The Story Of The Lost Ark

6 The LORD’s hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with tumors.
1 Samuel 5:9 (NLT)

In yesterday’s article, we have read on how the Philistines turned their desperation to their advantage. When they knew the Israelites brought the Ark of God with them, the Philistines became very fearful. They lost all hope of winning. However they had determined that they would rather die in a fight than to live to be enslaved. Their desperation caused them to fight like they never fought before. They won and captured the Ark of God. In this article, we shall look at what happened when the Ark of God was in the land of the Philistines.

After the war, the Philistines must have celebrated. Not only had they won the war, they had captured a very valuable trophy, the Ark of God. They had heard stories on how the presence of this Ark had brought victories to the Israelites. On that historical day, the nation of Philistines had succeeded in defying the odds and got the Ark. So, they had decided to place the Ark in their temple before Dagon, their national god in the city of Ashdod. It was a symbolic gesture to show that the God of Israel had been defeated by Dagon, the God of the Philistines. This was what they thought.

The next morning, when they entered the temple, they found the statue of Dagon face down before the Ark. The temple staff must be worried that they might be punished for not maintaining the statue properly. So they lifted up the statue and put it in its designated place. I am sure some of them might be worried over the event but they managed to convince themselves that it was only a co-incidence.

However, the next morning the same thing happened. Dagon fell again and this time his hands and head were broken. Unless such event happened regularly before, this must have got the attention of the leaders. Something was not right. In addition, the people in the city were afflicted with tumors. It was clear to them that the presence of the Ark in their city had caused disasters for them. So, the inhabitants of the city demanded their leaders to remove the Ark.

7 When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god.”
1 Samuel 5:7 (NLT)

At this point, I am sure many theologians will jump in to use this event to convince us that our God is a pervert who loves to give disease to people he doesn’t like. Are they correct? Is our God the pervert who caused the people in Ashdod to be afflicted with tumors? Let me clarify this event. If our God is such a pervert who loves to give tumors to the Philistines, he would have done it much earlier, even before the Israelites arrived at the Promised Land.

The tumors appeared because of the wrong combinations of events at that time. It was not because of the will of God. Let me give you an example. Many people had died in road accidents. Does this mean the manufacturers of road vehicles are guilty of murder? Vehicles are meant to meet our transportation needs. We use vehicles to move people and things around, not to kill people. Yet a vehicle that is not properly maintained, driven recklessly or driven when the driver is drunk can be very dangerous and cause people to be killed.

The same principle happened in the city of Ashdod. The Ark of God was built as a part of the covenant between God and his people. It was not meant to be treated like a trophy and placed before an idol. The Philistines abused it and suffered the consequences. Therefore, the tumors were not caused by God. It was caused by the ignorance of the Philistines themselves.

Let us get back to the story. The leaders of the Philistines were convinced that the presence of the Ark in their city was bad for them. So, they wisely moved it out. However, they were not wise enough to realize that they should never put it in another city.

They moved it to another city called Gath.

8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
9 But after they had moved it, the LORD’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors.
1 Samuel 5:8-9 (NLT)

The same thing happened. People were afflicted and tumors appeared among them. So they moved the Ark again. Unfortunately, the leaders had not learned their lessons. They wanted to move the Ark to another city, Ekron. The difference here is the people in Ekron were smarter. They opposed the move.

10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.”
1 Samuel 5:10 (NLT)

This got the leaders to start thinking.

11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy upon it.
12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
1 Samuel 5:11-12 (NLT)

At last they got it. The Ark of God was meant to be with the Israelites, no the Philistines. The Ark brought blessings when it was in the land of Israel but when it was in the land of the Philistines, it resulted in curses. Personally, I think the Philistine political leadership was extremely dumb. They should have taken action to remove the Ark from their territories the moment the first outbreak of tumors happened in Ashdod. Yet, the only thing they did was to move it within their borders which had resulted in massive sufferings to their people. Do you know how long the Ark remained in the Philistine’s territory?

1 When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months,
1 Samuel 6:1 (NLT)

The Philistines suffered needlessly for seven months because of their incompetent leaders.

Let us stop here and see what we can learn from this story. The Ark of God was meant to be a blessing to the Israelites. God did not design it to bring tumors to the Philistines. Unfortunately, it was abused and caused an unfortunate side effect to the Philistines. The moral of the story here is, good things can bring bad results if they are not used correctly.

