Stage 1: Life without God
1-1 It sounds weird when we think about the beginning of the world. Many of us do not even think about it because we are just not interested. Or, some of us think Big Bang has created the world and evolution has developed it. I’m not against science, but there is something that science cannot explain; in fact, scientists were not even born at that time, so they have been referring it to some unknown big crash or light in the outer space. However, even if you choose not to believe in any religious explanations, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to at least know about them? How will you criticize anything when you do not know it, right? “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Why did he do that? Where is he from? You might have all
these mysterious questions, but these are just some thoughts that disturb you from listening to God’s words. He said, “I am who I am, the beginning and the end.” God is not a visible figure like us, and there
are many things that we cannot fully understand with our human brains. But it is okay. “Faith comes from hearing the word of God.” If you keep reading this book, all of a sudden, you will find yourself believing in God, and that is all you need. In brief, “faith” will save you from all the things that have oppressed you so far.
1-2 When you hear these two names, “Adam and Eve,” you might think, ‘Yeah, I know that old story. I’ve seen the old books and paintings about it, and it’s like one of the Greek Mythologies.’ But actually, it is a non-fiction, a true story which has historical records. In fact, the story is God’s words written by Moses who was A REAL PERSON in history and whom God appeared to and talked with like a friend.
“The Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” He created the nature and all the living creatures. “Then God formed a man. He breathed the breath of life into him.” So here goes the first man ever born, named “Adam”. He placed Adam in the Garden of Eden where there was abundance of everything Adam would ever need. However, in the middle of the garden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, about which God had said, “You must not eat this. If you do, you can be sure that you will die.”
Many people question this part; why did God put that tree which is like a dangerous trap? Did God really love Adam? The answer is yes! It was because God loved Adam so much that He wanted have some kind of relationship with Adam based on a covenant and thereby keep Adam remembering His words. Surely, it was not such a hard task for
Adam to adhere to this word of God since there was sufficient food in the Garden of Eden. Just like when you marry and promise your fiancĂŠ that you will love only him or her, God wanted to have a very simple promise between Him and the man that they respect and care for each other. This was all He wanted and expected from Adam and from us.
1-3 There were God, angels, and one angel named Lucifer who rebelled against God. I know it might sound weird now but please just keep on reading it without too much argument because it will be worth it. Lucifer became whom we know as Satan because he wanted to be greater than God. While God and his creations were having happy days, Satan was jealous. He decided to interrupt God’s work. Satan knew that there was one fruit that Adam and Eve should not eat. So, guess what? The temptation began. As a form of serpent (snake), Satan provoked Eve saying, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat the fruit of any tree that is in the garden’?” Eve answered, “We can eat the fruit of
every tree in the garden. But God did say we must not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If we do, we will die.” Satan said, “You can be sure that you won’t die.” “God knows that when you eat that, you will be able to know things like never before and be like God.” This is how Eve fell on Satan’s lie. Indeed, Satan wants to make us humans fall just like him and have control over us. Not because he is too bored or we look fun to play with, but because we are whom God loves. Since Satan is against God, he wants to break God’s heart and make His love one-sided rejected love.
So by saying yes to Satan’s lies and wanting to become great as God, the first humans sinned against God; they chose to be God themselves and be on their own, which continues on these days. And because of the fact that God cannot change His own words and covenant, He had to kill His spirit in Adam and Eve. Consequently, they, who originally were made of God’s living breath and in accordance with God’s appearance, now became the same as other animals and creatures. And this is why we are constantly unsatisfied as we live in this world. Remember how God said, “You can be sure that you will die if you eat the fruit”? Indeed, as the descendants of Adam and Eve, we lost God’s spirit; our spirits are dead. Our relationship with God is broken, so we keep feeling
loneliness and emptiness in spite of numerous things we crave and get. In fact, we need the restoration with God. This is the only way that we can stay fully and permanently happy and satisfied.
1-4 Then what happened after Adam and Eve departed from God? Humans inherited the sinful nature and started living under Satan’s rule. In the Bible, this world is called the “kingdom of darkness.” Likely, When Jesus came to the world, Satan said, “If you bow down to me, I will give all the kingdoms of the world,” which implies that Satan has control over the world. So basically, it is true that we are living in this kind of dark world, and we actually can feel it, can’t we? “One man’s sin brought guilt to all people. Sin ruled because of death. Death came because of sin. Death ruled the world. Everyone became a slave, a prisoner of sin.” So then, what was God doing? He needed to get that “sin” out to be connected with us again. Just like any kind of “debt” should be “paid,” He needed to have the same amount of sacrifice as what Adam and Eve had done. But there was no
way that humans could pay that much since it was Godâ€™s words that they had abandoned; nothing could be traded with what they had done. Nor could God cancel His own words for He is always righteous. Therefore, He planned one and the only solution; He himself decided to descend to the world and pay back what He had said. He decided to be the sacrifice himself so that His people could be free from sin and death, which belong to Satanâ€™s power.
â€œGod loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son. Anyone who believes in Him will not die but will have eternal life.â€? (Trinity God is three spirit in one so the Son, Holy Spirit, God is all one God. Just the roles are different. If you cannot understand this it is still okay because it will not keep your soul from being saved. Human brains cannot fully understand the spiritual world.)
Thus, God prepared and achieved the best thing ever. He who does not have sin came as the form of human and died as a sacrifice to pay the debt of the sin. All we need to do is “believe” that all of this is true and that God’s son, Jesus Christ died for us.
1-5 What God did after all the tragedy of sin and death was making a new promise: that He will save His people from death and restore the good relationship with them. Remember the place where Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden? At that time, God said to Satan (Serpent),
“You and woman will be enemies. Her son will crush your head and you will crush his heel.” It is because Jesus Christ, the Son, was planned to come from a “woman”, who is Mary. Why is a woman being highlighted? It’s because Jesus is not a descendent of an ordinary human through an ordinary physical relationship. Had he been so, he would also be a sinner because of the sinful nature in Adam’s blood. This is why the fact that Mary was a virgin is crucial. It does not
mean, however, that Mary should be important. Mary is just a normal human just like any of us. Mary herself said to the Lord in the Bible, â€œI am your servant. May your will be done.â€? God just let her body give birth to Jesus, but Jesus has neither Mary nor her husbandâ€™s genes in him; he is God in a human form. Nevertheless, before Jesus actually came to the world, God did a lot of preparations
to make his coming more comprehensible and believable to all the people throughout history. Therefore, whenever you cannot believe in Jesus Christ, you can always go back to the historical records and check out the true evidence. Now, letâ€™s do it together.
His plan of salvation to every person in every nation. God thinks so different from us that He always chooses to become the 1-6 God of the weak. This is why it is written God says, “My thoughts are not in the Bible, “You are same as your thoughts and neither strong when you are are my ways and your ways.” weak.” At that time, The Old Testament of the Bible is full of stories related to Israel. Do you know why? It is because God had chosen this small nation as His nation to reveal Himself and
Israel was the weakest and the smallest nation in the world, so that God picked the nation and started His work through them. They did not have any land or infrastructure. God became their God because His miracles would be shown most effectively when the weakest nation became the strongest with His power. He constantly says in the Bible, “(If I do this) then you will know that I am the Lord. The Lord is one and only God” after showing miracles. Another weird thing God does is choosing a very old man (in Israel) named Abraham and making him the ancestor of Jesus Christ. It is weird because this man did not have any child at that point and, being already too old and barren to have a baby. God says, “I am God Almighty,” and makes this miracle happen. He promises Abraham, “All nations on earth will be blessed because of your children.” “And to your seed Christ will be born.” He makes “Impossible = I’m possible.”
1-7 After choosing Abraham and his family line, God constantly explains His plan of sending Jesus Christ the only one who can fix the mistake of the first human Adam. In fact, although many of us do not realize, the Bible has been written about real events and real people throughout years of human history. Therefore, when you read through it, you can see that what was written (prophesied) thousands of years ago has been fulfilled later in the history, which is an amazing work of God. It says in Micah, “Bethlehem, you might not be an important town in the nation of Judah. But out of you will come a ruler over Israel for me. His family line goes back to the early years of your nation.” And after thousands of years, in Mathew it says, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea.” Hebrews, it also says, “It is clear that Lord came from the family line
of Judah (Judah is descendent of Abraham)” showing the fulfillment of the prophecy. However, after Jesus was born, Satan tried to kill Him by making King Herod kill all the babies in that region. Therefore, Jesus’ parents took their baby and fled to another place, and eventually ended up in Nazareth, Galilee. Even this fact is written ahead thousands of years ago before all of these people were born. It is prophesized that “Jesus will be called a Nazarene.” And just as Zechariah prophesized in the early days saying, “See your king comes to you. He has power to save. He is gentle and riding on a donkey. He is sitting on a donkey’s colt.” It proved true when Jesus came; he rode a donkey.
