six grades behind when I became a freshman
there.

It took me a
while to catch up with my peers, which wasn’t that hard to do, since most of
them were just as bad as me academically. They were there with me in that same
school not without reason. Anyhow, being a reasonably studious student with
slightly above average intelligence, I gradually made a name for myself. I
could write a little bit, and being malcontent and antagonistic to anything
ordinary, I somehow became known as a resident poet of my class. I earned
myself a little bit of fame in my small circle of friends.

“That Robert
guy, well, he is not a bad poet.” Poetry and I became closely connected, and
people who knew me could not consider one without the other. For a bum who had
absolutely nothing to show for himself, I was happy that at least I had some
sort of title - a poet.

Having a few
poems printed in small magazine was the farthest I went as a poet, yet the
title has stuck with me the remainders of my days. I was just a poet-wanna-be
then and, forty some years later, I still consider myself a singer and a poet.
I haven’t changed that much as a person, except the Lord took a hold of me in
my early twenties and I hope people have perceived me as more of a Christian
than a poet, or anything else.

What did the
Queen of the South see in Solomon? She was well aware of the young Hebrew
king’s fame, which had been spreading in the ancient world like wild fire, but
what made Queen of Sheba curious was Solomon’s relationship with the Lord. It
was highly unusual for a nation or a people to practice monotheism in a
predominately polytheistic world.

“Did Solomon’s
tremendous wisdom have anything to do with his relationship with the Lord?” This
must have been one of the questions the Queen of Sheba addressed to Solomon.
The Queen herself had enough gold and probably wasn’t all that impressed by
Solomon’s fortune; what overwhelmed her more than anything was Solomon’s
wisdom.

There must be
a divine source for the man’s unsurpassing knowledge and wisdom, thought the queen.
She was indeed desirous to get to know the man, but she was even more eager to
find out who the Lord was.

Ultimately,
we want people to become curious about our wisdom and fame and start to
investigate to find out the secret of our achievement, and we pray they will
discover what’s behind our reputation and fame. Isn’t this the true purpose of our
striving to become famous?                  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 7:06:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wedding Gift 

MTS-3505

Wedding Gift

“He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and
then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife.”          1 Kings 9:16

 

The Canaanites’ losses were Pharaoh’s daughter’s gain. While the inhabitants in the
city of Gezer were mourning for their dead and burying their deceased, the
young bride was celebrating her union with the newly anointed king of the
Hebrews, the most eligible bachelor in the world. It might have been a
political marriage of sorts, but a royal wedding was a royal wedding and it had
to be conducted properly.

What was the
gift to the bride? It meant absolutely nothing to her, and she would probably
never frequent the city that was hers, yet thousands lost their lives and their
homes just because Pharaoh needed a presentable wedding gift for his daughter.
It was the ultimate injustice, wasn’t it? The Canaanites might have lived in
little huts in small hamlets, but they were homes to them nonetheless, yet
their existence became precarious just because someone powerful could stake a
claim on all they possessed.

The pictures
of Princess Di’s wedding were pumped into millions of homes around the globe
and the beautiful bride became someone every girl dreamed to be. Have we ever
wondered, however, why the princess’s wedding had to be so different and so
glamorous, and probably cost millions of taxpayers’ dollars?

 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the
money given to the poor,” complained the disciples, who were present when Mary
broke a jar of perfume and poured on the Lord Jesus. They had a legitimate
reason to complain since what had been done seemed so wasteful to them.

“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not
always have me,” the Lord chided them.

For the love of a single person, Pharaoh put hundreds of
people to death; yet for the love of all people, the Lord Jesus lay down his
life. The difference between the two is heaven and earth. The expression of
Pharaoh’s love for his daughter cost him nothing at all, but Jesus had to die to
tell us how much he cared for us.

The value of a gift can only be measured by how much it
costs us.

