Bless the Lord, O my soul

“Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

Bless-the-Lord

As I ponder upon Psalm 103, indeed, this is the response that David wants us to do – “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

Why?

He can forgive all your sins. He can heal all your disease. He can redeem your life from a bottomless pit. He showers you with love and compassion. He satisfies.

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. If we really understand that we are all sinners, we know the gravity of our situation. But the truth is this; he doesn’t repay us according to our sins. His love is great. It is compared to how far the east is from the west, which means there is no limit in his love for us.

8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

The Lord knows we are nothing. We are but a breath. We are mere mortals. But the Lord looks upon us with love. From everlasting to everlasting the Lord is with those who Fear him, with those who understand that they are but dust.

14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the Lord for this goodness! Praise the Lord for his love. Let us respond and bless the Lord!

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Ponder upon this, how much do you know the Lord to be able to respond, “Bless the Lord, O my soul?” Do you have 10,000 reasons or even more to praise His name?

 

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There’s a storm, after the rainbow

Storm and Rainbow

I know what you may be thinking. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around, “There’s a rainbow, after the storm?” Allow me to explain where I am coming from.

Life is filled with ups and downs. The Christian walk is always a battle.  There are cases where we are defeated. There are cases where we are victorious. And when we are victorious, the more that we should be on guard, else we fall. I’ve realized in my Christian walk that temptations and problems normally come after a moment of victory.

Yesterday was one of those days where I felt I was victorious. I preached for 4 services yesterday. Speaking for 4 times is not an easy task. That’s why we really need to value and appreciate our pastors who have been doing that for years already. It was a moment of joy for me to know that I was able to speak for 4 services, without losing my voice and strength. It was a time of joy for me, most especially because I know deep within my heart I was able to depend on God all throughout the day. Lots of people approached me after each service to let me know they were blessed with the message. Hearing their feedback was not a moment for me to boost my ego, but to merely be encouraged that indeed the Lord is working through me and I am just his vessel. Every preacher should desire that their message would always point to Jesus and not to themselves. So I was in a position to go through the day with joy in my heart and sleep soundly after a very tiring day.

I know yesterday was the moment of victory. So today I should be vigilant, and careful not to put my guard down, else I fall into temptation. Indeed, just as expected you cannot be complacent – the battle continues.

My girlfriend and I intended to watch a movie today so I can relax. She said that she was willing to watch whatever movie I wanted. I was willing to watch either “The Intern” or the “The Martian,” whatever has a good schedule and location. If you know me, the only thing that I really want when a watch a movie (aside from the actual movie) is good popcorn. So we were driving around Makati, and Power Plant was the only mall we saw that was still showing “The Intern.” My girlfriend really wanted to watch this movie and I was good either way as long as there’s popcorn. Nonetheless, she told me that the popcorn there wasn’t that good so I decided that we watch “The Martian” in Greenbelt instead. Plus, my favorite popcorn can be bought there. After I mentioned this, she expressed her sadness towards my decision. This made me a little bit (just a little bit, hehe) frustrated; I thought she wanted to watch what I wanted, but here she is, expressing her discontent towards my decision. To make the long story short, as small as the issue seems for some of you, it led to an argument.

There was a moment where we were both quiet. While I was thinking, I know God was already talking to my heart asking me to ask for forgiveness for how I reacted. However my pride was still there. I wanted her to realize her mistake so I was really planning to cancel our plan to watch a movie and just go home. But God was still there, speaking in my heart not to let this petty argument grow bigger. I know I need to ask for forgiveness. I know I need to humble myself. I still drove to Greenbelt and parked the car so we can talk.

In the parking area, I told her why I got so frustrated. I told her that I was frustrated because she mentioned that she was willing to watch whatever movie I wanted. Then she told me that her moment of sadness was just to express what she felt but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t want to go to Greenbelt and watch another movie instead. I guess this is really the part where we say, “Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus.” I asked for forgiveness and she did the same. Later on, we prayed and everything was fine again.

What’s my point? You have to always be on your guard. Whenever there are moments of victory you should praise God, but never put your guard down. Never be complacent. Keep watch and pray.

1 Peter 5:8 - Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 

Whenever there is a moment of victory or joy, the more that you should pray and the more that you should be on your guard, else you fall. It’s not easy. Sometimes we would like to think when would the battle end. It will not. As long as we are in our flesh, there will always be temptations and we need to keep fighting. The battle goes on, but remember the war is already over.