Even when He was dead on the cross, what King David prophesized in Psalms came to be true: “They have pierced my hands and my feet. They divide up my clothes among them. They cast lots for what I am wearing” How could David know this when Jesus was not even born? It is said by the actual witness of the Jesus’ crucifixion after thousands of years later, “When soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his
clothes. They divided into four parts. They said, ‘Let’s cast lots to see who will get it.’” There are numerous proofs of this kind throughout the historical records. Why are these important? The scripture says, “These things happen in order that Scripture would come true.” “He gives witness so that you also can believe.”
1-8 “Anyone who believes in the Son has an eternal life.” “He has saved us from the kingdom of darkness. Because of what the Son has done, we have been set free. Because of Jesus Christ, all of our sins have been forgiven.” Jesus Christ is a free gift from God. Are you used
to this message? Is it now a cliché in the 21st century? Think about a gift. There is a gift delivered to you. There are three types of actions you can do: first, just throw it away. Second, open and check it and then throw away. Third, open and check it and then accept it. By reading the Bible and listening to the message, you are at least opening the gift from God that has been prepared for you since thousands of years ago. Here is the Lord’s message, the gift: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. In the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” Remember how Adam’s sin separated us from God and how our spirits became dead? Because of the free gift, Jesus Christ, we became capable of reuniting
with God again. “The free gift of God’s grace makes all of us right with him. Jesus Christ paid the price to set us free.” “God gave him as a sacrifice to pay for sins. So He forgives the sins of those who have faith in his blood.” “If people trusted in him, their faith is accepted even though they do not work. Their faith makes them right with God.”
The one and only thing you should do to accept this gift from God is just to believe this fact. How can you believe in old histories of the world or of your nation? It is by reading the records despite the restrictions of time and space. The Bible is the records of God. A lot of times, you might say, “Yeah, I’ve read it. I know it,” but have you really accepted it as a true history or have you simply read it as an old legendary storybook?
1-9 The Bible seems different from the newspaper. It is because there are supernatural miracles.Yet, these are all true facts. It might be difficult for realistic people to believe in this fact; however, if there were no miracle, would anyone possibly believe in it? Imagine if an ordinary man came to you and said that he came from heaven to be a sacrifice of your sins and save you.You would probably not listen to him; instead, he would be sent to a psychiatric hospital. This is why Jesus did all the miracles; with the miracles it may be easier for many more people to believe. Again, it was way before Jesus came to
the world that the miracles he would do were prophesized. “Here is what will happen for you who have respect for me. The sun that brings life will rise. Its rays will bring healing to my people.”(Malachi) “He was punished to make us whole again. His wounds have healed us.” (Isaiah) “He suffered the things we should have suffered. He took on himself the sicknesses that should have been ours.” (Isaiah) And in reality, he has done a lot of miraculous healings. He spoke to the man who could not walk: “Get up take your mat and go home.” The man got up and went home.
To the blind men He said, “It will happen to you just as you believed,” and they could see again. To a man who had a skin disease, Jesus said, “Be clean” and the man was healed right away. He drove out evil spirits from demon-possessed people and set them free, and he even made alive a dead person who had been in the tomb with spoiled body. There are countless other miracles in the Bible, and they are all true stories with numerous witnesses in that region at that period of time.
Why did all this happen? Jesus said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. I have not come to get those who think they are right with God to follow me. I have come to get sinners to follow me.” It is simple. Again, all these are part of God’s original plan: to save us from sin and give us an eternal life.
1-10 There are many religions in the world. And there are many great people who established the religions, such as Buddha, Muhammad, to name a few. According to Christianity, we should love all people. We should respect other religions and admit that there are amazing people in other religions. Nevertheless, these human beings are not God themselves because everyone, however great, eventually
died except for Jesus Christ. No other religion or any great king was able to conquer death. Remember how sin came in to the world in the beginning and how death ruled over us because of it? We had to live in dead spirits and our bodies would eventually perish because of it. However, Jesus Christ has conquered the power of death. Jesus was able to make dead people alive with miracles as mentioned in the previous page. In addition, Jesus himself died on the cross and after three days became alive. This is the
single most powerful miracle that has ever happened in the human history. “There was a powerful earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven. The angel went to the tomb (of Jesus). He rolled back the stone and sat on it. The guards were so afraid of him that they became like dead men.” “The angel said to the women, ‘Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus. He is not here! He has risen just as he said he would. He is going to Galilee. There you will see him.” Jesus revived and appeared before many people. He gave his spirit to his disciples and everyone who believed in him. Later on, these people started spreading the words of Jesus Christ despite all the persecution they had to suffer. Why would people risk their lives
and suffer pain if it were not a true thing? This same message, so true and alive, survives to this very day as you are now reading it. This is the word from Jesus. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” To accept this free gift from God, all you need
to do is believe it in your heart and say it with your voice. This is the word from God: “Say with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord.” Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Then you will be saved. With your heart you believe and are made right with God. With your mouth you say that Jesus is Lord. And so you are saved.”
Stage 2: The First Encounter with God
2-1 One thing that is really hard to endure is loneliness. Have you ever experienced deep loneliness? For me, I have experienced something weird; I found myself becoming more depressed when I put more and more effort to get rid of the solitude. The
more anticipation I had for people, the bigger disappointment I got. There was a woman in the Bible who did exactly the same. The time was about noon. In that region, it was super hot with the scorching sun at that time, so normally people would not walk around much around noon. However, the woman did not want to meet anyone, so she came out to get some water when no one was around. Meanwhile, Jesus had to go through that place and took some rest there. When Jesus met the woman, he said, “Will you give me a drink?” Surprised at this unexpected request, she said, “You are a Jew. I’m Samaritan. How can you ask me that?” (I guess there
was a rule not to share anything between the two groups at that time.) Jesus said, “You do not know what God’s gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water.” The woman said, “Sir, you don’t have anything to get water with. (What are you talking about?)” Jesus said, “All who drink this water will be thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty.” Then, very unexpectedly, Jesus continued to the woman. “Go. Get your husband and come back.”
The woman said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is you have had five husbands. And the man you have now is not your husband.” Indeed, the woman had five men from whom she wanted to achieve satisfaction but failed to. She was so surprised that Jesus knew all her hurts. “Oh my God, you are a prophet!” But she did not know that Jesus was the Son of God. The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Jesus said, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.” “I am he.” Jesus is still saying the same thing to us who are always struggling with unending thirst.
2-2 Where are you now? What are you doing? Are you hiding somewhere because you lost your confidence? Have you been betrayed? Do you feel useless and lonely because everybody seemed to have forgotten you? Even if you do, I bet your situation is still better than this old manâ€™s. There was a man who once was a prince. He was an Israelite adopted by the princess of Egypt; so he later became the prince of Egypt. Meanwhile, the whole group of Israel people moved to Egypt because of famine and lived there as slaves. One day, an Egyptian soldier was beating an Israelite worker. The prince saw the scene and wanted to protect his people. So, he tried to stop the soldier, but it ended up killing him. Usually, when you choose to be in a particular side during a fight, you are likely to be at least close and respected by that side of people. But the princeâ€™s situation was different; neither Israelites
nor Egyptians liked him. Moreover, he became a criminal who committed a murder. Therefore he ran away, far away to the wilderness. This guyâ€™s name is Moses. Quite famous now, but at that time he was this guy, a runaway prince, who was hiding in a desert not knowing what to do. When everyone had forgotten him in the midst of helpless situation, guess who found him? God did. He not only appeared to Moses but also became a best friend to him. He kept giving Moses confidence. The Lord said, â€œWho makes a man able to talk? Who makes him unable to hear or speak? Who makes him able to see? Who
makes him blind? It is I, the Lord. Now go. I will help you.” Then God made him become the leader of his nation and achieved His will to rescue the whole nation from slavery through this old man. Similarly, today, “All things are possible through God” no matter what your past is, what your present situation is, what you imagine your future as. Everything can change and you are indeed a very important person in the eyes of God; He has a plan for you. This is His promise. “I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
2-3 When your life seems to hit the worst point, do not be too sad because that is where God can start His work. “He will not break a bent twig. He will not put out a dimly burning flame. He will make everything right”
Did you do something bad in the past? Then, you might say to yourself, ‘I’m not that clean and holy, so I don’t have anything to do with God.’ However, that is, in fact, why Jesus came to the world; he came to give us freedom from all the guiltiness and to make us right with God. A woman was caught during adultery. People circled around her, and she was on her knees on the ground crying with her face down with shame. It was in the Law of Israelites that they should stone such women. Before they
started punishing her, the people asked Jesus, “Now what do you say?” because they wanted to trap Jesus. Jesus said, “Has any one of you not ever sinned? He who has never sinned should be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one people silently left and it was only that woman and Jesus who remained. Jesus said, “Woman, where are they? Hasn’t anyone found you guilty?”
