Arm of Flesh 

~~MTS-4428
Arm of Flesh
“With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”            2 Ch. 32:8
    Surely Christ is able to help us in all things. Only issue remains, though. We are not so sure whether he will come through when we need his help. We don’t normally question his power; the doubt we often have is his love for us.
    It’s really not all that comforting to hear that the Lord has the best intentions for us, and it’s for our good that he does or refrains from doing something for us. God sovereignty invokes fear within our hearts, and he often appears to be so unpredictable and capricious.
    Does the Lord always come to our aid and fight battles on our behalf? This isn’t always the case, is it?
    We have been attempting to figure out a perfect formula so that we can predict the way of the Lord; therefore we can better channel God’s power for our own benefit in time of need, as if the Almighty exists merely for our purposes, not for his own sake.
    Indeed, the Lord will help us and fight our battles, but he will do so purely by his own volition and according to his own time frame. There is very little we can do but to trust him, believing that he has the best intentions for his children.
    We are God’s servants and are beholden to him in all things, not the other way around. We are called to do God’s will, not to force our will on him.
    At this critical juncture, Hezekiah must have been rather desperate, for the Assyrian troops were drawing nearer and nearer and the destruction appeared to be imminent. Looking at the situation from a human point of view, it was rather dire to say the least; yet the king was again reminded that the Lord was still sitting on his throne and he had no other option but to continue to put his trust in him.
    “With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles,” he proclaimed. Such was the affirmation of faith both the king and the Israelites badly needed. Whether they truly believed the validity of their faith or not mattered little as long as they were convicted in their hearts that the Lord was good and his faithfulness would never fail.
    We are indeed terribly myopic if our only desires from the Lord are merely confined to this world, and we are unable to see beyond the boundaries of the temporal and the physical.
                                       
  
       
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:43:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Greater Power 

~~MTS-4427
Greater Power
“…for there is a greater power with us than with him.”    2 Ch. 32:7
    It seems to be so automatic that we hardly pay any attention to it really. We flip the switch and there is light. We plug something in and the power light turns on. Indeed, we only miss electric power when there is blackout, and instantly forget about it when it comes back on. We hardly ever entertain the idea of how powerless we would become if electric power were to be taken away from us.
    We know something is wrong when there is long line of cars waiting to pump gas. We often drive to a gas station as if we were taking a stroll in the park, and gas flows out from the pump like water gushing out from a faucet. It doesn’t seem that we will ever run out of gas since there has hardly been any shortage for years.
    I have asked many people with expertise how long the world’s crude oil will last, and I have always been told it isn’t anything that I need to be concerned about, since I will be long gone when it finally happens. Yet I can’t help thinking about my children and grandchildren. Surely they won’t be able to function without a source of power.
    Such annoying things don’t usually occupy my thoughts for a very long time, for they are issues for the next generation, and I have my immediate concerns that need to be resolved: I often feel powerless when I am vexed by my weaknesses, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. It has always been my earnest yearning that I would have sufficient power to overcome whatever challenges that fall my way that keep me from experiencing the abundance of life and the joy that passes all understanding.
    “There is a greater power with us,” uttered the king. How do we turn such power on in our daily lives so that it ceases to be a mere idea, but becomes a concrete reality?
    It’s a matter of putting the idea into practice, I suppose. Our faith in God needs to be exercised constantly for it to grow vibrant and strong. It’s difficult for us to know something is really true when it remains head knowledge only. Much of our biblical knowledge only remains on a surface level and it doesn’t sink into the heart unless we are beaten down and crushed by the weight of trials and suffering.
    The Israelites were about to find out whether Hezekiah’s words were true or not, for the Assyrians were camped outside the city walls, and their attack appeared to be imminent. In times of crisis, their power must have been in short supply and they had no place to turn but the Lord.
    There are hundreds of windmills on both sides of Highway 84 before we hit I-20, and they stand day and night to catch the wind power in the air, reminding us that there is an enormous amount of power both under and above ground, waiting to be accessed and applied. By the same token, the great power that raised Jesus from the dead can also be utilized in our lives if we so desire, and know exactly how to apply it.       
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Encouragement 

