What do you do when what is happening looks completely the opposite of what God has promised?

You believed He was a provider but to this day, you don’t have a baby.
You trusted His promise but up to now, you still didn’t get your promotion.
You prayed that things would get better, but things have gotten worse.

Abraham received his promise – Isaac. But he was going to face another test. In Genesis 22, God asked him to sacrifice his son on top of Mt. Moriah. There are 5 things I’d like to mention as lessons from this narrative.

1. Our faith is going to be tested through our obedience.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” – Genesis 22:1

Not very many love taking tests. Do you? I don’t. But tests reveal what we have learned.

There are tests that produce faith.
But there are tests that reveal faith.

When tests come, what does it reveal about you?

2. We can either reason on the basis of our circumstance or on the basis of God’s character.

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” – Genesis 22:5

“I and the boy will come again to you.”
What a faith statement!

But did he know God’s plan- that God wasn’t going to really make him do it?
I don’t think so.

But Hebrews 11:19 gives us a clue to what his through process was.
“He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Abraham wrestled but came to a conclusion the night before. He logically concluded that God cannot lie. He made a promise (that he will be a father of many nations) and He will not turn back from that promise.

So he did not reason on the basis of his current circumstance but on the basis of the character of God – that He is faithful to fulfill His promise.

3. The promise given is as good as the Promise Giver.

Genesis 22:7. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When he resolved in his heart that God cannot lie and will not lie, he made this declaration: God will provide. He didn’t know how and he didn’t know when. But he was sure of it for some reason.

But since there is no one greater than God, He swore by His own authority and power. Genesis 22:16-17, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you.”

Because He is the ultimate authority and power, therefore, what He says, we can trust.

4. Obedience has to be immediate, persistent and ultimate.

Abraham woke up early.
He continued walking up the mountain with Isaac.
He drew the dagger when it was time.

His obedience was immediate, persistent and ultimate.

I love what John Calvin said, “We pay Him the highest honour, when, in affairs of perplexity, we nevertheless entirely acquiesce (yield) to his providence.”

5. God’s infinite provision is always greater than our finite problem.

Genesis 22:14. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Yahweh Yireh or the Lord will provide is a title given to God by Abraham. It does not only mean God being the One who supplies. Yahweh Yireh also means “God will see to it.” He will see to it that His plans and purposes will prevail in our lives.

Will it always be in the way we desire Him to provide? Will it be according to our timing or His? Not really. But one thing is for sure. He will see to it that what He has planned will be accomplished.

MY LIFE FEELS LIKE A WILDERNESS. WHAT DO I DO?

It seems like my life has become dry and lifeless.
I am not sure why I am in this situation.
I am hoping this doesn’t last for a long time.
I can’t feel God.
How can I get out of this?

While going through a wilderness situation, we often desire to get out of it. But is it possible that there are lessons God want us to teach while in the wilderness?

Hagar in Genesis 16 found herself in the desert. It wasn’t her fault that she was now a single mom. She felt abandoned, dismissed, and broken.

If you feel this way, there are a few takeaways I want us to learn from this narrative in Genesis 16.

1. God’s goodness far outweighs our personal brokenness.

It’s interesting that while in the desert, God still blessed Hagar. He promised that from her will come multitudes. God blesses her son exceedingly as Genesis 17:20 declares.

If you feel in a situation of brokenness, remember, God is still good. And He is still God.

2. Sometimes, it is in the arid wilderness that we find our genuine healing.

She was in a very difficult situation. But it was in the wilderness that she encountered God. Real and genuine healing comes as we meet God in the secret place; maybe even in the desert.

If you are in a dry, arid place today, never limit what God can do in those situations. He is a God who restores.

3. The most important thing to remember is that while we are in the wilderness, we are never alone.

Hagar experienced that. She understood what it meant to be abandoned by her master. But she also experienced what it meant to be near God. El Roi, the God who sees, revealed Himself to her.

French writer, Paul Claudel said, “Christ did not come to do away with suffering; He did not come to explain it; He came to fill it with His presence.”

May we encounter El Roi, the God who sees, even while we are in the wilderness. For truly, He doesn’t just see. He also cares for His children.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH IS A RESULT OF SOMEONE’S IRRESPONSIBILITY OR WRONG DOING

You lost your job because your direct report did not submit the project proposal on time.

You failed your subject because your group mate did not put in the work she should’ve.

You can’t claim inheritance because you just found out that your dad wasn’t really your dad.

Your boyfriend broke up with you because he fell for your best friend.

What do you do when what you’re going through was a result of someone’s irresponsibility or worse, wrong doing?

A garden variety of responses can come to surface which would include anger, revenge, bitterness, apathy.

In Genesis 16, we read the story of Hagar. She was Abram and Sarai’s servant. Because the couple was given a promise and it seemed like God was not fast enough in fulfilling His promise, they took matters in their own hands and thought of a way to make the promise happen – for Abram to have Hagar as a surrogate mom.