She said, “No one, sir.” He said, “I don’t find you guilty either. Go now and leave your life of sin.” This is the Lord’s words for every one of us. “I don’t find you guilty either. Go now and leave your life of sin.” “Even though your sins are bright red, they will be as white as snow.
Even though they are deep red, they will be white like wool.”(Isaiah) There were two criminals next to Jesus on the cross during the crucifixion. One of them believed that Jesus was Messiah. He said to Jesus, “Could you please remember me when you go to heaven?” Do you know what happened to this man who was a criminal? Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
“The righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” It is not by any kind of good things you do. So, don’t judge yourself today; don’t be affected by anyone’s judgments of you. “Who can bring any charge against God’s chosen ones? God makes us right with himself.”
2-4 We are living in a harsh world. It is very cold and just as described in the novel Little Prince, “the world is all about numbers.” People are so good at calculation that even love became impossible without measurements these days. A number of times, appearance, wealth, and fame are of key importance in this world. But what is even harsher is that even if you have some of these, it is not guaranteed that you would be loved by others. There was a man whom everybody hated. He was rich but it was because he was a chief tax collector. One day, when Jesus was walking with a large crowd following him, the man was there too. He was so short that he could not see Jesus in his height, but still he was curious. ‘Who is Jesus? Why is everyone following him?’ So, he decided to climb up a tree and Jesus knew that. Jesus said to the man, “I want to stay at your house today and be your guest.” All the people heard him and said, “Oh my God. Jesus has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But no matter what people said, Jesus became friends with this lonely tax collector.
This manâ€™s story has a happy ending: he believed in Jesus and he decided to give half of his money to the poor and pay back four times of the amount of the dishonest money he took from people. Normally, it would make more sense to highlight this part but in Christianity this is not the most important part. It is just a normal result that follows naturally. Doing something good is not the way to get salvation.You can be greedy and bad yet still become a friend of Jesus, being loved and saved just like the man here. Because it is not what you do to get saved but in whom you believe.
“I want mercy and not sacrifice. I want you to recognize me as God instead of bringing burnt offerings.” (Hosea) Even if people hate you for any kind of reason, remember that God loves you no matter what you did, how you look, or how much you have and so on.
The Lord said, “I do not look at the things people look at. Man looks how someone appears on the outside, but I look at what is in the heart.” (1Samuel) In the same way, when Jesus saw a poor widow putting two very little
copper coins in the offering box, he said, “That poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others.” It was because although the actual amount of the money was small, it was her best and her heart was real.
Saul was a man who did not believe in Jesus; in fact, he detested Jesus. Even worse, he persecuted the believers. One day, while Saul was on his way to get the believers as prisoners, a strange thing happened. 2-5 Strong, bright light from heaven flashed A lot of people asked Jesus for around him. miracles, and he did show many by healing and saving people. But one of the most incredible miracles was when the man called Saul transformed to a totally different person upon encountering Jesus. Do you or your friends hate Jesus? Or are you being or might be hated because of your belief in Jesus? Then this is for you.
He fell to the ground. He heard a voice speaking to him: “Saul! Saul! Why are you opposing me?” “Who are you Lord?” “I am Jesus. I am the one you are opposing. Now get up and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do.”
few days. God showed him a vision of a man called Ananias coming and praying for him. At the same time, God appeared to Ananias and told him to go meet Saul and pray for him.
Ananias knew about this guy Saul. He said, “Lord, this guy has done great harm to your people.” But God said, “Go! I have chosen this man to work for me. He Then the man became blind. will carry my name to those who aren’t Jews His friends led him to a and to their kings.” house and he lay down for a
And what God had said did really happen. Ananias went to Soul and prayed. And Saul got his sights back. Then he became filled with the Godâ€™s spirit and afterward did Godâ€™s work for his entire life. (His other name is Paul.) This is the highlight of God saving and using the unexpected. Even if you have been completely against Christianity before, that situation can turn upside down at any moment. God made the one who persecuted the believers to be the leader of many churches.
This also shows that your friends or family who hate church will still have a chance of becoming saved. Of course, God does not always use this miracle of light-and-voicefrom-heaven to everybody. A lot of times, many people want miracles but become disappointed and turn away from God if nothing spectacular happens. What we should remember, however, is that there already is the most exciting, unbelievable miracle shown to us: the son of God came to the sinful world and died for our sins. Jesus said, “People ask for miraculous signs, but none will be given except for the sign of Jonah (which represents my death and resurrection).” Lastly, if you yourself are the one who is being hated by people because you believe, you should be greatly joyful. These are the words from God: “Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” “In this world you will have trouble. But cheer up! I have won the battle over the world. I’ll be with you. The devil, prince of this world, has already been judged.” (John) So, do not be afraid of anything or anyone. “The Lord is for you. What can man do to you?”
2-6 “Don’t be afraid.” This is one of the top ranked sentences written in the Bible. We often face many things to be afraid of. Not something like monsters that look scary, but all sorts of problems and worries seize us and put us in fear. When the problems get bigger and the situations become worse, think about the scale of God and his almighty power. God is the one who has created the universe. He created you and the people around you, even your boss. “What can man do to you when God is your father?” God made Saul who used to prison believers become the Apostle Paul. Who is your enemy? Do you know what God does to His people’s enemies? Let’s take a look at an actual story that happened in the past. There was a prophet in Israel named Elisha. When Israel was at wars with Aram, the prophet kept giving directions that gave advantage to Israel. So, the king of Aram became angry; his military plans were constantly messed up because of this man Elisha. Therefore, he decided to get rid of this annoying guy Elisha. He sent a huge army and surrounded Elisha’s place. When Elisha saw this, he was not afraid although he did not have any army
to protect himself. He prayed to the Lord to make them blind, and God made them blind. Then, Elisha led them to follow him and when they got their sight back, they were in the military base of Israel. The king of Israel saw them and asked Elisha, “Should I kill them?” Elisha refused to kill them but offered them food and sent them back. Can’t you see the power of the Lord? He can do anything if you are in danger. He put Elisha in the position of showing mercy and saving the lives of his enemies when he should actually be the one pleading for his life. “Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you.” Now, then, what happened to the army that went back after just being fed in the opponent’s tent? They became so afraid of God that they did not dare attack God’s people anymore. The God here is the same living God today, right now. Are you still afraid of anything or anyone? Then remember this simple but powerful promise from God: “I am with you.”
3-1 God gives great victories to His people. However, the victory might not seem like it in the beginning because God always works in unexpected ways. There was a young man named Joseph. His father was married first to his motherâ€™s sister, so he did not share same mother with his older brothers. However, his dad loved his mother more
than the other wife and Joseph more than the other siblings. So, obviously, his older brothers envied and hated him. However, Joseph believed in God and always lived before Godâ€™s sights. One day, God gave him a dream in which all his family bowed to him. This grew the brothersâ€™ hatred against him, and when his father gave him a beautiful new garment, they became so angry that they decided to get rid of him. And in secret, when their father was not watching, the brothers sold the young brother to Egypt, a faraway land, as a slave.
Here it is seen that even God’s people can get into troubles and difficulties. What did Joseph do wrong? Nothing. But he became a slave. He had to work hard day after day in a strange foreigner’s house. What is so amazing, however, is that Joseph did his best even during the work of slavery. “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” It is said in the Bible that if you are faithful to a little thing, the Lord puts you in charge of bigger things, and it did happen to Joseph. His work had proved his sincerity, and his master put him to manage his entire household. However, his life was still not easy-going. The master’s wife who loved Joseph as a man, wanted to sleep with him. Knowing that it was against God’s will to have a sexual relationship with a married woman, Joseph refused her every time she seduced him. Being so angry, the woman slandered Joseph one day, saying that he tried to sexually abuse her. This made him go to prison when he had done nothing wrong. What was righteous God doing then? He perfectly knew that Joseph did not do anything wrong. God allowed all this to happen not because He forgot Joseph, but rather because
He had more amazing plans. In the jail, Joseph met a servant of the pharaoh. He interpreted his dream and the servant became amazed by his talent; after being freed from the prison, he later told the king about Joseph. Pharaoh then asked Joseph to interpret the dreams that he was repeatedly having, and Joseph, by doing it correct, saves the whole country from a great famine. Consequently, the Pharaoh greatly favored Joseph and made him the ruler of the whole land. “The Lord can make one high or low.” And every time, there is purpose behind Lord’s work. God not only makes Joseph’s sincere endeavors worthy but also saves His people Israel from famine. He moves the nation to Egypt through Joseph. Plus He makes Joseph reunite with his family, get apologies from his brothers, and establish a loving family.