~~MTS-4426
Encouragement
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him…”        2 Ch. 32:7
    We often lose courage because we fear the worst may happen to us. Our imagination tends to run wild conjuring up all the possible implications if the worst were actually to take place. Our courage will fail when we contemplate all the ills that may occur to us in life. We are on the lookout daily for any possible threat and always on high alert for fear to be ambushed unexpectedly.
    Would Lazarus continue to be afflicted by the fear of dying after he was brought back from the jaws of death? The worst had happened to him, and he must have come to realize it wasn’t all that bad after all.
    Death becomes a lot less threatening if we become acquainted with it or have already experienced it. In fact, if we are dead in Christ Jesus, physical death will become much less terrifying, for we have hope of resurrection.
    What causes dread isn’t death itself; what’s excruciating is the period when we are waiting for it to occur. What makes death so unbearable is the waiting part; it feels as if we are a soldier sitting in the trenches, waiting for the horn to sound and for the first shot to be fired.
    The Assyrians were laying a siege outside the city, which might have felt like a deadly tumor that wouldn’t go away. Day and night the threat remained and the worst appeared to be inevitable. How could the Israelites have been encouraged under such dire circumstances?
    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him…” Did the encouraging words of Hezekiah bring them any comfort at all? What else could the king have done except remind the people to continue to put their trust in the Lord? By faith they would be enabled to believe that the worst wouldn’t be all that bad, even if it were actually to occur.
    What we are dealing with at the present time is reality and what we will be handling in the future remains in the realm of imagination. Actual pain is much easier to deal with than imaginative ones. Certainty is less difficult to handle than mere possibilities, for the difference between the two is one and many, and today is one, tomorrows are many.
    Therefore, the best thing for the Israelites to do at this time of national and personal difficulty was for them to be occupied. The wise king was able to find something for them to do to enhance the situation, and leave the rest to the Lord. If we keep our imagination from running rampant, what we consider the worst may actually be not all that bad.
 
    
  
 
 
  
 
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:21:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Broken Sections 

~~MTS-4425
Broken Sections
“Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it.”          2 Ch. 32:5
    What Hezekiah did first was to cut the water supply for the invaders, and then he repaired the broken sections of the city wall to make it hard for the enemies to breach. Moreover, he erected another wall outside the existing one for double protection. The king and his people didn’t just sit and wait for the inevitable; they did all they could to help themselves. Humanly speaking, what they did to reinforce their defenses might have been all for naught, for the Assyrians were far too formidable and it appeared that there was nothing the Israelites could do to alter the outcome.
    Times of danger are the perfect occasions to exercise our faith and to strengthen our moral fiber. What does not destroy us makes us stronger and the strings of our beings are not broken after they are seemingly stretched beyond our ability to bear, for our knowledge of the Lord will be greatly expanded and extended.
    We may consider things are rosy and fine in times of peace and prosperity; yet when dangers appear, we will be reminded of our infirmities and that there are still a lot of holes to be patched in our defense mechanisms.
    Are there broken sections in our defense system? Can the evil one find a weak link in our city wall in which he can walk to and fro?
    Our broken sections are exactly the spots where Satan gains a foothold and erects his stronghold. From there he constantly launches his strong assault and it never fails to produce his desirable outcome, which is our demise. This is the reason why any type of addiction is so very destruction, for Satan will not let go after he gets a hold of our infirmities, which he can easily turn into our besetting sins.
    Surely we know what and where the broken sections of our spirituality are. Unless we repair them and reinforce them with vigilance and prayer, we will inevitably fail.
    Concerning this, time does not heal anything, and it’s horrifying to ponder that our weaknesses may outlive us and we may depart from the earth with profound sadness and regret. The Assyrians were about to lay siege to the holy city and the future appeared to be rather grim, yet the king appeared to be full of faith and chose to do the most sensible thing at the time, which was to repair the broken sections of the city wall, which served as a protection.
    The threat is looming from afar and the attack will be imminent. Isn’t this the time to act?
           
