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!

BE INTENTIONAL: Fight or Flight- Lock down but not knock down

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Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us. Psalm 44:5

SPECIAL THANKSGIVING FOR THE HEALTHCARE HEROES AT THE FRONTLINE BATTLING COVID-19:

No words can really describe how it has not been easy for all the healthcare personnels on the frontline, working tirelessly with the day to day demands in battling COVID-19 and coping under untold pressure. These unsung heroes have my utmost admiration for their great sacrifices, especially their time with their families. May they continue to stay resilient and God rewards them greatly. I would like to bless them with these verses:

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary (Isaiah 40:31). For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory (Deuteronomy 20:4).

Let us remember too we each have our part to play by exercising social responsibility, and together we can overcome! Keep strong and safe everyone!

——————

For the first time I felt the heat of “the gloom and doom” of the unprecedented season of COVID19 pandemic, that has the world in crumbles.

For the first time I have personally witnessed empty malls and people are getting 1-metre distant because of the new safety measures imposed for personal safety and protection from the spread of infection.

For the first time I can feel the intensity of the battle when the numbers of infected cases rising each day, as if earth is coming to its last day:

Borders are closed.

Entertainment venues are closed.

Enrichment centres are closed.

Schools are closed.

Offices are closed.

Malls are empty.

Food establishments are empty.

Streets are empty.

Events are cancelled.

Flights are grounded.

Salaries are cut.

Jobs are lost.

Deaths are counting……

Uncertainties, anxieties, insecurities and fears plagued everyone as news spread on social media like rampant bush fires. No one can really make sense of what is happening right now.

Does adversity mean God is not at work or His seemingly absence imply His nonchalance? Why don’t we consider hearing this Truth:

Hard times and trouble are God’s way of getting our attention! And at this very moment, God deeply desires to lead you from trouble and to spread your table with your favorite food. – Job 36:15-16 CEV

It is a wake up call that need our attention.

Cry out in the night… Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord. – Lamentations 2:19 NCV.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. – Genesis 50:20

We may be locked out but not knocked down- tough times don’t last but tough people do. Keep the hope and fight with faith, together with God, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:37).

BE INTENTIONAL (5)- Be Grateful and Contented

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Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor. — Ecclesiastes 7:12

As my company book closes for the month, it is also the time of the year for me this day to review about life- June has been my most stressful month where my brain usually launched into overdrive and my soul seems trapped in an undercurrent of discontentment:

I cannot count the number of gripes I grumbled and the many complaints I mumbled; 

the mistakes I fumbled and the fall I tumbled; 

much less to track the sins that had me crumbled and the pride that called me to be humble.

June is the month to account for the state of my finances, whether healthy or unhealthy: my brain crunches numbers each night long after I am supposed to be asleep, accelerating my pulse. Issues at work jab me from the right, shove me from behind and punch me square in the nose. As the adage goes, it never rains but pour!

In our rapidly volatile and uncertain present-day economy, money matters and work can drastically elevate our stress. And the double whammy of living in a consumerism culture where instant gratification is celebrated, mankind of the fallen nature categorically do not like to wait: We want instant gratification; we want life’s knottiest dilemmas to be dissolved immediately; we want everything chop-chop.

I guess I am sane, for I am not alone… 

During such challenging times, when my strength wanes and peace eludes me, the thoughts of I-don’t-know-what-is-the-heck-I-am-doing assailed me relentlessly with discontentment gnawing at me ferociously. Temptations of calling quits or running away beckoning… I got real last Monday, coming to terms with my inner struggle, my Spirit started singing away Don’s Moen’s song, “Take Me Deeper”,

‘There is a longing only You can fill,

A raging tempest only You can still…

My soul is thirsty Lord

To know You as I am known

Be in Your Presence 

Forever satisfied…’

Indeed, there was a very deep yearning I had not felt from time immemorial. My soul has been very parched as I got distracted by the cares of this world… And I can’t seem to hear God very much recently, but I knew my spiritual antenna isn’t working well. Interestingly, past online devotionals touched on money matters. And God spoke with a Rhema word, “Continual”:

His continual Presence will be my comfort and strength;

His continual Guidance will direct my every steps;

His continual Infilling of the Holy Spirit will empower me;

His continual Protection will be a canopy over me wherever I am;

His continual Healing will be a living testimony of His Power over my weaknesses;

His continual Faithfulness will be reminders of His never failing Love;

His continual Forgiveness bears the hallmark of His Grace;

His continual Provisions are wrapped in blessings, big or small, each day.

I am very thankful God rein me in. Since I can’t change my circumstances nor ignore my emotions, it takes greater wisdom (since we are more inclined to trusting our own “smart aleckness” and relying on our own strength) in knowing who is the Ultimate safety net to fall back on, and trusting God to bring us through.

The reward for perseverance is – God is faithful- I have received much surprises this week that made nice birthday presents today. I am learning to be grateful for the big and small alike, and count my blessings so that I can cultivate contentment.

BE INTENTIONAL (4): Seeking the Only One True King

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Jesus answered, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst. – John 6:35

At this time of the year, a king would stay over at my place for a few days. And my family look forward enthusiastically to have a big feast with him, except me, as I struggle to be hospitable, due to his overpowering body odour. Not long after, the entire house would stink heaven high for hours! (And yes, I should have a deodoriser on standby!) 

Only Singaporeans would know what I am talking about – yes, the durian season with the ever familiar stench of the year is here again, and it is time almost the entire Nation would go ga-ga over the king of fruits. They would even travel the miles just to lay hands on this smelly fruit. And whenever I passed by roadside stalls selling durians, I would never failed to see a single soul craving to polish off the seeds without gesticulating KFC’s famous slogan, “Finger Licking Good”.

If only Singaporeans can turn the same passion in seeking after a one true King, who is the King or Kings and the Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), whose Fruit* will always satisfied:

Jesus Christ is the true life-eternal-giving Bread, whose Word is life-saving and have the divine power for supernatural intervention. He is to the soul what bread is to the body, nourishes and supports spiritual life. Those who come to Christ, believe in Him, and eat of this spiritual Bread of Life shall be filled and be satisfied in every need. It also sustains the spiritual life in strength, and refreshes the weary.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And this bread, which I will give for the life of the world, is My flesh.” – John 6:51

Just as our physical body need food every day, our spiritual body need to be fed daily too in order to grow and live well. May this durian season be a great reminder to seek the One True King whose flesh will always satisfied. 

P.S.

