It is proven that our soul, or our psyche, may cause illness in our body. They are usually called psychosomatic illnesses. The cause for stomach ulcers, for example, could be caused by anxieties and worries in our psyche. Some headaches are the results of tension and stress. This is common knowledge.
The human being is made up of three parts: spirit, soul and body. They are not only interrelated, any weakness in one part would usually affect the other two parts. As the soul can affect the body, the spirit of a person can cause illness in the body as well. This, may I call it “sino-somatic” illnesses. The psalmist, because of his sins, was experiencing illnesses in his soul and his body. Sins weaken one’s spirit and consequently, illnesses may come to the soul and the body.
For his body, there was no health in his bones. His wounds would stink and fester, his body totally bowed down and prostrate. His sides were filled with burning and there was no soundness in his flesh. His strength failed him, the light of his eyes was gone. His sins and iniquities had taken away his health and he was suffering physically.
For his soul, he felt the weight of God’s hand, the rebuke of the Holy Spirit. His sins created a heavy burden that was too heavy for him. He went about the day in mourning. The feeling within him was feeble and crushed, he groaned because of the tumult of his heart. He sighed and his heart throbbed. When he needed help the most, his friends and companions went away from him while his enemies kept plotting to bring harm to him.
Our weakened spirit is often the cause for emotional and physical illnesses. When we make wrong decisions, there is no rest for our soul. The heaviness in our spirit is reflected in a loss of joy in our soul and a loss of health in our body. As we are separated from God because of sin, we are also separated from our friends and loved ones. Sin brings separation and alienation to our lives as well. It affects us spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially. We must be reconciled to God in order to have soundness in our spirit, soul and body.
When you are right with God, you may then enjoy real health. Divine health comes only when you are walking with the Lord in holiness. Holiness, the wellness of the spirit, results in the wellness of the soul and the body. Are you suffering from any kind of illness today? Seek the Lord to see if this is a case of sino-somatic illness. The quickest way to obtain healing is not to go to the doctors but to confess your sins and iniquities. Cry out to God and ask Him for forgiveness, and healing will come.
In this fast moving world, to be still is a big luxury. Being busy is the sign of working hard and idling is just not productive. People walk faster today than twenty years ago, they seem to be always in a hurry. Our attention span is getting shorter and shorter, from half a minute to less than ten seconds. Taking a break to enjoy a cup of coffee, stopping and talk to a stranger, helping someone in dire need on the street are all wasting of time. In our relationship with God, being still is a must.
The psalmist declares that being still allows us to know that the Lord is God. It is a way of knowing God. As rolling stones gather no moss, a life filled with action without a boring moment cannot propel us heavenward. When we are busy, we do not think, we do not pray, we do not relate to others. The only thing we are thinking of is to get things done, to complete the task at hand and then get on to another task. When we are still, our hearts begin to open, our ears are more attentive and our eyes can see a lot more. In our moment of stillness, our spiritual eyes can be opened.
In the psalm, we are invited to go and behold the works of the Lord. The Lord is working all over the world and without the stillness of our heart, we may not be able to see them. Have you seen the desolation or deterioration of the planet earth? Have you seen the Lord at work stopping war and destruction? Have you seen God exalted above the nations? Have you seen God exalted above the earth? Our God is still at work, be still and know that.
Jesus took three disciples up the mountain so that they might be still and see the glory of the Lord who transfigured right in front of their eyes. They were not only able to see but were able to hear the voice of God the Father from heaven. The voice said that Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father and the disciples were to hear and obey Him. It all happened as they prayed together on the mountain.
Praying is an act of being still before the Lord, speaking to Him and listening to what He has to say to us. It brings in God’s presence and glory, changing the gloomy state of our daily life into a glorious encounter with God. Working cannot replace praying, our first work is always prayer. Before we even pray, we need to get away from the crowd and be still before the Lord. Sometimes it is called waiting before the Lord.
