Garbage In, Garbage Out

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In the past 2 months of Circuit Breaker, people have been nuahing at home the whole day and glued to anything rectangular – TV, phone, tablet and laptop – as a keyboard warrior on social media, posting on Instagram or Tik Tok, or drama or FB Live, bingeing die die also must have potato chips, ice cream or snack on hand to feed itchy mouth. Cannot tahan, the whole pack sure gone in no time and you grab more and raid the fridge. Alamak, with such lazy-bum lifestyle, little wonder all complaint kings and queens cry father cry mother that they are getting bui bui from being chronic couch potatoes. And aiyee, the pot bellies gets deeper and the muffin tops spill out more…

(P.S. Sounded like you and it is time for a detox: Garbage in, and garbage out? Let me offer you some slices of “bread” as a healthy option that won’t tip your weighing scale- Eat bread and live life to the full!)

“I (Jesus) am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35

Ever since I embarked on my newfound joy of making bread with my new toy as part of my “keep-me-sane” therapy, I have learnt a lot from “Bread”: from studying recipes to creating new inventions and learning about the entire baking process. It is not as simple as I thought which I once dismissed that bread is simply a clump of flour. Only when I am hands-on, did I discover that each ingredient, the quality right down to the quantity affect the outcome- each loaf turned out differently with different mixture, shape, size, colour, aroma, texture and taste. Individual ingredients need to be mixed well to form the dough, and the success of the bread lies in the kneading process that tested how well the dough is made.

The bread maker by default comes with preset menus for different made with its minimum duration. From time to time, I love to peer over the status monitor to check on the progress. I thought being mindfully watchful ensure the bread will be in good hands. I can’t hurry nor short-circuit the process otherwise the bread will not be baked well and the outcome may be ruinous! The entire process is long but somehow I have developed greater patience, as a result- Aren’t good things worth waiting for after all the hard work? Imagine the indescribable joy of witnessing the final product with satisfaction. 

Bread may be a simple staple food for everyone, but to me, it holds a deeper meaning – not just my love for this carbohydrate, it is a visual reminder that God, as my Provider, whom I can go to Him with a child-like petition to ask for provision each day:

Give (me) today (my) daily bread (Matthew 6:11). And which of you, being a father, will give a stone to his son, who makes request for bread or for a fish, will give him a snake? (Luke 11:11 BBE)

While physical bread represents an essential for survival, so God will ensure we are fed in order to live; Spiritual bread represents a necessity for sustainability, so God will provide all that we need to survive well. 

…for man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. – Matthew 4:4

The kneading process also bring me to a deeper realisation that God’s handprints are in every details of my life- He is intimately aware of the ongoing situations; every pull, every tug, every grind, every turn, every pressure, every processes: He knows all my pain and counts all my tears. Each journey may be fraught with challenges and often offer new learning experiences, but God is always there and with us all the way. We can be assured that we are in His good hands, and will be provided for if we trust Him, day to day.

P.S. Never say bo jio – wanna taste my bread, private message me ha!

#SGUnited #StayHomeStaySafe #SinglishQT Series (2) Labour Day Special QT: Mai Kan Cheong, More Than Enough- Stockpile Treasures From Heaven. 

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(Be warned: Singlish overloaded! Cheem local ‘vocab’ may stretch you! Power siah!)

When the local government raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange as a result of increased cases of the novel coronavirus on February 7, sending signal that the disease was deemed severe and infection might be contagious. This news was enough to drive Singaporeans into a panic mode, worrying about their livelihoods and the top-of-the-mind response was, “Food!”. You got it- Singaporeans went siao chiong-ing to raid the supermarkets. Worried over food scarcity should the country follow suit to lockdown nationwide, they die-die must stock up the necessities. And wah piang eh, the situation was really sibeh jialat, the shelves for toilet rolls, kitchen towels, wet wipes, maggie mee, rice, eggs, canned meat and hands sanitisers had been wiped out almost clean! I simply don’t understand such mentality especially with paper products which are not edible! Wah lau eh, like that die already loh when the aunties with mountain-full trollies of those essentials made the headlines with our infamous Singaporean symptoms: Kiasu-ism and Kiasee-ism. I myself malu as a local to witness the snatch and hoard culture. My fellow Singaporeans, tolong leh, steady pompipi, it is not the end of the world lah! This kiasu virus is even more potent than COVID-19 and soon the buay tahan virus would evolve even stronger. Sian, I had to join the queue just to get a few simple essentials, but no choice leh before the stock kosong! And sibeh suay to have to jostle with the crowd, the snaking queues really had me flipped!

(Ok, let’s turn sane with proper English now.)

