Take Up And Cross (Part 2)

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I shared previously about denying my self- When I started to question my faith, I could no longer hear nor feel God, to the extent that spiritual journal for the last quarter of 2015 to the whole year of 2016 was unusually bare. I had lost the intimacy with God totally when I was in rebellion in my pit. Thereupon, I arrived at the next hurdle found in the same key verse:

“If any man will come after me, let him (a) deny himself, and (b) take up his CROSS DAILY, and (c) FOLLOW me.” – Luke 9:23 KJV. 

The centrality of true discipleship is: 1. Take up the Cross daily. And I want to add in another parallel, 2. Crossing daily.

  1. The way of the Cross:

(i) A total dedication as His Disciples – For Jesus relinquished His rights as God and lived His Life solely in fulfilling His Father’s Will

(ii) Giving up our lives for the Kingdom – For Jesus had died on the Cross for the redemption of mankind. It calls for a full surrender of our lives.

(iii) It requires sacrifices that will cost us – Consider that God paid a very exorbitant price when He gave His Only Son to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins that Jesus doesn’t deserve to bear.

(iv) An instrument of death – It is a reminder that we need to die to ourselves, daily

Most of us stop at taking up the Cross, but yet to CROSS further because of limitations, fears, inadequacies, inconveniences, sacrifices to make etc. Simply, we haven’t arrive at denying ourselves. The first hurdle in the verse points to denying ourselves, upon which we can then take up the Cross. Then Jesus said, “AND follow Me.” “and” is found twice in the same verse, which emphasises a step-by-step call for action. It is a daily process, and not a one-time destination. There is no way we can move forward without first denying ourselves. (And by the way, denying ourselves apply for good times too, and not just the bad times.)

  1. The last hurdle will then be “Follow” Jesus. Following Jesus require crossing daily- Do as He did. 

I think, to summarise all the above is found in this verse-

He (God / Holy Spirit) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. – John 3:30

Just want to end my sharing with 2 more hard truths that never fail to rein me in:

Many of us can address God as God, but how about calling Him Lord? Having His Lordship, means He rules and reigns in every areas of our lives: work, finances, relationships, emotions, our heart and even our plans. If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

Life will always be a series of TEST but through them we can come out stronger and glorify Him in our TESTIMONY;

Our lives may be a MESS but they can be turnaround for His beautiful MESSAGE;

When we face TRIALS in life, always recall and remember, how God can bring us into TRIUMPHS.

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Look At Your Hand To Remind Yourself How To Have A TOTAL Quality Quiet Time

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I was inspired to share about how we can have a quality Quiet Time with simple “Rules of the hand” (in chronological order of priority / importance):

  1. Thumb = Eyes = Read > Ingestion
  2. Index = Ears = Hear > Reinforcement
  3. Middle = Mouth = Pray > Appropriation
  4. Ring = Mind = Mediate > Renewal
  5. Pinky = Heart = Memorise > Inscription
  6. Palm = Core = Act > Application
  1. We have to first read the Word of God in order to feed ourselves spiritually. The more we read, the more Light you allowed the Word to permeate into every areas of “darkness” (not necessarily mean negativity but can be a dull / passive spirit too) in us. For the word of God is living and active, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow… (Hebrews 4:12). Light and darkness cannot co-exist, therefore “darkness” has to flee even with a flickering light- the more light there is, the less room for “darkness”.
  1. Faith comes from by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Sometimes a powerful encounter with God comes when He speaks either to you personally or through His Word. Tune your ears to supplement your reading. Hearing audio bible or devotions can be good ingestion too.
  1. It is a good exercise to appropriate the Word which we have read or heard by praying with it. God would love to have us to ask Him for anything. Our mouth is designed to sing and declare His Goodness, worship in praise, articulate what we want, verbalise His living Word that has power over principalities and internalise His Word when we speak. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2B)

P.S. When we verbalise our prayers, Satan and its demons hear and shudder. That is why warfare prayers are usually loud to deafen them.

  1. Our mind is often a playground for the devil and easily susceptible to deceptions. That is why it is so important to guard our mind as it is like a gate to our soul bypass our heart. The only way to guard our mind is to constantly fill it with the Word of God by meditating upon the Truths. And when we know the Truth, the Truth will set us free indeed (John 8:32). The benefits of meditation: (a) train our mind to be renewed by the Word of God, which in turn effectuate a change of heart; (b) it aligns our mind and heart to the center on God; (c) it reinforces spiritual discipline of believing and trusting God for His promises. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
  1. Writing aids memorisation. And we best remember things that we store in our heart. And our heart is the central part of our being: we feel, speak, react and behave out of which is from our heart. That is why God prefers us to imprint His Words upon our hearts. “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” (Deuteronomy 11:18 NASB) The heart of every matter is a matter of the heart: your heart is either a dead scroll or a living tablet, you reap either of the fruit you have sown in your heart.
  1. Last but not least, all our fingers can only work together with the palm to be fully functional as a hand. Our hand is designed to perform actions. Ever wonder why we open our hands when we are prayed over? That is a receiving posture of faith. When we don’t put to action what we read, hear and know, it is fruitless- Knowledge without application is abortion. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Look at your hand daily to remind you the importance of a TOTAL quality Quiet Time, and you will reap the full benefits of being fruitful in your walk with God.

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

Habits – It Begins With You

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Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. – John 8:34

When we do something, good or bad, over and over again, we fall into a habitual pattern, which either discipline or enslave us. Humans are by nature, creatures of habits, and experts said that it takes 21 days (daily) to form a habit. Our daily living is made up of good and bad habits. We grow up picking up habits from someone or somewhere, over time.

