As Your Days – 8

The great Baptist preacher, Alexander MacLaren, says that this promise will still be true in heaven. “There,” he says, “each new moment shall bring new strength, and growing millenniums but add fresh vigour to our immortal life.” Quoting Swedenborg, Maclaren says that “the oldest angels look the youngest . . . When life is immortal, the longer it lasts the stronger it becomes.” And so the angels who have stood before God’s throne the longest, look the youngest. [1]

The key then to growing from strength to strength, the key to gaining youthful strength, is to wait on the Lord. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:30-31, NKJV).

That’s why I do believe that when we get to heaven, we will all look young and handsome and beautiful. Do you believe that? You will look young and beautiful in heaven. Because the longer you wait on the Lord, the younger you will look.

“As your days, so shall your strength be.” As long as your days, so shall your strength be. Even after your days on earth, you will find strength in heaven. And as your days in heaven, so shall your strength be. Since your days in heaven are eternal, so shall your strength be also eternal.


[1] Alexander Maclaren, “Shod for the Road,” http://preceptaustin.org/maclaren_on_deuteronomy.htm (accessed January 8, 2010).

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As Your Days – 7

How many of you saw the movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”? “Born on the same day World War I ended, Benjamin Button’s mother died giving birth to him. As a newborn, he was old and wrinkled and his horrified father Thomas Button leaves him on the doorstep of an old folk’s home. Benjamin [Brad Pitt] fits in well for, despite his young age, he looked as old as most of the residents. Benjamin soon realizes that he is growing younger, not older however. Early on, he meets the love of his life, Daisy [Cate Blanchett], a beautiful red-haired, green-eyed child who grows into a beautiful woman while Benjamin grows into a handsome young man. Their lives take many different turns and making a life together is long in coming. It also is of limited duration given their ultimately different fates.”[1]

It’s amazing that somebody like Benjamin Button can grow young as the years go by. He grows younger and younger every day. He will not die old. He will die young.

Unlike Benjamin, however, we all grow old, not young. And as you all know, growing old means getting weak. When you are young, you feel strong and able to do anything.

Back in my 20s, I thought I could conquer the world. In my 30s, I can work for long hours till evening and even early morning. But now in my 40s, I now feel a pain in my right neck when I turn my head to the right. I can’t run as long and as fast as I used to run back in my 20s. How about some of us who are in their 50s and 60s and 70?  This week alone, we were busy visiting two elderly ladies. One elderly lady, 76 yrs. old, had a cyst operated on her shoulder. The other, about to turn 80 by end of January, passed away due to an asthma attack which caused brain death. We eventually grow old and weak.

But God’s promise in Deut. 33:25 still holds true when you grow old. As your days, even in your old days, so shall your strength be, because that strength comes from God. He will give you strength for the journey, even till the end of your days. But as you go through the journey of your days, you will also grow from strength to strength. You will move from a little knowledge of God today to a growing knowledge of God the next day. You will grow from faith to faith. You will journey from living by faith today to living by more faith. And you will grow to the next level, from believing in Christ within our lives to seeing Christ seated on his throne in heaven someday.[2]


[1] Garykmcd, “Plot Summary for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008),” in http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0421715/Plotsummary (accessed January 11, 2010).

[2] Pritchard, “Iron Shoes,” http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/ (accessed January 8, 2010).

As Your Days – 6

  1. Steady Strength for Your Life

God’s Word says, “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Deut. 33:25, ESV), and not just today. I like how Ray Pritchard explained this in various ways.

As your days, and that includes every day of your life, so shall your strength be.

As your days, whatever the days you will face, so shall your strength be. Some days will be joyful, some days will be sad; some days, painful, and some days pleasurable.

Will those days be filled with confusion and challenges? Your strength shall be equal to those days. Will those days be filled with sickness and sorrow? Your strength will be equal to those days. Whatever your days, as your days, God will give you strength equal to those days.

And finally, as your days, until the end of those days, till the last day of your days, God says he will give you strength till the last day.[1]


[1] Ray Pritchard, “Iron Shoes,” http://www.keepbelieving.com (accessed January 8, 2010).