There are many examples we can see around us. Cars are meant for our good. They carry us around beyond distances we can walk. Yet, if we do not maintain them properly or if we drive recklessly, they will became dangerous.

The other example I would like to present is money. God wants every Christian to be rich. Jesus died poor for us to live rich. God wants us to be rich because he wants us to live good lives on earth, be a blessing to the people around us and to finance the Gospel to every corner of the world. Yet, if we do not have enough discipline to manage money, having a lot of money can bring more harm than good.

This is why God wants us to be rich from the inside first before we become rich in material possession. If you want to be materially rich, you have to start reading the Bible, pray, listening to faith messages and do everything you can to make your spirit rich. Only then will your prosperity be secure and bring good into your life.

Confidence And Desperation

11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.
1 Samuel 4:11 (NLT)

In this article we shall look into the event which the Ark of God was captured by the enemies for the first time. This event happened when Samuel was preparing to take over from Eli as the prophet. Israel did not have a king yet. They were still fighting their enemies regularly.

This time, the Israelites were fighting the Philistines. The Israelites were defeated with 4,000 men died. Then someone got an idea.

3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”
1 Samuel 4:3 (NLT)

There were 2 messages here. The first message was in the form of a question: “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” They blamed God for their defeat. In their mind, the Lord was the one who allowed them to be defeated by the Philistines. Does this sound familiar to you? Religious people have the same mentality.

When they are sick, they will ask, “Why did the Lord allow me to get sick?”
When they are poor, they will ask, “Why did the Lord allow me to be poor?”
When they got injured in an accident, they will ask, “Why did the Lord allow me to get injured in an accident?”
When they failed in their examinations, they will ask, “Why did the Lord allow me to fail in the examination?”

Such questions only imply one characteristic of the person, which is the refusal to take personal responsibility and choose to blame God for everything. What do you think will happen to these people? The answer is nothing. We can never improve ourselves if we refuse to take personal responsibility in our failures.

Let us look at those Israelites. They were defeated by their enemies and the first question they asked was “Why did the Lord allowed this?” It never crossed their mind that their defeat could have been caused by their own incompetence. There could be many possible reasons why they were defeated, such as:
1. They did not have enough training.
2. They did not have good weapons.
3. They did not have the right strategies.
4. They did not have strong leadership.
5. They had bad logistics where their warriors did not have enough to eat.
6. They were no proper channel of communication during the battle.

Yet they chose to blame God. Why? It was an easy way out. Taking responsibility involves hard work. It was easier to place blame on factors they cannot control like God. Such mentality will only guarantee defeat.

This is what Satan had succeeded in causing many Christians to be religious. Are you religious? Try to answer the following question to find out whether you live in faith or religion.

Let us assume that you have been constantly sick. How do you respond? Do you ask religious question like, “Why did the Lord allow me to get sick?” If you do that you are blaming God. Theologians will tell you that sometimes God makes you sick to teach you his grace. They will tell you to look at Paul’s example. God gave Paul a disease called “thorn in the flesh” that is capable be transmitting messages (the only disease that can talk) in order to teach Paul that his grace is sufficient. Maybe God wants you to have the same grace by making you sick.

This is why I find theology to be sickening. Theology was invented by Satan, not God. God is an engineer. Satan is a theologian.

So, what is the right way to respond to your sickness? God expects us to think like an engineer. If you are constantly sick, find out why you are sick and what can you do to be healthy. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you eating healthy food?
2. Do you exercise regularly?
3. Do you confess your healing?
4. Do you think positive or negative thoughts?
5. Does your heart remain joyful?
6. Do you get stressed easily?
7. Do you have unhealthy habits like smoking?
8. Do you believe Jesus had taken all your sickness and diseases at the Cross?

The above are some of the questions we have to ask ourselves if we want to be healthy. The theological way is to blame God for our sickness and accept them as the will of God but the engineering way is to find out the causes and fix them. Who would you like to be, a theologian or an engineer?

Let us get back to the story. After they had decided that the Lord was the culprit for their defeat, they resorted to a silly way to redeem themselves. They used the Ark. Why the Ark? Historically during the exodus, their ancestors won every battle when the Ark was around. So these guys were hoping that the same would happen if they take the Ark out. What they did not realize was, it was God who gave victory to their ancestors.

