Splendor of Holiness 

~~MTS-3988
Splendor of Holiness
“Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”       
             1 Ch 16:29

What we consider glorious and splendorous may not be so at all. What can be more appealing to our senses than the Oscar awards ceremony with all the stars congregating and walking gracefully on the red carpet in their specially designed dresses and suits? We can’t help but being drawn into all the artificial glamour and glitz and mesmerized and captivated by its superficial splendor.
What enters into our minds when we entertain the idea of holiness? Is it rigid, stale, puritanical, and totally unappealing to you? I don’t think people think too much of this seemingly antiquated word except the ones from Christian circles. Some may even consider the idea of holiness obsolete, backward, and downright distasteful.
Indeed, we don’t have any holiness of our own to speak about and we become hypocritical if we pretend to be so. I suppose we Christians may be the ones who give holiness a bad name, for instead of being clothed in the holiness of Christ Jesus some of us tend to exude a holier than thou attitude that causes people to shun us altogether. Holiness is an attribute of God, which is something we inherited when we were created, for we are formed in his image, yet the vital characteristic vanished when sin entered into the world, and whatever holiness we still possess is merely a faint residue of what it used to be. Besides, the idea of holiness has been twisted, smeared, and polluted so badly that we no longer desire to have anything to do with it. We seem to prefer people to be more genuine, true to themselves, so to speak, but not holy.
We have no earthly idea what holiness is. It’s so heavenly that we earthlings can only imagine what it’s really like. Yet this particular verse teaches us “to worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” How can this even be possible?
Have we ever been drawn to the holy, to the white blinding light that we have never encountered before? Have we ever loathed ourselves for being filthy and unholy and yearned to be clean and pure? If so, what we are isn’t what we are meant to be, and we desire to be something or someone else. “Behold, the man,” Pontius Pilate exclaimed, pointing at Jesus the man. Christ was the fully embodiment of God’s image and he is the One we all yearn to be, without knowing it for most people. We have no holiness of our own and, “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Therefore we need to be clothed in the holiness of Christ Jesus when we approach the throne of grace and worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
In a world where people call light darkness and darkness light, the concept of the holy doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Yet all of us do have a faint homesickness for something that seems to be so foreign and remote, yet so intimate and close to our hearts.  
         

    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, June 16, 2015 7:04:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Offering 

~~MTS-3987
Offering
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.”          1 Ch 16:29

If all the glory of heaven and on earth belongs to the Lord, then he certainly is worthy to receive our greatest offerings. We are supposed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, as the apostle exhorted us in Romans, and if we do so, there is absolutely nothing that we should withhold from the Lord. Everything we own belongs to God, including our lives, and he can claim them whenever and wherever he considers appropriate.
Are these just empty words when we claim that have offered our bodies to God as “living sacrifices,” yet we are so reluctant to reach down deeper into our pocketbook and offer the Lord what he deserves to receive from us in the form of tithes and offerings? Besides monetary giving, we are so stingy in giving the Lord the prime time of our days, our years, and our entire lifetime. We reserve the peak time of our day to work and to exercise and give the butt end of our time to God, if there is any time left at all. We devote the golden time of our youth in doing academic pursuits and our vibrant middle age in building a career and accumulating wealth and whatever is left, we pray, the Lord may lay claim to. Yes, when our eyes fade and our hearing is gone and we can hardly walk, then we will serve the Lord.
The Lord deserves our best in all things, yet what we have been offering to him are our last of all things. We think God is pleased with our giving as if he were a street corner beggar, thrilled to receive a few handouts from the passersby.
How we perceive the Lord pretty much determines what kind of offerings we give to him. If the Lord is great beyond measure, the gifts he gets from us should be our greatest, whatever they may be.
The greatest time of our life is our youth, may we offer it to him; the greatest wealth we possess is our health and talent, let the Lord have them all; the most valuable material possession is our money, may we give it to him. The Lord can claim, if he so desires, whatever we deem our best and greatest.
“I am frightened, for had I done so, I would have been left with nothing. What’s there for me to enjoy in this life if all things that are precious to me are taken away from me?” we wonder. Wasn’t this the very reason the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus, dejected and sad?
What the Lord demands from us isn’t all the great things that we possess; what he desires from us is really us, and our true selves will be restored if we are stripped down to nothing, for the nothingness is really everything, and whatever he has taken away from us will be given back to us a hundred-fold. I think this is quite a great tradeoff. Perhaps we should rejoice when the Lord starts to take things away from us.      

