Declaring His RESTORATIVE HEALING, exalting Jesus

With his body beaten and bloodied and lacerated, with his face unrecognizable from the bruises and cuts and wounds, and with his hands and feet pulled and stretched and pierced, he cried. A cry that echoed throughout the land and shook the entire universe.

TETELESTAI.

The battle against pain and sickness and death and sin is over. It IS finished. All because “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

This means that—

Our sick bodies are now cured. From colds to pneumonia, joint pain to paralysis, mild stroke to aneurysm—any sickness and disease—is within the healing power of Jesus, regardless of what the doctor might have said. For our ultimate medicine is not made with masterfully-concocted chemicals, but with the excruciatingly-received cuts, lashes, and punctures of Jesus Christ.

Our broken hearts are now healed. Yes, even the wounds that lie beneath our skin, more agonizing than the sting of alcohol on a fatal gash: an investment worked hard for but went a-dwindling, a friend most trusted but went betraying, a daughter much expected but went expecting. These heartaches and pains, no matter how deep, will be swept away in Jesus’ loving embrace. For He Himself was a “man of sorrows,” familiar with our sufferings.

Our dead souls are now revived. Our hearts may be pumping blood, but the blood that courses through our veins is the blood of one who fell into sin… into death. The descendants of Adam, we are doomed. Dead. But we have a hope. We can be washed clean and made new. We can actually live for all eternity! For the very reason why Jesus Christ willingly shed His precious blood, the very reason why He willingly embraced the Cross and all its horrors, was us: His blood for our forgiveness, His death for our life.

Therefore, be it an ailment of the body, of the heart, of the soul, or all three, in the midst of our every pain and every anguish, we cry:

TETELESTAI!

DECLARING HIS ABOUNDING PROVISIONS, EXALTING JESUS

With the never-ending list of needs and the ever-growing price of goods, plus the barely increasing salaries and the likely diminishing sources of income, we sure experience shortage—of money, food, water, even of sleep, health, sanitation, and safety—whether we be unemployed, employees, or employers.

But these endless, countless shortages ‘fall short’ when we set them against a sixteen-word sentence found in Philippians 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

As simple as that, and all our worries dissolve. Why? Because these sixteen words had been etched to our hearts—more through experience than through memorization.

Abraham sure would agree on that. He experienced it foremost, and most palpably. In fact, it is in his chapter that God introduced Himself as the Great Provider:

“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its thorns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’” (Genesis 22:13-14, emphasis added)

Based on Abraham’s experience, we can learn that:

God’s provisions abound in times of need. With his son, Isaac, bound and laid atop the altar, and with the knife already in his own hands, Abraham was a man who was in dire need—of an interruption, a substitute, a miracle, or all three. Because, simply, he needed Isaac. Alive. Then, just at that very moment, a voice called, “Do not lay a hand on the boy.” Abraham must have sighed deeply. Help has come.

God’s provisions abound in times of impossibility. But still, a sacrifice had to be made. But who? Or what? They were up on the mountain and there was no one besides them. Then, “Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its thorns.” He need not search, need not sweat. A sacrifice had been delivered right into his hands.

God’s provisions abound in times of obedience. Abraham only wanted Isaac alive. He got that, yes. But he also got much, much more: “…because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” Simply because he obeyed God’s command.

What is it that you need today? Payment for your children’s tuition fee? For the electric bill and water bill and internet bill? For the house loan and car loan and salary loan? Or do you need rest from a stressful workplace? Peace from a troubled home? Healing from a terminal disease?

As God did to Abraham, He will provide for you—no matter how hopeless or impossible the situation may seem to you. Just do not forget the four-word key to unlock the sixteen-word promise.

OBEY.

Declaring His DEVOTED TENDERNESS, exalting Jesus

At 92 years old, Shi Shuzhen should be relaxing and enjoying life but, instead of being at the receiving end of her family’s care and attention, the opposite is true.