Good news for the diabetic, since the sugar content found in this spiritual Fruit* is very healthy. And for those who have sensitive nose, this Fruit* only release sweet-smelling aroma. 

BE INTENTIONAL (2): REFUEL- Hope, Moment to Moment

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Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed. – Isaiah 49:23

Broken homes. Broken dreams. Broken relationships. Debilitating diseases. Devastating news. Crippling fears. Looming darkness. Relentless pain. Despaired tomorrows. Bleak future. Robbed lives. Tough 2018.

Tough life. Yes, it will be, if we live without hope. The Bible did warn us that without hope, we will be like living zombies (1 Chronicles 29:15; Proverbs 13:12). That is life on earth in a fallen world – the inescapable passage of time, with inevitable phases of suffering. 

But just one simple Truth will change our lives- put our Hope in God who never fail- Our flesh will fail, men will fail and things will fall away but only God, who is Omnipresent and Omnipotent, can transcend all things.

God knows the plans He has for us, plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and He promises that He will be our portion (more than enough), therefore we can put our hope in Him, for the Lord is good to those who wait upon Him and seek Him. (Lamentations 3:24-25). We also have a Living Hope in the power of the resurrected Christ (1 Peter 1:3), and with Christ living in us, we have the Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27). We can take heart too that hope that is seen is not hope at all; for why do we still hope for what we can see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we will then eagerly wait for it with perseverance (Romans 8:24-25).

We can draw near to God who offers better Hope (Hebrews 7:19) This Hope serves as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). Now may the God of (all) Hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Hope has to be in the moment – be intentional, live moment to Moment. And we will find renewed strength.

Trials into Triumph: 7 Truths to Anchor Deep When Life Gets Tough

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Christ is all, and is in all. – Colossians 3:11B

We all know that life is never perfect, and can never be perfect in this fallen world, with the vicissitudes of life in the volatile times. Sometimes, life does not go the way we want to, and we get caught up in our daily lives, and forget that this world does not define us. Whenever things are not going well, there is an inherent tendency to believe that God is not working in the situation. We are also tempted to think the worst, where everything from our vantage point seems bleak- We see no way out and perceive gloom and doom over the future. But little do we know that in such times, God is actually working behind the scenes orchestrating His plans to accomplish His purposes for our good and for His Glory. 

We may hate to admit that tough times draw us nearer to God with greater dependence and reliance on Him that result in a greater level or new level of faith. And those lessons are precious which can never be learnt in the good times. God knows what we need in life, but we need a fresh perspective on our situation- what we perceive will be different from what God can see. Remember, tough seasons do not last but tough people do, so in order to hang on well, we will need to anchor ourselves on these living truths:

#1. Fight the good fight and keep the faith

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome!” – John 16:33

Life will always be a series of tests and our faith will come under fire. And during those times of challenges, do we cringe in fear or cling to faith? Stand firm, let nothing move you, and always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord will not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). 

We will be trained to persevere and fight in faith, for faith is the confidence what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about the things we yet to see (Hebrews 11:1).

#2. Don’t lose hope for the day and keep disappointments at bay 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Each day is a day of renewed hope since God has made each day a new page, a new chapter and a new beginning. We should be heartened to know that the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease; Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT).

Therefore we have hope each day and rejoice, no matter what is happening around us, let us not lean on our own understanding, but in all our ways, acknowledge God and He will make straight our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). And always be joyful, keeping up a prayerful spirit at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

#3. Refuse to have conversation with the Devil and stand firm 

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

It is ok to be in the wilderness but it is not ok to sojourn in it, any longer we will get lost wandering and likely to end up as bitter souls like the Israelites. When we are emotionally and spiritually down, we are susceptible to attacks. The devil loves to take advantage of our vulnerabilities to play his favourite tool- deception. As a father of all lies, he will never stop insinuating doubts into our subconscious mind. Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life (Proverbs 4:23 NCV)– an idle mind is the devil’s playground, and every temptation always start in the mind, therefore we must always guard our thoughts and renew our mind with the Word of God constantly.

The devil is also good as masquerading as angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so not everything good is from the Lord, whether through opened doors or providing options, hence make no assumption and be spiritually discerning if it is really from God.

One of the key values we ought to learn is to be content whatever our circumstances, and always be thankful, this way the power of the enemy will not have a hold over us since his ability in frustrating us will be rendered impotent.

Each time we are tempted, we should consciously choose God’s Truths over the devil’s lies; choose to gravitate our mind Godward; choose to believe that God will work things out in the end; choose to trust God and be patient for His divine provision or intervention; choose to live in peace and joy in the moment, and find rest knowing that He has good things in store for your future.

#4. Be still and know that God is still in control and keep on trusting 

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27

Although God can do anything and nothing is impossible with the Almighty, but sometimes it is not necessary that God will provide a way out in our situation, He will provide a way through it. We just have to keep trusting that God knows best because His ways and thoughts are far higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). And blessed is the one who trust in the Lord and make Him his hope and confidence (Jeremiah 17:7). 

Be still, let go of your concerns, and let God be God. (Psalm 46:10). After all, God is not deaf nor his arms too short to move (Isaiah 59:1).

#5. Cast your eyes on God alone

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2

Whenever we look down, we can only see things with shadows, but if we look up, we will have a wider perspective and see light. In other words, we either magnify our problems or we magnify God in the situation- which is a better choice? It is also good to look around us and admire God’s creations- there are wonders beyond our apprehension what God can do, that you be surprised there is actually miracles everywhere. 

#6. Remember God is faithful even when we are faith-less

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. – 2 Timothy 2:13 NLT

It is an immutable fact that God is 100% faithful, even if we are faithless or faith-LESS. He knows what we need, He understands how we feel, He anticipates what is to come, and He is familiar with all our ways. He promises His Presence whenever we call on Him (Psalm 145:18).

Count your blessings what you have, not what you do not have. Recall how God has provided and blessed us with in the past, insodoing that will assure us that God will work things out in the end.

#7. We are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthen us, and continue to declare the living promises of God

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. – Romans 8:37 NLT

The almost impenetrable wall of Jericho came tumbling down only after seven days of incessant prayers marching around it (Hebrews 11:30). It is a great reminder that no matter how impossible a situation is, we will have the ultimate victory in Christ Jesus. With the Bible at hand, where it contains His Word like fire and like a hammer that smashes a rock (Jeremiah 23:29), and the living promises that when God speaks, He acts upon it and will not be unaccomplished (Numbers 23:19), we are more than conquerors through Christ in us and for us.