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, October 9, 2017 7:21:00 AM Categories: Devotional

An Invasion 

~~MTS-4424
An Invasion
“After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.”      2 Ch. 32:1
    What more could King Hezekiah have done to win God’s mercy and protection so that no evil would occur to his nation and to himself? Evidently, he didn’t do quite enough, for we read: “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.”
    In Hezekiah’s case, faithfulness to the Lord didn’t really pay, did it?
    We should not sell the king short, however, for he might not have done all the right things in order to win God’s favor. He could have done all he had done for the sake of honoring the Lord, without thinking about the reward he could possibly have earned.
    Doing good itself is its own best reward.
    Had the king done evil in the sight of the Lord, Sennacherib might have been employed as an instrument to exact judgment on him; since that wasn’t the case, we read no comment along that line. All we know was the invasion didn’t end badly and, in the midst of such calamity, the Lord did extend his arms to rescue his people from utter destruction.
    There is absolutely no such guarantee in life that if we do A, B will automatically take place. There is a probability that a desirable outcome will happen, but the likelihood of it not occurring is equally great. God’s mystery simply cannot be figured out by human logic, which is exactly the reason why faith in God is completely necessary.
    Did the unfortunate event cause the king to have doubts about God’s faithfulness? For sure it did, for such reaction is quite natural for God’s people to have when reality does not actually gel with one’s beliefs.
    What could the king have done in time of personal and national crisis? Did he start to moan and groan about how the Lord failed to come to his aid in time of trouble? He simply did what should or could have been done to prepare for what was going to happen, trusting that all things would out to be fine at the end.
    I just don’t see any other alterative except to keep on trusting the Lord when things are dire. Hezekiah certainly didn’t lose hope even though all things seemed to be pointing just the opposite.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, October 5, 2017 7:06:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Service of God 

~~MTS-4423
Service of God
“…in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.”  2 Ch. 31:21
    Life can easily become so routine that we become accustomed to doing things without thinking. Very few of us are leading a thoughtful life and our actions are often void of serious meditation.
    “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand I will not be shaken.” Do we keep our eyes always on the Lord and make him the center of all our thoughts and actions?
    We may not be conscious of the fact, but we are either serving the Lord or working solely for ourselves. We may go through the motions daily and hardly ever entertain a thought of the Lord, which is rather unfortunate, since we have been created to fulfill his purpose on earth.
    Making a living is merely a means to an end, which isn’t the purpose of life itself; we manage to stay alive by earning a living so that we can better serve the Lord. As a matter of fact, working and serving should not be dichotomized, for both are one and the same. We serve the Lord in whatever we do if we work unto him and do all things with a single and undivided purpose, which is to bring God honor and glory.
    We live in time, yet we need to constantly keep eternity in our minds and be aware of the eternal significance that we generate by engaging in all the temporal affairs. This concept isn’t new or earthshattering, but it does take conscious effort on our part to put it into daily practices.
    Take the activity that I am engaged in at the moment for an example. Even though my writing is second rate at best and my ideas are not very thought-provoking by any stretch of the imagination, yet I keep on doing this day after day without ceasing, for I have always considered this is the spiritual service I am rendering to the Lord; therefore, I can do it continuously without considering the result, financial or otherwise, it may generate.
    Even though I seem to be working on my writing, this is “stand and wait,” as Milton rendered it in his poem. So I suggest that we take a brief pause every now and then when we are busy doing our jobs and ponder on the meaning of our work, and dedicate whatever we do daily unto the Lord. It’s indeed an honorable thing to provide for our loved ones by working hard at our jobs, but ultimately we are created for God’s own glory and we ought to labor toward that end.
    We may just be merely making a living by doing whatever job we have, yet even so, it’s still a divine calling if we keep the Lord always before our eyes, intending to cause his name to be glorified.
  