The Ark was nothing more than a collection of wood and gold. It produced results in the past because it inspired faith in the Lord. The Israelites in 1 Samuel 4 did not have faith in the Lord. They did not realize that without faith, the Ark (which was a representation on the presence of the Lord) was useless.

However, the Ark did inspire some confidence in the Israel camp.

5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!
1 Samuel 4:5 (NLT)

They were rejoicing and gained their confidence. The Philistines noticed and began to fear.

6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived,
7 they panicked. “The gods have come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before!
8 Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness.
9 Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!”
1 Samuel 4:6-9 (NLT)

They got desperate and determined to fight to their last breath. Now, we have two groups of highly motivated and determined soldiers ready to fight each other. The presence of the Ark caused the Israelites to have confidence. The Israelites’ confidence caused the Philistines to be desperate and they were determined to fight until their last breath. Please note that God did not take sides in this battle. This is the battle between confidence and desperation. The winner is desperation.

10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents.
11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.
1 Samuel 4:10-11 (NLT)

The Israelites had lost and 30,000 of them were killed. The Ark, which had earlier inspired confidence was seized by the Philistines. Let us stop here and review the lessons to be learned.

Representations cannot work without faith.
Please note that I never said representations are useless. The Ark did produce results. It worked because of faith. Representations tools of faith. It is faith that produces results. Here are some examples.

• Gloria Copeland is famous for cutting out pictures of nice houses from magazines and paste them in places where she could see them everyday when she was praying for a house. As a result she got a great house.

• When Jerry Savelle was praying for an aeroplane, he bought a small replica of the aeroplane he was praying for and put it on his desk. Each time he went to his desk, he would pick up the replica and rubbed at it. He got the plane he prayed for.

Now, do you think that the pictures cut by Gloria and the replica on Jerry’s desk have magical powers to make their dreams come through? The answer is no. It was their faith that caused their prayers to be answered. The pictures and the replica were nothing more than instruments that helped to inspire the faith of their owners.

If you were to break into Jerry’s house and steal the replica, do you think Jerry will cry as though he had lost a plane? He won’t because it was only a replica. He will just buy another one and improve his home security. Do you think you will get a real plane if you have that replica? No, the replica does not have any magical power to give you a plane just as the Ark did not have the power to bring victory to the Israelites.

Desperation is more powerful than confidence.
Confidence can produce good results but desperation can be more powerful if it is used correctly. The Israelites had confidence. Their shouts of joy caused the Philistines to be fearful. They were desperate. In their minds, they could never beat their enemies. They were facing the prospect of being defeated and enslaved by the Israelites.

However, they managed to turn this desperate condition to their favor by determining that they would rather die in the battle than to live and see their nation to be enslaved. They had succeeded in turning their fears into strength through the correct application of desperation.

How can we learn from this?

• If you are sick, being confidence of recovery means doing your best to recover but being desperate for recovery means doing everything you can and determined to fight to your last breath until that disease is gone.

• If you are poor, being confidence of becoming rich means doing your best to be rich but being desperate for riches means doing everything you can and determined to fight to your last breath until you are rich.

Which do you think will produce greater results?

The Lord Is Watching Over Me

5 I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.
Psalm 3:5 (NLT)

Psalm 3 is on King David’s prayers when he was running away from the armies of his son, Absalom. Absalom wanted to seize his father’s throne and managed to raise a huge army that had taken over the palace. David managed to run away with his loyal followers and was pursued by Absalom’s forces. I suspect Absalom must have offered a huge reward for anyone who offered information leading to David’s capture.

So, David was in a very desperate condition. His priority was to survive and ran as far away as possible from his enemies. At that time, there was no indication on how long he could even survive, let alone regain his throne. He lost his kingdom and his power base to his son, Absalom. However, David still had something that can never be stolen or lost – his relationship with God. He prayed.

God had chosen to record his prayers for our benefits. What can we benefit from this prayer? I am sure many of us have read about and watched the lifestyles of the rich and successful people. Most of the time, we can only witness how rich they are, how they are enjoying their lives and how we wished we were in their shoes. We may even get the wrong impression that these people are just plain lucky. They just had everything going smooth for them. They never had any of the problems that we faced.