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (Matthew 6:32) Do not be like them (the pagans), for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8) 

So, the question is, “Are you the type of person who see half a glass of water as, half full or half empty?” 

Insecurities. It is what drive us to react and response the way we did. Living in today’s world which prizes achievements, social status, material comfort and wealth, that equate success, has bred a downhill trajectory ethical culture. Failing which or fallen short of such benchmark, we may feel insecure like social misfits. And this label left many of us a disgruntled lot with a “hoarder” mentality- the constant need for covetousness and accumulating possessions to feel safe in the least. Sometimes, even the more than enough is not enough…

Because, insecurities will always breed insecurities. This fella will always precipitate:

i. Fear, so we worry. 

ii. Lack of faith, so we get anxious.

iii. Distrust in God to provide or can provide, so we take matters into our own hands.

But the best counter-measures to overcome insecurities: 

1. Turn on the power of prayers

Because worry and prayer cannot co-exist at the same time, either you expend energy worry or better utilise the time to pray- which is useful?

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. – Matthew 21:22

2. Magnify God instead of zooming in on the situation

Turn your focus to our infinite God who is much bigger and can handle anything and everything.

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ – Jeremiah 32:17

3. Meditate on God’s Promises

Rehearse the truth of His Promises over and over until they sink in, for example, one of the good reminders from Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …”

4. Allow God’s Peace to rule in our heart

If God’s Peace anchors our heart, insecurities will not rock or cause a rippling effect to our soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

5. Recall how God has met our previous needs and be reassured that God still care

We are all forgetful beings, so we need to make conscious effort to recall how God had previously provided for our needs. In so doing, we will be more assured that God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, still care to meet our needs.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

6. Trust God to supply as He knows our needs

God, as our loving Father cares for His children, will take care of what we need.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. — 2 Corinthians 9:10

7. Learn to live in contentment

Keep life free from having to want more, and learn to live with what we have at present.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

8. Seek to live one day at a time

Worry does not serve any purpose for good, just as Corrie Ten Boom aptly put across, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

Therefore, take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof. – Matthew 6:34 

So, stockpile the treasures above instead and the inventory will keep us in good faith to fight a good fight, over the long run. 

BE INTENTIONAL (3): RESTART- Get Up, Get Out And Get Going

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When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Psalm 61:2

Not too long ago I upgraded the tank for my swimming pets (Wonder shrimps and water snails) so that they will have more room to manoeuvre. I had also made a special request to the shop owner to change two of the decorative shells on the sand bed to rocks instead. Rocks to me is a great reminder that Jesus is my Rock, and on this Rock I can stand on solid ground where I will not be shaken! 

As the tank sits on my desk, I can steal glances at my pets any time. From time to time, I notice that some of the snails will hide in the crevices of the rocks, and some seem to be lodged in there for a very long time. 

This sight brought to my mind that many of us are like those snails, refusing to budge- We burrow deep into our own valleys, wallow in our self-pity parties, sink into a seemingly bottomless abyss of emotions and refuse to get out of the mud. The snails probably thinking it is safer to hide in the crevices, but how great is that darkness that enshroud them! Isn’t that more frightening not able to see any light at all?

Many of us are deceived while ensnared by the traps of the evil ones and enslaved by the devil to derail our faith by blindsiding us to the Truth. As a result, we get veered off course in the wilderness and rendered us asunder in the spiritual chasm. 

But the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord- where God directs, there is safety. When overwhelmed by our own anxieties, we often forget that we have a powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal that provide powerful ammunition against all evils (unless we are rusty in using it).

Nobody have it altogether in order to get right with God- God can take our broken pieces, exactly what we are, and made us whole. And building our lives on the solid bedrock of God’s Word, we will be able to stand strong on this Rock of Foundation, no matter what life tsunamis hit us.

The key is, our choice has to be intentional – we must want to be set free, decide to break away and not turning back. And that has to start with the mind to make that choice and follow through no matter what, then the rest of our action will follow – So get up first, then get out, and get going! 

God In The Details

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Lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.- Proverbs 30:9

A friend gave me a hassle-free nano aquarium with self-sustaining eco-system of mini wonder shrimps and water snails. I love to take a break in between work to peep at these pets as it is therapeutic to observe how carefree they are around the tank. What really amaze me is, they can find food within their environment- they literally feed on any microorganisms bred in the specially designed eco-system. All I need is to feed them supplements – though not necessary- every alternate days to keep the shrimps happy. The round-shaped squishy looking mossy Marimo (in other word, algal ball in Japanese) latched in between the twigs provided decorative filaments to the already pretty aquarium, other than their main function to provide oxygen, and absorb waste and debris. (And yes, Marimo is considered a pet too, according to Wikipedia, since they are living organism.)

