We thank God for the results of Freedom Day yesterday (June 12, 2015). Twenty one new followers of Christ were water baptized. All in all twenty nine people attended the event. About thirty RLCCnians worked together to make the event a success. I want to affirm all of them for a job well done. Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful day! Please watch this short video of the candidates going down the staircase from the worship hall and into the portable swimming pool outside in order to be water baptized one by one. To God be the glory!
27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go;you don’t have to stay any longer.” 29 Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30 But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.” (Exodus 9:27-30)
What is true repentance? It is not mere words. Repentance is not merely saying, “I’m sorry.” Words can be empty, if they are not backed up by truth and faithfulness. Sometimes we may even make pious statements like, “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.” But in the end, are we really sincere? Moses knew that Pharaoh was just pretending. He tells Pharaoh, “But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.” It is important that we recognize that God knows our hearts. We must stop pretending. If we want to receive God’s forgiveness, and the corresponding grace to change our lives, we must be willing to acknowledge our true heart condition before Him. He will not accept mere pious words. We cannot impress Him. Therefore, let us come to the Lord with sincerity and truthfulness of heart. Let us avoid duplicity or pretension. Come as you are. God in His mercy will show us favor and kindness, if we come to Him in spirit and truth. Today, remove your mask and show true repentance.
13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”
20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field. (Exodus 9:13-21)
God’s patience and grace should lead us to true repentance. But why do we often resist God’s gentle rebuke? Should we wait until calamity strikes before we reconsider our ways and repent? Sadly, many of us still harden our hearts in spite of God’s mercy upon us. God can easily allow us to be destroyed but instead He keeps us alive in spite of our stubbornness or rebellion. When will we learn? God in His mercy will tell us the consequences of our continuous sin, so that we may reconsider our ways. He may give us more time to think about it. Others may even show us the way, just to give us encouragement. Models can be powerful motivators, if we’re willing to take notice of it. But how do we respond? Often we persist in our ways. The purpose of salvation is to bring complete healing into our lives. There is so much to heal and repair in our lives. Our hearts in particular are set toward pride and rebellion. But God’s grace is more powerful, if we will just humble ourselves and repent. When sin abounds, His grace much more abounds. How can we resist such gentle love? Today, if you realize that God has been patient with you all along, as you look back at the circumstances of your life, then make that courageous decision to repent. Turn from your wicked ways, and turn to God. God will save you, if you really ask Him with humility and faith. Do it today. Remember, take notice of God’s patience.
10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses. (Exodus 9:10-12)
What happens to your body may be a sign that God is calling your attention to something. Although not all sicknesses are the results of specific sins, some may be attributed to that. It is possible that in some cases sickness may be the direct result of sin. Again, do not conclude immediately that sickness is directly related to a specific sin. But do not assume also that at all times sin may not be the cause. The best thing to do, of course, is to pray and ask God for wisdom. If the Holy Spirit does not bring to mind any sin, then simply ask God for your healing. There’s nothing to worry about. However, if the Lord reminds you of a direct correlation to a specific sin or sins that you have committed or are committing, then humble yourself, confess your sin or sins, repent, and ask your leaders to pray for you. Do not harden your heart, or else something worse might happen. Ultimately, of course, all suffering, sickness and death are the results of sin in the world. None of us are exempted from the fallenness of all creation. However, there may be instances when specific sins may result in specific sicknesses. Also, holiness and godliness will often result in health and healing, at least generally speaking. There would be exceptions, and I cannot discuss it here. So, to balance all these, it would be good to pay attention to our bodies, for it might be telling us something about our spiritual condition. If God reveals to us that this is just part of our fallenness because our bodies are temporal, then there’s nothing to worry about. Just trust God for your healing, pray, and do what you have to do ro get well again. But if it’s something that is related to sin, then we must humble ourselves, repent, ask God for forgiveness, and ask Him for healing. In His mercy He will heal us and restore us to good health, if we ask Him in faith. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Sometimes we have to come away to a far away place in order just to worship God. Not that God is there and He is not here. The truth is God is everywhere. We can worship Him anywhere. But there comes a time when we have to find a quiet place to experience silence and solitude. It’s really a blessing if and when we can do that. Grab the opportunity if it comes. Never mind the expense. Our souls need rest every once in a while. Don’t feel guilty about it. Rest is a gift and command from God. Pursue it like any other goal in your life.
22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction[b] between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’” (Exodus 8:22-23)
Have you noticed anything different in the lives of those who follow the Lord? Perhaps if you look closely, you will see the difference. For one thing, their relationships are not as messy and conflicting as others. They are not perfect, but you can see the difference. They are more able to talk things out. It seems that crucial conversations are just part of their daily routine. Notice their lifestyles? They tend to live more disciplined lives. Of course, there are exceptions. But that is only because of immaturity. Those who follow the Lord closely have distinct lifestyles that show that God is with them. God is always making distinctions, so that everyone may take heed and repent. God’s kindness is poured out abundantly upon those who fear the Lord. Emotionally speaking, they are not as stressed out as most people. They tend to live in peace. Their minds are often more focused on important things, thus they are able to accomplish more good. Their hearts seem to be more pure, more sincere, and more honest, generally speaking, with some exceptions, of course. Not everyone are really following the Lord closely. So you will find some dishonest Christians out there. But if you find someone who is truly following the Lord by faith, you will find these attributes. They are the results of God’s gracious acts of making a distinction between those who follow Him and those who do not. They are the fruit of the Holy Spirit transforming people’s lives. So if you notice them, please take heed. Perhaps the Lord is calling your attention, because He wants you to experience His kind of life also. By faith, your life can be transformed by the Holy Spirit also. But you need to humble yourself. You need to submit yourself to the Lord and trust Him. That is the key to transformation, not just once but everyday of your life.
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:16-19)
When believers ascribe glory to God for something that is unusual that would be expected. But when unbelievers do the same that is surprising. Normally a person who does not believe in God would brush off a miracle or a sign from God as mere coincidence. They might explain it away using science or scientific facts, as if, by doing so, they would imply that there are two separate realities: science and spiritual. That is of course not true, for all realities, whether natural or supernatural, have spiritual connotations or implications. But it’s hard for unbelievers to acknowledge anything that might be associated with the concept of God. However, in Asia for instance, people are more open to this possibility. Especially when they can no longer explain away the event or phenomena. The suggestion that perhaps something might be of God, or at least supernatural in nature, should cause you to pause and think. What if it is true? If a friend, who normally would not talk about God, or describe anything as coming from God, or at least something that might have supernatural connotations, would come to you and tell you that perhaps such and such is from God, would you listen? If he or she says, “I think this is from God,” would you consider that as a cue? Perhaps God is indeed speaking to you or calling your attention about something. Would you pause for a while and perhaps reconsider your current direction? Do not harden your heart. Learn to take the cue, especially when it is coming from someone you don’t normally expect would talk about God.