For twenty years now, Shi Shuzhen has been singlehandedly attending to her 64-year-old son, Lai Yongde, who is suffering from polio and, also, from a debilitating mental illness he has had since birth. This, since the passing of her husband and second child, who both had the same mental illness as Lai.

For such a life as hers, difficult IS an understatement. Yet, despite this, she could not—no, she would not—give up: “I may get hit and hurt by him, but who will take care of him if not me?”

Because for her, it is far more dreadful to imagine her son without someone looking after him—even for just a moment.

Such is the extraordinary devotion of a mother: selfless and forbearing. So much so that, of all human affections, motherly love could well be the supreme as it is almost next to impossible for a mother to forsake her child.

That in mind, we can better grasp the weight of God’s word in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (emphasis added)

If a mother’s devotion is sure, ever more so is God’s! As certain as the rising of the sun in the morning and the appearing of the moon in the evening, He would never forget us because—

We are His masterpiece. On surface, the human body is astounding enough. But if we would look beneath our external features and into the ‘mechanism’ that makes our eyes blink and our arms flex, we would see blood, muscles, bones, organs, veins, and nerves—every sinew and every fiber woven together intricately to work together seamlessly. This was how God created each of us: with such great precision and thoroughness. Not only that. He knows every detail about us, even as minute as the number of our hairs! Because when it comes to us, nothing escapes our Creator’s eyes.

We are His redeemed. Unlike His other creations, God made humankind by getting His hands ‘dirty’—He formed Adam from the dust in the ground. And yet, among all His creation, we were the ones to walk away from Him, the ones to pierce His heart! But did God leave? NO. Instead, He once again offered His hands, but this time, by getting it ‘bloody’—He received the harsh pounding of the hammer that nailed Him on the Cross. Now, then, if He forsook His own self for us, would our Savior ever forsake us? Could He? He did not just give us life. He gave us His life.

We are His beloved. God’s story of devotion does not stop there, though. He created us, saved us, and, one day, He would finally take those of us who accept Him into His glorious kingdom, where there will be no more death or sorrow or pain, only heavenly bliss. You see, this was the very reason why He sacrificed His life. Because He does not just plan to be with us in the here and now but, also, in the there and thereafter! Would our Bridegroom, then, leave us, after going all the way to the Cross just so we could have eternal union with Him?

In the end, we, God’s masterpiece, redeemed, and beloved, can rest assured that we will never be alone in life because He who promised—He who is our Creator, Redeemer, Bridegroom, and more—is faithful. Even more faithful than a mother.

Declaring His SUPREME AUTHORITY, exalting Jesus

Among the hall of famers for the world’s strongest, there stands a record of the “most cars pulled by one man.” The number? 14 cars. For impact’s sake, that is equal to 22 tons or a whopping 20,000 kilograms altogether! What great strength this man possesses in his hands!

Yet, strong as he is, he cannot ever bear the weight of the whole world on his shoulders, try as he might. Because that 20,000 kilograms is but a dot compared to the earth’s mass: a gargantuan 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms!

Now, with that in mind, imagine the vast power of He for whom the earth is but a footstool… who actually created the earth AND the entire universe, with just the command of His lips… and who watches over everything there is in the universe, day in and day out.

The all-powerful, ever-living, transcendent GOD.

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:16-18)

This means that—

God has supreme authority over nature.

“…all things have been created through him and for him.”

The laws of nature does not apply to Him. Not bound by time or space, He has no beginning or end, existing everywhere at all times. What is more, nature obeys Him. The ravens did not dare refuse His command to deliver food for prophet Elijah… the Red Sea did not dare refuse His command to make a way for the Israelites… and the raging winds and the violent waves did not dare refuse His command to be still for the Twelve’s boat. In short, the whole universe trembles at His voice!

God has supreme authority over circumstances.

“…in him all things hold together.”