The truth is, these rich and successful people have their share of challenges in their lives. The main difference is they do not give up. They do not allow their problems to beat them down. Instead they chose to overcome their problems and turned them into opportunities for their success and prosperity. This is why I like to read true stories about people who overcome the odds. I want to be another one of them.

The Bible has stories of similar nature. The story of King David shows us how he moved from rags to riches, overcome various trials and ended with a legacy for us. In Psalm 3, we have a glimpse on how David prayed when there was no hope in the natural for him to survive and be restored to his throne. If you happen to be in a situation where you are doomed for failure and there is no visible source of hope available, I suggest you read this article carefully and learn from David.

It begins with the acknowledgement of the problem.

1 O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me.
2 So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!”
Psalm 3:1-2 (NLT)

David was not in denial. Neither should we. Being in denial or pretending that the problems do not exist will not cause the problems to go away. A lot of people turned to alcohol and got drunk for this reason. Getting drunk can cause people to temporary forget their problems. However, the moment they got sober the problem was there again. So, denial will not help us overcome our problems. Face the truth. If you are sick, you are sick. If you are poor, you are poor. We can never improve if we are afraid of facing the truth. Facing the truth of our problems is the first step to the solution.

Next, David acknowledged that his God is greater than the problems he faced and therefore the solution to his problems.

3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
Psalm 3:3 (NLT)

He called God his shield. Shields protect. When David was faced with attacks from his enemies, God was his shield. When he faced insults and humiliations, God was his glory. When David lacked the courage to fight on, God was the one who held his head high. God was everything David needed him to be in the time and place he needed.

The same applies to us. When we face attacks, God is our protector. When we are poor, God is our provider. When we are sick, God is our healer. When we are discouraged, God is our encourager. No matter what type of situation we are in or how bad it turns out to be, God can be anything we need him to be. The question here is, whether you are willing to trust in him and cry out to him for his deliverance. David did that.

4 I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.
Psalm 3:4 (NLT)

Please note that when David cried out to the Lord, he was sure that the Lord will answer him. David was not dwelling in theology that says maybe God will answer you. He was certain. Religious people will tell us that sometimes God’s answer can be “no” for some theological reasons like God wants us to be poor, sick and be killed. However, the context of this psalm says the opposite. David prayed with the certainty of God’s faithfulness in delivering him from his troubles despite the absence of physical evidence available to him.

God answered from his holy mountain. Why “holy mountain”? The term “holy” implies that God cannot lie. He will deliver us as he promised. I have a religious person reminding me that God is not our servant or butler and he is not obligated to obey all our demands. This is the common impression of religious people have on us Christians. They think our prayers are insulting to God. Here is my answer to such impression:

1. God is not our servant or butler. God is our God who answers all our prayers.

2. God is not obligated to obey all our demands. God is holy and he is a person of integrity. As such, he is obligated to keep all he promises. He promised to give us anything we ask for in prayers if we believe we receive them.

Therefore, God’s holiness is a guarantee to us that he will always be here for us to deliver us. The term “mountain” implies a high ground. God is always above our problems. This means God is both able and willing to help us to overcome our problems. The only variable is whether we are willing to ask him.

What will you do after you prayed? Will you still be worried? If you are still worried, it means you do not believe in God’s faithfulness to deliver you. You are calling God a liar. David trusted in God.

5 I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.
6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.
Psalm 3:5-6 (NLT)

He slept and woke up with the assurance of his safety. He was sure the Lord was watching over him. In fact, even if he finds himself surrounded by ten thousand enemies, he would not be afraid because he was sure his God is greater than all his enemies. This is a great example for us all. Our prayers will not work unless we believe we receive. We need to pray in faith. The greatest evidence that we have prayed in faith is the peace in our hearts. We are no longer anxious. We are not worried. We can sleep soundly and expect a great day ahead. Even if we find ourselves facing our enemies, we will not be afraid because we know that he who is in us is greater than he who is in this world.

7 Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
8 Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people.
Psalm 3:7-8 (NLT)

Sounds like David had already declared his victory even though he was physically running away at that time. He prayed in faith. He believed he received when he prayed. If you read about his story, you will find that he regained his throne. Prayers are useless unless we believe we receive what we asked for in prayers.

The worst way we can pray is to pray begging prayers. Don’t pray like you begging God as though he may not want to give you what you ask for. Such prayers will not work. Pray with faith that God is faithful and he will keep his promise in giving you what you ask for.