  
    
  
  
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:29:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Provision 

~~MTS-4422
Provision
“They included all the little ones, the wives, and the sons and daughters of the whole community listed in these genealogical records.”     2 Ch. 31:18
    We can probably say that those people were born into privilege and, consequently, their daily needs were provided for, out of God’s grace and the king’s generosity. Hezekiah was a godly man whose intention was to make sure that the chosen tribe of God, the Levites, the ones who were selected to serve the Lord full time, weren’t in want of anything.
    It was indeed a great honor and privilege to be born into a household of the priesthood, for not only did they get to enjoy the spiritual benefits, there was absolutely no need for them to become concerned about their daily provision. How wonderful it was to be included among the chosen tribe of God!
    Those people’s estate was indeed rather enviable, and it wasn’t by their own doing or merit that they got to enjoy all the advantages in life. Their rights were inherited and were God-given, and there was no room for boasting. Had I been born into such honor and privilege, all I could have done for being in such a position would have been nothing but give the Lord praises and gratitude.
    Even though I did not have the honor to be placed in a godly family, the least I could do was to provide one for my children. But before I could start doing so, I myself had to be converted into God’s family. That was exactly what transpired, and for this reason alone do I have ample cause to give the Lord honor and praises.
    It could have been a lot worse, come to think of it, for if my grandmother had had her will, I would have given up for adoption at birth. Or I could have been born severely handicapped or with other physical or mental infirmities which might have prevented me from coming to the Lord. Surely a lot of bad things could have happened to me at birth, yet out of God’s mercy they didn’t occur, and since the day I was born, all things that have happened seemed to point to one end - which was for me to know the Lord and to serve him only.
    When was the last time, the only time even, that I was thankful for my idolatrous family, and my grandparents who were responsible for providing for me, and my parents who raised me the best they knew how?
    So instead of becoming envious of the children and wives of the Levites who seemed to have inherited all the rights without lifting even a finger, I should become more thankful for my blessed estate, since what I have become was entirely through God’s grace, as the apostle Paul stated: “But by the grace of God I am who I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.”
  
  
  
 
 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, October 3, 2017 7:15:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Left Over 

~~MTS-4421
Left Over
“…we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the Lord has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over.”          2 Ch. 31:10
    People seem to be so amazed to witness Ma Yun, the Chinese tycoon who is one of the richest people in China, eating a bowl of instant noodles, thinking that such a diet is beyond a man of his financial status. What must the man of great worth eat? I wonder.
    What should I eat? I ask myself this probing question. Compared to Ma, I am merely a peanut financially, yet as far as eating is concerned, I do have many options. But I have often found myself eating a bowl of instant noodles exactly like what Ma often does. Indeed, what’s the most enjoyable doesn’t have to be the costliest, does it? If that were the case, the poor would be deprived of any pleasure in life and we might bring a charge against the Lord for being unfair toward his children.
    Of course, the Lord does always make sure that his children have enough to eat, but the question remains: does he do anything beyond that? It appears to me, as I speculate, that if providing for our basic needs is a divine obligation, then giving us a little extra is God’s generosity.
    Being an earthly father, if I can afford to be generous, I will certainly be rather extravagant to all my loved ones, particularly my children. Come to think of it, my dad was a poor farmer, yet he managed to buy me a new car when I returned to Taiwan after three years of study in the States. I don’t think he could afford to be so generous to his son, yet he did it anyway. Why? I guess he wanted to make sure that I would have something left over.
    Don’t we all desire to be spoiled by the ones who love us?
    There were twelve baskets full of bread left over after the Lord Jesus fed thousands of people. There was no need for that, really, yet he did it anyway. There was no explanation other than to show that the Lord’s generosity has no limits. Indeed, life is not merely to be lived, but to be celebrated. Therefore, there are six days, and there is the Sabbath, which, it appears to me, is the “left over” of the cycle of seven days.
  The Sabbath is the time to rest; it’s also meant to be celebrated, and to remember divine abundance by thanksgiving is the best kind of celebration.
    Had I been able to, I would have made my children, when they were under my roof, feel that we always had money to spare and there was some left over if we ever needed it. I guess if we have sufficient faith in our Heavenly Father, having an abundance leftover must be the way we feel at all times, since our Father does own “cattle on a thousand hills.”
    It’s simply amazing! As a person with such merger financial resources, I was able to open a savings account, and leave it untouched for several years.   
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, September 29, 2017 5:55:00 AM Categories: Devotional