Therefore, be anxious for nothing, submit our concerns and lay down our requests to God and the supernatural peace of God will transcend all understanding will guard our heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). So be patient until God speaks and acts.

Supernatural Outcome Comes From A Supernatural God

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Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said, “And we are coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. As morning was breaking, Jesus [came and] stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish [to eat along with your bread]?” They answered, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat (starboard) and you will find some.” So they cast [the net], and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish. Then that disciple (John) whom Jesus loved (esteemed) said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” – John 21:3-7 AMP

Our human nature have the tendency to confine God in the boundary of our finite thinking and understanding, that we believe only what we have experienced or witnessed in the physical realm. As a result of this limitation, we have shortchanged ourselves in believing what God can really do what we can’t do. But God is so much bigger, so much powerful and so much incomprehensible, the Mystery of all mysteries, and as a supreme knowable Unknown, miracles do not happen by what we can see or think imaginable.

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. – Ecclesiastes 11:5

We will always be awestruck with wonders what God is going to do or can do, for no one can fathom His Ways- Supernatural outcomes come from the hands of a supernatural God. If we can do what we can do, it doesn’t require faith because it is natural; faith however is super-natural that is required when something is beyond us that we can’t do ourselves and that is why we need God in this equation. And a super-natural faith must come super-naturally, which come only by hearing the living Word of a supernatural God.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:17

(Do you wonder by now why I add a hyphen between ’super’ and ‘natural’? Because we need to “supplement” something to the “natural” in order to have “supernatural” result. And that “supplement” requires us to input by “hearing” and “believing”… Read on below.)

There is no other way nor a shortcut In moments when we find ourselves in doubts, or weakened spiritually, chances are we are not in tune with the Word of God, which means we have been missing spending time feeding on His spiritual manna. The tragedy is, prolonged exposure in the world will cause us to live in the flesh, dull our spiritual senses, dim our understanding about God and quench our passion for the things that matter to Him.

And the tall order is, having faith alone is not enough. We need to also supplement it with believing God. It is only when the two are combined that God’s power is released and manifested in the physical realm.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6 ESV

Therefore, pray for God to open our supernatural eyes to see beyond the physical and believe God for a supernatural outcome as a result of a super-natural faith. In God’s Timing, we can then exclaimed like John did, “It is the Lord (who did such a miracle)!”

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, – Ephesians 3:20

Trials into Triumphs: Fear to Faith

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My life is in your hands. Save me from enemies who hunt me down. – Psalm 31:15 CEV

I ever wondered why some of us do struggle with trusting our Heavenly Father with our lives when we can entrust our own mortality to pilots who take us across bottomless oceans and precipitous mountains. Those who love to travel have this unspoken assurance and faith that the planes they are in will arrive at their destinations safely. Such is an absolute trust in finite pilots behind the wheels, but yet we fall short in trusting God altogether who is infinite and in control of the entire universe.

I am one such traveller who is apprehensive about taking flight. I really do not like the idea of floating in mid-air for hours, I felt as if my heart may pop out of my mouth any time, hence, I never get to enjoy the flight with ease. However, I do love the destination. Regrettably, in order to get to the destination, we need to embark on the journey whether we like it or not, and the road ahead is often paved with uncertainties of what is yet to come.

And truth be told, life is never perfect nor free from trials and testings. Many a times we made zig-zag turns or even u-turns in life that mess up our lives. As a result, we unwittingly enter into the wilderness or even the Valley of Baka (weeping). During those times of testings, it is human nature for believers to struggle even in our faith. Trials can incapacitate us with fears physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally and mentally.

Yet the place of our greatest triumph is usually birthed from our greatest pain- God will use our greatest failure or deepest sorrow as a catalyst for a glorifying end in our lives and the lives of others. Our valley or pit becomes revived springs for ourselves and others, where we will go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:6). Only through ‘death’ can new springs come forth and a new strength emerges.

Recall Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading at the feet of the only One who can sustain him. How deep was His anguish that He even shed tears in blood. Even to death, Jesus submitted to His Father’s Will obediently (Hebrews 5:8). Ultimately, He overcame His testing, triumphed over His enemies and emerged victoriously.

It takes fear to confront Faith;

It takes Faith to conquer Fear.

Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same plane.

Only through partnering God, can we be overcomer like Jesus did. (John 16:33) Take heart that in all things God works for good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

When A Dream That Seems Too Big To Even Dream

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“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'” – Judges 6:12

A few friends ever asked why I quitted my job to come out of my own eight years ago when it had been comfortable and I loved what I was doing then. Honestly, I didn’t plan for it, nor even dream about starting on my own, as such a decision to face an uncertain future unnerved me. Somehow an opportunity presented itself then, and after weighing the decision with my cell leader and the Body of Christ, I embarked on the entrepreneurship journey with peace of mind.

However that decision did not come easy, given that it would be an uphill task for me with my present physical limitation, and having to venture into the unknown left me feeling insecure and apprehensive. It was indeed a huge step of faith to take the leap: I had no back-up plans, no blueprint to follow, neither did I have a very sound financial safety net to fall back on should my business encounter some financial hiccups. I literally started on ground zero. Despite all odds, I believed that so long God was with me in this, and had commissioned me for such an assignment, He would provide and supply the means to get me through.

It was a great paradigm shift from being an employee to a self-employed, where more challenges await and fear of the unknown beckoning. I couldn’t count the number of times I felt intimidated, inadequate and unfledged. More often than not, I had been threading on a very thin tight rope, ready to topple any time.

At some point in time, I often remind myself if I can accomplish things in my own strength, where would that leave God? God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called, as such, He requires of us to be in a position of complete faith and trust in Him, more than we could possibly accomplish in our own strength.

That brought me to the story of Gideon (Judges 6:11-8:32). Gideon perceived himself to be the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh and the least in his family, that his own inferiority caused him to be insecure about his divine calling. Even when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior”. Gideon was threshing wheat instead of rising up to the call to deliver Isreal as the Lord had appointed him. God had to assure him personally and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (v. 14)

God knows our own limitations and how much we can do but He always sees our potential, not the failures of our past or present, nor our current “handicaps”. Only He can see our future, ushering us in His Highest Plans for our ultimate good and for His Highest Glory. He desires to work through us to accomplish His dreams on earth only each of us can do.

Is God birthing a dream within you that is bigger than you? God doesn’t put a dream in you without a purpose. Much less to say, He won’t put you through what you cannot handle. Our life on earth is exceedingly fleeting, be mindful that we may be missing out what God has intended for us. So be open and let God lead you through that vision or dream.

