All posts by CJ Baik

Self-Confidence or Christ-Confidence?

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

— Psalm 20:7

One of the best known stories of the Bible is that of David and Goliath. For days on end, the armies of the Israelites faced the armies of the Philistines. And daily Goliath taunted the Israelite army, which cringed before this giant of a man who was nine and a half feet tall. All of their courage and their PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) had fizzled out. Their self-confidence had reached its limit, and it ended up in despair.

Then along came this stripling named David, who went out to take on Goliath saying, “I come at you in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” There is such a thing as Godconfidence, or Christ-confidence, which is infinitely better than self-confidence, though that is better than no confidence at all. With “Christ-confidence,” we can do all things. Jesus said, “…if you have faith and do not doubt… if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done” (Matthew 21:21).

David had practice as a shepherd, slaying a lion and a bear that threatened the sheep. But his real trust was in the Lord, and that is why he prevailed. And so can we—if we trust in the Lord.

Lord Jesus, thank You that I can always trust in You. Make me into such a person as You can entrust with Your work. Help me to never put confidence in the flesh, but in You and Your power and strength…


Affections Above or Below?

“Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth.”

— Colossians 3:2

The Bible tells us that we are to believe that we have the promises of God. If God has promised it, it is as good as done and we are by faith to believe that it has come to pass; so in a very real sense, that is biblical. However, the Scripture also tells us that we are not to set our affections on things here below, but are to set our affections on things above.

I remember a young man, like so many today, whose whole life centered on a really great-looking sports car. That piece of machinery had become his idol. He did all but bow to the ground before the car or light votive candles and sprinkle a little incense on the candles in front of it. God has made us for greater things than some pile of metal. In a few years that young man’s fancy automobile will be fit for nothing but a junk pile.

God has made you an immortal soul; He has fitted you for the stars. Too many are groveling in the mud flats of materialism. Set your affections on things above— attempt great things for God. You know what? He might just give you that pile of bolts and metal. As C. S. Lewis once put it, “Aim for heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim for earth, and you get neither.” God may be pleased to give you all sorts of things, but your heart should be set on things above.

Dear Heavenly Father, set my heart on things above today. Let my treasure be on things above. Let me truly value the things of Your kingdom. I thank You for my earthly things and ask that, although I possess them, that they not possess me…


The Christian Adventure

“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…”

— Acts 17:6

Several decades ago, I read a statement in a book entitled The Strong Name. It was written by a professor at the University of Glasgow. His name was James Stewart. No, he never went to Hollywood—he had greater things on his mind. This is what he said:

If we could but show the world that being committed to Christ
is no tame, humdrum sheltered monotony, but the most exciting
adventure the human spirit could ever know, then those who
have been standing outside looking askance at Christ would come
crowding in to pay allegiance, and we may well see the greatest
spiritual revival since Pentecost.

I wonder what your friends think of your Christianity, of your religion? Is it some tame, humdrum sheltered monotony? Sadly, for some of us our friends could say, “That describes it pretty well.” Or is it the most exciting adventure the human spirit can ever know? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s going to inevitably be the first and not the latter unless you believe Paul’s text: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

Peter once said to Jesus: “See, we have left everything and followed You. What then shall we have?” Jesus replied, “…everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for My name’s sake shall receive a hundred times as much and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:27, 29). Following Jesus is an adventure in this life, and as it has been said, “the rewards are out of this world.”

Dear God, thank You for creating us for adventure and great stories. Help us to trust You to see us safely through the endeavors set before us. Thank You for the opportunities You give us. Help us to undertake them with all our might…


The Father of Modern Missions

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’“

— Mark 16:15

One of my great heroes of the past is William Carey (1761-1834) of England. I trust that every Christian knows who he was. Carey was a poor uneducated man who did nothing but fix shoes, and yet he had a dream. On the wall in front of him in his shop he had placed a map—a map of the world. He sat there fixing soles, but dreamt of fixing souls in lands where the Gospel was not known.

