Monday, May 11, 2015

Psalm 71 - a psalm of refuge in a time of affliction and trouble

Psalm 71:3 (NKJV): Be my strong refuge, to which (whereunto) I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.

The word ‘resort’ here is ‘bow’ in Hebrew, which means 'to enter in, to run towards, to fall on (Him), to abide in, to confide in (to entrust something to someone for safekeeping)'.

Psalm 71 is a psalm of refuge for those who are in a time of affliction and trouble. David penned this psalm in his old age, at a very difficult time of his life when his own son (Absalom) betrayed and rebelled against him (see 2 Samuel 15:1-14).

Are you also currently in a situation where you just do not know what to do (or how to go about) anymore? It may be a lingering health problem, a family feud that seems to have no solution, or a very tricky issue in your workplace. Or it may be your finance or your future, and you find yourself staring at a dead-end. It may even be a very hurting betrayal of friendship or trust. Or you simply have lost hope in life.

Whatever your situation may be at the moment, I pray for the strength and sustenance of the Lord to be with you, and may you find refuge and encouragement through this psalm. 

The expression "Be my strong refuge" is translated as "Be my rock of refuge" in King James Version (KJV). 'Rock' speaks of something 'unshakeable', in contrast to 'shifting sands'. The word 'refuge' here is 'makhaseh' in Hebrew, which means 'a shelter, a place of hope, a place of trust, a hiding place'.

In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus says, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings (i.e. commandments or instructions) of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock."

'House' here speaks of you, your life, your household, your ministry, or the things that you set out to do. Notice the words "and it did not fall"?

Back to Psalm 71:3 now. The word 'commandment' here is 'tsavah' in Hebrew, which speaks of 'an instruction (or a message) that puts (sets) things in order', and the word 'save' here is 'yasha' in Hebrew, meaning 'save, set free, help, avenge (fight for you), deliver, defend, rescue, get victory'.

In Psalm 71:1-2, David wrote, 'In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; Incline Your ear to me, and save me'.

'To escape’ here is 'pawlat' in Hebrew, which means 'to slip out, to be carried away safely, or to be delivered (from the affliction or trouble)'.

Let’s look at another example of how the Lord gave a ‘commandment’ (‘tsavah’) that saved a sticky situation. When Moses came to a ‘dead-end’ with no way of escape in sight, he looked to the Lord his God and put his trust in Him. 

He then said to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

That's when the Lord gave His ‘tsavah’ to save (‘yasha’) the situation: “Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” (Exodus 14:16)

Is there anything impossible to the Lord? 

The Word of God says He is still the same God today as He was those days (Hebrews 13:8), and therefore He can also make a way of escape for you too, no matter what affliction or trouble you may be facing at the moment. 

Man or organization may fail you, but He cannot and will not fail you, because He loves you. And when there's no one else you can turn to, know that He is (and will always be) here for you - your rock of refuge, your shelter, your place of hope, your place of trust, your hiding place. Take heart.

May you see the light at the end of the tunnel real soon. This is my sincere prayer for you today. Amen.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A time to worship like you have never been before!

2 Kings 17:36 (NKJV): But the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship...

2 Kings 17:39 then says, '... Worship the Lord your God; it is He who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies'.

The word 'worship' here is 'shachah' in Hebrew, which can mean 'to prostrate, to fall down (flat), to bow (self) down, to humbly beseech, to humbly surrender'.

Notice these two verses on worship appear in the Bible just before Hezekiah began to reign as the king of Judah (see 2 Kings 18:1). Indeed, the Lord God was preparing a man who would lead the whole nation to return to worshipping Him again! For the record, Hezekiah was one of those kings of Judah who did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and one who trusted in the Lord. He also held fast to the Lord and did not bow down to the king of Assyria who worshipped other gods (2 Kings 18:3-7).

As I was seeking the Lord for His prophetic words for this month, I heard:
"Worship! Worship! This is a time to worship like you have never been before! And I will show you how real I am. I will show you My glory. Prepare for My glory and anticipate My glory this month!"

Not that you never worship at other times, but I believe the Lord is saying this is a crucial time to worship! In fact, it is a time to worship like you have never been before! There will be new songs! There will be new melodies from heaven for this earth! Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs shall flow in such ways that you have never heard before!

I then saw a vision of an 'anchor' being firmly and strongly 'planted' in the seabed as I was praying for one of God's beloved in our midst. I asked the Lord what this vision means, and He impressed upon me that His strength is being 'anchored' deep in His people as they worship.

I then heard further:
"As you worship, I am planting My 'anchor' in you. I am your 'anchor'! I am your strength! I am releasing supernatural strength upon you and deep in you this time and season, and you will overcome every wave sent by the enemy against you. I will even use you to be a strength to many around you."

'Anchor' is made of strong metal (e.g. steel), and it speaks of 'strength' and 'assurance', no matter how the waves may be beating and hitting. Therefore, as you worship, know that He is releasing His supernatural strength and assurance upon you then and there. You will then be a strength and assurance to many other 'vessels' (or 'ships') around you that have been tossed and hit likewise by those 'strong waves'.

Back to Hezekiah now in 2 Kings 18 and 19. Interestingly, the name 'Hezekiah' means 'Strengthened of Yah' in Hebrew, from the words 'chazaq' (pronounced 'khaw-zak') which means 'to strengthen, to be strong', and 'Yah', which is 'the name of the Lord, the Most High God'.

