"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." - Psa 46:1 ESV.

Nothing can calm the heart better than the knowledge that when you need something you'll find it. On a very hot day, how comforting is it to know that cold, clean water is available? At night when the body is weary from the toils of the day, how comforting is it to know that you have a place to go home to and find rest and peace? When your heart is heavy and you need someone to talk to, how pleasant is it to know that you have a friend to call who always makes himself or herself available for such a time as this?

In these times of so much agitation and disturbance, when the usual places that we consider safe are no longer that, how do we find such comfort? Let the bible tell you where: in the Lord.

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 "save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear" - Jud 1:23 ESV.

No problem is ever solved unless there is someone who is determined to solve them. That determination translates to some actions. There is an identification of the problem. There is a plan on how to tackle it. Then there is the implementation of the plan.

Many of people's personal problems are solved by their own effort. Whether they follow the above process in solving them or not, somehow they get by. But there may be times when someone else identifies the problem ahead of those who actually have them. This happens when the problem is something that is subtle or something that can only be identified by trained eyes. But once there is a determination of the problem, it will be just a few steps away from solving it. All it requires is the willingness of the one who has it to cooperate with that effort.

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"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." - Eph 2:13 ESV.

Blessed are those who are reached by the grace of God. That's you and me as a true Christian. Our experience, our life, and especially our future is unlike that of the general population of the world. Consider the changes in us since the time when grace was still a far off and after it has taken its effect in our life.

Verse 2 says that we were once a follower of the course of this world, obedient to the devil who rules the worldly realm and who exercises power over everyone who doesn't have the grace of God. Once we were ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds and were destined to be punished like everyone else (v. 3). We were practically dead because of our sins (v. 4). We didn't know Christ and had no part in the promises that God made to those whom He recognized as His own. We were living in the world without hope and without God (v. 12). For that is life without God. It is a life without hope because we were far from God (v. 13). We were practically foreigners to those who belong to the family of God. We were outsiders.

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"Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold." - Pro 3:13-14 ESV.

Scientists in the food industry are always trying to find ways to make breeds of plants for our food sources to become more and more high-yielding. When I was in my teens, many farmers in our place were still hesitant about new rice varieties and their preferred choice were the traditional ones. Their argument was that the old variety was more resistant against pests and tasted better when cooked. In a sense, they put value on taste more than yield. My father, being the non-traditionalist that he was, became the talk of the neighborhood when his one hectare of ricefield was able to produce twice as much using the new variety compared to the ones using the traditional one. These days, high-yield rice varieties can produce as much as five times per hectare but again not everyone will pick the new over the old for one reason or another. And usually, their reason is based on some value whether monetary or not.

Much of our choices are like that rice story. We pick one thing over another because for the same cost, we believe our choice will bring the greatest value into our life. Some people save their money while others buy things with it. Both sides will claim their choice to be wiser than the other.

It can be sometimes surprising how people determine or decide which things to value more than others. Psychologists will credit such differences to desires and their fulfillment. A person who desires comfort will always prioritize it over food or activity. A parent whose desire is the best education for his or her child will prioritize paying for a higher tuition in a better school and sacrifice that vacation abroad. Between a house or a vehicle for mobility, one person will always pick one or the other based on what he desires more.

It's not that desire is always subjective. It can be based on a real and a practical need. But the fact that people still come up with one thing over another is a testimony to the truth that even a person's judgment about whether one thing is a need or simply a want can also be biased. There is a need for a third party, one whose standard is not biased nor clouded by some unmet personal desire of his own. Someone whose judgment is based on true outcomes as far as cost and benefit is concerned without giving in to preferences or superficiality.

In today's passage, we are told that wisdom is one thing we can choose that can give us more value than gold or silver, more precious than jewels and nothing we desire can compare with it (vs. 2-3). But how many people really pick wisdom over those other things? How many would rather spend their money on jewelry and other expensive things and yet won't even send their children to good schools because they are deemed expensive? A more readily available gratification in enjoying what money can buy today appeals more to many than what it will produce in the future. Thus, wisdom usually loses to today's indulgence.

The bible is a book full of wisdom and it is the kind that is not prejudiced toward any particular ideology or politics. It is simply a book of truth written for all men. Those who don't believe it would consider it biased toward Judaeo-Christian beliefs. But labeling the bible's content as Judaeo-Christian doesn't make it less true. It is still God's briefing for human race if we want to live life to the fullest and free from our own biases and ignorance. It doesn't leave room for our own preference and prejudice based on our unfulfilled desires. It is simply an objective instruction if we have to find the maximum yield for our every effort toward relationship, knowledge and a happy and fulfilled life. In short, the bible is the wisdom of God given to people. It should be the source of wisdom that we covet for each day as we build our person and character. In a world where every person is rich but without biblical wisdom and another which is full of it though not as rich, there is no doubt which one will be better world.

"And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth." - Luk 4:22 ESV.

Reputation is important. It's how people see us. Whether our reputation is true or not, it changes little for those who don't know us, for the only thing they can depend on is our reputation. And so, for many, building a good reputation is not an option. They believe that if they can build a good one, it doesn't matter that they lack so many other things in life like riches or power. Their reputation will be their capital. It connects them to the right people and allows them great favors from those who have the power to give them.

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"And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise.'"  - Luk 10:37 ESV.

If we see someone throws his new pair of shoes into the sea, we would be either surprised or amused. If the shoes he throws is ours, we would be angry. The difference in the reactions is that in the first case, we don't have any ownership claim to the shoes as we do in the second.

Where there is ownership, we have a stake. We feel something depends on us or we feel some responsibility or involvement. If we don't get involved, we feel guilty for not doing so. Ownership gives us that moral obligation to act.

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