The Purpose Of Life

21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.
23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.
24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
Philippians 1:21-24 (NLT)

This passage was written by Paul when he was in a prison. He was pondering the option of life and death. According to the above passage, Paul considered Christ as the purpose of his life. However death is even better. Why is that so? Let us look in detail.

The main focus of Paul’s life was Jesus. He wanted to tell everyone he met on what Jesus did at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus took all our sins for us to live righteousness before God. Jesus took all our sicknesses so that by his stripes we are healed. Jesus died poor for us to live rich. Once we are aware of this truth and believed in Jesus as our savior, we will live in prosperity in every area of our lives. Jesus is the source of our prosperity. The moment you have Jesus in your heart, you have the power to overcome every limitation in your life and to prosper beyond your wildest dreams in this world and beyond this world.

No wonder Paul was so enthusiastic on proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wanted to bring hope to the world. This commitment gave him the courage and perseverance to endure and overcome various trials in his life. He had experienced arrests, hunger, nakedness and other forms of abuses. Yet he was determined to share the greatest hope to the world. Jesus had become the reason for Paul to live.

However, Paul also said dying is even better. Why? When we die, we go to heaven. No matter how good your life on earth is, heaven is even better. Here, we keep gold in safes but over there gold is only a material to make roads. Paul must have realized that he would have a better life in heaven than on earth. Therefore death was certainly a welcoming relief for him.

In Verse 23, he was torn between living and dying because both were good. In the next verse, he decided to stay because his people needed him. He chose to live on for the sakes of his people.

There are several lessons we can learn for this passage:

Paul had the right to choose between life and death.
The world, including religious people do not believe they have the power to choose between life and death. In their minds, they have no control over their lives. They can die anytime. No one can tell when you meet your end. A car might knock you down. You might get a disease. You may be in a place where a suicide bomber presses the button. A stray bullet might hit you. These folks become a good source of income for insurance agents. Insurance companies love insecure people who think they can die anytime.

However, Paul had a different attitude. He wrote like he had full control over his life and death. Insurance agents will have a tough time selling to him. Paul must have truly believed that he could choose the date of his death, the way we choose the dates for our vacations. So, the lesson here is, we have the right to choose how long we want to live.

Paul chose to live for his people.
He knew death is an easy way out. After he died, he will be in a better place. However, he knew there were people on earth who still needed him. So, he chose to stay for the people he loves. The same can apply to all of us. If you are a Christian, you will go to heaven when you die. Over there, you will live in perfect health and have great wealth. However, you will not be able to help the people on earth anymore.

You will not be able to come down to comfort and encourage your loved ones. You will not be able to use your riches in heaven to buy food for the starving people on earth. This is why it is extremely important for Christians to be rich on earth. The riches on earth can do something the riches in heaven can’t – helping the poor.

As Christians, our place in heaven is secure. Heaven is a great place to spend our eternity in. We will get there during the Rapture or death, whichever comes first. However, there is no hurry to get there. There are many things we can achieve on earth which are not available in heaven like proclaiming the Gospel and helping the poor. So, we should consider our stay on earth as our last opportunity to fulfill our dreams. What are your dreams? Do you want to eliminate poverty? Do you want to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to every corner of the world? Do you want to provide sufficient medical care for every human being on earth? Do you want to end war?

Whatever you want to do, do it now before it is too late.

If Righteousness Could Be Gained Through The Law Christ Died For Nothing

21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Galatians 2:21 (NIV)

This is a powerful verse from the Bible. It basically separates true Christianity from the religious counterfeits. Let us begin with the background. The book of Galatians has recorded the harshest words from Paul. Paul was extremely angry with them. At that time, the church in Galatia was not the only one with the problem of sin. The other one in the Bible was the Corinthians. Yet, Paul’s words in the book of Corinthians were not that harsh. What was the difference between them?

The Corinthians committed outward sins. They committed adultery, they were arrogant and very political. These are sins but not as serious as those committed by the Galatians. The sins of the Galatians were inward. The Galatians committed the sin of being religious. Paul must have considered the sin of being religious to be the worst sin for him to use such drastic words. What exactly happened to the Galatians?

