Consecration 

~~MTS-4046
Consecration
“Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the LORD today?”
        1 Ch 29:6

Was David doing an altar call? It sure sounds like it. He charged his audience to take action after he finished stating what he was doing in gathering materials for his son to build the holy temple. If the project was going to become successful, most Israelites would have to get involved, either in donating silver or gold toward the building or participating in the actual work of the construction. David tried to make it clear the project was a sacred one, and the ones who intended to take part in the work must first consecrate themselves to the Lord, realizing that they must dedicate themselves to God before they could participate in the actual construction itself.
Kathy and I signed up to cook a dish for the church every month and we often find ourselves hustling to get something ready when the time comes, and often end up cooking something rather ordinary. Why don’t we put more thought into the work if we reckon what we do is holy unto the Lord? We may think the work is just too small to be considered any sort of spiritual service at all.  If it’s not spiritual service, then what is it supposed to be? I ask.
Whatever we do unto the Lord in his kingdom should always be deemed spiritual, no matter how small the task is, be it sweeping the kitchen floor or taking the garbage out.
Can the ones who have failed to dedicate themselves to the Lord’s service do anything to serve him? They can surely do things behind the scenes within the church, yet what they do isn’t done unto the Lord since they are yet to come into the fold of the church. Serving the Lord isn’t the right of all people; it’s rather the privilege of God’s children. But it’s discourteous to discourage non-Christians from doing anything in the church if they are willing to help, things such as washing the dishes in the kitchen or mopping the dining room floor.
Spiritual service should always be constituted in two parts - one being the ones who serve and the One who receives the service. The ones who perform the service must be aware of what they are doing and the sacredness of it; and the One who receives the service must be worthy to receive our service and worship. If one of these is lacking, the work we do will be reckoned profane and ordinary.
    Therefore before we do anything for the Lord, either within or without the church, this question must be addressed: “Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the LORD today?” For the sacrifices we offer to the Lord to become acceptable in God’s sight, we must consecrate ourselves first. The spiritual quality and acceptability of our sacrifices before the throne is determined by the thoroughness of our self-consecration and complete dedication.

    
 

   

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, September 11, 2015 6:29:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Wealth and Honor 

~~ MTS-4047
Wealth and Honor
“Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.”
           1 Ch 29:12

Instead of seeking wealth and honor, which most people do in this life, they should seek the Giver of both, for we may find wealth and honor by seeking the Lord, but we will lose whatever we have acquired if we seek earthly things other than him.
If we truly seek the Lord, wealth and honor in this life will become less and less important and appealing to our hearts. If we continue to consume ourselves with passion and desire for both, our desire for God may just be mere fantasy, an outward show void of inner substance. I am afraid our churches are filled with such people, which explains why the prosperity gospel has found a fertile ground among Christians.
“Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.” We need to ask ourselves this question: “What sort of God are we seeking? Are we looking for the God of wealth and honor, or a God who is wealthy and honorable?”
Obviously the Lord has many other attributes other than the two mentioned, yet we seem to choose to relate to him in those aspects and desire to be more identified with him in both qualities. Indeed, we want to be more like him in both wealth and honor. The aspects which we choose to be more like him indicate what we truly are as God’s children.
What kind of Christians are we craving to become?
The single most predominate attribute of the Lord is love, for God is love and all the other qualities pale greatly compared to this; therefore we need to strive to be more  like him in his love. The root of the incarnation is love, and the reason behind the crucifixion is the same, without which no redemption could have been accomplished.
Besides his love, we should be more passionate in seeking God’s holiness, for it’s the very attribute which separates him from all others and it’s also the characteristic that tells us apart from the people of the world. Indeed, love is the cause of our justification and holiness is what drives us forward in our sanctification. Compared to these, wealth and honor, which are primarily earth-bound, seem to be so superficial and dissatisfactory.
If the Giver of all good things both in heaven above and on earth below decides to bestow wealth and honor upon us, we will surely accept them with gratitude and profound thankfulness; if not, we will still be satisfied with all the other more desirable treasures he has so richly given to us, such as his love and purity, and no true joy on earth can be attained apart from both.       
 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, September 10, 2015 6:49:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Personal Treasures 

~~MTS-4045
Personal treasures
“Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God…”    1 Ch 29:3