For one person’s wedding celebration, many young brides
lost theirs; because of one’s person’s love for his daughter, many people lost
their loved ones; many homes were taken away merely to enlarge a single
person’s estate. Gifts of love should always be applauded, but this particular
gift should appall us, for it cost the giver nothing, yet it cost thousands of
people everything.

Had the bride and the groom had any knowledge of what was
going to be done in order to procure an expensive wedding gift for them, they
should have turned it down. A bloody gift would only do damage to their
impending marriage.

 

Friday, May 24, 2013 6:39:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Kabul 

MTS-3504

Kabul

“And he called them the Land of Kabul,
a name they have to this day.”

              1 Kings 9:13

 

He was a transfer student at a high school located in a big city and was feeling pretty
lost the first few days of school. Wu became a loner by necessity, not by
choice. He would like to have a friend, yet his new classmates seemed to look
at him with suspicion. People appeared to be sizing him up and trying to
determine where to place him socially and academically.

He was an artist and was very good at reading people’s feelings and inner emotions, which
caused him to become reluctant to strike up a conversation with anyone in
class. He knew they were trying to avoid him.

Things were easy during class time, for he could always daydream and didn’t have to worry
about talking to anyone, but it got tough during recess when everyone found
their niche and he had no place to go. In fact, he didn’t mind being alone, he
just did not want to be perceived as lonely and needing friends. He didn’t
necessarily need anyone, yet being perceived as needy made him extremely
nervous.

“Hey, I am Lin, nice to meet you,” a guy came to him during lunch time and introduced
himself. Lin was another loner in class who seemed to have trouble finding a
group to fit in. He was from the countryside and didn’t seem to wear the right
clothes or speak with the right accent. Wu wasn’t that keen to become his
friend, but he simply couldn’t afford to be too picky at the time. “Beggars
can’t he choosers,” he said to himself.

For the remainder of the school year the two became fast friends. Lin became a security
blanket for him and he at least had someone to have lunch with and to do things
with when there was nothing to do. They weren’t friends by choice, really, but
by necessity.

They were both sensitive and melancholy types, and for a while they both felt they had
found a soul mate of sorts. Together they drank beer and flirted with girls,
going to moves and concerts. Indeed they were rejected by their classmates, but
they liked to think that they were far above them intellectually.

A year or so later, they both graduated and joined the military. They made an attempt to
keep in touch with each other for a while, but when someone failed to write,
the relationship ended abruptly.

Years later, they ran into each other by accident and the encounter seemed awkward,
embarrassing even, to both of them, for they had nothing to say to each other
beyond “How have you been?” They bid each other goodbye as fast as they could,
before they exchanged contact information. It was a reunion between two friends
that were never friends; they merely got closer to keep each other warm in the
cold wintry world, and the chance encounter on the street reminded them of the
days when they were both unwanted and undesirable, the awkward time in their
lives that they would like to leave behind, never to visit again.       

 

Thursday, May 23, 2013 5:49:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Building Project 

MTS-3503

Building Project

“At the end of twenty years, during
which Solomon built these two buildings—the temple of the Lord and the royal palace.”   1
Kings 9:10

 

Were there more important things for the king to do than putting up two new buildings, which
took twenty years to finish? What would Solomon have done to occupy his time
and energy had he not launched two great building projects?

That was why he was anointed king over a great nation, wasn’t he? Surely he wasn’t called to
do nothing; yet sometimes I suspect many leaders do things just for the sake of
doing and lead for the sake of leading, without thinking through whether what they
do is truly beneficial to the people or not.

When a king decides to fight a war, people die; when he determines to launch a great
building project, people must suffer by being laborers. All the king needs to
do is give an order, and thousands of people must labor to accommodate it.

“Rule bydoing nothing (無為而治.)”
I often wonder if perhaps this political philosophy by Lao Tzu is the best way
to govern a nation. “Governing a great nation is akin to cooking a small fish (治大國如烹小鮮,)” he once suggested. People must
proceed with extreme caution when they prepare a small fish lest they burn the
fish by overcooking.