How Big Is God Or How Big Is Fear?

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“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” – Psalm 34:4

Someone once asked, “How big God really is?” I must admit it is hard to describe how big, how great and how infinite God is in literal terms. Not long ago, I managed to grasp a better concept- I love to spy at my mini pet shrimps and water snails with a magnifying glass from time to time, so that I can observe how well they are doing in the tank. And the more I zoom in, the larger the size of the object. Distance also plays a part because the nearer I am to the tank with the magnifying glass, the clearer the details captured. And when I take a step back, the object doesn’t look so intimidating after all.

This macro-view and micro-view analogy made me realised how big the size of God depends on how near I am to Him. And the more I focus on the object at close-up, the more I am able to see every thing with much clarity.

But in reality, the size of God is often downplayed by our fallibleness- things of this world and of darkness are more magnified than they really are, especially fears. No one is immune to fears and often legitimate enough to rob us of peace, joy and even faith in God. Search has also revealed that the word “Fear not” or in its equivalence, “Do not be afraid”, appear 365 times in the bible! Isn’t it intriguing to know that God in His infinite wisdom know we need help in dealing with this subject while living on earth? God has already prepared the bible for us to have one ammunition against any fear per day!

First and foremost, we need to recognise the fear that we have, and face it point-blank- confess it, confront it and conquer it. Fear is simply an acronym of False Expectation Appearing Real. And the opposite of fear is faith, in other word, you will need supernatural faith together with God’s living Truths, to counter fear.

You may realise that Satan’s most effective strategy in instilling fears to strike you down is nothing new nor creative:

TRICK 1: Fear of poverty or not having enough.

Who doesn’t fear lack? Though money is important for survival but it isn’t omnipotent. When money becomes an obsession, that is where evils (i.e. worries, anxieties, fears, idolatry……) reside. And the more you chase after something, the more it will elude you. Would it not be better to go after God, who is the God of Multiplication of 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 small fishes (Luke 9:15-17), who says He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and knows exactly what you need even before you ask of Him (Matthew 6:8)? So seek God first, and He will provide all that you need.

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 10:3)

TRICK 2: Fear of failures.

All man are imperfect and fallible with our fallen nature, and it is inevitable for us to make mistakes periodically. Therefore, it is ok to fail but we should stand up where we fell and not be too harsh on ourselves. Instead, we should embrace failures as rare opportunities to learn or do better, after all, life lessons are always learnt best through hard knocks. Remember, we have the wisest Counsellor and Teacher living in us whom we can consult with.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)  We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

TRICK 3: Fear of men 

If we are honest enough, all of us feel good when we are paid compliments, and we thrive in relationships where we feel appreciated. However, that can be a very thin line we are threading on as we can easily fall into the trap of pleasing men in order to win their approval, for the fear of men prove to be a snare (Proverbs 29:25). So put our confidence in God, who is not fickle-minded, that we can be secured against rejections from capricious men.

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies (Isaiah 51:12A) Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?  (Isaiah 2:22)

TRICK 4: Fear of the unknown.

Venturing into the unfamiliar or considering the unknown future can be unnerving to all of us. With each passage of time, things around us never stay constant, and uncertainty often precipitates unsettling changes. The bible counsels us not to worry about tomorrow since we do not know what it may bring (Matthew 6:34). That is why we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) for faith operates in the supernatural and has the power to overcome this natural fear.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

TRICK 5: Fear of losses.

There is no gain without pain, and changes are often necessary for growth; and when there are changes, there are inevitable losses or pain in some ways. Sometimes, through losses, we draw nearer to God and gain new insights about our lives. Losses may not be that fearful if we look in light of God who owes everything in our life and we are merely entrusted with stewardship to take care for Him on earth. After all, we come to earth with nothing and we shall depart with nothing too.

I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. (Isaiah 43:4 (GNTD)) I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

TRICK 6: Fear of sicknesses.

Our bodies are subject to degeneration when we age, and susceptible to any diseases while living on earth. Although sicknesses and infirmities can be threatening, the bible warns that it is scarier to lose our soul (Matthew 10:28), for nothing will profit a man who lost his soul. And when we look in light of a better home in Heaven, whatever we are going through on earth pales in comparison to the crown of life and an unperishable body we will receive when God calls us home.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) The Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. (Psalm 41:23)

TRICK 7: Fear of inadequacies.

Both Moses and Paul wrestled with feelings of inadequacies and inferiority, when they were assigned with tasks that seemed too big a hat for them. But God who created us, know exactly what we are made of, He will not put us in places where we cannot perform nor glorify Him. Sometimes, God uses our weaknesses to display His Strength so that others can praise Him for what He can do. We can take heart that when God commissions us for a task, He will provide the means to accomplish what He has set us to do, He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). So trust Him, and do whatever He calls you to.

Paul conceded, ‘Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5, NASB) ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NASB).

TRICK 8: Fear of being alone.

God made us to have a relationship with Him and others, He never intended for us to be alone. That is why church and cell fellowship helps to meet this need of companionship, where we need each other to be encouraged, edified and supported through this journey on earth. And with Holy Spirit living in us and God who is omnipresent, we are never alone. So look deep inside and look up, and you will find  that God is always near.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

TRICK 9: Fear of losing control.

Control-freaks fear losing control because they are afraid their lives will be out of tune, they do not even leave to chances for any unexpected situation. Such control freaks have to constantly stay on their toes in order to hold their ground. But no matter how meticulous we plan nor how strong we are, life will always caught us by surprises. Only the Sovereign God, who is all-mighty hold the reins and remains in control over everything. It is wiser for us to relinquish this right and let Him have the driver-seat of our lives; with God, nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27).

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

TRICK 10: Fear of stepping out of comfort zone.

Almost all of us love status quo and remain where we are because it is undeniably comfortable. We are averse to stepping out of our comfort zone because what challenge us can cause us to become a bundle of nerves. Imagine if Abraham did not obey God’s call to go to a faraway place (Genesis 12:1) and chose to remain in his comfortable zone, Abraham would not have fulfilled his destiny that God had for him. It certainly took Abraham a lot of faith and courage to overcome his human tendencies, but it was wise of him to trust God for the result. Only by stepping out of our comfort zone, can we see a new beginning. Therefore,  when God calls, do not fear, for He promises to be with you on the way and all the way.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Courtesy photo (P1040139) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

 

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.