For some reason I am able to keep a small bank account and I don’t have to answer to anybody, including my wife, how I spend the money from it. I don’t usually spend it on myself, yet I still consider the funds in the account to be mine, and it will hurt if I have to part from them. Taking money from that account and giving it to the poor is out of the question since I deem the money mine, and mine only. Even though the amount in it is quite meager, it matters not since I consider it my possession and I reckon it unmovable.
There is a larger family bank account which is maintained by my wife, and I don’t usually care too much about how the money is spent. Since I don’t particularly consider it to be mine, I can let it go a little bit easier. By the same token, it might have been easier for David to exhaust all the national treasuries in preparation for the construction of the holy temple, but it was entirely different to part from his personal valuables. Therefore he made a point to mention that the gold and silver he donated were from his own coffers.
Whatever we deem ours, including our lives, may not be ours after all, for apart from God’s provision and sustaining, we would have absolutely nothing. If we look at our possessions from this point of view, giving will become much easier and more natural.
Out of my affection for my loved ones, I often use the money from my personal account to purchase gifts for them and don’t really feel the pinch of parting from my personal possession. I guess love does have the power to conquer our vices of selfishness and possessiveness. Is it because my love for the Lord isn’t as strong, therefore that I am reluctant to offer to him what I deem mine?
If we consider what we possess ours, our tithes and offering will be given out of a sense of duty, not out of our love and gratitude for God, and we may even feel that we are doing God a great favor by giving, as if he has any lack at all and whatever we give will make up his deficiencies.
Of course, offering to the Lord what we possess might be easier than offering to him our bodies as “living sacrifices.” Indeed, our possessions are merely a part of us, yet our bodies are our entire beings and we will have nothing left if we offer ourselves to him. Again, do we think our bodies are truly ours, by which we get to enjoy all things in this world? Paul once referred to our bodies as instruments with which we can either serve the Lord or the evil one.
The Lord’s demands to those who follow him seem to become greater and greater, and we end up with nothing left of our own. If this is the case, how is he going to replenish what we have lost? I guess we still don’t have any inkling what it really means to give if we still consider our offering to God in terms of investment and return.
         
     

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, September 9, 2015 5:54:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Gold for Gold Work 

~~ MTS-4044
Gold for Gold Work
“With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver…”       1 Ch 29:2

It was going to be the climax of David’s illustrious career at a time when he was finally equipped to build the house of God. He had been accumulating materials, including gold, silver, and bronze from his friends and enemies, with the sole aim of constructing the holy temple. Had he not used the precious metals for sacred use, he would have labored in vain and all the bloodshed from friends and foes would have been wasted.
We may not have gathered a lot of silver and gold thus far in our lives, but whatever we have accumulated we need to devote to God and to his service. If it wasn’t for this particular purpose, why did we even exhaust all we have to gain knowledge from all fields and to acquire wisdom from various means? Surely we must put gold for the gold work in the holy temple.
The value of gold is determined by how it’s used, for it does not have intrinsic value unless we impart it with value by the way we utilize it. Gold turns into dross if it’s misused. There was a vast difference in value between the gold that was incorporated in the temple building and that which was used in decorating King Solomon’s throne or adorning his crown. There is obviously no comparison between the gold found in the Ark of the Covenant and that discovered in Solomon’s bed chamber.
“Why am I majoring in statistics?” a student questioned over the dinner table last night, wondering out loud whether what she was studying had any significance in her future endeavors as a Christian or not. Indeed her concern was legitimate since we should always look into the future and try to make a connection with what we are doing in the present. If we are earning gold, we should be aware where in God’s house we are going to place it.
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Mordecai told Esther, charging her to do whatever was possible to rescue the Jews from utter perdition, for he believed Esther was promoted for that particular purpose.
If it’s the Lord’s calling to collect gold and silver, let us do it with all our might, believing that there is a temple to be built somewhere and the gold I have accumulated will be put to good use. How can any Christian devote all his time and energy earning gold if he or she intends to use it solely for his own enjoyment? What else can gold and silver bring to a person except fleeting moments of pleasure?
“Our knowledge is in short supply at the time when we use it (書到用時方恨少,)” goes a Chinese saying. Don’t we all have regrets that we didn’t accumulate more knowledge when we had the chance so that we could be better equipped to serve the Lord? I do. Surely the knowledge we have gained will be put in exactly the right place.  