3-2 Today, God is working in your life, too. “God is working in you. He wants your plans and acts to be in keeping with his good purpose.” “And the One who began a good work in you will carry it on until it is completed.” Remember, however, that Joseph was once put in slavery before seeing the glory.Your life might not look as handsome and fancy as you have imagined; it might be as harsh and difficult as Joseph’s life had been. But always remember this word from God, “Your work in the Lord is not in vain.” A long time had passed after the Israelites moved to Egypt. The king who was closed to Joseph and gave Israel kind favors was now dead. So were all who knew their story and even Joseph, the leader. When the descendants of Israel were living at Egypt and their numbers increased, the new king in Egypt became worried; he did not want other people to live in his land. Therefore, the new Pharaoh made the Israelites become slaves of Egypt. Just as mentioned in Chapter One, Israel was powerless but God was powerful. He heard the cries of His people. “I have seen my people suffer in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers. I am concerned about their suffering.” “Their cry for help reached me. I have seen the way Egyptians beating them down.” “So, I have come down to save them from the Egyptians. I’ll bring them out of that land. I will bring them into a good land.”
And just as He promised, God continuously worked to set His people free. He showed a lot of miracles in Egypt so that they would know that He is the Lord and set them free. Everyone including the king of Egypt feared Israel and begged them to leave because of the great miracles God had performed. It was Israel’s victory. However, the miracles were just tools used by God in order to put faith in His people. The ultimate purpose of everything God was doing was to save His people, and that is what is important. It is the same today. God says, “Ask, and it will given to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks will receive. He who searches will find. The door will be opened to the one who knocks.” The Bible says, “Unless you ask for a wrong reason, God will give it to you.” But, why is God doing this? It is first because He is your father who loves you. Second it is to save you. He wants you to know that He is the real living God and believe in Him. By the victory God gives you, achieve another real victory.
came near the promise land, they saw the people who were originally living in that land, who were big giants, and Israel had to fight against them.
3-3 After the Israelites had successfully escaped from Egypt, the Lord continued to lead them to His promise land. Since the Israelites did not have any place to live and had no rules of any sort, God gave them a law to help them establish a better nation. He picked the weakest to be the strongest. Day and night, God provided everything they needed and led their way. When they
This is what the majority of them said: “All of the people we saw there were very big and tall. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes. And that’s also how we seemed to them.” That night the people sobbed out loud. They came all the way through the deserts from Egypt and now were standing before the land of promise, filled with fear. They felt like they were already defeated because the opponent was so much more powerful than them. One thing they had forgotten was that they had God Almighty on their side. “Be strong and brave. Do not be terrified. Do not lose hope. I am your Lord God. I will be with you everywhere you go.”
It seemed impossible but the Lord gave Israelites victory after victory in fights with all kind of nations living in that land. They even conquered a very strong castle called Jericho just by circling around that place and shouting: “As soon as the fighting men gave a loud shout, the castle wall fell down. Every man charged straight in. They took the city.” Whenever you encounter harsh, miserable points in your life, think of the one behind you. Lord is not only your God but also your dear father because of Jesus Christ. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.You didn’t receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear once again. Instead, you received the Holy Spirit, who makes you God’s child. By the spirit’s power, we call God ‘Father.’” The same God in this story of the Bible is our God now, not just the God of Israel. It is written, “I will call those who are not my people ‘my people.’” “I will call the one who is not my loved one ‘my loved one.’” (Hosea) “Once it was said to them, ‘you are not my people.’ In that very place they will be called ‘children of living God.’” (Hosea) It was God’s plan to send Jesus as the descendant of Israel in the past. But after Jesus came, God gave the salvation not only to the people of Israel but to everyone who believes. We can even call God our father. So why should we be afraid of anything today?
3-4 There was a boy who was small and young but still confident because he believed in God. In sharp contrast to the Israelites who feared the giants in the promise land, this boy named David was not scared of anything. He was not physically strong, and he was merely a shepherd. Meanwhile, during the time when Israel and Philistine were on a battle, a mighty
hero named Goliath came out of the Philistine camp. It is described in the Bible: “He was a giant; he was more than nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head. He wore a coat of bronze armor; it weighed 125 pounds...” Being so strong and powerful, Goliath said, “Israel, if one of your men is able to kill me, we’ll become your servants. This very day I dare the soldiers of Israel to send a man down to fight against me.” For 40 days every morning and evening, Goliath came forward and stood there. The Israelites were terrified. One day, when David was delivering some food to his brothers on the battlefield, he witnessed this shameful scene. Goliath stepped forward as usual and made fun of Israel. David heard it and said, “This guy doesn’t even know God. He dares the armies of the living God to fight him. Who does he think he is?”
Someone heard David speak and told the king of Israel. The king called David. Although he seemed weak and young, there was no hope in Israel anyway; consequently, the king dressed David in his military clothes. However, David refused any armor or king’s clothes because he was not used to them. Instead, he took what he always had with him: a shepherd’s wooden staff and little stones that he used to scare away beasts on the meadow. He approached to Goliath. Goliath saw how small and young David was. He said, “Why are you coming at me with sticks? Do you think I’m only a dog? Come over here. I’ll feed your body to the birds of the air.” David said, “You are coming to fight against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin. But I’m coming against you in the name of the Lord who rules over all. He is the God of the armies of Israel. He’s the one you have dared to fight against. This very day, the Lord will hand you over to me. Then the whole world will know there is a God in Israel.”
“The battle belongs to the Lord.” As Goliath moved closer to attack David, David ran to meet him. He reached into his bag and took out a stone. He slung it at Goliath and the stone hit him on the forehead and sank into it. He fell to the ground on his face and died. So David won the fight against Goliath with a sling and a stone. The main character in this story is neither David nor Goliath; it is the Lord. Because “every battle belongs to the Lord,” we can so easily win it. There is no problem which God cannot solve and no situation that is bigger than God. God who saw the faith in David later honors him to be the king of Israel. Today, it is our choice to become either the frightened Israelites or courageous David. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
3-5 Do you still feel like you lack in anything? Today you will know that when you meet God, you will feel like you have everything and be filled of joy. There was a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. At that time it was essential that women have children, but while Peninnah had sons and daughters, Hannah had none. However, a strange thing is written in the Bible, “the Lord kept her from having children.” Why did God do this to Hannah? Because she did not have any child, Hannah was teased year after year by Peninnah. Penninah made fun of her until Hannah cried and would not eat anything. Hannah was very bitter and sobbed day and night. Every time she felt sorrow, she went up to the house of the Lord and prayed to the Lord. “Lord, you rule over all. Please see how I’m suffering! Don’t forget about me!”
Have you ever been in this similar situation? Have you been underestimated or shameful because of your defects? Then look carefully at this passage: “The Lord kept her from having children.” Similarly, Jesus has often said to the sick, “This sickness will not end bad. Also, it is not because of your fault or your parents’ sins. This happened so that God’s work could be shown in your life.”
throughout the history. Hannah not only gained a child but also met and experienced Hannah constantly prayed the living God and lived a joyful life. to God. One day, as she Hannah realized the truth after experiencprayed at church, she came to believe that the ing God’s work throughout her life: “The bows of great heroes are broken. But those Lord now heard her prayers and headed back who trip and fall are made strong. Those who used to be full have to work for food. home. Nothing had But those who used to be hungry are not happened yet, but she hungry anymore. The Lord causes people no longer felt sorrow to die. He also gives people life. He brings or was filled of worries. people down to the grave. He also brings “Her face wasn’t sad people up. The Lord makes people poor. anymore.” Meanwhile, the Lord remembered her He also makes people rich. He raises poor people up from the trash pile. He and gave Hannah a child. lifts needy people out of the ashes. He lets them sit with princes. He gives them Sometimes your sufferplaces of honor.” (1Samuel) ing might be a tool God uses to show His work in All sovereignty belongs to God alone. He your life.You will obtain can reverse any kind of situation at any greater blessings because moment. If you look carefully at this of the hardships. Do you passage, the key point is not about know what happened to solving the problem; Hannah felt great Hannah’s child? God made joy and strong confidence when she him become his chosen met God and realized who He really prophet (Samuel), and he is, which happened prior to her played a very important role prayer being answered.