All You Need Is A Change Of Perspectives

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The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. – Matthew 6:22-23A

As a visual person, my eyes are trained to capture what I see with my eyes; and as a creative person, I can paint a picture with a thousand words. But the flip side of this talent is, I am often challenged in walking in faith since I see, read and visualise with my eyes.

But we are called to “live by faith and not by seeing (2 Corinthians 5:7). So whenever I face issues in life, my mind is always fixated on problems as they are right before me, that often I keep rehearsing fears, worries, anxieties, doubts and insecurities. That is the power of focus, but on the wrong things. It is hard to change my mindset unless I change perspective, and in order to change my perspective, I need to change my position.

One day, I received a prompting to have a walk in the park and to talk to God about my situation. As I was strolling leisurely, and praying at the same time, I kept fixing my gaze to the ground- all I could see was the texture of the asphalted track. When I adjusted my vision to my eye level, the view was vastly differently, somehow I sensed that God was in the details, and showing me that I could see things differently. As I walked around the park, certain angle offered different perspectives with different meaning behind the scenery. While I was tuning my ears to hear what God had to reveal to me, I aligned my Spirit to God through communing with Him in prayers. While admiring the different setting, I looked up to admire the vast skies- even the shape of the clouds are all different. At that instance, it dawned upon me that I had set my heart on things of the world without the correct biblical perspectives. And because my vision was clouded, so my body was in darkness. As Matthew 6:22 says, “If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”.

All I need is a change of perspective- Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (Colossians 3:2) The things of this world, necessaries of life, pleasures, riches and achievements, can be sought after but not to the extent of coveting them and placing happiness in such possession which eventually turn into idolatry when our focus is not on the true Source and Provider of these things. The things of this world are temporal and can pass away, how then should we live? Live no longer with a carnal mind, but with kingdom perspectives- that God is in control and everything will work for good to those who loves Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). Shouldn’t we be focusing on the goodness of God and that the Almighty promises that none of His Words will fail to be fulfilled?

Therefore it is a matter of how we see, and what we choose to focus on. A paradigm shift will require a change of lens in order to effectuate a renewal of mind and a transformation of heart. And yes, reading the bible will correct near-sightedness first. You will then find that God is actually not that far.

How Do You Run Your Race?

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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” –1 Corinthians 9:24; Ecclesiastes 9:11

I am trying to shed some pounds, so I decided to head to my office’s gym. The thread mill is a challenge to me since I have a poor stamina, so every minute is a test of strength and endurance. Notwithstanding, I challenge myself for 30 minutes, and begin slowly with a paced speed. Halfway through, I really want to give up as I am panting profusely. But the motivation of shedding the pounds get me going. However, eventually I still cannot overcome my physical lethargy.

Meanwhile, a verse from Hebrews 12:1, dawned upon me, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” At that instant I receive a vision: Jesus waiting at the end of the red line, cheering me to persevere. There are many runners already run past me and ahead of me. At the back of my mind I am wondering, “Oh dear, will I be the last? Will the crowd jeer at me?”

Through this vision, I begin to ponder if I am running my own race for the applause of men or for the glory of self… Since I am already in the race, it will be a shame to give up. When I catch a glimpse of Jesus cheering me on at the end of the red line, I decided to fix my eyes on Him. (A song then played back in my head, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, by Micheal W. smith)

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full, in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace”

As I desire to run into the embrace of Jesus at the end of the line and to hear Him affirming me, “Well done!” follow by a pat on my shoulder, I reckon it is better to go slow and steady to complete the race than going fast and run out of breathe later. So I pray to the Lord to help me finish this race, no matter how daunting, I will not give up. Eventually, I manage to persevere and finish the race.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

I care not how fast I have completed the run, God cares more about my shape. Hang on, the word “shape”, refers not to my body, but my character. So is the word “race”, which denotes my journey and my destiny. To sum it up, God is not concerned about how well I have started, nor how fast and how far I can go, He is more concerned on how strong I can grow.

Some of us may be ahead (the runners running ahead in my vision); some of us are still behind; some of us are discouraged that the “crowd” (in my vision, it represents the people around you. It also corresponds with “a great cloud of witness” in Hebrews 12:1) do not appreciate your effort, or have condemned you thinking that you cannot make it; some of us really want to give up this long-drawn race since strength is sapped…

The crux is:

Do you run with your own strength and focus on the wrong things in life, and thrown off-track?

Or, will you run in partnership with the Spirit and set your heart on things above and not on earthly things, and stay on track?

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24

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)

 

Faith Even On Rainy Days

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The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. – Psalm 37:23

A cell mate shared this beautiful Chinese song with me which lyrics resonated with every fibre of my being- I can relate to those times when I felt downcasted. In translating this song to English (though not literal), I hope to share this song to minister to those who need to hear it…

Song title: 祷告 (Pray)

– By Streams Of Praise

(Listen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YbBwg5B9Uk&feature=youtu.be )

 

祷告,因为我渺小;

Pray, because I feel inconsequential;

祷告,因为我知道我需要明了,你心意对我重要。

Pray, because I know I need understanding, to your Will as it is important to me.

祷告,已假装不了;

Pray, I can no longer pretend;

祷告,因为你的爱我需要;

Pray, because I need Your Love;

你关怀,我走过的你都明白。

You care for me, and know every path I tread.

有些事我只想要对你说,因你比任何人都爱我;

There are things I can only share with You, because You love me more than any one else could;

痛苦从眼中流下,我知道你为我擦。

Tears shed from pain, I know You will wipe my tears away.

在早晨我也要来对你说,主耶稣今天我为你活;

Come morning I pray, Lord Jesus I live for You today;

所需要的力量你天天赐给我,你恩典够我用。

I need Your Strength each day, for Your Grace is sufficient for me.

 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. (Psalm 139:2)

Even on rainy days, the Lord is near; Even in the pit, the Lord is there. He knows every details of our lives. He searches our heart and know our thoughts even before we could find the words to say. (Psalm 139:23)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8A) The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 121:7-8 NASB)

Keep faith. Keep going. Keep praying. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

The Wilderness: A Call To Trust

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” (Psalm 35:27) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. God is in the midst of us; we shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. (Psalm 46:1,5) “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27) And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

An emotional season in the pit in the late 2015 to early 2016 had derailed me from the track of faith and incapacitated in my regular routines- I neglected my business while cowering under self-pity blankets. I thought I’d left Egypt eon ago, instead of being whisked into a promised land of milk and honey, all I could see was mountains and snakes at every turn. I had trod into an unfamiliar territory- another wilderness! When I finally jostled from my “deep slumber”, reality hit that the economy was taking a downturn, I began to feel the heat when the company registered negative cashflow for almost a year. Insecurity set in when the uncertain future loom in and fears seized me. Alas I was standing at a verge, with the army of Egyptians hot on my heels, facing me was the Red Sea, with no other way of escape.

