Please turn off those autoresponders

It’s filling my inbox with unwanted emails. Really, I consider this as spam (sorry). You see, I sent you a personal email to get a personal response from you. Everything else is spam.

If it takes a few days or weeks to respond, that’s fine with me. I’ll wait for a personal message from you.

I realize you’re quite busy and can’t get back right away. It’s an interesting thought to set up an autoresponder to let everyone know you’re busy and that you get lots of emails.

Please remember that when someone sends a personal note, they hope to get a personal reply. A late reply from you is also a personal reply. But this auto-responder? Spam.

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When you know you’re right

Our view is often clear. Or, we think it’s clear. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. We all have blind spots where things are hidden.

But Job was an exceptional case. God himself called him upright and blameless. Those are hefty credentials for anyone. But we as humans need to accept the fact that we are at the mercy of God. Job said “Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser” (Job 9:15).

The higher you climb, the lower you’ve got to stoop. There’s no other way. That’s God’s way. We don’t have all the reasons for that, but that is the case.

It was at the end of his ministry and life that Jesus stooped low to wash his disciples’ feet. That’s the example that our Master set for us. How low should we stoop? Even to death?

Jesus did.

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Legacy of trust

Abraham was about to do the unthinkable. God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, born to him in his old age. When his son asked about the animal for the sacrifice, Abraham said: “The Lord will provide.” That was enough for Isaac. He trusted the good judgement of his father. No further questions.

Such an amazing trust must have come from Abraham’s unswerving trust in God (Gen 22). His trusting relationship began all the way back in Genesis 12 when God called Abraham out from his own country. Although he lived a well settled life in a place called Ur, he adopted a nomadic lifestyle that he continued till death.

Maybe it’s a Godly legacy of trust passed down the generations. Isaac trusted God with the same depth of trust that his father had.

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The Risk of Things Going Well

Whenever Job’s sons had a party, he responded with intercession and prayer for them. Maybe Job knew that trials and difficulty tend to drive us to God, but prosperity and celebration often turns our hearts away.

I’ve thought of this as odd that Job took it on himself to do this for his children. I suppose Job knew that things are not different with his children. He was aware that celebration and prosperity has turned many away from God. I’m sure he has seen this in the lives of many people.

It is intriguing that Job kept his faith in God while he was prosperous and prominent in the land. He didn’t allow his wealth to impact his heart and to turn away from God.

Then the trials came. The testing began. But he stayed firm and kept his integrity. But Satan had reversed this concept. He thought that people would turn to God in prosperity and that they would turn away in the face of difficulty.

How will you respond?

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Expectation created by a vacuum

Losses can often be filled easily. It just takes the right amount of money and other resources. Add a sufficient amount of willpower, and most losses can be filled.

Some losses are deeper and more long-term. They cannot be easily replaced. Sometimes never. This causes a vacuum within the person. Significant long-term losses create a vacuum with the person.

A deep and long term vacuum causes a significant need that only Jesus can resolve. The longing in your heart that Just can’t be filled by anything – is waiting for something greater, more significant.

Anna became a widow at a young age. She filled her loss by remaining in the presence of the Lord day and night with fasting and prayer. She waited expectantly for the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. At age 84, she finally got her wish.

Your loss creates a vacuum that only Jesus can fill. Stay in God’s presence. Enjoy the presence and love of Jesus. He is sufficient to fill every vacuum.

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One of God’s Direct Reports is Satan

         Too many of us fear the havoc that Satan can bring to our lives. Tragedy and hopelessness are all around us. We see it in the lives of so many people. Thus we wonder when we too will face such things. Or maybe, you are facing one of the most severe trials in your life right now.

In the first and second chapter of Job, we see Satan “reporting” to God. It is obvious that God has control over the activities of Satan here on Earth. He can do nothing to you that God doesn’t allow.

Now, this may not seem so comforting when you are facing extreme pain and suffering. But like Job, the true question is, do you trust God? Would you trust him to know and do what is best for you in the long run?

In addition to all this, would you submit yourself to your creator to do with you as he pleases? He has a purpose for your life and a plan for you to live out that purpose.

Satan is completely under God’s control. He reports to God and gives account for all he does, even what he does to you. Without fearing Satan, trust God.

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Why so many denominations?

This is a common question people ask me as I share the Good News of Jesus with them. They look at all the different denominations and point to disunity.

Yes, there is disunity and plenty of problems in the church. That’s why we need God to come transform us into the image of his son Jesus. We are all in the process of being transformed.

But there is another key factor in this mix. God has created people with different tastes. Each denomination has its own style of worship. Some have a different perspective on theology. The church I am part of has its own set of values that defines who we are. Styles may vary, but the values remain the same.

the central and vital factor for Christian churches is their view on Jesus Christ. We believe in the divinity of Jesus and that there is forgiveness of sins through him only. That’s our central point of Faith. If we can agree on Jesus, the rest is open for discussion and variety.

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A weird war

One side asks permission to attack? How absurd. What kind of warfare is this? I’m not sure if you can even call this warfare.

This is exactly the situation with Satan in God’s presence. In the life if God’s servant, Satan can do nothing without permission from God.

In fact, God is the one who initiated this contention in the first place by asking “Have you considered my servant job…?” (Job 1:8; 2:3)

It seems that God is trying to prove a point. He brags on Job to a point that Satan “must” attack. But that attack was only possible with prior permission from God.

So Job is caught in the midst of this verbal tussle. Satan tries to disprove God’s portrayal of Job as a man of integrity. With permission, Satan sets out to disprove God.

The problems we face as believers are part of a test. They are a test to prove our integrity and faithfulness to God. We don’t need to fear or think of it as warfare. Otherwise it would have been a weird war. It’s just a test. Stay faithful. Keep your integrity.

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If God said so, why are you asking me?

Through the years I’ve had many such situations where people come to me for advice. They clearly ask the question “What do you think about this?” But they also say that God told them to do this. My reply – I try to be as gracious and kind – “If God said so, why are you asking me?”

Maybe they are looking for validation of what they think they should do. Or validation of what they think is God’s will. Or, they’re just letting me know what they are about to do. But they feel obligated to “ask” my opinion. Thank you.

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Yes, but…

Ancient wisdom is valuable and comes from generations of experiences. Those experiences have been collected and processed by many. What a legacy with great value.

But God’s ways are beyond our understanding. When we think we have figured out God and his ways, he will surely surprise us. He acts from the perspective of eternity, not from our limited view of a few years on earth.

Yes, the principle is true that we will reap what we sow. The reality is that we are all sinners saved by God’s grace. Although we are forgiven of our sins, the natural effects of our sins may continue to haunt us.

But still, God reserves the right to do things his way. He is sovereign and takes each step on his own accord without our permission or consent. He doesn’t need it. He is beyond it.

Even if you don’t understand all that is happening, will you be silent before him and submit yourself to him? Let him take the lead. In spite of your suffering, he knows what is best.

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