Stage 4: Worldly Success and Losing Faith
God said, “I am the one they do not want as their king. They are doing just as they have always done. They have deserted me and God can raise you up higher served other gods. They have done that than you can ever expect. from the time I brought them up out of However, just as hardships Egypt until this very day.” may turn into blessings, what seem to be good in our eyes God said to Samuel, the prophet, may turn out to be great dangers. “Let them have what they want. After Israel arrived at the promise But give them a strong warning. land and defeated numerous nations Let them know what the king there, victory after victory, they who rules over them will do.” wanted to establish a more powerful nation. As a consequence, they craved Therefore, Samuel told the for a ruler, a king, just like other nations Israelites, “Here’s what the had. They said, “Appoint a king to lead king who rules over you us. We want a king just like the kings all of will do. He will take the other nations have.” In fact, they already your sons. He will make had a leader who was the Lord himself, God them his servants. He Almighty, who had saved them from slavery will take your daughin Egypt. However, much time had passed and ters and force them many people’s memory of God had faded away at that point. 4-1
to cook and bake. He will take away your properties and servants…” However, in spite of all what Samuel said, the people refused to listen to him. “No! We want a king to rule over us. Then we’ll be like all of the other nations.” Therefore, Saul, a young and handsome guy who was taller than any They had all they want and what would other men in Israel, make them look good and strong to other became the first king nations, but their hearts were getting of Israel. further and further away from God. They “Saul and all people made somebody rule over them while the of Israel celebrated Lord had gracefully freed them from slavery. with great joy.” Similarly, when we focus too much on ourselves They are joyful or how others would think of us, we are traphere, but does it ping ourselves to be bounded to those that we seem like a blessvalue. In other words, anything that we think ing from God? indispensible may become the king of our lives and control us in every degree. Today, let’s be careful not to make anything rule over us. Let’s not lose the freedom God gave us. Everything in the world lasts only a short time. “But what can’t be seen will last forever.” (2Corinthians)
4-2 God anointed King Saul because He still cared for His people and Israel nation. In Saul’s point of view, he suddenly became bigger than a super star. Praised by the whole nation, he became a king whom a lot of people had waited for. Plus, he got blessed from God. When Ammon attacked Israel, “the Spirit of God came on Saul with power” and with wisdom and power from God, Saul could defeat them and be acknowledged as a great king. However, when he became popular and favored by people, he started to focus more on people’s judgment than God’s. One time, Saul and the Israel army were chased by the Philistines, and they became fearful. Responsively, Saul just did an offering quickly without waiting for the prophet whom God had originally appointed to give the offering. For Saul it was more important to satisfy the people than to obey God’s words. Moreover, when God commanded Saul to get rid of everything from the Amalekites, who represent the authority against God, Saul was disobedient. Instead, he kept good animals and the king of Amalekite alive; he did what seemed right to his own eyes and followed his own thoughts instead of listening to the Lord. When Samuel came to Saul and asked him why he disobeyed the Lord, he first told lies: “I did obey the Lord. I went to do what he sent me to do. I totally destroyed the
Amalekites. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from what had been taken from our enemies. They took the best of what had been set apart to God. They wanted to sacrifice them to the Lord.” However, Samuel knew that Saul compromised. He told Saul that the God now rejected Saul as the king. Then finally, Saul confessed his wrongdoing saying, “I haven’t done what you directed me to do. I was afraid of the people. So I did what they said I should do.” Saul was the king. He had the highest authority, greatest fame, and possession. However, when he departed from God and His words, he lost his confidence. He now wanted to protect himself by depending on what he had, which was his people. Therefore, what he had turned to become his fear and started to rule him. Even though he was the king, he “did what they said he should do.” This is what happens when you go far away from God. It first seem like a freedom and you can be the owner of everything just like how Adam and Eve ate the good and evil tree fruit to be like God. However, that is not anything similar to happiness. Instead, just like Adam and Eve became fearful and hid their bodies with leaves, Saul had to obey the commands of his people. When you fear something, it becomes your master. Always remember, “God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.” (2Timothy) Stop setting silly masters today. The Bible says, “God is love.” “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” “Being close to God is YOUR blessing.”
4-3 After King Saul’s fall, God chose David, the one who defeated Goliath before, and anointed him as the king of Israel. Here is God’s witness about him. “David, son of Jesse, is a man dear to my heart.” God loved David very much and so did David; David always liked to ask God and listen to His guidance. However, David’s life was not always so easy. He did not become the king of Israel right after God had chosen him; therefore, during that time, King Saul who was keeping a jealous yet fearful eye on David constantly ran after him to kill him. In other words, David has always lived a life being chased by someone, so the only place he could hide and find peace was in God’s presence. However, these sufferings and hardships made David become all the more dependent on God and grow faithful. Even after he became the king, David had to fight a lot since there were many nations attacking Israel. Nevertheless, God always helped him achieve victory since he had always asked God what he should do.
Therefore, Israel became more powerful and reached a point where David no longer had to go out to fight in wars. He could just sit back and rest in the castle because his army was strong enough to handle the enemy themselves. However, when the surroundings and situations became so favorable and pleasant, David, who was super close with God, also fell down. “One evening David got up from his bed. He walked around on the roof of his palace. From the roof he saw a woman taking a bath. She was very beautiful. David sent out a messenger to find out who she was. The messenger returned and said, “She is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.””
“Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he had sex with her. Later Bathsheba found out she was pregnant.” When Bathsheba told David about her pregnancy, David purposefully sent her husband to a risky position on a dangerous battlefield and killed him to hide the sin. (2Samuel) Here in this Bible passage depicts one of the greatest kings, who had been acknowledged by God, now committing the worst sin, which is murder after adultery. Therefore, you should never rely on yourself or on your past. We are all mere human beings who already have a sinful nature descended from Adam’s first sin. In other words, just with our will, it is really difficult, if not impossible, to fight against the temptations. Even Jesus Christ was tempted by Satan when he was about to start his teaching. How did Jesus shed off the temptations? It was simple. Every time he was tempted, Jesus quoted the God’s words in the
Bible to Satan as the Bible writes, “The word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any sword that has two edges.” It is called “the sword of the spirit.” Therefore, to get rid of temptations, we should stick to the words of God (the Bible) as much as we can for it is our sword to fight. Also, don’t forget that when there seems to be no trouble in your life and everything flows nice and easy, the possibility of temptation is being maximized. Always, remember God and His words to be “spiritually awake.”
4-4 Quite often we see people who claim themselves as Christians but actually act like that they are not Christians at all; they do not live in the way of following Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisee and Sadducees.” The former one is the symbol of the hypocrites who focus on the formal aspects of the religion with vacancy of real heart for God. The latter represents love toward the secular world, which makes them more focus on earthly values (money, pleasures, and so on) than God, becoming susceptible to compromising God’s words with earthly pleasures. For instance, some people who call themselves Christians might just put on an act that looks good but actually do not have the heart of caring for others and God; they would just go to church, do all kinds of volunteer works and make kind smiles,
and yet lack faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said to these people, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Also, some people may manipulate God’s words for their convenience, so that they can compromise with what the world favors. They would say, “I can sin as much as I want because I can be forgiven
in the name of Jesus in the end. So let’s sin and repent later. It’s not a big deal.” However, it is written in the Bible that it is “impossible” for a real believer to think this way because God’s spirit in a believer would never be able to bear sin. Thus, such a ridiculous theory will never lead to salvation.
There is a person in the Bible who was born as a God’s chosen warrior and got and married a Philistine blessed with great strength woman whom he loved. but then fell into the bad God did not punish him, yeast. His name is Samson. however, because God He was supposed to fight always wants to give His against the Philistines, an old people a second chance. opponent of Israel. HowHowever, Samson kept ever, he forgot his identity on using his power from God in a wrong way. During his marriage, he bet with the Philistines on a quiz and lost it because his wife, out of fear of their revenge, told them the answer. For people. Moreover, he ate the lost quiz, he had to what the Lord had forbidpay the Philistines with den to eat. He even told a a promised prize, so he prostitute a very imporended up killing random tant secret he had made people using his gifted with God; he told her strength. He also became where his strength came so mad at his wife that he from. The prostitute told divorced her and killed her the secret to his enemies, so they came and cut off Samson’s hair, the source of his strength, and he lost all his power that God had provided him with. “Then Philistines grabbed hold of Samson. They poked his eyes out. They put chains around him and made him grind grain in the prison. Samson was put on a show for his enemies.”
Look how far down Christians can get when they lose their true identity. In the end, God did give Samson one last miraculous power to revenge on his enemies, but look how miserable he made himself. Blessings, powers, and gifts from God can turn into nothing when you donâ€™t live with true faith.