But His power is not just loud and terrifying, it is also tender and caring. Did He not open Hannah’s barren womb after seeing her tear-filled eyes? Did He not multiply the bread and the fish after hearing the five thousand’s growling stomachs? And did He not raise the widow’s son after feeling her grief-stricken heart? Just as He did for Hannah, the five thousand, and the widow, believe that God has the power to change every situation—yours included—no matter how hopeless it may seem.

God has supreme authority over life.

“…so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Because more than our circumstances, He has a claim on our very lives. Was it not He who has allowed us the privilege to walk on this world He has designed? Was it not He who has also designed every fiber of our being? And was it not He who has given us life? It is just but right that our hearts, minds, and souls be wholly and willingly surrendered to His supreme authority… that we live our lives for Him and Him alone.

Over nature, over circumstances, over life, over ALL. In His supreme power and authority, He can do anything that He wills to do—like carrying the 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000-kilogram earth, plus the many daily concerns of the billions of people living in it. While this is a rather simple way of putting how sovereign God is, may this lead us all to submit our whole lives to Him and just allow Him to carry us, wherever He wills.

Declaring His SELFLESS SERVICE, exalting Jesus

“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask… Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:35, 37)

James and John. They were two of Jesus’ disciples, in fact two of Jesus’ closest disciples (together with Peter). As proof, Jesus singled them out among the twelve on many occasions, as in the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37) and in the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2).

This is probably where they were coming from when they asked Jesus that request. They were James and John—THE James and John. They were part of the Big Three. So they felt entitled. So much so that they, ironically, demanded from their Master: we want you to do for us whatever we ask; that each of us would sit at your side in your glory. How selfishly ambitious and utterly arrogant!

But we, too, tend to be like them at times. Remember these ‘prayers’? Give me this, Lord. Give me, that. Here. Now. How about these lines? I’ve been attending church consistently. I’ve been serving in the ministry for years. So You HAVE to reward me with this, Lord!

Yes, we, too, have been like James and John. We tend to forget that He is God and that we, well, are not… not as powerful or as intelligent or as strong as we think. So let us look at how Jesus answered them so that we, too, may remember.

Have the right perspective. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized in the baptism I am baptized with?” (v.38)

The names of the Bible greats were not written there for nothing. They did not just sit and stare. They paid a price—a high price. Let’s consider Noah, the seemingly ridiculous command of God, and the truly ridiculous comments of his peers. Or Joseph and the thirteen long years batted with all kinds of trials and tests. And let’s not forget Job, minus all his livestock and children—but plus the boils all over his body.

We say we want to be great men and women of God? Then, let us remember Jesus’ words. Can we drink the cup, with all the pain and suffering it entails? While Noah did survive the flood, Joseph did save his family and all Egypt from the famine, and Job did receive double blessings from God—they first drank the cup. Because greatness is borne in and through the lowest and toughest experiences.

Have the right attitude. “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (v.43-44)

The world tells us we have to make it big—big salary, big savings, big house, big name. Let us be clear here: there is absolutely nothing wrong with having all those big things; God calls all those blessings. What is wrong, though, is the attitude of being big: when we look down at our fellowman whose salary or name is not as big… when we look at the mirror and conclude that the reflection we see is far, far bigger than others… and when we don’t look up anymore to recognize the only One who IS big.

Do we really want to make it big? Then it’s time that we take each other’s hand, celebrating each other’s strengths and filling in each other’s weaknesses; and, more importantly, it’s time that we finally take that nail-pierced hand that has been reached out to us all for the past two thousand years. Because, really, on our own, we are nothing. We are weak, broken, and empty.

Have the right model. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (v.45)

Probably because of the many achievements and feats we have accomplished, or the many skills and talents we are capable of, or the many topics and disciplines we are knowledgeable of, that we think we are somebody and not just anybody… that we find it really hard to put others first.