How is your prayer life at this point in your Christian walk? Are you able to be still and have the opportunity of knowing God? Are you too busy to stay still? Is your mind too active and would not stop? You need to pause and be still, plan some time to spend with Abba and you shall know Him more.
God knew that one day, Israel would have her own king to rule over them. Throughout the history of Israel, there were good kings and there were bad kings. Good kings brought in the blessings of God and the nation would prosper. Bad kings departed from God’s ways and would bring the nation into disaster. So the character and spiritual life of the king was of utmost importance. It is most interesting to see how God instruct the future kings of Israel on how to be king. It had something to do with copying the Word of God.
To ensure the integrity and good character of the future kings, all who was going to sit on the throne should write for himself in a book a copy of the law, approved by the Levitical priests. This copy should be with him, and he should read it all the days of his life so that he might learn to fear the Lord and keep the laws and statutes of God. In copying and reading God’s Word, he was to learn humility, not lifting himself up above his brothers. In so doing, he might continue long in his kingdom.
If the king does that, he would set a good example for his subjects. Copying and reading the Word can instill a fear of God in our lives. Many believers read the Word but reading only engage limited senses in our body: the eye and the mind. But if we read the scriptures out loud, it engages our ears also, adding the hearing faculty. However, if we copy the word, it would involve our hands as well. The more senses you are engaging in going into the Word, the more you shall reap from the reading. No wonder the king had to copy the Word of the law.
The Word of the law is a law book, if we know more about the law, the less likely are we to break it. It is a guide for our conduct and the way of thinking. Through daily input of the Word, we can become more like Christ in all His fullness. The time with our Abba in heaven is a precious time, we speak to Him and He speaks to us. By copying His Word, we are making a statement that His Word is the most important thing in our lives. The effects are the same as with the king copying the Word. We can then learn to fear the Lord, be humble and have the kingly anointing.
We are to be kings in this world, our goal is to extend the Kingdom of God. All believers are to lead others that are not in God’s Kingdom. What we do is to kick out the ruler of this world, Satan, and to bring others into the Kingdom of light. Copying the Word gives us such anointing and authority to rule.
How is your time with Abba each morning? Do you do it in a rush or actually spending time with the Lord? Are you reading the Word from an electronic device without copying it down by hand? Begin now to copy the Word, you will enjoy it!
Solving the social problem of poverty is the concern of every government in the world. Even political systems were devised to do just that. Socialist systems aim at the equal distribution of wealth while capitalist systems boost up the supply of wealth in order to help the poor and needy with a good economy. One is from the bottom up and the other is from the top down. We can say that, to date, none of these systems are working perfectly. You may wonder what God has to say about this.
God’s social program is based on who the people are since those involved must be children of God. They are His sons and daughters, a people holy to God, chosen for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. God’s program works only among His own people, those who are under His rule and command. Such program would not work if the people were not God’s people. As God’s people, they are to obey God’s laws and principles. Democracy is replaced by theocracy, not the rule of the people by the people but the absolute rule of God, the Creator. He can tell His people what to eat and what not to eat; how much and how often they give their tithes; and how they are going to observe the Sabbatical year. Without the rule of God in people’s lives, this program will not work.
The goal of this program is that there will be no poor among them, a total and complete eradication of poverty. This is done by everyone strictly obeying the voice of the Lord and careful to do all His commandments. As a result, the Lord is going to bless them and then they may freely give to the poor, including the Levites, the widows, the fatherless and the sojourners. If a nation does that, God’s blessing will flow down. They shall lend to many nations but shall not borrow out of need. Then that nation shall rule over many nations, but they shall not be ruled over.
The national social program begins with the individual. If everyone takes care of their own kinsman in need, open their hands to him and lend sufficiently for his needs. When one does that, not grudgingly but willingly, the Lord will bless that individual. If not, the cry of the needy may rouse the Lord to action and His judgment, not blessing, will come. If one gives freely, the Lord will bless him even more in all his work and all that he undertakes. If all the citizens of that kingdom do that, the whole nation will be blessed and there will be no poor among them.