4-5 There were numerous kings in Israel after king David. However the descriptions about them seem rather short. For instance, this is about King Jehoshaphat: “Jehoshaphat began to rule. He didn’t wander away from the ways of his father. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. But high places weren’t removed. Son of Ahab said, ‘let my man sail with your ship.’ But he refused. Jehoshaphat joined the members of his family in the family tomb in the city of King David. The brave thing he did in battle and everything else he accomplished are written in official records of kings of Judah.” Next, this is about king Omri: “Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He sinned. Israel made the Lord very angry by worshipping worthless statues of gods. The Lord is the God of Israel. The other events of Omri’s rule, everything he did and the things he accomplished, all those things are written down in the official records.” These paragraphs about different kings continue in 1Kings in the Bible. It shows God’s perspective when looking at a person’s life.
Normally, people would focus more on the accomplishment part but God is different. Instead, all the great achievements are recorded in a single sentence saying, “Those things are written in the official records,” and that’s it. Period. God’s focus is more on whether the person lived right or wrong “in the sight of the Lord”. It does not matter whether you are a king or not. How much money you earned in your life is not important. God rather says, “Do not put away riches for yourselves on earth. Instead, put away riches for yourselves in heaven. There, thieves do not break in and steal them.Your heart will be where your riches are.” Then what is regarded right or wrong in the sight of the Lord? God constantly said to the kings who weren’t right in His eyes, “the Lord is one and only God.” Whether you think of God as your sole Lord determines if you are living right or wrong at this very moment. Some people might not follow this way, but it can also be the easiest path that brings you the greatest honor; you do not need a long resume for this. Let’s live a life acknowledged by God.
Stage 5: Restoration of the First Love
5-1 Have you ever seen some Christians who had been sincere believers at first but then lost their love towards God? Countless people at church actually focus on church activities, events, or church members more than God. What should be an important lesson becomes an old story, and they become negligent of it even if they had experienced God before. Even people in the Bible forgot God’s work or promise easily. Abraham, whom God called “the father of faith,” forgot God’s promise of giving a child; he did not wait upon God but tried other means to have a child. Israelites who saw all the miracles God had done from Egypt to the promise land still complained and worried of little things; instead of asking God who had fulfilled their needs, they made idols with statues. Moreover, even Jesus’ disciples forgot the miracle Jesus did—as feeding five thousand people just by five breads and two fish—and worried about food again in the similar situation. This is why God said, “Remember what happened in the past. Think about what took place long ago. I am God. There is no other God.” Remember how God has worked in your life so far because it will increase your faith and become your strength and joy.
Jesus said, “Many who are first will be last. And the last will be first.” It means even if you have been a Christian for a long time or was faithful in the past, it does not mean that you are better than someone who just became a believer. So you should never judge or measure anybody’s faith nor be proud of yours. Present time is what matters the most. This is God’s words to a church that lost their first love: “I know what you are doing.You work long and hard. I know you can’t put up with those who are evil.You have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not.You have found out that they are liars.You have been faithful and have put up with a lot of trouble because of me.You have not given up.” “But here is something I hold against you.You don’t have as much love as you had at first. Remember how far you have fallen! Turn away from your sins. Do the things you did at first. If you don’t, I will remove your lamp-stand from its place.” God is your father so he will not forsake or desert you. However, he might give you necessary disciplines or change his plans if it seems necessary and beneficial for you. He said, “I will be his father. And he will be my son. When he does what is wrong, I will use other men to beat him with rods and whips. But I will never take my love away.”
5-2 Because the Israel people forgot about God and worshiped other gods, Prophet Elijah gathered the people and also the prophets of other god, Baal. Elijah was the only one prophet who was for the Lord, and other 450 of the prophets were for Baal. However, when Elijah and Baal’s prophets gave offerings respectively, Baal never answered their prayers while the Lord sent fire to the alter, which was even soaked up with water. “They prayed to Baal from morning until noon. But there wasn’t any reply. They danced around the alter. They cut themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed. (This is what they usually did in hopeless situations to wake Baal up.) They prophesized with all their might but no one answered.” Elijah said (after covering the woods with water), “Answer me Lord. Then these people will know that you are the one and only God. They’ll know that you are turning their hearts back to you again.” The fire of the
Lord came down and burnt up the sacrifice, wood, stones, and the soil. It even licked up the water in the ditch. So, after this incident, all of the people saw it and cried out, “The Lord is the one and only God!” and the people with the command of Prophet Elijah grabbed and got rid of the Baal’s prophets. However, this is not the end of the story. It would be a nice ending here, but in reality, it was not that simple. After what happened, the queen of Israel, who worshiped Baal, became angry. She sent a message to Elijah saying that she would kill him. Elijah, who had been so powerful within God’s spirit just the other day, suddenly became afraid of a human’s threat. He lost his confidence and ran away to hide from her. He was so exhausted and his soul had become weak and weary.
This is how imperfect humans are including every one of us. Even a prophet who fought against great enemies and won great spiritual battles can get frightened or exhausted when he is not strongly focused on God every day. However, God will not just let his children run out of strength. God came to Elijah to help him stand again. “As the Lord approached, a very powerful wind tore the mountains apart. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, a fire came. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was only a gentle whisper. The voice said to Elijah, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”” (1Kings)
Although God can show himself in miraculous signs and phenomena, He is in fact God with personality just like us. He started conversations with Elijah and told him to go back and anoint other king as a new king. Elijah was someone who feared a queen but God gave him authority to even change the existing king. God also sent an angle to take care of Elijah by giving food for his physical strength. “He got up. He ate and drank. The food gave him new strength.” If you feel weary today, trust in the Lord. “Those who trust in the Lord will receive new strength. They will fly high as eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not grow weak.”
5-3 God said he is our father who owns the whole world. He is our father when we believe in him and his word, which is the bible. Jesus said, â€œFathers, suppose your son asks for a fish. Which of you will give him a snake? Even though you are evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!â€? This passage is true. God gives best gifts for you when you ask him. For many people, this verse is their favorite because there is no one who despises gifts. However, imagine if you have a child who only looks at your hand as you come home. The kid does not even know who you are exactly and is not interested in you at all when you are his or her parent. Wonâ€™t you be sad and disappointed? A lot of times, we are like this kid to God. We treat God as a vending machine; our prayers are like coins, so if the machine does not give us the treat we want, we just kick it and curse it. If it does give what we have requested, we take it without any thankful mind and just forget about the machine as you walk away.
Christianity is not just about getting what you want through prayers. Of course, answers to our prayers do happen, but that is not the point. All the miracles God shows you or has shown to people in the past are “to let them know Him.” Jesus cured ten lepers but only one came back to give God praise. Jesus asked, “Weren’t all ten healed? Where are the other nine?” If this passage is poking your heart, it is good news since you can come back to God. However, if that poke is rather becoming a barrier called condemnation, it is Satan’s voice, which you should never listen to. God told us an interesting story about a father and two sons. The younger son asked for his share of the family property, which originally should be taken after the father’s death. However, the father was not angry at the son’s request; instead, he did give the younger son the money. “Not long after that, the younger son packed up all he had. Then, he left for a country far away. There
he wasted his money on wild living. He spent everything he had.” When the son had nothing left, he wanted to work but the only job available was pig feeding. While doing it, he wanted to feed himself with pig’s food because he was starving to death. He then thought, ‘there’s plenty of food at my father’s house. However, he will hate me because of what I’ve done. I won’t be able to become his son again, but let’s at least plead him to accept me as his servant.’ Then he started his way back to his house. When he was walking toward his house, the father was watching outside longing for his lost son. “While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. He was filled with tender love for his son. He ran to him. He threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The son said everything he had prepared: “Father, I have sinned against you. I’m no longer fit to be called your son.” But the father said to his
servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Bring the best calf and let’s have a big dinner and celebrate. This son of mine was dead. Now he is alive again. He was lost. And now he is found.” This is what God will do to us when we come back to him. Jesus said, “There is joy in heaven when one sinner turns away from sin. There will be more joy than for ninety nine godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins. So, never be condemned by Satan of your sins. Instead, try to make your heart real to God because “He knows what’s in people’s minds.”