Somewhere along the timeline, they were infiltrated by the theologians. Those theologians had introduced religion into the church. They told the church that believing in Jesus alone is not enough. They must obey the Moses Law like circumcision and the 10 Commandments. As a result, the entire church fell into bondage. Their joy was gone. Their relationship with God was no longer based on love but on their obedience to the Law. Their church service must be on how to obey the Law instead of God’s love.

Does this sound familiar to you today? There are many churches today that operate the same way. They will tell you that being a Christian is not just about believing in Jesus. You must also obey the 10 Commandments. Not obeying the 10 Commandments is a sin and that makes you not right with God. This implies that obeying the Commandments will make you right with God.

Yet the above verse says the opposite. According to the above verse, if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! The message is, righteousness can not be gained through the Law. The Law can never make you right with God. Not only that, if you attempt to obey the Law as if it can make you right with God, you are making a statement saying that Jesus died for nothing. This is why religious churches are an insult to what Jesus had done at the Cross.

The first part of the verse says Paul did not set aside the grace of God. This means that obeying the Law is setting aside the grace of God. It is the rejection of God. No wonder Paul was so angry. While the Corinthians had committed many outward sins, they still believed in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. In contrast, while the Galatians were relatively free from outward sins, they had committed the sin of rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the obedience to the Law. Their obedience to the Law was the equivalent of setting aside the grace of God and accusing Jesus for dying for nothing. Such is the worst sin to be committed by Christians and at the same time propagated by many religious churches.

In conclusion, the worst possible sin that can be committed by a Christian is to obey the Law Of Moses. Each time Satan tempted you to obey the Law, ask yourself the following questions:

• Who died for your sins, Jesus or the Law?
• Who died poor for you to live rich, Jesus or the Law?
• Who took away all your diseases at the Cross, Jesus or the Law?
• Who delivers you from all your troubles, Jesus or the Law?
• Who comforts you when you are in distress, Jesus or the Law?
• Who made you right before God, Jesus or the Law?

The answer to the above question is the focus to your life.

Our Land Will Yield Its Bountiful Harvest

12 Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.
13 Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.
Psalm 85:12-13 (NLT)

Welcome to the last installment of my study on Psalm 85. By now you should have realize that there are 2 distinctive parts in this psalm. Part 1 is from Verse 1 to 9. It is about the writer’s original intention in his prayer. He wanted God to put aside His anger and deliver his people. The writer wanted his nation to be strong and prosperous again. Thus, he prayed this prayer and capitalized on God’s unfailing love for his prayers to be answered. Those who judge this prayer based on today’s religious standard will find it to be heretic. In the religious mind, anyone who prays for “unspiritual” things like health and wealth will be automatically labeled as being deluded by the Prosperity Gospel. Fortunately for us, God disagrees with them.

God was so pleased with this prayer that he put it into the Bible to be an example for us. Not only that, God had even inspired his prophecy in the second part of this prayer. Part 2 of Psalm 85 (from Verse 10 to 13), shows us God’s prophecy on his salvation plan. God sent Jesus to die for our sins. We have seen the some of the results of Jesus’ works at the Cross in Verse 10 and 11. In this article, we shall study in depth on the remaining 2 verses.

Verse 12 says: Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.

It mentions blessings and bountiful harvest. We have come to the material part of the Cross. The completion of Jesus’ works at the Cross causes the Lord to pour down his blessings. The term “pours down” implies there are going to be a lot. As Christians, we will not be blessed a little. We have so much blessing that the Lord has to pour it down. In case someone wants what blessing means, here is the definition from the Bible.

22 The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
Proverbs 10:22 (NLT)

When God blesses us, we are rich and have no sorrow. Christians are supposed to be rich. If you happen to be a Christian and you are not rich (or not rich enough), stand up and claim your rights. It is never the will of God for Christians to be poor. So, get rid of the religious lie that says God wants you poor because God can still use the poor. The truth is, God can indeed use the poor but he has also poured down his blessings to the poor. A poor man who receives God’s blessings is no longer poor.

I like the second part of Psalm 85:12.

“Our land will yield its bountiful harvest.”

Our land will not only have harvest, the harvest will be bountiful. God is not just interested to make us rich. He wants us to be extremely rich. If you happen to be rich now, pay attention to God’s plan for you: He wants you to be richer and richer until you are extremely rich.