But if we will just look at the King of kings and Lord of lords who created the entire universe with just a “Let there be”—how He left His throne in all its splendor to walk among the poor, touch the sick and the outcasts, receive utter scorn and humiliation, endure whips and lashes, and die the worst man’s death on the Cross—if THE God stooped that low, why can’t we? Why shouldn’t we?

All these said, may the prayer of our hearts be, “Teacher, we want to do for You whatever You ask. Help us to have the right perspective and to gain the right attitude as we tread on the path of selfless service which You Yourself have modeled to us.”

Declaring His AUTHENTIC LOVE, exalting Jesus

Love. This four-letter word has baffled the wisest philosophers, dumbfounded the most prolific writers, and maddened the noblest gentlemen—so much so that it has caused Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal, an exquisite monument for his deceased wife… or Liu Guojiang to hand-carve 6,000 steps into the mountainside as stairway for his 10-year older wife.

As unbelievable as these stories sound, there is one that would blow our minds the most, written in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

A love that loves. “But God demonstrates…”

How many whispers of ‘I love you’ and promises of ‘till death do us part’ have been reduced to nothingness? Probably too many, that we are beginning to think if such pronouncements and promises are all empty blabbers. Well, not with God. He did not just say He loves us. He demonstrated it. How?

A love that accepts. “While we were still sinners…”

If we would tell people the vilest sin we have ever committed, they would probably be repulsed. Quite the opposite with our Great Lover. In His omnipresence and omniscience, He sees our most secret actions and reads our most hidden thoughts. In short, He knows all our sins, all our wickedness, all our imperfections, in their every detail, and yet, He still loves us. Because His love is not based on who we are, but on who He is: the God of love.

A love that sacrifices. “…Christ died for us.”

For a king to love his humble subjects is quite realistic, but for a king to actually leave his throne, live a pauper’s life, and die for his subjects? That’s bewildering. But that is what the Son of God actually did—and more! He left His heavenly throne and lived among us—became like us—only to be ridiculed, mocked, spat at, beaten, flogged, and crucified. All these He endured, for His love… for us.

Authentic love. This is what the holy and perfect God has for us, broken and filthy sinners. Shouldn’t we, then, also give Him our purest love?

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

(Philippians 2:9-11)

Declaring His VICTORY, exalting Jesus

We always want to start strong. That is why new years mean bucket lists, resolutions, and ‘warding off bad luck.’

In reality, however, all these attempts will be insufficient apart from God. Because real victory can only be found by those whose faith is in Him. 1 John 5:4 says—

“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”

Therefore, if we really want our new year to be successful and fulfilling, the first thing we must do is to declare—not just victory—but GOD’S victory over our lives by reaffirming our faith in Him, as if saying:

We need You. It is a fact that, no matter how hard we try and no matter how great we sacrifice, all our efforts to succeed in school, at work, at home, and in life are inadequate: our minds run out of ideas, our bodies run out of strength, and our hearts run out of hope. But it is in acknowledging this—and the great power of the infallible, perfect GOD who cares for us—that we are actually claiming that though we are incapable, God is. Therefore, victory WILL.

We trust in You. Nobody, even the person with the highest IQ, knows the future. This makes new years similar to walking with a blindfold or jumping into an abyss; therefore frightful. But though we cannot see the future, we can confidently walk into every new year because God cannot only see the future, He holds the future. He who created life, who gave up His life for us, who IS life—His is the future. With this truth in mind, we are only left to believe that victory is OURS.

We submit to You. We all have our dreams and hopes, plans and goals. It could be entering this university, marrying our partner, touring the country, getting a promotion, or starting a business. But is our plan, no matter how good, also God’s plan? We may tick every item off our bucket list and still feel defeated—if those items are not aligned with God’s. Because more than our personal victories, what must prevail in our lives is HIS victory—a victory far better than our little minds could ever dream of.

We need You… we trust in You… we submit to You. For the person who truly knows God, who truly believes in God, who truly is in God, victory is not an uncertainty, victory IS.