But this wasn’t God’s plan. He said in Genesis 15 that the heir was going to come from Abram and Sarai’s union. Somehow, they forgot what God said and made their own solution to the situation.

Painful experiences have a way of missing God or distorting what He said. The promise may have been taking some time but God’s delays are not necessarily His denials.

They may have gotten a baby (Ishmael) out of their solution but it wasn’t the plan of God. Whatever we attempt to do without God is going to be a miserable failure – or worse, a miserable success.

It caused a conflict in the household. Sarai felt miserable and all the more insecure because she couldn’t bear a child. Hagar felt contempt towards Sarai for whatever reason. Maybe because she felt superior because she was able to give Abram a child. But whatever the reason, the situation got ugly.

She was dealt with very harshly. She had to leave Abram’s household. She fled to the desert.

Out of the blue, she found herself without a home, without provision, without certainty about the future – and all these as a single mom.

She’s in this situation only because Sarai told Abram to do so. And she was only being submissive to her master and mistress. Now she’s in this dilemma.

Fortunately, God shows up in the desert and encounters Hagar. He gives a promise of blessing to Hagar.

As a result, Hagar makes a declaration – “You are the God who sees me. I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13, NIV)

One of the names of God is El Roi which means the God who sees. And the word ‘to see’ is more than just being able to visually gaze but as a shepherd would watch over his sheep is how God, El Roi, sees and watches over His children.

1. Knowing that El Roi sees me, I can be secure under His protection.

Job 24:23 says, “He gives them security, and they are supported, and his eyes are upon their ways.”

2.  Knowing that El Roi sees me, I can have significance because I know He loves me.

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

When a child sees his parents watches over him, he can feel the love. Similarly, we sense His love as He watches over us.

3. Knowing that El Roi sees me, I can be satisfied in His presence. 

Psalm 121:1-3 says, “1I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;”

He watches over you and me. Because of that, I can be assured of His presence over my life. He will never leave, forsake or abandon.

May we always be reminded that El Roi, the God who sees and watches over us is with us.

 

 

 

WHY ME?

As long as we live in a fallen and broken world, we will experience sufferings and trials – no one is exempted. What marks the difference is how we respond.

It’s okay to ask, throw a fist in the air, or scream if you must – but, don’t stop there.

Cry out for help. Ask God to fill you with faith, hope, strength and courage. You are not alone. This is a journey that can only be finished triumphantly with God and the community He has placed us in. Believe that God can lead you to someone He has planned to help you in your journey.

Allow His loving arms to carry you through and see how God will reveal His glory in and through you.

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PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!

Some, if not all, of us have in one way or another uttered this statement.

Abandonment by a loved one, whether involuntarily like death or voluntarily, is an unbearable pain that has been etched deep in our hearts. And this pain doesn’t just simply go away.

The only way we can experience healing and freedom from this trauma is by allowing God, the Maker of heaven and earth, to be our Abba Father. Allow His love to penetrate the deepest wounds of our hearts. Cling to Him and His word because He promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

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REASONS WHY WE CAN CONTINUE TO HOPE

Hope is such a precious commodity these days. As we live in unprecedented times, it is very easy to slip into hopelessness and eventually spiral down to helplessness.

In 1965, Martin Seligman “discovered” learned helplessness. He found that when animals are subjected to hard situations that they themselves cannot control, the eventually give up and stop trying to escape.

The Bible gives us reasons why we can continue to hope and not give up. There are so many but allow me to give you seven.

1. We can have hope because we will continue to see His goodness.

Psalm 27:13 (NIV). I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

God’s ways flow from His character. Because He is good, His ways are always going to be good.

2. We can hope because His goodness is abundant.

Psalm 31:19 (ESV). Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

His goodness abounds and it is unlimited. We can trust that His goodness is not just for a certain time but for all time. We are His children. Jesus said that if earthly fathers can give good gifts to their children, how much more our Heavenly Father.

 

3. We can have hope because what He started He will complete.

Philippians 1:6. NLT. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

What good work He began, He will complete. His power is never limited by any crisis or situation.

 

4. We can hope because He will fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Psalm 138:8a (ESV). The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Uncertainty brings a lot of insecurity. But in a time of uncertainty, there can be security! It can only be found in the Lord because He always… ALWAYS… has a purpose.

5. We can hope because He will guide us.

Psalm 32:8. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

This gives us so much hope. He will not just guide us along the best pathway. He will also watch over us. It is one thing to give instructions but it is another thing to know that He is with us through those pathways.

 

6. We can hope because the best is yet to come.

Proverbs 4:18 (NIV84). The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining every brighter till the full light of day.

We are righteous not because of our own merit but by the blood of Jesus alone. And because of that, we can claim that our path is like the first gleam of dawn. It starts like a flickering light but it gets brighter and brighter because we are with Him.