As Your Days – 5

3. Strong Shoes for Your Journey

The third blessing Moses said is, “Your bars shall be iron and bronze.(Deut. 33:25, ESV) The ESV uses the plural noun, “bars,” but the NKJV uses, “sandals.” The word may mean 2 things here.

First, the Hebrew noun man`al, may signify “either a bolt or that which is shut fast; a poetical expression for a castle or fortress. Asher’s dwellings will be castles, fortresses of iron and brass; i. e. as strong and impregnable as if they were built of iron and brass.” (Keil and Delitzsch)

Second, the noun man`al, can also probably mean, “shoe.” It is taken from the Hebrew verb, “To bar, lock, bolt (Qal); To furnish with sandals, shoe (Qal) to shoe” (BDB)  Moses is saying, “Your shoes shall be made of iron and bronze.” And so for the tribe of Asher to inherit the rocky mountains of the promised land, God provides strong shoes for the journey.

What kind of road shall we travel on this New Year? Will it be a smooth road or a rocky road? Unlike other pastors, I will not promise you a stress-free life up ahead, just because you obey God today. The great heroes of the faith in Heb. 11 faced unimaginable difficulties, but they persevered in trusting God, regardless. Yes, there will be rocky roads up ahead.

But the good news is—God is already there ahead of us.[1] And he shall give you shoes of iron for the stony paths. This means that he will give you wisdom equal to your tasks. He will give you strength equal to your challenges.

We are not to pray for problems equal to our strengths. We are to pray, rather, for strengths equal to our problems. To ask God for problems equal to our strengths is to ask him to make us remain as spiritually immature children the rest of our lives. But to make us grow in trusting and knowing God, to find strength in God alone, God will give us strength equal to the trials and troubles we will face ahead.

Remember this: when God allows you to go through that rocky road, he will also give you iron shoes for the journey! There will be no difficulty you will face that God has not prepared you to face it. There shall be no problem too big that God has not given you the courage and strength to handle it.


[1] Ray Pritchard, “Iron Shoes: God’s Promise for Every New Year,” in http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2000-01-02-Iron-Shoes-Gods-Promise-for-Every-New-Year/ (accessed January 8, 2010).

As Your Days – 4

2. Sweet Success in the Land.

The second blessing is, “Let him dip his foot in oil” (Deut. 33:24, ESV). What does Moses mean by these words? If you look at the map of Canaan in Moses’ time, there is the northern seacoast, north of modern day Haifa, extending into southern Lebanon—or the base of Lebanon. This the appointed inheritance of Asher in the promised land. Now this northern coast is rocky and mountainous. But the inner part of the land is fertile lands, full of olive groves. Thus Moses says, “let him dip his foot in oil.” The fertile land produces lots of olive groves. These olive groves are trodden under foot in water tanks made of rock.

Have you seen how “ginamos” (bagoong) are made? Ginamos is a mix of paste and fish that are trodden by foot. Maybe that’s why it tastes so good. That’s pretty much how they squeeze olive oil from the olives in those days. (Or perhaps they used some tool to squeeze out the olive oil.)

Asher will be made rich by a thriving olive oil industry. God will give Asher and his tribe sweet success in the land. Listen! For this New Year, your success will follow after you trust God for anything that he will allow to happen to your life. But please don’t measure success by material things alone. There is the success of a Christ-like character that God will form in your life. The promise of success here primarily applies to Asher and his tribe, as they go in and claim the land. But Asher must dip his foot in oil. The land is his, but he needs to go in and work on the land. The oil of blessing will not flow for lazy people. You need to claim it by working on it.

As Your Days – 3

Let me ask you today, “Don’t you want to be an Asher—a child of blessing?” Yes, we all want to be Ashers—to be particularly favored by the Lord, of all the children of God. But God blessed the people of Israel even though they haven’t done anything to deserve those blessings.

Did Lot deserve the blessing of God? No, Lot disobeyed God many times. He did not like to go with his uncle Abraham in a journey of faith. He looked to Sodom by sight, instead of going with Abraham by faith. In Sodom, he compromised his faith, offering his daughters to the homosexuals of the town, just so that he can save the two angels.