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, June 15, 2015 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

His Glory 

~~MTS-3986
His Glory
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.”          1 Ch 16:29

Why work so hard to achieve renown if we don’t get to harvest the fruit of our labor, which is the glory attributed to us? A good question to ask, isn’t it? We may lose all the incentive to labor if some people other than ourselves get to enjoy the honor and glory of our success. Success in life without the perks with all the bells and whistles will cease to appeal to anyone. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we will all admit the real driving force behind our hard work is we want to be recognized by others as great.
Take the prize away from any competition, athletic or otherwise, and all the contests will lose their meaning. Why compete if there are no winners? Years ago I tried in vain to explain to some American friends the concept of “friendly competition.” The athletic events often held in Taiwan were ones in which there were no winners, or rather the winners were not officially recognized. People merely played the game to enhance their friendship, I told my friend. I guess we as a people were still trying to uphold Confucius’ idea when he stated: “Gentlemen have no need to participate in any sort of competition; even if they sometimes compete in archery, they should start by observing all the rituals with a humble attitude and have a drink together when it’s all over. While competing, they should act like gentlemen. (君子無所爭,必也射乎!揖讓而升,下而飲,其爭也君子)” I guess even the ancient Chinese sage considered it ungentlemanly to compete in anything.
With the victory come the spoils. All victories people have earned will lavish them with honor, glory, and oftentimes monetary rewards as well, and if they are not supposed to receive them, who will?
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.” What is “the glory due his name?”  All the possible glory there is, to put it simply. The author of all things should get the honor and glory of all things, and by not ascribing to God the glory due his name, we rob him of the glory that he rightly deserves to receive. We don’t want to become robbers and thieves of God’s glory, do we?
Then, we will all labor in vain, won’t we? “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” Didn’t the apostle Paul write this in 2 Timothy?
Surely the glory of all our achievements belongs to God, but we will not be deprived of anything at all; what we will receive is the joy of doing things well and our Master’s praise, which seems to be quite enough to me. If we don’t ascribe the glory due his name, it will eventually weigh us down and crush us to pieces. We will become arrogant, vain, and pompous, and lose the godly image we have been imprinted with when we were created. I guess we all know the tragic end of some the people in human history with the word “great” attached to their names. Whoever desires to become a god will never become one, and they will lose their humanness as well.         

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, June 12, 2015 7:27:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Declare 

~~MTS-3985
Declare
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”          1 Ch 16:24

I stole a mango from someone’s yard on my way to get some sushi for lunch yesterday. Well, I didn’t steal the fruit literarily; I just picked it up from the lawn underneath a big mango tree. The mango was reddish pink and slightly soft to the touch. I guess it was about ready to be consumed.
It was a small thing, really, and I don’t think I will be prosecuted for the theft. I am such a fruit lover and happened to give in to the temptation. No big deal, was it?
Well, it could have become a big deal had I been caught by the owner of the tree and he insisted on reporting me to the police. I guess I could either have been fined or thrown into jail for a few days. It was one of those things that could have been nothing or blown out of proportion.
We may deem all the small offenses we have ever committed as quite insignificant and think nothing about them, yet they do have consequences and we will be held accountable someday before the judgment throne. We will not be exonerated unless the Supreme Judge makes a declaration that we are actually forgiven. It doesn’t make any difference how we feel toward all the things that we have done; God is the One who makes all the calls. Arguing against the umpire about strikes and balls is a total waste of time, since he or she is supreme on the baseball diamond and has the final say about our destiny as a player.
Isn’t it marvelous that our sins are all forgiven through the merit of Christ Jesus? If there is only one thing on earth that causes us to shout from the mountain top with joy, it should be the forgiveness of our sins. There is nothing more wonderful and more precious than the redemption we receive from God through Christ, absolutely nothing.
“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
What are the marvelous thing we should declare, then? Very simple indeed. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” I have been saved by God’s grace and the salvation has been profoundly affecting my entire being. If everything I ever do or everything I ever utter stems from the reality that I have been redeemed, then my whole being will become a collective declaration of God’s marvels and wonders. We just have to be constantly aware of who we are and what our mission is in life. I guess stealing a mango from other people’s yard may not be such a small offense after all.      