5-4 Previously, we looked at the story of a father and two sons. Mostly, people focus on the younger son because he seems like the main character. However, what happened to the older son? Who is he? The older son who had always worked hard at his father’s house heard the music going on for the celebration party when his brother came back. The older son became angry and refused to go in. So, his father went out and begged him. However, he said, “Look! All these years I’ve worked like a slave for you. I have always obeyed your orders.You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But this son of yours wasted your money with some prostitutes and now came back. And for him you kill the fattest calf!” The father said, “My son.You are always with me. Everything I have is yours.” Look carefully at what the older son calls himself. “I’ve worked like a slave for you.” The worst thing that can
happen to a Christian is to live like this older son.You know God, you work for him, but you do not feel God is your dear father. Instead, you become a slave to church-related works or old religious laws. The older son had never experienced his father’s love nor felt intimate relationship with him. Although he had always lived with him, he did not think his father would do anything for him. If he had asked, the father would have given to him the best but he did not ask since he did not expect anything from his father. He rather thought that he should earn everything with his own ability, by working hard himself. Do not make yourself a slave before God who wants to be your father. Even if you look like a strong Christian, you might have been secretly lost like this older son to God. Realize who you really are. The world judges people by what they do, but God does not.Your boss will give you just the amount that equals your work but God doesn’t. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
5-5 When you love somebody, what do you want to ask him or her most? For Jesus, it was love. Numerous times he was betrayed by his loved ones just like us. There will be no one who has never been turned down by somebody during the life. Do you have broken hearts because of somebody? Then, look what Jesus did. Jesus was rejected by his own people, especially his hometown neighbors. They laughed at him and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom? Where did he get this power to do miracles? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary?” “They were not pleased at him at all.” Also, Jesus’ own brothers were similar to the neighbors. Plus one of his best disciples, Peter said he did not know him and was not related to him after Jesus was crucified. Peter “broke down and sobbed” because he was too sorry for Jesus; however, he could not admit Jesus because he was too scared of others. When Jesus resurrected from the death, he appeared before Peter. He asked Peter one single question for three times, and this was all he wanted to know: “Do you really love me?” Jesus was not angry at Peter at all. Peter said “Yes, I do,” for three times, and Jesus gave him God’s mission to care other people.
A lot of times, we become cold and bitter when our hearts are broken or when we feel disappointed by someone. Usually, it takes long to reconcile and make up our or the counterpart’s mistake. However, it takes no time to make peace with God because He gave Jesus Christ as the sacrifice of all sins. Only thing God wants to know is whether your heart is true or not. If you still love God, nothing else matters to Him. Moreover, He wants you to have a peaceful relationship not only with him but also with the others, even the person who made you sad or mad. If there has to be a single most important message in the Bible, it could be, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” “Love your enemies. Do good to those who
hate you. Bless those who curse on you. And pray for those who treat you badly.” “When your brother sin against you, forgive him not only seven times but 77 times, (which means all the time.)” It is because God also forgave you and will forgive you again and again every time you confess your sin and come before him. In addition, when you have unresolved issues with others, it will negatively affect your relationship with God and heavenly blessings because hatred against anyone is just like a murder before God. “What you lock on earth will be locked in heaven. What you unlock on earth will be unlocked in heaven” Of course you can be angry at something since you are a human who has all kinds of
emotion. However, God says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a chance.” In other words, you are giving the devil a chance to come into your life and ruin you if you do not get rid of your anger soon. Let today be the day of reconciliation with God and others. Do not leave problems in your mind unsolved. If it is really hard to control your mind yourself, pray that God may help you.
5-6 There will surely be Satan’s interruptions when you try to restore your relationship with God. Do you remember in the beginning how Satan disguised himself in the form of a serpent to tempt Adam and Eve? He does the same thing this very day. Of course, you never need to be afraid of Satan or devil or ghost or whatever you call it. Nevertheless, you should be aware of them so that you can win over them as it is said, “Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.” The Bible calls it a spiritual warfare. “Put on all of God’s armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil’s evil plans. Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly
world.” What is God’s armor then? It says, “Put on the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace. Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. Put on the helmet of Salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Sprit. The sword is God’s word.” “You will be able to stand up anything.” “Stand up to the devil. He will run away from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you.” (James) Jesus said that he has given us the authority to walk all over the devil. He said, “You will be able to destroy all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you.” (Luke) However, you should always “Be watchful so that you can pray.” (Ephesians)
5-7 What kind of weapons does Satan have? He does not appear as a scary ghost or monster as seen in the movies. Instead, he uses people around us as tools; he speaks in our thoughts that we might mix up with our thoughts. Often times, it is hard to distinguish them, but people do not doubt it. Sometimes, he even disguises himself as God, which we should really be careful of. There are some examples of Satan’s tactics in the scripture. First, Satan uses people around us, like our friends or lovers. King Solomon, the son of David, who was greatly blessed by God and did good in God’s eyes in the beginning, was unfortunately attacked by Satan who used “love” as a tool. “The Lord warned about women from other nations. He had said, “You must not get married to them. If you do, you can be sure they will turn your hearts toward their gods.” But Solomon continued to love them anyway. As Solomon grew older, his wives turned his heart towards other gods. He did not follow the Lord his God with all his heart.” (1Kings) In addition, for King Ahab, Ben-Hadad, his opponent, suddenly acted like a friend. When he should have eliminated his enemy, “Ahab sent Ben-Hadad free” by saying,
“He used to be my friend.” By doing this, Ahab disobeyed God. Next, Satan sometimes gives you fearful or negative thoughts so that you may lose all your faith and confidence; he wants to make you paralyzed and unavailable to do God’s work. When Prophet Nehemiah checked out the walls of Jerusalem (God’s palace) to repair it, Satan spoke through people in order to disturb Nehemiah. They laughed and said, “What do you think you are doing? Are you turning against the king?” Nehemiah answered, “The God of heaven will give us success.” Nehemiah and his people all gathered and started building the wall. Then, Satan again stirred the people he used before: “Sanballat became very upset. He burned with anger.” He and his friends said, “What are they doing? What are they building? Suppose a fox climbs on top of it. Even that will break it down!” Nehemiah prayed to Lord that there are enemies out there who are making fun of God’s work. Still, the prophet and his people
successfully laid out the construction day and night, and it was almost done. However, Satan did not give up easily. Through Sanballat and the people on his side, he put threats on Nehemiah by saying that other people thought Nehemiah was planning a rebellion. “Satan is the father of lies.” They even tried to harm Nehemiah physically but failed. Finally Nehemiah and God’s people succeeded and completed the wall, but look at all the interruptions of Satan! It truly is a spiritual war. Moreover, sometimes Satan pretends as God and commands us to do wrong. There was a man of God who did God’s work and received messages from God (1Kings). One day, he got a command from God, “Do not eat bread or drink water there. Do not return to the same way you came.” He did not know the reason for the command but tried to obey God and took another road. However, an old prophet who was living in that place followed the man and found the man. He said, “Are you the man of God? Come home with me. I’ll give you something to
eat.” The man of God refused the offer at first because of God’s words, but the old prophet kept persuading by saying, “I’m also a prophet, just like you. An angel gave me a message from the Lord. It said to bring you to my house and give you water and bread.” However, it was a lie. Because the man of God fell into false prophecy and did what he was not supposed to do, he ended up in a death. This is what happens if we fall into a false religion. Let’s be aware of Satan’s cards and win the fight today.
Stage 6: The Walk with God
6-1 How do we distinguish God’s voice from Satan’s? How can we know if this person is a false prophet? First of all, the Bible is God’s Word. “In the beginning, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John) If you are not sure of anything, you should always check with the Bible. If your church leader, say pastor, does not say the same thing as written in the Bible, you should not believe his or her words; you should leave that church. These days, there are too many people who transform Christianity to what they want it to be. Jesus said, “Do not think I have come to get rid of what is written in the Law or in the Prophets. I have not come to do that. I have come to give full meaning to what is written. What I am about to tell you is true. Heaven and earth will disappear before the smallest letter disappears from the Law.” (Matthew)
However, it is not enough to only read the Bible and do nothing else.You should always pray to God. Prayer is like a conversation with God and the Bible is like a letter from God. When you have a lover, isnâ€™t it weird to just read the letters without talking or meeting him or her?
It is the same with God. Countless stories in the Bible are historical records of the past, but you are living in the present time. A lot of times, you should get more specific directions that apply to your current situation in the present. For instance, when you do not know which job you should take or where to live, the Bible will probably not be able to tell you to go to New York or Michigan.You should ask God.You should believe that God is a living God who speaks to you this very day. Also, you should be willing to listen to God, which is very important. Then, He will
definitely guide you and provide you with specific directions. “In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” God’s voice might be different from what you think or expect. It may not have bright, shiny light; it may not be loud thunders. On contrary, God’s voice is likely to be very small like a whisper. The Bible explains it as “only a small whisper.” (1Kings) Also, it says that God’s thoughts are peace and hope.You will most likely feel great joy and peace when it is God’s way.
On the other hand, if it is not from God, you will feel anxious and nervous as if you are being chased after something. Then you are bound to make a rush decision, which a lot of times turns out to be a mistake. In the Bible it clearly says, “The Lord your God will go ahead of you.” If it is your God, He will not chase you behind your back. He will guide you with great love and patience. God frequently directs through situations and people around you. However, it is tricky because Satan also gets on the way and interrupts God’s directions. But there’s no need to worry because the solution is very simple: Before wanting to know God’s will in your life, you should know him first. If you do so, you will naturally and easily figure out everything. Have an intimate relationship with God through prayer conversations. Then you will just realize what you should do, which way to go to without any doubt because you are walking with God.