At that crucial moment, I cried out as hard, as much, as long, to the Almighty to save me and deliver me from my helplessness. By a bat of an eyelid, I found myself on a Rock, my enemies no longer pursued me. God finally broke the long chill of the silent nights, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.” (John 14:1) reinforced with Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He’ll make your paths straight.” His voice resonated with the word “Trust”.

In the silent mire of abyss, my impatience got the better of me, I doubted God had heard my prayers. But I ended up with a megaphone blasting my ears, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?!” (My hairs really on stand…) By this, God had shown me that even a mustard seed of faith could move mountains and they shall be moved! Thence, my faith skyrocketed to a new level.

Much as “snakes” tempted me into discouragement, God had in the same breath faithfully sustained me with His one-step-at-a-time blessings and His day-to-day-double-portion of Strength. By His Grace, He gave me a gift of an encouraging Spirit that I could be optimistic; He gave me a vision in conquering the “Goliath(s)” in my life; He spoke to me His Life-giving Promises that I could profess victory; He had shown me that He is a God of Multiplication when He impressed me with a scenario where Jesus multiplied 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5000 people full; He inspired me to compose a poem that Jesus can still a nasty storm (“Anchor Deep”); and He led me to pray with prayers I had never prayed before.

God is still teaching me something about “Trust”; and no doubt that He is bringing me closer to Him so that I can hear Him better; He is disciplining me through His refining fire to keep me going from strength to Strength and from faith to Faith; So that I can rest unto God’s Peace, “Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) and His Faithfulness, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7).

I am thankful that God had been there, and even the present. I counted my blessings for the people who has eased my burdens in some ways. I marvelled at how God had provided despite the impossibilities. There is always a miracle every day- big or small, it is how you see them.

God is not hard of hearing- Our tears are precious to Him for He is especially close to those crushed in spirit. Just be still and let God be God. He will walk on the water and grabbed you before you could sink just as Jesus rescued Peter from drowning when His faith failed him.

“The more secured you are in Christ, the stronger you stand even if your whole world came crushing down. Your security is not found in transient things but in Him alone.”

P.S. And one thing for sure- Every time I pray, the Supernatural always happen in the spiritual realm- that we cannot see now but will happen later. So keep praying- P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens).

The Value Of Giving Thanks

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I have learnt something very interesting in John 6:1-14 where Jesus fed the five thousand people. I am sure many us may processed the passage like this:

1. 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 small fishes how to feed 5000 people? Like the disciple Philip, we think it is not possible.

2. Philip has wanted very much to keep the portion to themselves (the disciples) and ignore the needs of the rest.

3. How impossible it is to have 12 basketful of leftovers!

4. Jesus created a miracle of multiplication!

It is nothing unusual as we are well acquainted that God is the God of the impossible- He is more than able to create miracles; He makes a way when there seems to be no way.

But, I would like to shed a light to verse 11-13Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Here’s the catch: Jesus GAVE THANKS (emphasis in caps) for the little, and the 5000 people had enough to eat!

(You can also cross reference to Matthew 15:29-39 where Jesus fed the 4000 with just 7 loaves of bread and few fishes- Jesus gave thanks.)

So I have learnt that giving thanks is a key to multiplication! Such is a power of an attitude and heart of thanksgiving in prayer.

Giving thanks:

1. Releases God’s providence- MULTIPLICATION

2. Realigns our perspective on God not on our circumstances- GOD-FOCUS

3. Reminds us about the heart of our Heavenly Father- DEPENDANCE

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:7-11

Having said that, it does not mean God will multiply our material possessions whatever we desire. The miracle of multiplication is meant to advance His Purposes and to display His Glory. If you ask for cell multiplication or more souls to win, the Lord will most surely honour such a prayer. If you ask for a two-fold financial support — not on coveting personal abundance– so that you can run a business that bring Christian values to the world and impact lives for Him, surely God does not withhold?

Instead of focusing on the “little” (whatever that you have or are facing now), be thankful, count your blessings for what you have than what you do not have. Never forget to give thanks for what you are given, and in HIs time, He will bring about something beautiful.

Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, – Ephesians 3:20

The Tunnel. Hope.

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Delayed hope makes the heart sick… (Proverbs 13:12 HCSB) Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid… (Job 11:18-19A)

The front cabin of the new Downtown Line train has a glass window which allow passengers to peep through the underground tunnel. The tunnel is fairly dim and it takes considerable effort to observe what lies ahead. As the train approaches a destination, the tunnel is aglow with light, brighter and brighter. While half drowsy from the sleep-inducing passage underground, a small still voice jolt me, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Do not lose hope.”

God really has a way in distilling life lessons through things around us- the tunnel is a great reminder that no matter how long the tunnel is, no matter how long it takes to catch a glimmer of light, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The only way out is to keep walking, for the longer I sojourn in the tunnel, the more overwhelming darkness seem to enshroud me. But having hope is stronger than entertaining fear.

When hope is delayed at any length of time, the mind gets uneasy and the heart will sink, ultimately it fails till our inner man gets dispirited and ready to be dejected, giving up all hope.

There is this quote that goes, “We can live about 40 days without food; about 3 days without water, and about 8 minutes without air, but not a second without hope.” And another, “Hope is the last thing to lose.”

The bible warns that heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop (Proverbs 12:25A), and a crushed spirit saps a person’s strength (Proverbs 17:22). And when strength is dried up like a potsherd, the tongue will cleave to the jaws; as if we are laid in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:15). The antidote to a sick heart is, to have joy, for a cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul (Proverbs 17:22). And having hope engenders joy.

We may be fallen on bad times, but as we set our eyes and heart on the God of all Hope, He promises His encompassing Presence (Jeremiah 23:23-24). We can take comfort because as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Never lose hope, because tough season won’t last but tough people do. And we have hope in God who never fails.

P.S: Do take the train through the tunnel, and observe the passage.

Look At The Farmer

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See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. – James 5:7 NLT

My journey on entrepreneurship is often fraught with challenges that is beyond apprehension. When times are bad, business gets a slow-down, and prolonged seasons of barrenness can really test faith as well as financial strength, and the next moment, discouragement sets the scene.