Keep walking in the spirit and keep abiding in Christ. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. That’s why I praise God that he was speaking in my heart and he did not allow me to make our argument blow into proportions.

Keep fighting the good fight my friend. Let’s run the race well and finish strong. It’s going to be a long marathon, but the Lord has promised us that will He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

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P.S. By the way, we still watched “The Martian” and it was a good movie. We enjoyed our time together even though we had an argument. This is just one of those moments where we need learn from our mistake and move on. Indeed we have, which led to us enjoy our time together, and thanking God for his goodness and grace.

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Trust God. He is in Control.

This is a story of a man named Joseph. At a young age, his brother’s sold him (Genesis 37:28) to be a slave in Egypt. But the Lord was with Joseph and everything that he did was successful, so his master Potiphar made him an overseer (Genesis 39:4) of his entire household. Now Joseph was handsome which lead Potiphar’s wife to desire him. She tempted him to come to bed with her numerous times, but Joseph was a man of God and did not want to sin against Him. One day, Potiphar’s wife was out again to tempt him. Joseph refused but she was able to catch him by his garment and left his garment in her hand. Then she reported to her husband that Joseph tried to rape her – this lead to Joseph’s imprisonment despite his innocence.

This was the story that happened before Genesis 40. That’s why in Genesis 40 you would read that Joseph was already in prison. But even in prison the Lord was with Joseph, he was put in charge of all the prisoners.

Joseph with Cupbearer and BakerThis chapter starts with a story about a cupbearer and baker who was put to prison, and Joseph was put in charge of them. Now, was this coincidence? I don’t believe so. God has a plan. He was always in control of Joseph’s life. He was always there, allowing everything to come into place.

When the cupbearer and baker had dream, Joseph notice that they were sad because no one was able to interpret what they saw. And I like what Joseph said in Genesis 40:8, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

What can we possibly learn from what Joseph said?

First, Joseph acknowledged God. It’s amazing to see Joseph’s response to his situation. He was sold to slavery. He was accused of rape. He was put to prison. But despite all that has happened to him, he still acknowledged God. He didn’t hold a grudge against God. He responded well, knowing God is, and has always been in control. How about us? When problems come our way, or when things do not go as we expended it to happen, do we grumble? Do we hold a grudge against God? Do we see the trials in our life as God’s blessing? Do we see just like what James 1:2-3 says?

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Secondly, look at what Joseph said next, “Tell it to me, please.” Why would Joseph ask them to tell them their dream? If he believes that God can only give the meaning of these dreams, then why would he ask them to tell it him? Was he going against his belief that he can interpret it, and not God?

Do want to know what I’ve realized? Joseph said this not because he believes that he can interpret it, but because he knows God is with him. He believes that despite everything that has happened in his life, God is still with him and God will give him the proper interpretations for their dream. Joseph has a faith that we should learn to imitate!

Joseph saw that God hasn’t left him despite the situation of his life. Joseph saw all of these things happening for a certain reason. What could be that reason? Did Joseph foresee everything that the Lord will be doing in his life? That is something that I don’t see clearly in the bible, but one thing is for sure – He knows everything that is happening in his life is God’s hand upon, and he knows that God is good! He said to his brothers (who sold him to slavery) when they encountered them again:

 Genesis 45:5-8

5 Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Indeed, God was and has always been in control. When the cupbearer and baker shared their dream to Joseph, he was able to interpret them. The cupbearer was reinstated to his position, in pharaoh’s court, just as Joseph said. And when pharaoh had a dream, it was Joseph who also interpreted. It was the cupbearer who told pharaoh that Joseph can interpret. Was it coincidence that all of these things happened? I don’t believe so. Joseph interpreted pharaoh dream and through this pharaoh saw the Lord was with Joseph. So he made him second in command to him. The Lord was indeed good!

You may be going through a tough time in life. You might not understand why things are happening this may. Take heart. If you know God and he is your Lord, take heart that your life is in his hand and he is in control. If you don’t know God and he is not your Lord, I suggest you make him your Lord first and allow him to take control of your life.

The Lord loves us. May we learn to trust him – he is in control. No matter the situation. No matter the circumstance. Let us find joy in our trials and let us always give glory to God despite whatever is happening in our life. If you would read Joseph’s response, he has always acknowledged God in his life. Despite the success that has happened in his life, he has always acknowledged that it is God’s work and not his.

May this message bring you hope. May this message turn you to trust God and hope in Him. There are so many things to learn from Joseph’s life. May we follow his response in his life and trust God that he is under control.

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