6-2 There is a lot of false Christianity in today’s world. People often mix and twist the Bible verses without considering the background and contents of the events. They simply like to use the Bible verses to gain credibility, but when you look at such deeds carefully, the ultimate point they are conveying is not what is in the Bible. This is the trick. Moreover, some say that they themselves are the Messiah. It sounds like nonsense, but people somehow end up believing this absurdity and follow the fake Jesus. Jesus said these are the signs of the end. “Many will come in my name. They will claim, ‘I am he.’ They will fool many people.” “At that time, someone may say to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ! Or, ‘Look! There he is!’ Do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will appear and do signs and miracles. They will try to fool God’s chosen people if possible. Keep watch!” So it is right that we are living in an era almost reaching to the world’s end. However, we do not have to be too focused on this fact. Jesus said, “No one will know about that day or hour.” What we should do is just pray that our friends and neighbors will be saved while they have their last chance. Plus, we should live right every day and be awake in terms of the spiritual world because “they (false prophets) will try to fool God’s Chosen people” too.
Jesus said, “False prophets come to you pretending to be sheep. But on the inside they are hungry wolves.You can tell what they really are by what they do. Every good tree bears good fruit. But a bad tree bears bad fruit.You can tell each tree by its fruit.” If a person keeps pleading to you to come out of your church and visit his or her church, you should be suspicious. That is, there should normally be no competition between churches in Christianity; every church is within one leadership, Jesus Christ. Also, if it seems like he or she has already fallen into false Christianity, do not argue and quarrel against them too much. It is risky because you might be tricked by their words. If your friend fell into false prophets, try persuading him or her. But if he or she does not listen, take one or two others with you. The Bible says, “Every matter must be proved by words of two or three witnesses.” But if he or she keeps on rejecting your pleading, tell the church to help. If it still does not work, the only thing you can do is praying. Remember, you should not argue too much with them since they might win you and trip you over their theory.
6-3 There are a lot of danger and uncertainty in this world, but we do not have to be afraid of anything. Remember, you are not alone. Before leaving this world, Jesus said, “I will not leave you like children who don’t have parents. Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.” “The comforter, Holy Spirit, may abide with you forever.” Jesus is not walking around us as a human being now, and we cannot see God, either. However, when you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you get baptized with Holy Spirit. “He(Jesus) will baptize you with Holy Spirit.” (Matthew) Baptizing is not too complicated; it just means that God’s spirit lives in you and becomes like an invisible friend and helper to you. If you are in a dangerous situation and when you cannot pray for yourself, He will pray for you. “The spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you.” “The Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the spirit himself prays for us. He prays with groans too deep for words. The Spirit prays for God’s people just as God wants him to pray.” (Romans) The Holy Sprit will teach you what to pray and give you right directions. It is said in the Bible, “Without the help of the Holy Spirit no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’” Sometimes, although you know with your brain, it is hard for your heart to agree. That is why it is
so hard to follow Jesus. The Lord said, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must say no to himself.” “Enter God’s kingdom through the narrow gate.” There is a story about a rich young man who did a lot of kind works. However, when Jesus challenged him to give everything he had for the poor and follow him, he could not. “When the young man heard this, he went away sad. He was rich.”You should never misunderstand this passage, as you should give up all your possession away to church. God just wants to know where your heart is; He is not interested in your money. (In a similar manner, God asked Abraham if he could give up his only son. When Abraham was about to offer his son as sacrifice, God hurried up and stopped him.) After that young rich man left, Jesus said, “With man that is impossible. But with God, all things are possible.” It is too hard to let go of the desires and idols we made by ourselves, but with the help of Holy Spirit, it is possible to guard our heart. Instead of condemning your unfaithfulness and sinful nature, ask Holy Spirit inside you to help you. If you do not feel like there is anything in your heart, ask God for Holy Spirit because it is written, “Even though you are evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father who is in the heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke)
6-4 What is the purpose of your life? How should we live our lives now? It is said, “Anyone who believes in Christ is a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come! It is all from God.” (2Corinthians) You are no longer whom you used to be. People so easily get stuck in their past and trapped in their own understanding. They underestimate themselves because of the memories of failures. After all, we should not think the way we did before. We should “forget what is behind us and push hard towards what is ahead of us.” (Philippians) God’s plan for us is “hope in future.” If we are bound to our past, we cannot go forward nor be changed. There are blessings called Manasseh and Ephraim that God gives us. They are the blessing of forgetting our bad memories and of remembering what God had done for us. Throughout your life, always try to forget three things and remember three things: First, forget your failures in the past. God can fix any kind of mistake you have made because “All things are possible in Christ.” Even if what you did in the past seems like a total waste to you, “In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.” Second, forget about the wounds other people gave you. Forget about the heart-breaking words they said to you because now we know that Satan is working through people’s mouths or acts to trip us over. It is a spiritual battle and we should see what is unseen. Although we were tripped before and others might have torn our hearts, we will not fall completely. “Even if one trips, he won’t fall. The Lord’s hand takes good care of him.” (Psalms) We can always stand firm because Jesus
heals our broken hearts and he already won the war against our enemy. Third, forget about your sin in the past. We were all sinners before God and we still have that sinful nature. Satan constantly condemns us with our sins to stop us from getting close to God, but we should never listen to Satan’s lies. No matter how terrible your sins are, God already forgave and constantly forgives it through the name of Jesus Christ. At the same time, remember what God has done to you throughout your life. Remember of his grace and always be thankful. This will be a saving power in you and fill you with even more blessings. In the Bible, many people departed from God, sinned, and lost confidence because they forgot what God did for them in the past and what He can do for them in the future. Second, remember that God is faithful. He keeps all his promises and will be your father who leads, protects, and provides you with the best to you. “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Finally, remember that God loves you. He even died to “show his love for us.” He says, “I have loved you with a love that lasts forever. I have kept on loving you with faithful love.” And the Bible says that no one can stop God’s love for us. “Not even death or life can separate us from God’s love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can do that. Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can do that. Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.” (Romans) Today, let’s forget and remember three things respectively and live a changed life.
6-5 Even though this book is over now, God’s words never are. There is the entire Bible that God gave us as his letter. Jesus said, “Man doesn’t live only on bread. He also lives on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” God’s words are the food for our spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you that you will understand correctly. Go to a church that teaches the right message in accordance with the Bible.You should join the church group physically because it is written, “let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope.” It is because we are safer when we are together. The Bible says, “Satan attacked the ones who were lagging behind (the group).”You should be tied up together as group to win the spiritual battle since we are all bodies of Christ, having different roles. Nevertheless, we should not say, “Church is safe. Christians are kind. Let’s just stay in Church forever and hang out with Christians only.” Jesus told us, “You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything.” “You are the light of the world. People do not light lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house.” “In the same way, let your lights shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven.” God gave gifts and talents to every one of us. The gifts differ, but we all have something we are good at. It could be a little thing to our eyes, but if you put it on God’s hands and use it for His glory, it will have tremendous impact on the world and people around us.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” so that everyone could be saved, go to heaven and resurrect in the end. Otherwise, the ones who do not believe in Lord will go to hell and will experience endless suffering in the fire. “People will sob and grind their teeth” in the hell. Imagine how sad it will be if your friends go to hell; this is why we should tell them about the good news: so that they can be saved. Every day, use your talents and gifts and work hard on the jobs given to you. It is not true that you should always do “church-related work.”You can be in any fields of work and glorify God. Always do your best, and God will give you more, saying, “You are good and faithful! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things.” Work for what will be eternal. “Do not work for food that spoils. Work for food that lasts forever. That is the food Jesus will give you.” “You can’t serve God and Money at the same time.” If you serve God, you will put riches for yourself in heaven where it could be forever. Every earthly need will be provided to you automatically if you do so. “Don’t worry saying ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ Or, ‘What will we wear?’ People who are ungodly run after all of those things.Your Father who is in heaven knows that you need them.” “But, put God’s kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all of those things will also be given to you.” (Matthew)
Jesus Christ, who was busy and famous during his missionary, always spared time to pray. He would go to a silent place alone and pray. God says, “When you pray, go into your room. Close the door and pray to your Father, who can’t be seen. He will reward you. Your Father sees what is done secretly.” Here is a good sample of prayers that Jesus taught to his disciples. “Father, may your name be honored. May your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we also forgive everyone who sins against us. Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted. Deliver us from the evil one. For your is the kingdom and the power and glory forever. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” However,You can pray about anything you want to talk to God, your Father, and it is very simple. Start with “Father” and end with “I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.”
I published an artist book which gathers my four years of daily devotionals and Bible studies. (All book contents and images are produced by...