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, June 11, 2015 8:34:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Proclaim 

~~MTS-3984
Proclaim
“Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.”
          1 Ch 16:23

We all have a message to proclaim no matter who we are. We are all messengers with a message to tell, and we spread it either with our words or our deeds.
What is your message for the world?
Of course the predominant message of this world is money talks and the goal in life is to accumulate more money and to acquire more toys, and the winners are the ones who possess the most toys. I believe, for the most part, this is our message as well.
We may not be spreading this message consciously, but we are known by what we do. We may be Christians and know all the spiritual lingo, yet the inconsistency between our words and deeds appears to be crying out for an explanation or clarification. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We really don’t have a lot of options. We merely do what we have been taught to do in life, and our career path has been mapped out for us by our parents since the day we were born. Our parents and teachers want us to become successes, and they are the ones who define what success is.
“Son, work hard for we want you to grow up to be a useful man (有用的人,)” my parents used to say to me when I was little. Being useful means be successful, and being successful means that you make lots of money. I am sorry that I have disappointed them.  I have always been rather idealistic and money-making enterprises have never appealed to me a bit; the idea was completely thrown to the wayside after I became a Christian.
   What is, then, my message for the world? It’s rather simple and profound, and I believe it is the sole purpose why God has created us: “Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.”
Our life is void of purpose unless we hold onto this purpose; and all our messages are misleading except the message imparted to us from above. We feel the most joyful and fulfilled if we continue to proclaim this message whether we have an audience or not. “We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.” This matters very little, really, for we perform for no one but the audience of One. Angels may pity us and people may mock us for being such lousy actors, but the Lord will applaud if we proclaim the right message with the best of our ability, with flaws and all.
So I will continue to sing praises to God with my aged voice and to proclaim his salvation day after day by words and deeds. I will keep on laboring to make the message and the messenger more unified, and I pray the message will remain forever after the messenger is no more.   
     

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, June 10, 2015 7:12:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Remember 

~~MTS-3983
Remember
“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles…”
        1 Ch 16:12

As people age, they tend to think about their past more than their future. I guess they are truly “too old to dream,” since dreams do take time to implement and time is in short supply for them.
What is there to think about when they look at their lives in retrospect? Happy times in most cases, I suppose. Even if they don’t have much happiness to call upon to ease the miseries of their old age, they at least can muse upon the vitality they used to possess in their youth and how they used to face life with such gusto and enthusiasm.
One thing that they would like to do, but are unable to accomplish, is to revise what occurred in their past, and they often have profound regrets when they ponder their past. Are we all troubled by all the “what if” questions when we look back at the long corridor of time?  All things that took place in our past are irreversible and unredeemable.
Our past cannot be changed; it can nevertheless be revised according to the new perspective we have gained as we age. We all know full well that the scenery changes immediately if we look at it from another point of view. Don’t we all try to capture our best appearance from a particular angle?
The best angle we can take to look at our past is from God’s omniscient perspective and revise it accordingly. By doing so, we may be able harmonize the cacophony of the noise heard from the passage of time, bringing the disjointed events of our past to unity and making sense of all things that don’t seem to make any sense at all. Don’t we all believe that “all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose?”
So we can give thanks for all things that have occurred in our past, both fortunate and unfortunate from a human point of view, for they all point to one end, which is for our good. So we “remember the wonders he had done, the miracles…”
If there is one particular thing that has defined me as a person, it would have to be the time when I failed the college entrance examination at age eighteen. From then on, all the bad things seemed to snowball on me, and my life appeared to be heading in the wrong direction. I was forever wounded emotionally by that drastic event and recovery from that failure didn’t seem to be possible. Yet from a revisionist’s point of view, my greatest failure was also God’s stunning success, from which he started to work out his will in me and lead me to the path of righteousness against my will and without me knowing it. There is really nothing to be thankful for concerning that particular failure unless I revise the monumental event of my life from God’s perspective.   
     