After years of engaging in warfare against foreign nations and dealing with turmoil within
the country, the Israelites were in dire need of rest. Most people probably
just wanted the king to leave them alone so that they could plant their
vineyard, raise their young, and care for their elderly. The last thing they
wanted to see was conscription for military service or a notice of a tax
increase.  

Erecting a temple for the Lord was divinely inspired and he could have rallied people around the project, but building a palace for Pharaoh’s daughter was entirely different. The construction was superfluous, for it served no particular purpose but to please one person. Yet whatever the king decided to do, it would be carried out, no matter how costly it was and how unnecessary it might have been.

“There are basically two classes of people,” I said to my wife during lunch yesterday. “One
dominates and the other is dominated, and unfortunately most of us are of the
latter.”  

The king was endowed with power to rule, and rule he must, and he could have ruled out of
his fancy or his desire to leave a lasting legacy. Was Nero playing his harp
when the city of Rome was ablaze? Power does corrupt, for power must be
exercised.

That was why the Lord was displeased when the Israelites asked for a king to rule over them,
for God knew well how men would abuse power. The more people are endowed with
power, the more suffering and pain they will inflict on the common people.      

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 7:00:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Why 

MTS-3502

Why

“…that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.”

            1 Kings 9:9

 

It was pretty clear cut, wasn’t it? The temple became a heap of rubble because of the sin of
idolatry of the Israelites. The logic is quite simple: God’s people suffered as
a consequence of their sins of disobedience.

My question is: why did they suffer collectively even though not all people sinned
individually? I am sure there were some among the Israelites who strived to
remain pure during that period of time. This brings us to yet another issue: why
do all the offspring of Adam suffer collectively for Adam’s individual sin and
transgression?

I wish I could state with one hundred percent certainty that certain ill-effects that
occur are caused by some particular sins that we have committed. Our instinct
is to establish the relationship between cause and effect in all things. How
wonderful it would be if there was no longer ambiguity and the two could always
be lined up perfectly.

There are absolutely no ambiguities in the Bible and all things appear to work out
perfectly, which is something we can accept since it’s the inspired word of God
and shouldn’t be subjected to questioning. Indeed the temple was demolished by
their enemies because God’s people had forsaken the Lord. I wish in reality
realities were always this black and white.

I have found myself trying to trace all the ill-effects that took place in my life back to
their causes and the principle of sin and punishment is always involved heavily
in my reasoning. When something bad hit me or my loved ones, I tend to conclude
that it’s God’s punishment for some transgression I have committed. This is
indeed quite morbid and does require some conscious effort on my part to
overcome this mindset.

Can we still apply the principle of sowing and reaping in all issues, including moral ones?
We become ill because of our negligence of personal health, which is common
sense, but do we become sick due to our poor moral health? Questionable, isn’t
it?

 If God’s hammer does indeed fall every single
time we falter morally, then the relationship between cause and effect can
easily be established. If we do A, then B always follows, therefore we just
have to avoid doing A to keep B from happening. This simple logic may be
applied to some things, particularly things of the physical realm; it gets
quite complicated if this is applied to moral or spiritual issues, especially
the question of sin and punishment.

What makes things complicated is the propitiatory death of Jesus. Christ Jesus’ death
wasn’t caused by his own sin and transgression; it was rather caused by the
collective sins of you and me.

I often wonder why severe punishment does not always follow after I have sinned against
God. I guess the punishment might have fallen on someone else without me
knowing it. Do we subject the Lord Jesus to crucifixion yet another time every
time we sin?              

 

 

   

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 6:27:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Ruin 

MTS-3501

Ruin

“This temple will become a heap of
rubble.”

         
1 Kings 9:8

 

It took seven long years and tons of manpower to build the temple, but it didn’t take much to
bring it down. All one needed to do was to light a fire and it did the job.

