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Let us make room for God by spending time with Him through reading Scripture and committing it to memory

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Let us make room for God by spending time with Him through reading Scripture and committing it to memory

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. 
— Psalm 119:11

According to Barna research, over 85% of American households own a Bible. Even the majority (62%) of Antagonistic and Skeptic (67%) households own a Bible (Barna, State of the Bible, 2017). The question remains, Do we read the Bible? As we have been witnessing at The Well, persecution of “illegal house churches” are continuing in China. To make matters worse, the government is mandating the installation of HD surveillance cameras in their government-sanctioned Three-Self churches. As a result, many Chinese Christians are imprisoned for their faith. Attending an underground seminary can result in a three-year prison sentence. An American Pastor, Wayne Cordeiro, shared an experience he had in China as he was there to train Christian leaders. Imprisoned believers are memorizing Scripture passages smuggled to them on small pieces of paper because the government “can’t take what’s hidden in your heart.” A woman who had recited 2 Peter 1 from memory at Cordeiro’s seminar said, “In prison, you have much time in prison … [Because the prison guards confiscate the Bible] we memorize it as fast as we can because even though they can take the paper away, they can’t take what’s hidden in your heart.” The Well Church, we have the opposite problem in America. Even though we have many copies of the Bible, many of us do not read it nor commit it to memory because we have not given Scripture the attention it deserves. Proverbs 30:5 states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” The Word of God is trustworthy! As we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, let us model after their faith. Let us make room for God by spending time with Him through reading Scripture and committing it to memory.

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As we learn more about God, our ultimate response will be worship

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As we learn more about God, our ultimate response will be worship

And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”  — 1 Samuel 15:28-29

Scripture teaches us that God is not like us, and all of His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Samuel affirms this by stating, “he [the LORD] is not a man, that he should have regret” (1 Samuel 15:28-29). It is, therefore, difficult for us to reconcile passages like 1 Samuel 15:11 where the LORD regrets or repents (KJV). How can this be? Can God repent? My theology professor once said, “God is infinite and we are not. Therefore, we do not have the capacity to fully understand God.” Therefore, God uses words, such as regret and repent, that makes sense to us finite beings. Concerning these verses, John Piper writes, “For God to say, 'I feel sorrow that I made Saul king,’ is not the same as saying, 'I would not make him king if I had it to do over.’ God is able to feel sorrow for an act in view of foreknown evil and pain, and yet go ahead and will to do it for wise reasons. And so later, when he looks back on the act, he can feel the sorrow for the act that was leading to the sad conditions, such as Saul's disobedience” (Piper, 1998). So, what should our response be? I believe that God wants us to wrestle with Scripture (and with Him) to develop our faith. He wants us to have confidence in Him and trust in all of His promises. Let us remember, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19, NIV). R.C. Sproul said that theology should lead to doxology. As we learn more about God and wrestle with passages like these, our ultimate response will be worship. Let us worship our holy, majestic, and all knowing God.

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Would you pray for your pastor today?

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Would you pray for your pastor today?

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  — Joshua 24:15

A new report from the Barna Group found that even though a majority of American pastors — nine out of ten — believe that a large part of their role is to point Christians to biblical teachings concerning specific “hot-button” issues, they struggle on how to address these issues. The report states, “They are not only afraid of offending some in their congregation, but also pressured by others to speak up on those very same topics. These hot-button issues … related to the LGBT community, same-sex marriage rights, abortion, sexual morality and politics” (Barna, January 29, 2019). In other words, they feel that they are “doomed if they do, doomed if they don’t” address the issue. There is too much pressure for many pastors to “do the right thing.” 

At the end of Joshua’s life, he gathers all of Israel and exhorts them to either choose God or their idols (Joshua 24:15). From the beginning, God challenged Joshua to trust in Him and take courage in leading. Joshua not only needed courage to lead the Israelites into the Promise Land, but also to exhort his people to serve God and obey His voice. The Barna study concludes, “Pastors must be committed for the long haul, educating and equipping their people to respond with love and conviction, in word and deed. This, after all, is the essence of discipleship.” The Well Church, as many are being influenced by social media, we need pastors to take courage and humbly lead God’s people with love and humility, not buckling to the pressures of people. Would you pray for your pastor today? Pray that I will take heart God’s command:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
 — Joshua 1:9

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Do you seek God with the life changing decisions?

Do you seek God with the life changing decisions?