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, June 9, 2015 7:42:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Seeking 

~~MTS-3982
Seeking
“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.”
            1 Ch 16:10

Seeking is something that energizes our creativity and without it we may become stagnant. There are no new scenes to behold or fresh experiences to meet us if we remain in one place. Don’t we all agree that the treadmill is one of the worst inventions that has ever been made? Jogging becomes entirely unbearable if we are on one of them. We may run for thousands of miles, yet remain in the same place, breathing in the same filthy air shared by many sweaty people.
We have found the Lord, rather we have already been found by him, so what’s the point of keeping on seeking him?
I quit writing poetry for the longest time after I became a Christian, since I was standing on a solid rock and all things fluid and fleeting simply didn’t interest me in any way. Writing, like any other forms of artistic pursuits, is a way of seeking for something more permanent in a constantly changing world and my creative energy dried out when I found the absolute, the finality of all truth. Even if I made an attempt to engage in any sort of creative activity, it seemed to me that I was making a mockery of the Creator who was the source of all truth.
My joy of composing poetry was forever lost after I quit searching for the ultimate and the absolute. There was no more labor and agony of seeking, yet neither was there the euphoria of finding what I had been searching for, even if what I had managed to locate was the wrong thing. There nonetheless is unspeakable joy after finishing any sort of creative endeavor, be it writing or singing.
What are we seeking from the Lord anyway? Is the salvation offered through Jesus what we have been seeking and is there nothing beyond that? If so, we are the most to be pitied among all people, since the Lord whom we serve is so limited and small. Don’t we have any inkling that the Lord of salvation is also the Lord of all? If he is the Lord of all, what we know about him is merely a drop of water in the vast ocean.
Surely we can seek him beyond what he has done for us, yet so many of us only relate to him in the areas of what he has done and will do for us and nothing more.
I became a bit despondent because I came to realize that not many souls in this world are “seeking” me after I posted one of my favorite poems on line that only drew one or two responses. I can’t really take issue with this, since I might have bottomed out as far as my talent is concerned and there is not a whole lot to know about me, yet the wisdom and mystery of the Lord is so inexhaustible and for us Christians not to seek him daily and diligently is sinful, pure and simple. I, a mere man and a second-rate artist, even became insulted because no one was seeking me. Can you imagine how the Lord of the universe would feel if we quit seeking him?     

   

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, June 8, 2015 7:40:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wonderful Acts 

~~MTS-3981
Wonderful Acts
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”
          1 Ch 16:9

We will have nothing for which we can be thankful unless we see them first. People who take all things for granted will see no wonders in all things and mistake all things supernatural as natural and extraordinary as ordinary.
I have started to look at myself with wonder as I age, since I no longer take anything I used to do so effortlessly for granted, things such as seeing, hearing, and walking. I am reminded every moment of the day how miraculous it is that I am still able to do those things, albeit not as well and effortless as I used to.
There are simply no wonderful acts to tell unless we see the world with a sense of wonder. How in the world is it possible that after sixty-three years of endless pumping, my heart is still pumping away tirelessly? It never fails to amaze me whenever I feel my pulse and sense my heart beating, pumping blood through miles of veins circulating my entire body, keeping me alive, and enabling me to do all kinds of things, both physical and mental. If there is no wonder to tell, at the least I can proclaim to the world that I am still here, an incredible feat which is no small task to accomplish.
My first grandson is developing his fine motor skills and being just a year and ten months or so, the things he can do far surpasses, I suppose, what a robot can perform. We all know how much human intelligence and time are required to design and make a functional robot. We can also train a robot to say “I love you” with a metallic voice, but that doesn’t mean anything to the hearers since the robot doesn’t have a beating heart. Yet my heart leaps for joy when I hear Forrest utter those magical words, although rather inaccurately. O the wonder of it!
We have become too familiar with the world to see the strangeness of it. Being able to see the world, according to G.K. Chesterton, with both perspectives of familiarity and foreignness is truly a blessing, since by doing so, we will be able to behold the unfamiliar in the familiar and the wonderful things in the seemingly mundane surroundings.
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” How easy is it for you to tell God’s wonderful acts that he has done in your life, both in the past and the present?
Meditation is the key to this. Paul often broke into a doxology in his writings after he spent a few moments meditating on God’s grace and greatness. How could he not do so? How could anyone not? One must be entirely cold-blooded and void of feeling if he feels nothing within when he or she entertains the thought of God or encounters the awesomeness of the Almighty. One can only conclude that people have to be atheists to believe that there are simply no wonderful acts to proclaim about God.

