The Pain Of Contentment

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Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. – Philippians 4:11-12

In the midst of some household chores, I chanced upon this quote in the Chinese newspaper that read,  “不知足的人,永远不会福。” (which literally translated as, “Those who do not know how to be contented, will never be blessed.”) resonated deeply to me.

During times of lack in my journey of entrepreneurship, I struggled the most with being contented. I seem to be consumed by thought of “Will I have the money this month?” day in and day out. I do not trust my Heavenly Father to provide? Perhaps. I lack faith? Perhaps. I worship money more than God? Perhaps. I am getting worldly? Perhaps. I am relying on my own strength instead of God? Perhaps. It is just part and parcel of being an entrepreneur? Perhaps. Thousand of possibilities.

And there is always this great void in me that can’t seem to find peace. Perhaps, it is a sense of insecurity. At such, the word, “contentment”, was never found in my dictionary. After prolonged seasons of seeking after “more securities or assurance”, I seemed to distrust God more and more. Perhaps my value system in believing that if I work hard, I will get what I have worked hard for. But nothing is further than the truth- no matter how hard I tried, the return of “investment” (time and effort) did not commensurate with what I had consecrated to. Didn’t the bible say, “one reaps what one have sown”? (2 Corinthians 9:6)

That was how I discovered something is not quite right with my mentality. Little wonder, blessings elude me because I never learnt to appreciate the little and be contented.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways. (Proverbs 14:14) Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)

It was high time to let go and let God. But it took me years to really learn from Exodus 16 to live day to day and taking one step at a time, where God provides just enough for the day. I have to daily exercise my faith muscles and work on my trust issue- imagine I receive a mandate from Jesus, “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? (Matthew 6:25) Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15) Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for you brought nothing into the world, and you cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these you shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

In whatever situation, good or bad, we are to count our blessings even in the little things, and learn to be contented. Only then will we realise how blessed we are for God’s mercies and love are often disguised in what we deemed insignificant. We are forgetful beings and need constant reminders that God will supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

God doesn’t just bless us with bigger things all the time, but often the little things that made us learn to depend on Him more, and more.

Courtesy photo from a friend who visited Canggu, Bali, on 1 October 2017.
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When A Gift Becomes An Entitlement 

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Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. – 1 Peter 2:16

Recently Singapore launched a 50-page “Do’s and Don’ts” education booklet for the Chinese visitors to Singapore, reminded me of a few incidences that even the locals can be ugly- Since the Land Transport Authority (LTA) implemented the Priority Queue system at bus interchanges, I had been curtly annoyed by elderly folks who cut my queue from behind without gesturing to give way, some even knocked unto me without a word of apology. As much as I accord respect to the frail and the elderly, but I must confessed it is hard to condone such ungracious mannerism. Have it not been Holy Spirit to rein me in, I think I may retaliate with a sharp glare at them.

In the same context, as Christians, we are given the gift of freedom through our salvation. And as the sons and daughters of God, co-heirs with Christ, we can enjoy everything God has provided (1 Timothy 6:17B). As much as we are blessed in many ways as a result of this relationship, if we are not careful, we will also abuse such blessing when we expect our rights as a form of entitlement.

In today’s culture, the entitlement mentality is rampant in our society. You will hear discontentment shouting, “I deserve better!”, “I deserve more!”, “I’m entitled to more than I’m getting”, “What else are you going to do for me, God?!?”, “When is my prayer going to be answered, God?!?” and the list goes on. (Pause for a moment to imagine how God feels when His children are throwing fists at Him? Put yourself in His shoes and look at your kids treating you the same……)

The drawback to such expectation is, we feel that we deserve something from God and that He owes us something! But nothing could be further from the truth- God owes us nothing.

Which of you whose servant comes in from plowing or shepherding in the field will say to him, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat?’ Instead, won’t he tell him, ‘Prepare my meal and dress yourself to serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what he was told? So you also, when you have done everything commanded of you, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” – Luke 17:7-10

The bible says our wages of sin is death and we deserve to pay our dues. In other word, what God owes us in wages is death! Have it not been for the mercy and grace of God, we would go to hell. Thanks be to Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for our sins that we can now live as free people. Such a great gift cannot be an extortion to demand our rights. We should instead response with gratitude that we now have an eternal life with Jesus and be thankful for everything- Blessings from God are His gifts out of love for us to enjoy, it is not meant to be entitlement for more.

 

Courtesy photo (P1030904) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Something To Mull Over: A Matter Of Perspective

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And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

Ever heard of the adage that goes, “Many build their wealth at the risk of their health, only to lose their wealth in order to rebuild their health”? Let me offer another angle too- “Many pursue the things of this world at the risk of losing their soul, only to regain their soul by letting go of things of the world.”

People always assert that money can always be earned back, but not health when it is at risk. That explained why many have fallen to sicknesses as a result of high stress and mental illness as a result of depression.

I have been mulling over why I have been obsessing with finances, ever since I embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship, where cashflow is not insured from time to time. I sensed I may be “losing myself”. To begin with, I have been living with a faulty belief system that I need to have more in order to enjoy more, and when I finally got there, somehow I wasn’t happy in achieving the goal. Life somehow seems meaningless- is there all to it – Do our existence contingent on our possessions?

Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15

In other word, greed is a bottomless pit, the constant pursuit of wanting more or having something better, which is never ending can be meaningless.

The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. I realised that I need a paradigm shift to see things from another perspective.

 

Which Is Truly Important?