A Tithe 

~~MTS-4420
A Tithe
“They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.”         2 Ch. 31:6
    Tithing isn’t just giving one tenth of our income; it’s rather the important indication of our overall mindset, our attitude toward our wealth. By willingly parting from ten percent of our worth, we simply reveal to the Lord and the world who the true owner of our wealth is.
    We are in reality mere tenants of what we supposedly own, yet we often act as if we possess them permanently, not realizing that the owner of all we ever own can claim it whenever he deems fit. Giving one tenth of our money to the Owner of our wealth seems to be a much better deal than turning to him all we have in one fell swoop, doesn’t it?
    Giving our tithe to the Lord is to offer to the Lord what rightly belongs to him incrementally, which I believe is a lot easier than handing to him all we own in a lump sum. Besides, we learn how to give by giving, which will make it easy when we are required to give up all things. Tithing is, in essence, a spiritual exercise, teaching and reminding us who we truly are, and what genuine wealth is in this world.
    There are so many factors contributing to our ability to make a decent living or to amass sizable wealth, and the purpose isn’t solely for our own pleasure of enjoyment. We ought to address the crucial question as to what is the true end of our prosperity and fulfill it accordingly. Indeed, with wealth comes responsibility.
    “I am happy that I am not wealthy,” my wife often says to me.
    “Why? Isn’t that a sour grapes mentality,” I question.
    “Well, I don’t like the responsibility of being rich, for their obligation of giving is far greater than most people.” This does make sense, doesn’t it? Cutting a heavy check may demand a heavy hand, and I am not so sure it can be done light-heartedly. Wealth does not automatically make one generous; monetary giving requires spiritual discipline and constant exercise and, most importantly, a transformation of mindset.
    “After we retire, our tithes and offerings will be greatly reduced,” my wife said to me.
    “Well, we may have to stop giving to some of the missionaries we have been supporting,” I replied, feeling a little sad. For years I have been taking tithing and giving toward missions and charity for granted, and to give it up for lack of a steady income creates a deep sense of sadness. We may not be aware of, or think about it consciously, but what a great privilege it is to be able to give our tithes and offerings until the day we lose our ability either by old age or by disability. 
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, September 28, 2017 5:36:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Provision 

~~
MTS-4419

Provision

“He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the Lord.”  2 Ch. 31:4

    “Our daily provision shouldn’t be an issue when you consider retiring from church ministry,” Kathy said to me yesterday. It was indeed a declaration of faith, since she has always been the one between us who is more concerned about our financial state, which is understandable, for she’s been the one who pays all the bills. For years I have been rather oblivious about our household’s money matters.

    I suppose, after years of experiencing God’s abundant provision, my wife’s faith in the Lord concerning our daily provision must have been greatly strengthened. Surely the Lord has been merciful to us and he has never failed to provide for our needs.

    How did the Lord accomplish the task? Unless God’s people in the congregation had continued to give their tithes and offerings to the church, my source of income would have dried up. My annual stipend might be meager from a human point of view, yet the Lord has always come through when we had any need. Indeed, it was the Lord who has been providing for us, and the means by which he achieved the goal was through his people’s generosity.

    When we first arrived, there were only a handful of families in the church and the rest of them were students. The financial situation of the church was rather shaky to say the least. Yet it was the Lord who made sure that we had all the essentials and a little bit more. Twenty-four years later, not only do we own our own church building, we are able to contribute toward missions and charity work. Never was there a single time in the past years that the church had any difficulty paying my salary.

    All things considered, this is nothing short of miraculous, and it all came about by church people’s faithfulness in their giving. I am often amazed over the fact that a church such as this has remained viable and has thrived year after year. Up to this day, the church is merely composed of several families and the rest are students and visiting researchers from overseas, yet we are not in want in any way. Surely the Lord has been gracious.

    “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” sad the Lord. This is mathematics of the divine and can only be apprehended through constant practice. In fact, the Lord may bless us in sundry forms and different ways, of which we may not be fully aware, yet one of the blessings is financial prosperity. I am somewhat reluctant to make this pronouncement, but for the fact that it has been proven true through my personal experiences over the years. 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, September 27, 2017 4:39:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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