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, September 4, 2015 7:23:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Great Task 

~~ MTS-4043
Great Task
“The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God.”       1 Ch 29:1

What made this construction so important was it was going to be built for the Lord; therefore the work would have eternal significance. What’s done for eternity is obviously more meaningful that what’s done for time.
The crux of the matter is: a matter of great eternal significance must be done in time; therefore we should never take what’s done in time too lightly, for the seemingly light matters that we do may carry the heaviest eternal glory.
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." How much effort does it take for us to give someone a cup of cold water? Not a whole lot indeed. What makes the deed so valuable is the thought and heart behind the action. It matters not whether the matter is great or small, what matters is whether it’s done unto the Lord and to bring forth his glory and praise.
“The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God.”  Solomon also built a palatial palace for himself and it took a much longer time to build than the temple, yet compared to God’s house, his palace paled a great deal in more ways than one. Both structures have been buried under the earth for hundreds of years, and Solomon’s grand palace is hardly remembered by the following generations, yet the site of God’s temple is still deemed the most holy by us all.
The woman merely broke a jar of alabaster perfume and poured it on the Lord’s body, yet the matter of great beauty is still remembered and lauded up to this day. “What this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
“Is there anything we can do in the name of Jesus to bring him honor and glory?” This is the type of question we should ask ourselves everyday and be on the lookout for opportunities to do whatever the Lord brings our way, be it a few words of comfort to the distraught or a warm encouraging smile to a stranger. Opportunity abounds for the ones who are eager to serve the Lord but the ones with intention to serve yet void of action may end up doing nothing at all.

   “But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
        The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
        The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
  Be remembered; involved with past and future.
      Only through time time is conquered.”

This might not be what Eliot was intending to convey in his masterpiece The Four Quartets, yet I am often tempted to read into the poem by interpreting that the only way to redeem time is through doing things in time, and the things that we do in time, however small they may be, do have eternal significance. The things we do in time do have the power to extend or to shorten time, indicating whether we are creatures of time or eternity.

           

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, September 3, 2015 4:55:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Finish 

~~MTS-4042
Finish
“He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”         1 Ch 28:20

No matter how much we accomplish in this life, we will always feel that our work on earth isn’t quite done, and not many souls truly believe that they have finished what they have been called to do and are ready to meet their Creator. As far as God’s calling is concerned, we often chew a lot more than we can swallow. “It’s the Lord’s work, why not dream big?” we ask ourselves.
“It’s the nature of the beast,” I often say to Kathy, referring to the nature of business. When a given business becomes stagnant and ceases to expend, it’s probably on its last legs. In order to remain relevant and competitive, a business must continue to seek ways to improve and expand.
To a certain extent, the way we operate our church business is not all that different from the manner industry is run. No wonder church buildings seem to spring up on every corner of the city. Indeed, expanding church territory is akin to the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth, so who dares to find fault with that concept? 
Let’s take this to more of a personal level at which we can all identify. We may be inspired by whatever source, urging that we should always dream big in this life and, inevitably, our life will become a colossal disappointment to us when it is about to end, for most of us will fail to reach the goal we have set for ourselves in this life.
We should make our goal in life a little more manageable so that we can actually finish it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This bold statement by Paul to the Philippians seems to have become people’s motto, non-believers included. Are we so naïve as to believe this promise is all inclusive since it talks about “all things?” Does the Lord actually call every football team in America to win a championship? 
What are these “all things” to us then? We have to give this a clear definition and then apply this promise to it, believing the Lord will finish the good work he started within us. Surely the Lord will never appoint a person with one talent to accomplish a task that requires five talents. We applaud when the ones with either intellectual or physical challenges accomplish something rather simple. I think God is the same way when he evaluates our performances.
What’s the bite size of my calling then?
Obviously there are immediate things we must do, which are included in our calling as well. Diapers must be changed and meals have to be cooked and garbage taken out. Surely we must not neglect doing these things in the name of keeping our larger callings, such as working at our jobs or witnessing in our neighborhood. With the Lord’s help and strengthening, I believe an elephant will eventually be eaten if we take one bite at a time; besides, the Lord may just be calling us to eat a chicken, and we will choke if we try to take on a large elephant.