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, June 5, 2015 7:31:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Praise 

~~MTS-3980
Praise
“Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”        1 Ch 16:8

When people praise me for something that I have done, my worth as a person seems to be enhanced and my self-confidence is strengthened. Praise from others does have magical power and it can be addictive, for the more we receive, the more we crave.
Where do I derive my self-worth as a person? This is the question that we must address.
When I cease to make contributions to the world, that will be the time when my life should end. I don’t want to become a burden to others. Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist, commented along this line in an interview. The man obviously has been universally lauded for his contributions toward the field of physics, yet he may be yearning for more, for he seems to attribute his value as a person by what mysteries of the universe he has unlocked.
We are no different from the physicist, although on a much smaller scale. Our worth as persons must be affirmed by the positive perceptions from others in forms of praise, compliments, and flattery, which are the power source that energize us.
If the Almighty is entirely self-sufficient in all ways, why does he even need our praises? Why is God so vain that he craves our praise? Questions such as these have been asked repeatedly. We bring God down to our level by raising these sorts of issues, as if God derived his worth through the praises of his creatures.
It’s for our sake that we praise the Lord, not the other way around. We praise God to establish who we truly are, not to enhance what the Lord already is. The more we praise God, the better we know our true worth, for we yearn to be like the ones on whom we lavish our praise, and praising God is a sure sign that we desire to be more like him.
To extol humans by our praise is to lift them up to a place where they should not be and are not entitled to be and by doing so we only destroy them. There is nothing left in people if their humanness is stripped away and they become completely exposed. The emperor has no clothes and all the gaudy outfits he wears are merely imaginary.
We praise God because we desire to be praised by him, for we know full well that there is no praise or affirmation that amounts to anything except the praise from the Lord. So we continue to labor in his kingdom by the talent he has bestowed on us, however little it may be, merely to earn this simple praise from the Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, June 4, 2015 7:26:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Dancing 

~~MTS-3979
Dancing
“And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.”        1 Ch 15:29

It’s word beyond words
Reason that escapes rationality
How one must resolve  
When languages fail to convey,
To communicate the incommunicable,
To express the inexpressible,
The passion that’s burning and boiling
Within, leaping and dancing
As fire that refuses to be contained,
To be neatly and tightly enwrapped 
And devours all attempts to rationalize,
To tame the wild thus to humanize
The mysterious and the divine,
And infinity and the finite to harmonize.
Music arises when silence falls,
When lovers silently gaze at each other;
Unheard melody becomes spoken words
And paintings become mere impressions
Yet Image emerges when images fade
And things unknown do occur
When poetry makes nothing happen
As lamented by despondent poets.
So the king dances with all his might as well
As the paupers everywhere
With hands rising to the heavens
As if to reach the unreachable
And to touch the untouchable,
Beyond the named and nameless stars
With frail bodies twisting and turning
And bending to the point of breaking,
As if to break free from the bondage,
The cell that imprisons and enslaves,
The heart and soul that know far better
Than the words that were ever uttered
And reason ever concurred
What direction our thoughts should travel
Through the boundless space
And with what expressions of adoration
Ought our doxology to offer.

 
 

  

 
  

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, June 3, 2015 7:00:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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