This aquarium is a very good reminder as a physical parallel to how I as an owner, an imperfect human, care for these little pets, and make sure they are fed and living well, so how much more our Heavenly Father who is perfect so desired to feed and provide for our every needs?

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin… – Matthew 6:25-34A

I have also picked a leaf from these pets that they seem to have a quiet assurance that they will be cared and provided for so they can live worry-free and happy. How much more, we as Children of God, even more precious to Him who love us, care not how we are doing?

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. (Psalm 139:2) For now You number my steps (Job 14:16A). And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) 

God is in the details. He cares for every little things in our lives. He knows what we are going through, and our every innermost thoughts. We can take heart that God takes great pleasure in giving us what we need, because He is our loving Father.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32), And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry. (Proverbs 10:3A) 

Therefore, God knows what we need even before we ask of Him. And His provision always come on time, not too much lest we forget Him, nor too little that we dishonour Him. It is always just right and on time. It is better to trust God than to put confidence in men or even ourselves. (Psalm 118:8)

Courtesy photo (P1030698) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Junk Food Of The Soul: You Will Hunger For The Things You Feed On

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Watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master. – Genesis 4:7B

Although I am not a fast food lover as I am conscious of calories intake, I must say the SG50’s Nasi Lemak burger, by MacDonald, is yummlicious! No wonder there is a mad queue for this local gastronomic delight. The burger somehow has a “knack” in tantalising tastebud, it has been on my mind since my last bite… While vacillating if to satisfy my craving, I suddenly felt a zap in my spirit, “Hey, it’s JUNK FOOD!” I went “Whoops!”

Indeed, we will hunger for the things we feed on. Junk food for the physical body can be easier to control than the junk food for the soul which is harder to deal with. Both have its own power of addiction even in our sub-consciousness.

Some of us turn to food whenever we are stressed or depressed; while some of us turn to retail therapy; in so doing, we seemed to be programmed psychologically that “I need to eat / shop! I can’t help it.” Actually, the underlying root cause has to do with what we feed on- the more you feed on something, the more you will hunger for it.

Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life. – Proverbs 4:23 NCV

In other words,

Watch your thoughts, for they become actions;

Watch your actions, for they become habits;

Watch your habits, for they become addiction;

Watch your addiction, for they become obsession;

Watch your obsession, for they become stronghold.

So it all starts with what gets into your mind to plant a thought that serve as catalyst to identity, health, mental and financial issues, as well as sexual immorality. Such junk food can be in any form: covetousness, envy, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, rejection, insecurity, immorality, anxieties and many more.

But the good news is, we can be re-programmed when we cut off the bad root, stay away from evils, be renewed in our mind and attitude, and master over our weaknesses.

Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes (Ephesians 4:22-23 NLT). Stay away from every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT), give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).

P.S. It is a lot easier said than done, especially when it has become stronghold. That is why we need deep house-cleaning through deliverance when required.

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger–someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house (Mark 3:27 NLT). Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (Mark 1:25). Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)

The Ultimate Stress-Buster

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God knows when you sit down or stand up. He knows your thoughts even when you are far away” (Psalm 139:2). “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

I was sauntering around the bustling Raffles Place, the heart of Singapore’s great commercial emporium, where contemporary skyscrapers towering over me seem to glint back at me from every direction, amidst throng of immaculately well-dressed office folks scrambling from building to building. I observed that the folks there seemed to be hunchback with stress. It is comprehensible that as the society progresses, it is getting more competitive and fast-paced, that life comes burdened with daily stress. Busyness can throw us off balance and stress can easily immobilise us, but chronic stress do far more irreparable damage to our health.

Although stress is inevitable, whether as a salaried employee or self-employed, but suffering is optional. That is, we need to be like Mary, who take the time to sit still at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He had to say (Luke 10:39).

When you are overwhelmed, do you recite your woes more naturally than you do Heaven’s strength? You may even feel that God doesn’t seem to care about the nitty-gritty details of your life. But have you forgotten that your omnipresent Father who loves you, is waiting for you to draw near to Him? God already know when you sit up and stand up. He knows each intimate details right down to the number of your hairs on your head. Wouldn’t He be able to grasp your innermost thoughts and inexpressible struggles? He even know when we are far from Him.

Don’t you realise too that worry or getting anxious is not going to help matters? So why not choose the better- take your focus off and take the time to draw near to God. He will refresh, recharge and reaffirm you that He is looking out for you and taking care of your every needs.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT) Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG) The Peace of Jesus given unto you, let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid. (John 14:27) Let not your heart be troubled, trust in God. (John 14:1)

Guilt. The Blues. Deception.