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. — Joshua 9:14

When we need to make a big decision, whether it is buying a new house, finding a new job, seeking a spouse, or exploring a new investment opportunity, we often seek counsel from God because we do not want to make a mistake. When the stakes are high, we want clear direction from God. What about situations when the facts are obvious? When you have been seeking for an opportunity and only one door is opened, isn’t that a clear sign from God? Or what about small and insignificant situations? Should I “bother” God with such small matters that do not really matter from a heavenly perspective? In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites to make a covenant with them. Even though some Israelites where suspicious (Joshua 9:7), they examined the physical evidence and proceeded with the covenant. Since a covenant in the Old Testament is a “chosen relationship in which two parties make binding promises to each other” (crossway.org), the leaders should not have made the decision in haste, but inquire of the LORD through prayer, and even fasting. However, based on earthly standards, “Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them” (Joshua 9:15a).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the fast-paced world we live in, we are forced to make many decisions in life. One study shows that adults make 35,000 decisions daily! Instead of seeking God with the life-changing decisions, let us make a habit of inquiring of the LORD in all of life. We ask counsel from God not only by prayer and fasting, but also by reading God’s Word. As we read last week, let us remember that

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. — Joshua 1:9

Let us not take anything for granted and rely on our Sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ.

Deaths of Despair

Deaths of Despair

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” — Psalm 91:1–2

In a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy dropped for the third year in a row in the United States.  Kathleen McHugh of Harvard Medical School observed, “We're seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we're hitting a cap [for lifespans of] people in their 80s, [but] because people are dying in their 20s [and] 30s.” The top three spiking causes of death are drug overdoses, suicide, and liver cirrhosis due to alcoholism. Sanjay Gupta from CNN refers to these as the “deaths of despair,” which is predominantly happening in America. This is a sad reality of the hopelessness of our nation. As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have looked at our own resources to try to “fix” our problems. We look to experts in and outside the church who teach that the solution lies within ourselves. They teach that all the help we need comes from within. What happens when you cannot find this happiness within yourself? As evidenced by the rising rates of the “deaths of despair,” it is apparent that many lonely Americans turn to drugs and alcohol. Scripture teaches us that true hope comes only from God. When life seems difficult and hopeless, we are taught to go to God and trust in God. In Psalm 91, we see the confidence in times of danger and challenges that comes from those who trust in God. What does trusting in God look like? In Psalm 91:14 we hear God speak,
“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.”

The Well Church, do not place your trust in things that cannot give you eternal hope, but place your trust in God and hold fast to Him in love. Then with a mighty voice, let us declare, “A mighty fortress is our God!”

What is the price of disobedience?

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What is the price of disobedience?

For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel." - Deuteronomy 32:52.

What is the price of disobedience? Moses broke faith with God when he did not speak to the rock, but struck the rock twice (Numbers 11-13). What seems like a tiny disobedience (sin) resulted in Moses not entering the promise land. He was not able to finish the race set before him. Why was this a big deal to God? God explains to Moses, “Because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel.” Moses failed to recognize God as holy. In Isaiah 6, we hear the seraphim say, 

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 

Concerning this text the late R.C. Sproul said, “Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy that the whole earth is full of His glory.” So, to a holy God, there are no insignificant sins. When you draw your attention away from God, you fail to treat God as holy. In other words, without outside help, we face the same fate that Moses faced. He cannot enter the promise land. This is exactly why Jesus had to empty himself and became a substitute for you and me. As we remember Jesus’ saving death and resurrection during this Lenten season, let us not forget that God is holy; let us not forget that Jesus became sin so that we can be justified; let us remember that God is holy and he demands us to be holy. As it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

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Do you give your Sunday best?

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Do you give your Sunday best?

“You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God” (Dt. 17:1).

Do you give your Sunday best? Does your life as a Christian reflect giving God your best? In Deuteronomy 17, we see that God demands the very best from us, especially when we come to His house to worship. Today, however, people’s attitude towards church has changed. Many mega-churches popularized the seeker-sensitive model in the 1990s, which focused on making church comfortable and safe for seekers to come. With this movement, churches have worked hard to be attractive and provide an impressive worship experience, but neglecting the Biblical purpose of worship service. Essentially we are worshipping on our own terms and not His. This view has spread throughout many churches worldwide. As a result, the term “give your Sunday best” is no longer relevant in many churches. In all honesty, does not giving our best really matter to God? It does and it is evil. The prophet Malachi wrote,

“But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, “How have we polluted you?” By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? (Ml. 1:6b-8a).

The Well Church, as living sacrifices, let us give our very best when we come to worship. Let us stand in awe of our God, who deserves our very best.

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Lent Season

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Lent Season

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. - Joel 2:12-13

This Wednesday, March 6, is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a season of penitence and renewal for all Christians. Lenten season is a time of when we meditate on our need for a savior and renew our commitment to Christ in daily repentance, knowing that Christ conquered death and sin. During this lenten season, let us focus on the gospel truth as we journey together in our scripture reading (Deuteronomy and Joshua) and prayer. If you have not been reading along with us, this season would be a good time to start. Do not try to catch-up. Simply read the text and let Scripture transform your heart and soul. Isaiah the prophet said,

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (55:10–11).

May God bless you richly as you return to Him and rend your hearts. Remember, by God’s saving grace we are dead to sin and alive in Christ!

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