While in my usual habit of taking a prayer-walk at my park down the block, I saw a vision of a farmer ploughing the ground, and planting some seeds. After planting the entire field, perspiring from such hard labour, he waited by the side overlooking the field with anticipation…… At that instance, the scene seemed to freeze for the longest time- the farmer was still in the same position, waiting patiently……

This vision seemed to be conveying to me:

(a) The field represents my business and the land is given by the Lord;

(b) There is a time for everything: plowing, planting and harvesting- a time to sow and a time to reap;

(c) The farmer is synonymous to: (a) patience- seeds take time to sprout; (b) stewardship – watching over the field is call of duty; (c) faithfulness – seeds require constant tender loving care (watering, fertilising, pulling out weeds and even pest-control). And do not neglect the little things for the little things is a proof of trustworthiness. (Luke 16:10)

(d) The outcome is never instant, it takes a lot of hard work- it takes years for the seeds to grow into trees;

(e) It takes seasons of faith to trust the Lord to provide, as He determines the outcome.

We are to work hard if we want our field (apart from work, our ministry counts too) to bear fruits: Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. (2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT)

Farmers toil with blood and sweat, neither can we have it all easy too, otherwise God will not mention the wise and hardworking ants in the bible (Proverbs 6:6, Proverbs 30:25)! However, God is still the ultimate God of the Harvest, our duty is to just do our best and leave the rest to God. And in His time He will bring about our due in due time. Just trust, and wait patiently.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. – Psalms 145:13b-16

That is one thing for sure, God will never let us go hungry.

Even With Grey Hairs I Am With You 

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Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6A) I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4)

I was having a coffee break with 2 friends yesterday chatting about retirement plans when the uncertain future caught us a little apprehensive since we are single with age catching up. One of them shared that she does not look too far ahead to the future as we do not know what can happen tomorrow, therefore it is more important to live in the present, trusting God each step, day by day. Recalling God’s faithfulness in the past had helped her to deal with life’s challenges with renewed faith, strength and comfort. She shared a particular verse from Psalm 23:6 which she always anchored herself on- “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL THE DAYS of my life.” (Emphasis in caps). This verse appeared to be a life-giving bread for me, at the same time I “heard” a small still voice, “Even with grey hairs I will be with you”.

Most of us dread old age, especially when our bodies are subject to decay anytime.

Most of us dread loneliness, especially when we may be walking through life alone.

Most of us dread darkness, especially when we are in our pits.

Whether we are single or married, or whether we are in the high or low season, we all face different issues in each stage of our lives that can render us insecure and fearful about what is next. Although reality bites— our world may fall, and men fail—  the Lord our God is always constant, till the end of the earth, today and forever: God gave His Family (God’s community) who can uphold us, His closest Companion (Holy Spirit) who is always with us, HIs billet–doux (love letters from the bible) which remind us of His Faithful Love, His spiritual communication tool (prayers) which we can tap into the Source of Power, and His Songs (worship) which minister to our souls.

Look back, at His Faithfulness;

Look now, at His Loving-kindness;

Look ahead, at His Trustworthiness.

The 7 Virtues To Transforming Your Relationships And Your Character

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In the church, we have heard a lot about the importance of having faith, trust, love, holiness and perseverance. We have also been taught that our mind and words have hidden power that either edify or destroy, whether with husband, children, parents, colleagues or even the people whom we are trying to reach out to.

Yet, in life’s tsunami of challenges, we are often greet with situations that not only challenge our spiritual credentials, but also affect our relationships. I have discovered treasures in the bible that help to transform our relationships and even our character:

1. The virtue of LISTENING

To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. – Proverbs 18:13

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20

And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” “Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”” – 1 Samuel 3:9-10 NASB

2. The virtue of SILENCE

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. – Proverbs 17:27-28

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. – Proverbs 17:14

3. The virtue of PATIENCE

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. – Proverbs 14:29

A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. – Proverbs 15:18 

Love is patient, love is kind. – 1 Corinthians 13:4 

4. The virtue of HUMILITY

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:5b-6

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. – Isaiah 66:2b

…he crowns the humble with victory – Psalm 149:4b

5. The virtue of DENYING YOURSELF

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:3-8

Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. What out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives. – Hebrews 12:15TLB

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24

6. The virtue of REST

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”  – Exodus 33:14

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” – Mark 6:31

7. The virtue of FOCUS

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalms 46:10

but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27

The Wilderness

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Just as I thought I had left Egypt years ago, instead of being whisked into a promised land of milk and honey, all I see was mountains and snakes at every turn. I had trod into an unfamiliar territory- another wilderness! When I finally woke up from my “deep slumber”, alas I was standing at a verge, with the army of the Egyptians hot on my heels, facing me is the Red Sea! There is no way of escape.

At that crucial moment, I cried out as hard, as much, as long, to the Almighty to save me and deliver me from my helplessness… By a bat of an eyelid, I found myself on a Rock, my three enemies no longer pursued me. God finally broke the long chill of the silent nights, “Do not let your heart be troubled. TRUST in God, trust also in Me.” (John 14:1) reinforced with Proverbs 3:5-6 “TRUST in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He’ll make your paths straight.” His voice resonated with the word “TRUST”.

In the silent mire of abyss, my impatience got the better of me, I doubted God had heard my prayers. But I ended up with a megaphone blasting my ears, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?!” (My hairs really on stand…) By this, God has shown me that even a mustard seed of faith can move mountains and they shall be moved! Thence, my faith skyrocketed to a new level.

Much as “snakes” tempted me into taking a court action and discouraged me in my unemployability, just as much God has faithfully sustained me with His blessings and His double-portion strength in each and everyday. By His Grace, He gave me a gift of an encouraging Spirit that I could be optismistic; He gave me a vision of conquering the “Goliath(s)” in my life; He spoke to me His Promises that I could profess victory; He shown me that He is a God of Multiplication when He impressed me with a scenario where Jesus multiplied 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5000 people full; He inspired me to compose a poem that Jesus can still a nasty storm; and He led me to pray with prayers I had never prayed before.

Instead of cowering under pity-blankets as I would in the past, I would recall how the Lord delivered me from the slavery land of Egypt years ago and His never-failing faithfulness. I drawn near to Him and He draws near to me. My turning point came when I confessed of a cherished conviction, in repentance I cried to the Living God, “Help me!”