In the fourteenth year of his reign as the king of Judah, Hezekiah was then faced with 'strong waves' that seemed hard to overcome. 2 Kings 18:13 says, "... Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them'. 'Sennacherib' here speaks of 'the wave sent by the enemy to rock your boat/ship/vessel', the enemy who tries to make you think that your God is small and He is not strong enough for your situation.

Mockeries, lies, and even threats followed thereon (see 2 Kings 18:17-37), and all these were meant to deceive God's people and to shake their faith in the Lord their God.

People of God, are you also in a situation where there's just no more strength to carry on? Or there's just no more strength to bring forth what God has put in you (say, a dream or vision you have received)? Or maybe you are already on the verge of giving it all up, as the 'storms' (or 'strong waves') around you seem to be too overwhelming for you.

2 Kings 19:1 says, 'And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it (i.e. all those mockeries, lies, and threats), that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.'

'To go into the house of the Lord' is 'to enter God's presence in worship and total surrender'. Indeed, in a time of worship and total surrender, you will also find strength and assurance. And that's when the Lord spoke through Isaiah His prophet: "Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him (Sennacherib), and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land." (2 Kings 19:6-7)

'Isaiah' ('Yesha Yah', meaning 'Yah has saved' in Hebrew) here speaks of 'the Lord who saves (delivers, rescues) you'.

2 Kings 19:14-15 later says, '... Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it (all those troubles and threats) before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, "O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim. You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth..."'

The word 'spread' here is 'paras' in Hebrew, and in this verse's context, it means 'to lay all your troubles (before the Lord), to break down (before the Lord)'.

And you know what? The Lord heard Hezekiah's prayers (2 Kings 19:20). He then literally shut out Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:27-28), and all His words against him (Sennacherib) eventually came to pass (see 2 Kings 19:35-37).

People of God, just as in Hezekiah's days, know that He is also now here for you, ready to embrace you and incline His ears to you. Know that He will never despise a heart that is broken before Him, and He will never turn down a heart that is totally 'spread' before Him. Indeed, one cannot worship the Lord with a hardened heart, or with a heart that puts up a 'front', a 'facade', or a 'mask'. This is the time to lay it all down.

May our hearts be so tender and soft before the Lord in worship and in total surrender. Amen.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Be of good cheer"

John 16:33 (NKJV): "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

In a time of prayer last week, I kept hearing the words "Be of good cheer", and that's when the Lord also reminded me of the verse above.

Then, I heard further from the Lord, and I released these words to the congregation on Sunday:
"Be of good cheer, for in Me, you shall overcome. This is a time to rise above and not to succumb under."

Looking at John 16:33 now, there is a stark contrast between 'in Me' (i.e. in Christ) and 'in the world' as spoken by Jesus Himself here. Let's look at the 'equation' below:

In Me (i.e. in Christ) = peace;
In the world = tribulation.

The word 'peace' here is 'eirene' in Greek, which basically means 'peace, quietness, rest', whereas the word 'tribulation' here is 'thlipsis' in Greek, which can mean 'pressure, affliction, anguish (severe physical/mental pain), burden, trouble, persecution'.

Matter of factly, the whole world seems to be 'down' and 'gloomy' recently with a spate of terror attacks, tragic accidents, natural calamities, and all in all, no news seems to be good news in the media nowadays (of course, with an exception of a few). And if one looks at the world today, it's just trouble, trouble, trouble everywhere with no reasons to cheer about, or are there?

But that's not what God says to those who are in Him! You may be in the world, but you are not of the world! (John 17:16) In other words, you don't have to succumb under the 'thlipsis' atmosphere of this world, but instead to rise above! That's why Jesus said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." Why? Because you belong to a higher realm! In Matthew 6:10, Jesus said, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." See the words on earth here? God's kingdom (i.e. God's realm) on earth! And that's where righteousness, peace and joy can be found! (see Romans 14:17) It means you don't have to wait till you reach heaven to experience righteousness, peace and joy. You can live in this kingdom (realm) right now!

"Bro, I think you are out of touch with reality!"

No, I'm not! In fact, I'm living in the reality of God's realm, one that is higher than the earthly "trouble, trouble, trouble everywhere" realm! And mind you, this realm is real. The Word of God says so! This realm is where I can experience the fullness of joy (see also Psalm 16:11), even in a world full of trouble. And where there's joy (from on high), there will also be strength (to carry on and to look ahead)! The Bible says 'the joy of the Lord is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10)

So, people of God, no matter what you may be facing in the world at the moment (whether it's a trial in your health, or in your finance, or in any other area of your life), take heart and be of good cheer, for Jesus has overcome the world. The word 'overcome' here is 'nikao' in Greek, from the word 'nike' (pronounced 'nee-kay') which means 'to subdue, to prevail, to overcome, to get the victory, to get success'. 'The world' here simply means 'everything or every challenge that the world throws at you'.

This is also a time to believe for your end-result (end-victory) in any area of your life! Joel 3:18 says it perfectly, 'And it will come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; a fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Acacias'.

'New wine' here speaks of 'joy and celebration';
'Milk' here speaks of 'peace and comfort';
'Water' here speaks of 'refreshing and renewal'.

How about 'a fountain shall flow from the house of the Lord and water the Valley of Acacias' here?
Another meaning for 'Acacias' is 'Shittim' in Hebrew, which simply means 'thorns'. This word comes from the verb 'shotet' which means 'to pierce, to scourge, to flog, to beat/punish severely'. Some 2,000 years ago, Jesus Himself has suffered all those 'shotet' for you, so that this fountain of health and healing can now flow right into every part of your life right now - spirit, soul, body. Therefore, beloved of God, there's every reason to rejoice, be at rest and be blessed, for He has overcome for you. Amen!