What did Asher do to be a child of blessing? I cannot think of any significant thing that Asher did to earn the blessing. But throughout the OT, we see that God blesses those who obey his will. Moses said that the LORD shows “mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:6, NKJV). The word, “mercy,” or “unfailing love” here is a strong word, from the Hebrew, hesed. “It speaks of a favor given to someone who does not have a right to that favor by someone who does not have to give that favor.”[1]

We see this hesed of God in action at Mt. Sinai. While God was giving the 10 Commandments to Moses at Mt. Sinai, the people below decided to hold a “fiesta” (festival). It is a festival of Yahweh, Aaron said. Like most fiestas in the Philippines today, mixing Christian and pagan symbols of idolatry, the Israelite fiesta was syncretist (mixed). The one pagan symbol that Aaron approved was the golden calf, which mirrored the pagan practices of their neighbors.

While Moses met with God, they committed idolatry. God was sorely offended by their actions. These people did not really deserve God’s favor. God also did not have to give that favor. But because of hesed, his unfailing love, his mercy, he forgave them and gave them a second chance. This mercy or unfailing love is for those who love him and obey him, but also those who do not deserve his love.

Thus, blessings may be received two ways—by the favor of God that we don’t deserve, that God is not obliged to give; but also by obedience to the will of God for our lives. And so the right attitude in worshiping God is to obey God, not to get his blessings, as if we are paying God to bless us, but to obey God because God has called us to be related to him, and because he has called us to love and serve him.

Blessings therefore are the benefits of a covenantal relationship with God. We obey him to show him that we are committed to loving him and trusting him in everything. Our obedience to his commands is therefore our response to the unfailing love or mercy that he shows us. If you have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. But if you obey God in the days to come, then God will bless you more with his unfailing love.


[1] T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, eds., Dictionary of the OT Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), 850.

As Your Days – 2

  1. Spilling Over Favor from God

In this chapter, Moses blessed the twelve tribes of Israel (Deut. 33:1). To the tribe of Asher, Moses declared four kinds of blessings. The first blessing is, “Let him be the favorite of his brothers.” (ESV) Actually in the Hebrew, it literally reads, “Let him be pleasing to his brothers.” The word, “favorite,” is from ratsah, “To be pleased with, be favourable to; To make acceptable” in the Qal stem. (BDB) It is actually a Qal Participle in the passive voice—thus, the literal translation would be, “be pleasing, acceptable, or favored of his brothers.”

The name Asher itself means, “To be made happy, be blessed” in the Pual stem. (BDB) Who is Asher anyway? He was the son of Leah’s maid, Zilpah. He became the second son of Jacob. Gen. 30:12-13, “And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son.  Then Leah said, ‘I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.’ So she called his name Asher” (NKJV).

Getting back to Deut. 33:24, Moses said Asher will be “most blessed of sons.” (ESV). Moses is saying, “Asher, you will be blessed of all the sons of Israel.” All the sons of Israel are already blessed, like Asher. But Asher is to be the one particularly favored and blessed by the Lord, of all the sons of Israel.[1] Moses is blessing Asher, who is blessed already, with more blessings. Asher is to be a child of blessings and a father of prosperity (Gen. 49:20). Asher will be spilling over with the blessings of God.


[1] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 10, trans. James Martin (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), PC Study Bible CD-Rom, version 5.0., ed. Jim Gilbertson (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft, Inc., 1988-2007).

As Your Days – 1

Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be” (Deut. 33:25, ESV).

Do you remember the song, “Footprints in the Sand”?

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life.

This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it: “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I need you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied: “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”[1]

Isn’t that song inspiring? God does carry us through every trial and trouble in life. But in reality, the location is not the sandy beach but the rocky road. In this rocky road of life, God would rather have us walk on our own two feet, in a spiritual journey of knowing Christ.

The reason is that we grow in faith while we walk with God on the rocky road of life. Often it is the only way we can find the strength of God. Throughout the Bible, we see people of faith who have faced their trials and troubles with the strength of God. In other words, they’ve learned to grow in their faith in God, while walking with him on the rocky road of life.