God is waiting to bless you. Are you in a bless-able position? Do you realize that you are stopping God’s blessing from coming to you because you do not give to the poor and the needy? The poor in the community is not just your obligation but also your opportunity to be blessed. Begin to get God’s blessing now.
The student of geography would agree with the assessment of the Lord: agriculture in Canaan would be very different than that in Egypt. In the land of Egypt, the farmers got their water through their lifeblood, the Nile. People relied on water of the river that they also idolized. There they sowed the seed and irrigated it, like a vegetable garden. The land of Canaan would be a land of hills and valleys that drank water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord cared for. The Israelites were not to depend on the mighty flowing Nile but to rely totally on God for the autumn and spring rains.
To be a farmer in the Promised Land, one has to look to the heavens for rain, to God for provision. The condition for continual supply of rain is not the weather pattern but is spiritual in nature. If they obey God’s commandments and serve Him, God will give rain in its season, that they may harvest their grain, wine and oil. Grass will spring up to feed the cattle and sheep and they shall eat and be full. Translate into today’s terms: our livelihood does not depend on our abilities or other natural resources but on the grace and mercy of God. It is a spiritual issue and if we are in a right relationship with God, He will provide for all our needs.
Most people have a dichotomy of what is spiritual and what is natural. We seldom make the link between our spiritual life and our physical life. We depend on something called the River Nile, great and mighty with all the water that we ever need. The plan seems to be able to channel such abundance into our lives. When we are successful, we sing praises to the river but we seldom look up to heaven where God is. We become people of the river rather than people of heaven.
The Lord warned the Israelites about Jehovah worship in the Promised Land. They were not to reuse their pagan worship instruments or recycle their pagan beliefs and put a new name on it. In the incident of the golden calf, they used the form of paganism but called the gold calf Jehovah. All idols are from the ground, from created things. Only the Lord is in heaven and invisible to human eyes. The Israelites were to demolish every pagan worship forms and idols. They were not even going to reuse the places for pagan sacrifices but to go to a place the Lord had allotted to them. All their prosperity and wellness were related to their spiritual condition and their relationship with the Lord.
Are you a river person or a heaven person? Do you rely on the created things for your well-being? Do you worship the river that gives you your sustenance? Reject Egypt, reject the Nile! Look to heaven for all your provisions. The only way to get enough is to seek the face of the Lord. Are you seeking Him today?
Israel was about to cross the Jordan and dispossess the nations greater and mightier than themselves. The cities there were great and fortified and the people were big and tall, the sons of the Anakim. They really needed help to accomplish the task. God assured them that He would go before them as a consuming fire. He would destroy them and make them perish quickly. God’s presence as fire was a sign of His judgment, removing all darkness and sinfulness.
The Israelites were not to be proud because of the eradication of their enemies. The Lord did that not because they were righteous but because of the sinful condition of their enemies. No one could take the Lord for granted, we need to be careful of our own walk with the Lord instead of rejoicing over the plight of our enemies. After delivering God’s promise to defeat their enemies, Moses then warned his people. They were a stubborn people, provoking the wrath of the Lord in the wilderness repeatedly. Had not for the grace of God, they would have perished long ago.
Moses remembered the time when he had to plead for the people and Aaron so that the Lord would not destroy them in His wrath. Even when he went down the mountain after receiving the two stone tablets, the mountain was burning with fire. God’s presence was there as a sign for His holiness and His hatred of sin. With the fire burning, Moses went down and dealt with the sin of the people in worshipping the golden calf. God’s fire was burning against His people.
If God were a consuming fire, how can we approach Him without getting burned? How do we get along with such a holy God? For that God has made a provision for us, as He told the Israelites of His requirements as they came before Him. What He requires of His people is for them to fear Him, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve Him with all their heart and with all their soul, to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord. As a token of their covenant, an agreement that the people will take the Lord as their God and walk in His ways, the rite of circumcision was given. However, the physical act was not enough. They needed the circumcision of the heart and stopped being stubborn.