The phase “Our land” refers to our works, businesses, investments, ministries or anything that is owned by us. This means we need to have “our land” in order to receive the bountiful harvest from the Lord. Being blessed does not mean doing nothing, sitting on the sofa and expect money to fall from the sky. We have to work. We need to start moving. Only then, God will bless our works and cause us to prosper. If we do not work on “our land”, it will not yield its bountiful harvest.

This reminds me of the lepers I wrote about in the article “The Steps Of The Lepers” on 7 August 2008, where the lepers had to move and make the steps. Only then God magnified their steps and drove out the enemies. Likewise, we ourselves have to move forward. Find out what you can do and do it. If you are jobless, look for a job. If you are sick, take your medicine. If you have failed in your examinations, study and take the examination again. Give God some “land” to bless so that he can give you a bountiful harvest.

Psalm 85:13 says: Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.

At first glance, I thought it refers to John the Baptist. However, John’s ministry began and ended before Jesus died at the Cross. So, John could not have righteousness that we have today during his ministry. The term “Righteousness” cannot be John the Baptist. It must be us, Christians. As Christians, we are the righteousness who go as a herald before him and prepare the way for his steps. This is our role.

We Christians are to make the way for Jesus’ Second Coming. This is also another reason why Christians need to be extremely rich. If you are struggling, working day to night to meet daily needs and making ends meet, you will never have the time to prepare the way for his steps. So, when we desire for abundant riches to come to our lives, we are not doing it for our personal comfort alone. We need them to prepare the way for the Lord. The operation on providing food, medicine, education and the Gospel to the poor is very costly. It takes a lot of rich Christians to finance it. I see myself as one of the financiers. How about you?

Righteousness Smiles Down From Heaven

11 Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.
Psalm 85:11 (NLT)

This article continues from yesterday’s version on the prophecy of the writer of Psalm 85. As I have mentioned earlier, the original intention of the writer was to pray for the restoration of his nation. He wanted his nation to be strong and prosperous again. God was so pleased with this prayer that He had not only put it in the Bible but also used it to deliver his prophecy. So, the guy who prayed the prayers in Psalm 85 had become a prophet unknowingly.

The lesson for us here is, we are free to pray for anything we like as long as we pray. Religious people like to create rules on what we can and cannot pray but God will never do that. In fact, if you are to follow those religious rules, you can throw away the Bible because the many prayers in it had violated those religious rules. For example, if you are to pray the prayers of Psalm 85, you will be branded as someone who is deluded by the “Prosperity Gospel” because the contents of this psalm is on asking God for prosperity.

The bottom line is, God wants us to pray. It does not matter if you pray wrongly or used the wrong words. God will not be offended and send you to hell if you happen to used insulting words on him. He is far greater than that. He still loves you. When we pray, we will be in communion with him. We will be giving him the opportunity to help us and correct our mistakes. Even your unspiritual prayers can turn spiritual in his presence, just like what happened in the prayers in Psalm 85.

The above verse is the second verse on the prophecy God had given to the writer. The first part says, “Truth springs up from the earth”. What does that mean? The only possible answer I can think of is the event of Jesus rose from the grave. The writer had made a tremendous breakthrough in his prophetic progress. He had even predicted the event of Jesus rising from the grave.

When Jesus died at the Cross, he died for our sins. He took all our sins on his body and took the punishments on our behalf. We will never be punished for our sins again because Jesus had taken all our punishments. Then Jesus died. He had to die because the wages of sin is death. He died our death so that we don’t have to die again. Death has no sting on us.

Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave. What is the significance of this event? The last part of the above verse tells us why: “and righteousness smiles down from heaven”. When Jesus rose from the grave, it means things are going to be fine. His sacrifice had been accepted and we are declared righteous in his sight. Righteousness smiles down from heaven.

We received righteousness from heaven. As I have mentioned before, we have Christ-Righteousness which comes form Jesus’ works at the Cross and not Self-Righteousness which comes from self performance. The term “smiles” implies God is delighted in us. He is not longer angry with us because all his anger had been consumed at the Cross. We are righteous and holy in his sight despite the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed.

The prophecy in Psalm 85:10-11 is our reality today. Jesus had died for our sins and rose for our righteousness. We have been made right with God. The mistakes that we have made and the sins that we have committed can never remove our righteousness because we are Christ-Righteous and not Self-Righteous. Take time to reflect on our present right standing with God. Your life will never be the same again.