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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

Recent news about my friends’ parents committing suicide weighed heavily in my heart. Their deaths left behind mark that we cannot find any answers to. At the same time, I noticed that my blogsite registered the highest traffic on the topic of “When Forgiveness Is Hard…”. It seems like many of us have had a hard time either in releasing forgiveness or in the need of forgiveness, even to one self. National statistics had also shown that a rising number has suffered from depression, and it is a worrying trend.

We all have seasons in the doldrums and have entertained negative thoughts from time to time, but what is that furtive silent killer that gnaw incessantly inside us and tip us off balance? It is not uncommon that many in the world today wrestle with the vicissitudes of life to battle the blues, guilt and even deception. How then can we emancipate ourselves from the limitations that life has dealt us?

It is well-known that our mind is the Devil’s playground, therefore I would like to share 7 life-giving Truths that will bring Light to this world of darkness:

  1. Accept God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself

Guilt is one of the key hot buttons that Satan love to press. But we have to recognise that when we genuinely confessed our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). (And yes, we have to be truly repentant.) Forgive, just as God has forgiven you.

  1. Accept the fact you are God’s creation and dearly loved

I had been there- spending time and money to look good on the outside that it became an obsession, and in the end only to discover that I could not be what I hoped to be like someone else. It was depressive. The crux was, I could not accept and love myself. It took me years to learn that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) that there is no one else as unique as me. And the bonus is, I am dearly loved. (John 15:9, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.”)

  1. Look at yourself through God’s eye

Sometimes Satan insinuate us with thoughts of failure, but we have to stand firm secured in our identity as the beloved Child of God, to resist such temptation. After all, we all have failed in one way or another. Remember that we are work-in-progress and remind yourself that God isn’t finished with you yet (Philippians 1:6).

Look at yourself as how God sees you: You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. (Isaiah 62:2-4)

  1. Decide to be positive at all times

Anxiety can creep in like an armed bandit, binding us to worry over things which we cannot control, and which dominates and controls our mind and trouble our heart, filling both with doubt, fear, and dread. Anxiety cannot be removed; it must be replaced- Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things (Philippians 4:8). We remove our anxiety by handing over our concerns and worries to the Lord, trusting him to care for us- Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

God’s power is working in you and through you even when you don’t see or feel it- For you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

  1. Anticipate the abundant life God has in store for you and trust Him

God has a beautiful plan for you. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose for us. (Romans 8:28)

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:17 NASB) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Take heart that God will make everything beautiful in His Time (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

  1. Always choose to be thankful

Change your garment of mourning to a new garment of thanksgiving- give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:18-19). Just as light and darkness cannot co-exist, similarly, thankfulness and ingratitude cannot occupy the same room in your heart. Count your blessings, each and every day, even for the little things. Sometimes in our busyness and constant pressures from life demands that we can be sidetracked or blinded. By giving thanks, you will begin to see how blessed you are for what you have instead of what you do not have (which many others may not have what you have too!)

  1. Surrender your life to God and start serving others

I discovered that when I let go and let God takes over, it takes my mind off myself. (James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.”)

And when I consider how others who are less fortunate than me who need help, I realised life isn’t that harsh on me after all. As I serve others, I am less inclined to wallow in my own self-pity parties (Proverbs 11:25 says “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”). Matthew 6:33 NLT says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” God promises to provide for our needs- so if we run after things, we will never have enough. Seek God first and we will have everything.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome all evils, because the One who is in you is greater than the one (Prince of Darkness) who is in the world. (1 John 4:4). Therefore, you are more than conquerors through Christ who loves you. (Romans 8:37) For every child of God defeats this evil world, and you achieve this victory through faith. (1 John 5:4)

 

The Parable Of The Sun

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While encouraging 2 friends who were burdened and discouraged with their vicissitudes of life, God spoke to me about “The Parable Of The Sun” where we could find God in Nature.

  1. Have you ever pause to look at the sunrise, when you wake up each morning? 

If you have not, pause, and look at the sun, be still- It is a beautiful reminder that God’s love is new every morning.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. – Lamentations 3:22-26

  1. Have you ever pause to look at the sunset, when you are heading home each evening?

If you have not, pause, and look at the sun, be still- It is a lovely reminder that we are not to let our burdens for the day to weigh us down when the sun sets…

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” – Ephesians 4:26-27

(Though the bible mentions only “anger”, burdens beget sins too.)

Come tomorrow, admire the sun which God has created, and remember He makes each day new, with renewed Strength, Hope, Faithfulness and Love- It is a NEW chapter. It is a NEW you. And God still stay the same.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” – Luke 21:34