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, September 2, 2015 6:24:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Calling 

~~MTS-4041
Calling
“He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.”      1 Ch 28:20

In order to lead a meaningful life, we all need to have a sense of purpose, otherwise we will just do what’s necessary to make a living, and that’s about it. People may consider making a better living for themselves and their children to be the primary goal of their lives, making it the aim of all they do every day. Yet there seems to be a feeling of emptiness in their hearts when they finally accomplish their purpose and they eventually will ask a “now what?” question. What appeals to us so much at first and ultimately disappoints us when we get a hold of it must not be the thing we truly desire to possess. Doesn’t this sound logical to you?
Well, most people simply move on to other things. First comes wealth and then fame and then, inevitably, comes death. This seems to be the pattern that most of us have experienced or will be experiencing. No wonder people’s hearts are often filled with remorse and regret on their death bed, and would do things differently if they were given a second chance. Is there even any doubt that Lazarus’ life became entirely different from what had been after he was brought back from the other side? The question that he might have asked himself could have been this: “What’s the purpose behind all this? What did the Lord call me back to accomplish?”
We don’t have to be brought back from death or near death to ask ourselves this important question - what’s my calling in this life?
It doesn’t have to be as grand and spectacular as building a holy temple like Solomon was called to do, does it? All of us are called to accomplish something, albeit on a much smaller scale than King Solomon’s project.  Come to think of it, does it really matter? Indeed we are all called to fulfill our duties as children and parents, and to a larger extent friends and neighbors as well, and we do need to observe our responsibilities toward them. We should not neglect our general calling in order to fulfill our specific calling from above. Didn’t Paul once write: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”? What Paul was trying to teach from the book of Timothy is rather self-explanatory. Our calling as Christians should always start from our family and extend farther from there. Wasn’t this our Lord Jesus’ concern before he breathed his last on the cross?
Surely there are specific callings for all of us as well, which are mainly our vocations. If these are not our calling from above, the bulk of our time in life will be spent in vain. Unless we impart meaning into our jobs and deem them God’s calling, we won’t have a sense of purpose when we work and they may turn into a chores and necessary evils. Our jobs may not be related to ministry directly, but our relationships with the ones with whom we work certainly are; and our calling is to reach out to them with Christ’s grace and love.
We will never lament that we have wasted our lives if we heed both callings to the best of our ability, and much to our surprise, it’s rather joyful to fulfill them, because for such purpose are we all created.    

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:24:00 AM Categories: Devotional

God's Hand 

~~ MTS-4040
God’s Hand
“All this I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.”      1 Ch 28:19

David’s entire life was defined by how he related to the Lord even though he had done many great things. Starting from the day he took on the giant and on to the time he assumed the kingship of Israel, the man accomplished numerous tasks of which ordinary people couldn’t have dreamt of doing even just one in their entire lives. Even so, when we consider his life and his illustrious career, inevitably the phrase “a man after God’s own heart” surfaces in our mind. Indeed, that was how the great man, the sweet singer of Israel, was defined and known to the following generations. The shepherd and the military man might have been occupied by many personal and national affairs, yet his main focus in life remained constant - he was a consummate seeker-servant of the Lord.
David’s life was centered on the Lord when he was a shepherd lad tending his father’s sheep, and his life continued to be anchored on God when he became Saul’s singer and arm bearer; and his focus in life remained the same when he was running and fighting for his survival. He changed very little when a golden crown was placed on his head; even when he life was about to end he was still thinking and envisioning what he could accomplish for God’s kingdom. He could have retired and enjoyed his old age, yet his mind seemed to be focused on the one single project that he wasn’t allowed to complete – the building of the holy temple of God. Even though the great enterprise was reserved for the following generation, it didn’t keep the elderly king from doing what was essential for the project, and by doing all the preparation for the impending construction, he was, in essence, taking part in the sacred construction. “All this I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” Indeed the project was the “brain child” of David and many of the details had been mapped out by him long before the foundation of the building was laid. The king went so far as to divide all the Levites into various sections and charged them with duties involved in the temple services. Surely David was a man of great vision who would continue to serve the Lord through various means even after he was no more. He was dead, yet his plan and blue print for the holy temple remained. The temple might have been built under Solomon’s watch, but one can still assume that David played a vital part in the great project, for he designed the building and all its details through the revelation of the Lord.     
How is my life going to be defined ultimately? We can’t help asking ourselves this probing question. People start to consider their legacy on earth when they get old, yet we should always keep it in mind all the days of our lives, for we are created both for time and eternity, and what we do in time does have eternal significance. If my life is ultimately going to be defined by my relationship with the Lord, how will I relate to him today, and what will my relationship with him bring forth tomorrow and beyond?    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, August 31, 2015 7:00:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Being Chosen 