Erection of something grand is always a lot more difficult than destruction of the same. The
temple existed for a while and served its purpose, yet when it became
superfluous, it was brought down quickly. The awesome building would become a
monument to be mocked after the Lord removed his name from it.

O how promising it was when the vision was born and the dream implemented! How people
were amazed by the grand structure and how the name of the Lord was lifted up
when the temple was being dedicated! But no sooner was the temple completed
than erosion from within started. It took seven years to put up the structure,
yet it would take the Israelites’ daily vigilance of the following years to
maintain the house of God and to keep it in good shape.

Kathy saw a crack in the wall when she was painting one of the bedrooms of our house and
didn’t pay much attention to it; she just painted over the small seam, not
realizing it was a sign of a sagging foundation. Had we done something to it
then, the issue might have been resolved rather easily. A house approaching one
hundred years of age does demand our constant attention.

The Israelites still paid their visits a few times a year. The magnificent building
had never failed to impress them and they believed the temple would stand
forever. Had they paid a little attention to the wall, they would have detected
a crack here and there, signifying the building was decaying gradually.

What could they have done to keep the temple from coming down?

The temple could easily be repaired or even rebuilt if the damage was only physical; what ruined
the temple was really spiritual in nature, however. It was moral erosion and
spiritual corruption that made the temple a heap of rubble. When people started
to turn to pagan gods, the temple was rendered superfluous. It might have
become a laughingstock, of all things.

We finally have a church
building of our own and, even though it’s small and unimpressive, we were
thrilled as a congregation that we were able to finally purchase a place of
worship. A physical building, however, does not guarantee the viability or
vitality of God’s church in anyway; it’s the inner strength and holiness of the
Christians collectivity at our church that keep the structure from becoming a
heap of rubble. Knowing how easily and quickly the church could come down sure
causes us to become more vigilance in keeping ourselves in top shape spiritually.

Monday, May 20, 2013 6:46:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Ridicule 

MTS-3500

Ridicule

“Israel will then become a byword and an
object of ridicule among all peoples.”            1 Kings 9:7

 

The spectators are watching us, not necessarily with the best intention. People may
desire more for us to fail than to succeed, to stumble than to walk straight,
to give up than to persist.  

Do we have something to prove?
Not so. It’s human arrogance that causes us to want to prove that we are up to
the task. No, we are not up to the task; the task has already been
accomplished. We just have to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus.

It’s not what we can achieve;
it’s what Christ has achieved on the cross. We are called to rest more than to
strive; to cease from work than to work; to imitate than to initiate.

What could the Israelites have
done to impress the gentile world? They were required to do the humanly
impossible. The Lord demanded that they keep the law in its minutest detail and
to remain unblemished in a corrupt and perverted world.

All things considered, they
seemed to have done a pretty good job following the Lord, yet they were far
from perfect, which was what was required of them.

Things of the flesh have a
much greater pull than matters of the spirit. Surrounded by seductions and
temptations of all kinds from the pagan world, how could the Israelites have
not failed? They might have done the best they could, yet the flood gate opened
wide after they yielded to a single temptation. Things of the flesh never stop
at one thing or a single occasion of indulgence; they seek to dominate our
whole being and permeate every inch of our existence.

Indeed, God’s chosen people
failed miserably at the end and paid for their failures dearly. Did they have
the intention to do good in the beginning? I am sure most of them did. Yet as things
became more difficult when the initial enthusiasm wore off and the daily grind
of swimming against the current of secularism and idolatry took its toll, the
ones who persisted in walking with the Lord became fewer and fewer.

“Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.”
Unfortunately, this prediction turned out to be true a few hundred years late
and the pagan world was full of glee at the sight of the demise of God’s people.

God’s chosen people have
failed; therefore the God they worshiped was untrustworthy and unreliable.
Being fortified by this simple logic, pagans were emboldened to do what they
considered right in their own eyes. As a slogan created by a well-known atheist
goes: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

       

Friday, May 17, 2013 6:53:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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