The Lord is a God of love, but He is also a God of righteousness. It is easy for us to approach Him through love but when we get close to Him, we can sense His holiness. He will not tolerate sin in our lives. To come close to God and enjoy His love, we must circumcise our heart and walk with Him by true obedience. Are you feeling the consuming fire? Or are you experiencing the fire of His love and presence? The difference is in you, confess your sins and get close to Him now.
At the invitation of Simon, the Pharisee, Jesus was reclining at the table when a woman who was a known sinner, came and anointed Jesus with oil in an alabaster flask. She stood behind Him at his feet, weeping and began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment. Simon was offended by Jesus’ reception of the woman’s touching because she was a sinner.
Jesus responded by telling a story about moneylender and his two debtors. One owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. When both could not pay, he forgave them both. The question posed by Jesus to Simon was, “Now which of them love him more?” The answer was obvious, the one who was forgiven more, or the one who owed more in the first place. Simon got the message and Jesus compared him to the debtor who owed fifty denarii and the woman as the one who owed five hundred. That explained why the love was much more from the woman than from the Pharisee.
Some may see the woman as a greater sinner while the Pharisee as a lesser one, and that was why they reacted in such different ways. However, in God’s eyes, all sinners are equally sinful, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. A greater sinner or a lesser sinner is only in the mind of the sinner. The Pharisee may see that his sins as lesser in severity than the sins of the woman. So in his mind, he was a better person. A self perceived better person feels that he is forgiven less while the self perceived greater sinner feels that is forgiven more. It has to do with how we look at our sins.
How we look at ourselves has a lot to do with our love of God. Love is in direct proportion to gratitude. The more grateful we are, the more love we have of God. Self-righteous people are seldom fully God-lovers since they do not think that bad of themselves. They only pay lip service as far as loving God is concerned. Deep down in their heart, they think they are worthy of the cross and God’s forgiveness.
When applied to our human relationships, forgiveness is the proof of our love for one another. The more you forgive, the more you love. Instead of the forgiveness we have received from God, it is the forgiveness that we extend to those who have offended us. From the passive receiving, we may move to the active giving of forgiveness. It takes a lot of love to forgive another person, even your loved ones.
How is your love for God? You can only love Him more if you realize how awful you are as a sinner. How is your love for others? It is gauged by how much you forgive.
Our lives are made up of little moments, some of them are memorable and some not so great. No matter how you look at them, they become part of God’s intrusion into your life and we should not underestimate them. History is made up of recordable moments and we see a lot of them in the Gospels. The record of Luke begins with a desperate and hopeless moment when the widow of Nain had to bury his only son. You may imagine how heart-broken she would have been. Jesus saw her and had compassion on her, spoke words of comfort to her and commanded the young man to arise. People around them were astonished and realized that God had visited them. Yes, in our moments of despair, God visits us to help and save.
Then the attention was drawn to John the Baptist. While in prison, he had his moment of doubt, wondering if Jesus was the One who was to come or he had to look for another Messiah. The two disciples he sent asked Jesus and Jesus pointed to the signs and wonders he was performing, proving that He was the One who was to come. In our moments of doubt, Jesus is there to answer our questions. Even as great as John the Baptist, he also had moments of doubt. John indeed did a great service for the Kingdom. Those who were baptized by him did not reject the purpose of God for themselves.
In the same breath when Jesus was talking about John the Baptist, He challenged the people of that generation to give a response. Like those who had been baptized by John responding to God, others too may seize the opportune moments to respond to God’s purpose in their lives. A lack of response, or apathy, is the chief reason for our spiritual lives not growing. It was like when someone plays the flute and you do not dance, it is like someone singing a dirge and you do not weep. Apathy is the chief spiritual problem of Jesus’ day and the same is true today. If we accept the wisdom of God, the children of God may then prove that God is just.