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I may not have earned a lot,

but I am thankful that I am not that poor to worry about my next meal;

I may not own a house,

but I am thankful that I still have roof over my head and a place to sleep;

I do not own a car,

but I am thankful that I do not impose upon myself such a liability;

I may not have amassed much wealth,

but I am thankful I still have good health;

I may not be a game changer,

but I am thankful that I can do what I am best at and called to do;

I may not have achieve success as the world pursues,

but I am thankful I can get up each day to do what I love to do;

I may not have a lot of material things that money can buy,

but I am thankful for the simple things that bring joy which money cannot buy nor time can redeem.

At least I enjoy true peace and a good night rest each day,

for many it costs them too high a price to pay.

At the end of the day, what can you bring to Heaven?

 

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” – Luke 16:10A

Happiness is not something to arrive at or the need to acquire it. True joy can be attained in the moments, even when you have little. Life is best lived simple, if we learn to see things from another perspective.

Abundance

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it ABUNDANTLY. – John 10:10 ESV

Cross reference to other translation, is “full” (NIV)’ “satisfying” (NLT) and “everything” (GWT).

I have often wonder aboutt the word “abundance” which implies to me, “richness”. In the World’s dictionary, it literally means “material wealth”, where I can hope for million dollars, successful businesses, dream houses, dream cars, edifying relationships, satisfying marriage, healthy body… That’s abundance!

Until I read and re-read the first liner that Satan steals, kills and destroys. If abundance equates to material wealth, Satan can only steal and destroy but wealth can not be killed.

So in other words, in God’s dictionary, it means “living to the full.” It is a promise that no matter what is going on around us, we can have PEACE in the midst of storms; we can have JOY in times of darkness; we can have HOPE when circumstances seem hopeless; we can have SECURITY when times are uncertain; we can have STRENGTH when our flesh is failing; we can have CONTENTMENT in times of little; we can still partake of His Blessings no matter what, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can live life to the full which cannot be bought or compensated with whatever figures in your bank account.

That is the highest order of abundance.

Have a blessed day looking to God to help you be filled with His Abundance.

P.S. Try apply this- “Satan can rob you of (hope), kill your (hope) and destroy your (hope).

Prosper = Prosperity?

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I was seeking The Lord on a matter about giving last nite, I was brought to this verse in Jeremiah 29:11 NIV, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to PROSPER you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is the most classic verse to old-time Christians and young believers alike. Truth be told, I actually had a different understanding, and for the first time I ever discover the true meaning of “prosper” (as far as I remember)…

When I was a very young believer, I thought “prosper” means “prosperity”. As I progressed in my spiritual walk, I thought it also means “successful”. Until, I read a different translation and check the original root word in Hebrew (for the Old Testament).

In context, this verse was specifically directed to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. The original Hebrew translated “prosperity” as “peace, safety, completeness, satisfaction, health or blessings”. It does not imply financial prosperity or success as the world defines it. And blessings are not necessary material or financial blessings as well, it can be if God’s Presence goes with us, it is also a blessing; when God answers our prayer requests though may not be in ways we expected, it is also a blessing.

And of course, God can bless us to be successful if it is His Plan and Will for us. But to put it explicitly, “Prosper” is NOT “Prosperity” or “Success”.

Actually NLT translation comes closer to the intended meaning:

For I know the plans I have for u,” says the Lord. “They are plans FOR GOOD and not for disaster, to give u a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Plans for good” is what God intends for each of us: He is in control of our lives, our future, our destinies that fulfill His purposes and He knows best what we need in the present for our own GOOD or what He thinks is GOOD for us. We can take heart that our infinite God is far greater an mightier beyond our finite understanding of this truth.

The One Thing

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Many of us wake up each morning or through the day thinking or asking, “What should I wear today?”, “What should I eat today?”, “Where should I go today?”, “Who should I go out with today?”, “Which movie should I watch today?”, “What should I cook today?”…

Though God assures in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…” Oftentimes I felt we are inclined to treating God like a vending machine dispensing our wants, expecting our due we think owing to us, or perhaps, even as an ATM machine where we can dispense cash from the Heavenly Bank anytime we ask for it.

The bible is indeed full of promises that God will take care of our needs, and our daily living does matter to Him, but what is the ONE thing that really or truly matters to you? Would you rather have material needs than God’s Presence? Would you rather indulge in earthly pleasures than gaining heavenly treasures? Would you rather be dissatisfied with more than to be contented with the One?

Have we ever try starting our day asking God or think about thruough the day “What do You want me to do today, God?”, “What can I do for You today?”, “How can I please You today?”, “How should I start my day with You?”, “Where do You want me to go today?”, “Who should I bless today?”…

Like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:4 asks, “The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” As Psalm 84:10 reinforces “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wicked people.” (I can relate to this verse that indeed I am most happiest in God’s House (His Church) every Sunday than being at the most prestigious corporations any other day).

Let us be like the Psalmists to seek the one thing that matters most first- God Himself.

God is, I Am.

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The God who spoke, still speak.

The God who listened, still listen.

The God who moved, still move.

The God who molded, still mold.

The God who forgave, still forgive.

The God who blessed, still bless.

The God who transformed, still transform.

The God who delivered, still deliver.

The God who empowered, still empower.

The God who strengthened, still strengthen.

The God who healed, still heal.

The God who saved, still save.

He is the God of yesterdays, today and tomorrows.

He is the God of all possibilities, where men can’t, God can.

God is, I Am.