In Deut. 33:25, we see here that God did not spare the tribe of Asher from walking on the rocky road. He did better than carrying them on his arms. He gave the portion of the promised land to Asher, but he also equipped them with shoes of iron so they can inherit the land. This means that God gave them strength equal to the challenges they faced.

This Year, God shall equip you with shoes for the rocky road and strength equal to your days. Your part is to claim his strength for the journey.

I see here 4 promises of God for us for this New Year.


[1] “Footprints in the Sand,” http://www.sapphyr.net/largegems/footprints.htm (accessed January 9, 2010).

Keep Running! – 8

Let us therefore run the race with endurance. Let us learn from the faithful witnesses. Let us lay aside every weight and sin that stops us. Let us look to Jesus, fixing our eyes on him who is the author and finisher of our faith.

Do not turn back to the world. Stop looking at your situation, no matter how hard or painful it may be, but go back to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Get back to the promises of God’s Word. Get your bearing and direction from the Word of God.

Do not be distracted by your circumstances. Keep your eyes on Jesus, as you run the race. For at the end of the day, he who founded the faith in you will be faithful to finish it to a perfect completion in his perfect time.

Keep Running! – 7

What did Jesus do as the author and finisher of our faith? First, He set his eyes on “the joy that was set before him” (12:2, ESV). What is this joy? It is the joy of glorifying the Father. It is the joy of calling out a people for his name. It is the joy of fulfilling the work of the Father. It is the joy of receiving the highest honor and authority over all creation as Messiah and Mediator (Eph. 1:21-23).

Second, He “endured the cross, despising the shame” (12:2,ESV) “Endured” here is the verb form of the noun, “endurance” in v. 1, from hupomeno, “to continue to bear up despite difficulty and suffering.” (Louw-Nida). For the joy set before him, Jesus put up with the suffering of the cross.

When I first read this verse years ago, I thought “despising” meant, “insulting,” that Jesus looked down upon the shame of the cross. But now I know better. “Despising” is from kataphroneo, “‘to think that something has no value’ or ‘to reckon something as being worthless.’” (Louw-Nida). The crucifixion was the most shameful and excruciating punishment of criminals in Jesus’ time. It was shameful because it was intended to bring shame to the criminal. It was done to a naked criminal and in public, causing much pain and prolonged suffering until death. But Jesus despised the shame of the cross. This means that he disregarded its shame,[1] treating it as worthless compared to the joy that was set before him!

Third, he “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2, ESV). In Filipino parlance, the expression “right hand” usually means the second in command, the executive assistant, or the vice-chairman. However, “right hand” (Gk. dexia) in the Bible symbolizes honor, power, and authority.[2] It means: (1) “power,” according to Hebraic usage of the word. (see Ex. 15:6; Job 40:14; Ps. 17:7, 18:35; 20:6; 21:8; 44:3; 60:5; 98:1); and (2) “the place of highest honor”[3] and “glory”[4] (see Ps. 109:1; Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Luke 20:42; 22:69; Heb. 1:13).

Before the world began, the Son of God had this glory and exaltation with the Father already (see John 17:5). Yet, He left His splendor in heaven and came down to earth to live with sinners. He offered Himself as an atoning, substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for our redemption. The Father worked His mighty power by raising Him from the dead, with the concomitant power of the Son and the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:18-22). At the right hand of God, the Father gave the Son the highest honor over all creation in heaven and on earth, making Him “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). As both Messiah and Mediator and Lord over all creation in heaven and earth, Jesus now rules at the right hand of the throne of God.


[1] Robert Jamieson, Andrew Robert Fausset, and David Brown, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, in Power Bible CD v3.0, ed. John Gilbertson (Bronson, MO: Online Publishing, 2001).

[2] A. T. Robertson, Robertson’s Word Pictures, in Power Bible CD.

[3] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, in BibleSpeak CD, v.3.07, ed. Steve Quick (Hyde Park: Q Software, 2001-2007).

[4] B. L. Johnson, People’s New Testament Commentary, in Power Bible CD.