There are moments when we hear the Word of God and we must respond. Jehovah instructed the Israelites to keep the Word in their heart, to teach their children diligently, to talk to them in the house, by the way, when they were lying down or when they arise. There are teachable moments for us to share God’s Word with our children. God is also utilizing teachable moments to teach us as well. Whether it is in your desperate moments, your doubting moments or your moments of response or decision, God demands a change in your life. None of these life moments would be wasted if you make the right response to God.
Life is made up of all the moments of your life. Do not waste a moment, go to His presence each day and listen to what He has to say about the different moments.
Moses compared the nation of Israel with other nations on earth and there were big differences. No nation was as wise and understanding as Israel, and no nation had the Lord God so near to them that they could call on His name. No nation had statutes and rules so righteous as the law that God had given to Israel. Israel was uniquely God’s people and the law of God set them apart from all other nations of the world.
With this in mind, Moses continued further and told the people to take care and keep their soul diligently, not letting what they experienced about God to depart from their heart. God is an invisible God and people could not replace Him with any idols in the form of any created things. The created could be distractions so that their heart might depart from the Creator. Guarding the heart means to separate God from all other created things, honoring Him as the Creator but not be obsessed with created things.
Jesus also talked about the things of the heart. A student is not supposed to be above his teacher but he is fully trained, he can only be like his teacher. This takes out the pride from our hearts. Despising our teachers and finding faults with our brothers are all the result of the heart’s condition. It causes spiritual blindness, not able to see things clearly. If we dare to lead others, it would be the blind leading the blind, both falling into the pit.
The heart is also who we are and where we are. Whatever is in our heart, fruits of our life will come out. The fruit of our lives is only an indication of our real self. If a person’s heart is good, good fruit comes out. Jesus uses “good treasures” and “evil treasures” to describe the conditions of our heart. Treasure is something we value and is hidden away from others. However, we all betray our treasures through our mouths. Out of the abundance of the heart our mouths speak. So judging from your words, your life is being revealed.
What is the treasure that you are hiding? What do you treasure the most in life? What are some of the fruits of your life? Listen to yourself, what is coming out of your mouth? Are you a good tree or a bad tree? Is there more good than evil in your heart?
Pause now and look at the condition of your heart. Is there a deep loyalty for the Lord there? Do you consider yourself as a good person or a not so good one? Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about your real condition. Ask God for an open-heart surgery and replace your heart today.
The Lord was guiding the Israelites through the wilderness. He first told them that they had spent enough time on the mountain and they must get going. Here, the Lord rebuked them for going around in circles around Mount Seir for many days. They must change their direction and go north instead of repeating the same route again and again.
Doing the same thing repeatedly has its attractions, the route is familiar and we do not have to think twice about what is coming up ahead. None of us like surprises, routine makes us feel secure and in control. On the other hand, going around in circles means that we are making no progress, getting into a rut and afraid of trying new adventures. We trade safety and security with purposelessness and fear of failure. One reason for us to go around in circles is the fear of the unknown.
The scriptures give a subtle hint on why the Israelites were hesitant in going forward. Two groups of people were in their way and they were very reluctant in dealing with them. The first group was the people of Esau, their brothers who lived in Seir. The Israelites might not know what to do with them, causing the paralysis and going about in the mountain country. The Lord then told them what to do with their brothers there: do not contend with them, do not take their land, food or money. They should buy water from them and then go away from them. As for their next encounter, Moab, the Lord gave similar instructions. Moab was the descendants of Lot and they were related by blood also.
Going in circles means that we are always operating in familiar environments. One of the most familiar places could be our family. In fear of them, or what they have to say about us, we are bound to stay the same without offending them. Jesus said that our enemies could be our own family members. In order to come out of the rut, we must make peace with them and go on. The expectation of parents, the jealousy of siblings and the family dynamics are all there to prevent us from going the direction the Lord wants us to go. One example is when one family member feels God’s call to go into the mission field, the rest of the family may oppose it to protect that member. Choosing family or the Lord is very difficult and that may cause us to go around in circles.
How is your relationship with your family members? Are you at peace with them or is there any matter yet to be settled? If you do not come out of such entanglement, you can never advance and do God’s will. Are you tired of going to the same places and doing the same things again and again? God is a creative God, He can lead you out of this rut. Commit you life to Him and He can show you what He has for you.