7. We can hope because He can work things out for our good and for His glory.

Romans 8:28. ESV. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

He knows the beginning and the end because He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. We can have this confidence that God doesn’t only sees all things but He knows all things. And this gives so much hope because we can trust in His plan – that He will work all things together for our good and ultimately for His glory.

IS THERE A PURPOSE TO PAIN?

Yes, but only if we have the proper perspective.

Pain usually connotes a negative occurrence, which no one wants. We desire to live a life that’s free from suffering, but the Bible tells us that there is a glorious purpose and outcome to pain. 

We may not fully understand why nor see the end result, but we can trust the hand of our Heavenly Father working in and through us. He will fulfill His divine plan for His name to be glorified and His children to be reconciled back to Him.

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BESIDES GOING TO HEAVEN, WHAT ELSE DID JESUS ACCOMPLISH FOR US?

When we don’t understand the worth of something, we don’t value it as much.

We’ve been given an incredible gift. The more we realize what we’ve received, the greater the appreciation we will have. The following are the 4 things Jesus accomplished for us through His sacrifice in Calvary.

1. PEACE WITH GOD.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The peace Paul speaks about is the fact of peace more than the feeling of peace. 

We were at enmity with God. We were at odds with God. Some may say, “I feel peaceful.” That’s true. But you may not necessarily be at peace with God. 

It’s like sitting on a lounge chair, drinking your mango shake on the deck of the Titanic. You feel good for now but the boat is about to sink. It’s a temporary illusion.

But when we come to faith in Christ, we are reconciled to the Father through Him. We now have peace with God.

The peace with God is the fact.
The peace of God is the feeling.

The peace with God is judicial.
The peace of God is experiential.

The peace with God is objective.
The peace of God is subjective.

2. PRIVILEGED ACCESS

Romans 5:2 says, “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand…”

Dr. Kenneth Wuest, a New Testament scholar, describes the word access as a person having the privilege of having an audience with the king because he has the right set of clothing.

You and I can’t enter the presence of the King of kings without the right clothing. Our personal clothing is like filthy rags (Is. 64:6). But thankfully, He has given us the robes of righteousness (Is. 61:10) when we surrendered our lives to Jesus. 

As a result, we have unlimited access to the Father through Jesus.

He has given us the keycard to keep going back to the presidential suite because of this privileged access. 

3. PERSPECTIVE OF THE FUTURE

Romans 5:2 says in the JB Philips translation, “Through him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things he has for us in the future.”

We have a happy certainty of the glorious things God has for us. Hope is a confident expectancy and anticipation of that which we have yet to see.

When we see Him face to face, we will no longer be marred by sin, but freed from the corruption of our depravity and released from bondage of our sinful nature.

As Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic (paralazyed neck down) beautifully puts it,


“I still can hardly believe it. I, with shrivelled, bent fingers, atrophied muscles, gnarled knees, and no feeling from the shoulders down, will one day have a new body, light, bright, and clothed in righteousness—powerful and dazzling. Can you imagine the hope this gives someone spinal-cord injured like me? Or someone who is cerebral palsied, brain-injured, or who has multiple sclerosis? Imagine the hope this gives someone who is manic-depressive. No other religion, no other philosophy promises new bodies, hearts, and minds. Only in the Gospel of Christ do hurting people find such incredible hope.”

4. PURPOSE TO OUR SUFFERING

Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

Was Paul out of his mind? Why would we rejoice when there’s suffering?

The only reason is when we understand that there is a purpose to the pain. We are averse to it. None of us wake up in the morning asking God for a painful day. When we’re going through suffering, our initial prayer is for God to take us out of it.

But Paul says that there is a purpose to the pain.

Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and You are our potter. All of us are the work of Your hand.”
 
Will you let your Father, the Potter, shape you?
Will you allow pain to shape us or break us?
 
Having a relationship with Christ is not an escape from trials but a guarantee that those trials have a purpose.
 
May we be reminded of these that Jesus accomplished in our salvation.

 

 

CONSISTENTLY FAITHFUL

Have you ever been left out in the cold?

Has someone given you a promise, yet did not deliver?

Most, if not all of us, have experienced being let down by someone. And to protect our hearts, we either put up a bold front, strive to be accepted, or struggle to fully trust once more.

Until we open our hearts to that Someone who will never disappoint us or let us down, this will be a cycle we’ll always find ourselves in. Only God is able and willing to deliver on each promise He has given. 

God is not just faithful. He is consistently faithful. And His faithfulness does not depend on whether or not we’ve been faithful.

“God is faithful even if we are not.”

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SHALOM

Peace is not the absence of chaos, but experiencing wellness and wholeness in the midst of it.

We can try to muster peace with every ounce of strength we have or by positive thinking, but it will not last.

True and lasting peace can only come from God. And this peace can only come as we have peace with God.

So let us submit to Him and declare, Jesus is King. He is my Lord. Therefore, “It is well with my soul. I am going to be okay.”

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