~~MTS-4039
Being Chosen
“Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house as the sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”            1 Ch 28:10

It was quite a magnificent project David was charging his son to launch as a newly crowned king, and the blueprint and necessary materials seemed to have been sufficiently prepared, and all Solomon needed to do was to gather all the workers and start the construction. How could he not get excited over this since it was the time for him to shine, to showcase his talent and leadership, causing people near and far to be amazed over his greatness.
Not only was he his father’s true son, Solomon was also a chosen vessel of God to achieve greatness. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, yet it was time for him to prove to the world that he was worthy of the calling both from below and above. The man was burdened with God’s calling and men’s expectations, yet for sure Solomon was up to the task. Had I been in his position, I would have exhausted every ounce of my energy to meet all the expectations and beyond. The mission was simply too sacred and lofty for him not to take it with the highest degree of seriousness.
What have we been called or chosen to do? Surely not anything so grand as to build the holy temple of God. We may be charged to build a little church in the woods with a congregation of only a handful of people. Even so, can we still “be strong and do the work?”
What if we are called to be homemakers whose daily chores are so minute and insignificant that we sometimes deem them not worth doing at all. How in the world can changing diapers and cooking meals bring us any sort of fulfillment or sense of accomplishment?
I consider my wife’s greatest achievement was the fifteen years she spent being a homemaker, raising our three boys and educating them entirely on her own until they were ready for high school. I can still remember vividly how she labored day and night doing countless things in order to keep our family of five afloat with a very small budget. For a long time while I was a graduate student earning only a TA stipend, she managed to shop at three different grocery stores just to get their best deals, armed with a thick wallet of coupons. To me that was a sure sign of greatness and, who was to say that wasn’t her special calling from above. She’s been teaching for over twenty years in a Christian school now and the days she spent educating our sons seemed to be a perfect preparation for what she’s been doing, for she treats and instructs each of her student as if they are her own children. That too to me is true greatness.
There is only one way for us to heed our heavenly calling, which is to fulfill it thankfully and faithfully. The calling may be great or small in human eyes, but there is very little difference in our Father’s perception. Bringing up a child to be a godly woman or man may be equally great in God’s eyes as building a magnificent temple, and the degree of difficulty of both may not be all that different.  

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, August 28, 2015 6:51:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Seek the Lord 

~~MTS-4038
Seek the Lord
“If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”          1 Ch 28:9

There is no reason to seek the Lord, for he is everywhere. There is no place to hide from the omnipresent God and, of course, there is no need for him to hide. Those who don’t seek the Lord are the ones who try to hide from the Almighty. Surely he will be found if we truly want to find him.
The sign by the parking lot says that we can only park there for thirty minutes, yet we often park for more than an hour, and no parking ticket has ever been issued. Lucky us, right. Wrong. Even though we haven’t been caught parking illegally, it doesn’t mean that policemen don’t exist, and it doesn’t make it right for us to park there more than thirty minutes, even though we haven’t been caught.
Even though he pretty much leaves us alone and seems not to care, no matter what we do, that doesn’t mean that the Lord is not watching and taking careful record of what we do daily and will hold us accountable. He is out of sight from our vantage point, still he is present everywhere.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” wrote the Psalmist.
I may not be able to see my children physically at all times, but they never seem to depart from my thoughts, so in some ways I am able to see them everywhere.  Not so with our Heavenly Father who is able to keep our presence within his sight at all times and constantly watches over us, and his hope is that his children may be quickened to the fact and start to respond to his calling. To seek the Lord is to become aware of his presence and to heed his biddings and, more importantly, to be obedient to his heavenly vision till the end.
When will we children awaken and start to show appreciation for our parents’ love for us by doing something for them. I guess the least we can do for them is not to screen their calls. I guess this is akin to seeking our parents. 
I guess some atheists may find God troublesome and rather annoying, so they have decided to get rid of him by declaring once and for all that he doesn’t really exist. The presence of Christians is quite an annoyance to them, for they remind them of what they try so hard to forget, causing them to suspect that God might still be there. I think this explains why some atheists are so hostile toward Christians. 
Indeed he isn’t far from us, as Paul stated: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” If God does exist, there is nothing more important in this life than to seek to know and to please him. It appears to me that I live, move, and have my being all point to an undeniable truth that the Author of my life exists.      

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:22:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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