Carey was laughed at. He was told to shut up and sit down, but he wouldn’t do it because there was a dream. And so he set out on a long trip to India. He launched something 200 years ago called “The World Missionary Movement.” To take the words of Winston Churchill and apply them much more accurately, we can most certainly say that “never did so many owe so much to so few.” With so little support and help, missionaries have done the greatest work in the history of the world. Today, 200 years later, the work William Carey dreamt of has been started and planted in virtually every nation on earth because he had a dream and with God’s help, he fulfilled it.

Carey learned a number of languages. He wrote a dictionary in English and the Indian language of Bengali. He translated the Bible into numerous different languages. He became a scholar. He let God use him fully for the Gospel. May God help all of us to fulfill the task He has for us, one that helps spread His eternal kingdom.

God, Giver of dreams, give me dreams and visions for You. Let me fulfill the dreams You have planted in my heart. Thank You for the ones that have already been fulfilled…


With God…

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

— Matthew 19:26

One of the great saints of the last century, A. W. Tozer, said that if someone were able to extract from your mind the thoughts you have when you think of God, they could very accurately predict your spiritual future, because people rise no higher than their concept of God.

Certainly the disciples of the first century had an exalted view of God. Their God could do anything. To paraphrase them: “O Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, nothing is too hard for You.” And so, therefore, they set out on a glorious task. Here they were, eleven men (i.e., the twelve minus Judas). God told them to do a little simple thing: Go change the whole world—and they set out to do it. They have, in great measure, already succeeded. These men who were so absorbed in the characteristics and attributes of God were able to do fantastic things.

The late Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, told us to remember that as believers in Christ we are called to live supernatural lives. We are no longer ordinary people, but our lives are now joined with the One who spoke and the worlds were framed. We belong to the One whom God has given all authority over heaven and earth, and He has come to dwell in our lives with all of His resurrection power.

Bright said that living a supernatural life begins with thinking supernatural thoughts. Pray for supernatural results and watch God do great things.

All Powerful Omnipotent God, I praise You for Your might. Give me a clear picture of You and let not my finite mind distort Your image…


Overcoming Life’s Obstacles

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”

— Romans 1:16

Have you ever noticed how any time we try to pursue something worthwhile, we always seem to be beset by a number of obstacles? Look at Paul’s goal to spread the Gospel in the first century; a goal made possible by Rome’s incredible roadway system, by the unifying language of everyday Greek, by the Pax Romana, and by the many synagogues in far-flung places that often became Stop 1 in his entrance to a new town.

His efforts to spread the Gospel over most of the Roman world have continued until the Gospel has been spread into every nation on the face of the earth. If you asked Paul how he was doing, I don’t think he would have told you the terrible travails he had undergone in persecution and in difficult travels. Today, we think nothing of getting on a superhighway or a jetliner and usually arriving at our destination in comfort or ease—not so in antiquity in most cases. But Paul wouldn’t generally have told you the suffering he underwent in his travels. Instead, Paul chose to look at things through the eye of faith, thus, in effect, he was going from glory to glory.

Anyone who thinks that it was easy for Paul ought to read 2 Corinthians 11, which shows that he faced one problem after another. Anything worthwhile may be fraught with difficulties. But those difficulties may not be a sign that you’re on the wrong track but rather on the right track after all.

Father God, You know how easy it is for us to give up when we face obstacles. Help me to see them as a sign that I’m doing something worthwhile and not an indication that I should quit…


Spiritual Selftalk

“Why, my soul, are you cast down? Why do you groan within me? Wait for God; I will yet thank Him, For He is my deliverance and my God.”

— Psalm 42:5

When we read this verse, we might think, “The poor psalmist. He has come to the place where he is talking to himself.” But the Word of God would have us understand that he is doing exactly what he ought to do.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, one of the greatest preachers in England in the second part of the twentieth century, says this in his excellent work, Spiritual Depression, It’s Cause and Cure: “Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”

Remarkable? Most of your unhappiness in life comes from listening to yourself. Think about it. You wake up in the morning and right away there are streams of thought coming into your mind. You haven’t invited them, you didn’t ask for them, you are not consciously doing anything to produce them; they just come. They start talking to you. It is the old nature, discounting what God can do in your life.

The psalmist, says Lloyd-Jones, “stands up and says, ‘Self, listen for a moment. I will speak to you.’” God’s Word tells us, “Do not fear, for I am with you” (Genesis 26:24 and throughout Scripture), and “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). “Be of good cheer” is repeated in Matthew, Mark, John, and Acts. God also reassures us, “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Let us allow God to renew our minds by dwelling on His promises.