If you are a habitually latecomer, it is because you have “cultivated” a habit for being late, opposed to someone who is always on time, because the latter cultivated a habit to be earlier. The difference is, when both are given the same amount of time, it is a matter of what you do, a matter of choice and an act of will. Such habit can be changed – I recalled that my bible school fined latecomers a dollar, even if a second late, and no excuse shall be entertained. The $1-fine-tin was heavy in the first few weeks until it got lighter and lighter over time. This proved that latecomers can be trained to be on time.

Even Olympics Athletes train (almost) daily, they “beat” their bodies to follow very strict disciplines (1 Cor 9:25)- and they have the strongest will because they aim for the gold medal. Similarly, you will reap what you sow, if you will yourself to do it- if you truly want to break a bad habit or a sin, replace it with a good habit or a virtue, cultivate this discipline and sustain it for 21 days (or perhaps longer) continually.

Some examples:

  1. Need to get into the habit of doing Quiet Time (QT)?

Start picking up your bible (start with the easiest chapter say Proverbs or Psalms), make a commitment to spend say 15 mins to read 1 chapter, daily, every morning say 8am. Keep to 8am daily for 15 mins, over 21 days (or longer until it becomes a second nature to you).

  1. Need to get into the habit of praying?

Set aside a time where you would pray for 1 thing daily. Keep praying the same thing over and over at the same time until it becomes part of your praying routine.

  1. Need to break a bad addiction?

Whatever this addiction is, don’t SEE (including lust), don’t TOUCH, don’t HEAR (example gossip) and don’t BE there (example extravagant shopping) at all. Bible says “FLEE” from temptations. Turn to the bible instead since it is “live”, and keep to it, till you no longer feel “itchy” or tempted.

  1. Need to break the habit of ungratefulness / grumbling?

Write down 10 things you are thankful to God for the day, count each a blessing and show your gratefulness to God with verbalised prayers. Keep to it until you no longer feel the need to grumble.

  1. Need to break the bad habit of being late?

Find an accountability partner whom you would hold yourself liable to every time you are late- fine $10 or more (non-refundable), depending on the severity of this bad habit. Decide ahead to reach your destination say 10 minutes earlier (works better than being exact), buffer your travelling time an hour (or so) earlier, and work backwards. Commit to this over 21 days or longer until you form a new habit of always being early.

  1. Need to break the habit of wrong thinking?

Bible says replace our thoughts with thoughts that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, fixate about such thoughts (Phil 4:8). That is the power of focus- train our mind to think ONLY of thoughts that are good, say any truth from the bible that is most relevant to you, mediate upon it until your mind is renewed and transforms the way you think.

Basically it is to do something good to replace the bad, cultivate the good things and sustain it. It doesn’t matter how much time you need nor how best to go about it. The crux lies in your attitude- if you are willing to change, you will do it and change. Start small, little by little- patterns of bad habits can be broken by a new habit and transformation begins.

Fake Label Christain

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True and False Disciples

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ – Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

I remembered a friend shared that a lady with imitation AAA rated (means very close to the real goods) Gucci bag checked into the actual Gucci store during its sales. She felt proud to own that label which was the envy of many. A sales representative caught her red-handed for carrying an imitation, and a police case was filed. The lady was then escorted out with glares by many bystanders. The consequence was unthinkable- She might go to jail for such a folly in passing off an imitation that could crown her to be a real Guccian.

Do you see any association to the passage about what God says about goats and sheeps in His Church?

Just by one label- Fake Christain.

And God has the eyes to see who carries such label and He labels them goats. And goats are casted out of His Gate. Many of us professed our faith and yet live a life only as a Sunday Christian. Many of us claimed that we believed and prayed the sinner’s prayer yet our lives are not reflecting true conversion.

Don’t be surprised, God also have something to say about those who are so fervent about God and involved in a lot of ministries but fall short of being a true believer because their hearts are far away from believing Him and acknowledging Him as Lord and Saviour. Read the verse 22-23 again- It addresses the group of people who did God’s work, mind you, and yet, God can see through their hearts.

Isn’t it scary to hear God telling you, “I don’t know you!” or “I never knew you!”? Would you really know you are truly saved? Do you think just having a stamp on your passport guarantees you an entry to Heaven? If so, everyone can have it easy. We can always chose to be a non-practicing Christian.

Let me give you an illustration- A General Practicioner (GP) is a doctor with a certificate that verifies his professionalism. What if this GP never practises medicine after graduation, can he still be a doctor? Will he still be seen as a credible doctor to the public who is seeking medical help?

Likewise, sure, we get an acknowledgment that we are christians when we prayed the sinner’s prayer. So what is next? Read verse 21 again- It emphasis the last line, “BUT (means by this condition) the one who DOES (be doer not hearer) the WILL (God’s purposes and plans for all of us) of my Father…”.

Verse 23b has an even solemn message- “Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” Who are these people? Dictionaries define breaking God’s laws as being lawless as “not bound by laws”, “wicked”, “trangressor”, “disobedient”, “violator”, “immoral” and the list goes on. In short, it simply means, no regards for God’s Laws- You know about the rules yet you defy them. We are people of lawlessness because we sin from time to time. But take heart, that Jesus singles out “workers of lawlessness”. Workers work hard day and night with an intention (either for promotion or just to earn more money etc.). In interpreting this, if we continue sinning (it is already at work) and breaking God’s laws or principles intentionally (deliberate disobedience), God has an ultimatum- “depart from Me!”

For example, we all know that carrying imitation goods are prohibited. If we get caught by the original manufacturer, we are in big trouble because we break the laws. It is clear that we cannot escape from such laws. So knowing it, and we deliberately act against this law, would not justice has its way one day? Perhaps, if your conscience is working, you would have stop robbing someone of the copyright.

James summarised in James 2:14-25 (NIV) that the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Let’s check our hearts:

What are we truly- Are we REAL label for Christ?