Very few people are aware of their own thoughts, most of us act by instinct without going into the nature and condition of our thoughts. When we are not guarding our thoughts, we allow the enemy to send his thoughts and ideas into our mind. Most of the thoughts are suggestions for us to go one way or the other. If we do not stop wrong or evil thoughts, they will cause us to do things against God’s will.
The devil wants us to challenge God and His thoughts. He speaks lies and falsehood and we think that they are part of our thoughts. The first thought that comes into our mind is usually not our own. However, if we dwell on it, think about it a few more times, we would then own the thought. This is how temptation comes into our lives, through conception, growth and birth of evil, all in our mind. We have to doubt God and His good intention in order to foster a spirit of rebellion. Asking God “why” is a sure way to depart from God’s will.
The first few verses of Psalms 42 are filled with questions to challenge God. It all started with others challenging the psalmist, “Where is your God?” Doubts about the existence and goodness of God were sent to the hearer, creating a series of questions within him. This caused him to think of the “good old days” and compared the past with his present trouble and depression. One verse is repeated here and it provides the clue for the psalmist to get out of his depression: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”
Instead of asking God “why”, instead of challenging God, the psalmist challenged his thoughts. He asked himself for the reason to be depressed. There is no reason for any child of God to feel badly about any situation because God is alive. He is to be praised because only He is our salvation and our God. The psalmist was not only challenging his thoughts, he was educating himself with the truth about God. Like in Psalms 103:1, the psalmist spoke to himself, to his heart, to the core of his being.
We should not let our heart run wild without control. If we do not guard our heart, it will be all over the map, leading you on journeys you do not want to take. Wherever you are, you can always remember God because by day, He commands His steadfast love and at night His song is with us. Send a prayer to the Lord of your life and you would return to him. Do not let negative emotions and thoughts run your life. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you and run your life.
How is your thinking and feeling at this point? Are you feeling any ugly thoughts or emotions? Bring it before the Lord, challenge them and bring them into obedience.
The Lord gave the Israelites very clear instructions on how to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. They were to drive out all the inhabitants there and destroy all their figured stones, metal images, demolish their high places (for Baal worship) before they took possession of the land and settled in there. But if they did not do a thorough job of cleansing the land, the remaining original inhabitants would become barbs in their eyes and thorns in their sides. They would then not be able to see clearly and their movements would be hindered.
These people would not only give them trouble, the Lord also would do to the Israelites as He had thought to do to the original inhabitants. In other words, the new inhabitants would be receiving the same judgments as the original inhabitants of Canaan. Their idolatry would affect the newcomers in that the newcomers were to share in their punishments. This would happen if the Israelites did an incomplete job in cleansing of the land.
Incomplete obedience is the same as disobedience. 90% or 95% obedience equals to 100% disobedience. Some proposed that Christians should have a balanced life, not going all the way as to become extreme. What the Lord said was that the 5% or 10% disobedience would allow the enemy to work covertly in our lives. They will be like barbs in our eyes and thorns in our sides, hurting us even though they are small and insignificant. Some young people think that it is all right to marry out of the faith if the prospective spouse is open to Christianity even though they are not embracing Christ at the time. Some mature believers think that it is okay to go for energy or alternative healing as long as the practitioner is a Christian.
Most of our way of practicing our faith is to have our conscience pacified by some degree of obedience but with some parts left to ourselves to pick and choose. Not going all the way is actually a step backwards. It is all or nothing, it is not Christ with something else. We must believe that Christ is all-sufficient for our needs. If Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.
If you continue to read the subsequent history of Israel, you will see how these covert enemies work in destroying the whole generation of Israelites. The incomplete obedience in one generation caused the whole next generation to not follow the Lord but to go after the Baals and Ashtoreths. They forsook the altar of Jehovah for the high places, the sacrificed their children to the devil.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any incomplete obedience in your life. Confess them and go all the way. Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.