Dear Lord, give me strength for today to listen to the new person in Christ within me, instead of my old, carnal nature. Let me rejoice as I consider Your promises in Christ Jesus, which are guaranteed by Your flawless character…


Who Is Wise?

“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of this world foolish?”

— 1 Corinthians 1:20

There is a great contrast in the Bible between the wise and the foolish. Proverbs 8:5 says, “O you simple, understand wisdom, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.” We see that not only the wise and mature, but also the simple and the foolish, are invited to come and hear. This is in stark contrast to the Greek philosophical schools where only the wise and the best were invited to come and partake of the teachings of those schools. But here is a broad invitation for all to come.

Do you consider yourself to be foolish, to be simple? Then come and understand wisdom. I suppose the height of wisdom is to realize how vast is our folly. The greatest strength is to realize how infinite is our weakness and the greatest righteousness is to know that we have none at all, that Christ is our righteousness. Even as He, according to the New Testament, is wisdom. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and redemption.

Wisdom is so great that it is desirable even among precious things of this world. Is the Word of God, the wisdom of God, the wisdom that is in Jesus Christ, better to you than all of the other things which you may desire?

Jesus, joy of man’s desiring, I do desire You and Your wisdom. I am a foolish mortal in great need of You. Keep me from sinning. Keep me from making mistakes and keep me on the right path…


Always Seek Wisdom, No Matter How “Mature”

“Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice?… She cries out at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors…”

— Proverbs 8:1, 3

In the book of Proverbs, we find an interesting contrast between two women. One represents wisdom and life. The other represents sin and death. In Proverbs 8, we see what wisdom does, contrasted with what the strange woman in the preceding chapter does. In chapter 7 we see the strange woman in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night.

There she is crouching about in the doorways, from corner to corner, lying in wait to catch the unwary. In stark contrast to this, in the broad daylight, standing at the entrance way to the city in the open places at the gates and at the door, wisdom cries to all to come. There are no whispered intimations in the ear, no secret agreements, but rather there is an open declaration, and invitation to all. So too, Jesus boldly proclaimed His Word for all to hear and said to His accusers, “Why do you ask Me?… I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in the synagogue and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and I said nothing in secret” (John 18:21, 20).

The message of wisdom is for all of us, even those who think they are so mature they no longer need to heed the message. Too many times people will go through many years of Sunday School and then they grow up and they think they don’t need it any longer. But God wants us to continue to seek after His wisdom.

Wise and wonderful Savior, thank You for the openness and clarity of Your Word. It is not a secret message for the select few. It is freely proclaimed to all of us…


Come to the Feast

“Wisdom has built her house…She has killed her beasts, she has mixed her wine, she has also furnished her table… ‘Come, eat of my bread’”

— Proverbs 9:1-2, 5

In Proverbs 8 and 9, we see wisdom personified. In the latter chapter, she holds a feast and sends forth servants to invite others to come. In the Greek Septuagint* we find exactly the same words as are found in the New Testament where Jesus talks about a feast and servants are sent out to compel others to come in. So I think that there is a biblical reason for believing this applies to Christ.

Some object to the idea that wisdom personified in Proverbs could be a preincarnate Jesus since it is personified in the female gender and Jesus, of course, is male. This cannot be, they say. Well, I do not believe that God is a sexist, and I think that is of no problem to Him. If anyone has a particular difficulty with that, let me remind you that the Hebrew word for spirit is feminine, as is the Greek word for spirit. So I don’t have a problem with the notion that wisdom is personified here in the female form, and it still relates to Jesus.

God is preparing a great feast for us. We are welcome to come. But some, blinded by their pride, choose not to come to His great feast and, thus, will miss out.

God of plenty, thank You for inviting me to Your feast. I gladly accept the invitation, first to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and then to this feast of wisdom. Lord, give me strength for today to always seek Your wisdom and guidance…


*The Septuagint was the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek made by 70 (hence the name “Septuagint”) scholars from Alexandria, Egypt. It was begun in the late 200’s B.C. and was finished about a century and a half before Jesus was born.