No doubt God is teaching me something. No doubt He brought me closer to Him so that I can hear Him better. No doubt He is disciplining me through His refining fire to keep me going from strength to Strength and from faith to Faith. I can rest unto God’s Peace, “Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) and His Faithfulness, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7)

I am thankful that God has been there. I am also thankful for the people who has helped eased my burdens. I have been through the dark tunnel a few times and God has been there. And God is not hard of hearing- Our tears are precious to Him for He is especially close to those who are crushed in spirit. Just be still and let God be God. He will walk on the water and grabbed you before you could sink just as Jesus rescued Peter from drowning when His faith failed him.

“The more secured you are in Christ, the stronger you stand even if your whole world came crushing down. Your security is not found in transient things but in Him alone.”

Refiner’s Fire

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An interesting conversation with a friend about “trusting God” inspired me to pen this devotion- she forwarded a devotion on this topic that I responded to her that trusting is a lesson that takes ongoing re-learning. She replied, “Yes it is. Like playing a game- It gets upgraded whenever we pass one level. Life is fun, isn’t it?”

Indeed, akin to any computer game, as we conquer level by level, our journey will be fraught with different sets of difficulties that challenge our limit each time. Just when I thought I have passed Level One colourfully, it doesn’t end there, I have to ascend to Level Two, then Level Three until I get to my destiny. This episode brought me to a verse where God would test each of us and refine us as gold.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12). Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10).

But first let me share how gold is processed, as this is foundational to our understanding why God uses refining fire, furnace and gold as analogies.

Gold is processed through smelting and refining. High heat, pressure and chemicals are used to remove impurities from the gold. Gold in its raw material contains rock, gold nuggets, scrap gold etc, need to be re-liquefied in a hot furnace. Various chemicals are added to the molten substance to separate the gold from other metals. The process has to be repeated in greater intensity in order to remove all impurities for gold to be refined and pure.

The bible is full of verses on God’s refining fires:

  1. God knows exactly what we are made of.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” – Job 23:10

  1. God know what is in our hearts.

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. – Proverbs 17:3

  1. Fires refine the quality of our faith.

So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7

  1. Trials build our character.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

In retrospection, I did not have my life easy, but I can attest to through trials, my faith is tested under fire but I have learnt to grow stronger. I deem fires as necessary for refinement. I can only pray that God will give me the strength to persevere and his mercies to carry me through, from faith to Faith, strength to Strength and glory to Glory. So do not be surprised at what you are going through, God is doing a deeper work in you. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

We Can Be Super Hero!

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While watching “Wonder Woman” movie recently, I had imagined myself to have super-power to fight evils- I thought it was simply cool to be a super hero, that I wished I could have such amazing powers.

At that instant, I was reminded that we, as children of the Almighty God, have super power too, as co-heir to Jesus Christ!

1. We can fight any demons and evils

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. – Luke 10:19

2. Our power is at work 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. – Ephesians 3:20

3. Our power is rechargeable

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29

4. We have the power with our tongue

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. – Proverbs 18:21

5. We can heal the sick

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” – Mark 16:17-18

6. We can fight any temptations

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. – 1 John 5:4A

7. We can demolish strongholds

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. – 2 Corinthians 10:4

So in other words, we have the power to speak over “death”, heal the sick, to kill demons and to destroy evils. And of course, we have the power to overcome darkness in any areas of our life.

Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. – Psalm 68:35

Take on this new identity as a super hero in God’s Kingdom. Have a super-charged week ahead!

The Antidote For The Pain That Comes A-knocking On Your Door* (Part 2)

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*Continue from “When Pain Comes A-knocking On Your Door” as posted the previous day

 

Here is an antidote for your pain from Luke 8:50:

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be healed.”

For the wounded hearts and the ailing souls.

 

In need of more prescriptions? The Physician will be glad that you ask.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be provided.”

For the pockets decorated with holes.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be delivered.”

For the lives at the end of the tether.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be guided.”

For the future that loomed with an overcast.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be victorious.”

For those who need to straddle through many hurdles.

 

For effectiveness, gargle your prescription with a glass of faith three times a day after “bread” and voila, you are on the brink of restoration.

When Pain Comes A-knocking On Your Door

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Tension-mounted. Debts-saddled. Disease-stricken. Affliction-wrecked. Rejection-pierced. Emotions-tempest. Pain-aknocking. And taken aback by God’s silence.

Your life seems as if you have traversed though the cyclone-ravaged Philippines- burst pipes, ripe-off roofs, smashed windscreens, dilapidated walls, razed grounds, excruciating screams, broken homes and broken dreams. And taken aback by God’s indifference.

When you tried to make sense of all that is happening, vindicating the God who parted the red sea from the pursuing Egyptian army, the God who tumbled the walls of Jericho to the God who rescued Daniel from the lion’s den. And the prayers for God’s deliverance, mercy and grace bounced back like a dishonoured check. Where is God when life hurts?

Doubts crept into your head with pounding insinuations: Am I getting what I deserved? Is God so peeved with me that He allows my life to turn topsy-turvy? Or God, are you mad?

My candle is flickering, the wick is smouldering, the darkness is engulfing. In the center of that cold room lies an answer from:

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice. – Isaiah 42:3

Your pain has a purpose. Your problems, struggles, heartaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end- the glory of God. “Trust me in times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory” – Psalm 50:15 NLT. (Lucado, p122).

Recall the bible of a blind man and his lifetime of darkness; a deaf man who never hear a compliment; a paralysed man who never get to straddle; a bleeding woman who get anaemia; and a dumb man who can never croon. And Jesus has the answer, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” – John 9:1-3

A calling from God to display heaven’s strength, to showcase the work of Christ and to amplify God’s power, for His Glory sake. By the power of His name, even demons shudder so by the power of His might, afflictions or infirmities will skedaddle but why didn’t God do so? You would have feel indignant for the fading pulse and bated breath of Lazarus.

You may find yourself ushering into the higher plans of God as in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

You may find yourself in the composition of God’s song where your faith in the face of suffering cranks up the volume of His song. Are people strengthened by your struggles? Are the hounded perplexities of life eating away your faith even when you do not receive healing then?

How can an Almighty God fail you? God glimpses when His light prisms through your aching life and radiates in a symphony of suffused golds and pinks. And Lazarus walked out from behind the stone, breathing.

God uses whatever He wants to parade His glory. Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it to the glory of God. (Lucado, pp.126-127).

A bystander will not let a hope goes unnoticed.

Cross references from:
Lucado, Max 2004, It’s Not About Me: Rescue From The Life We Thought Would Make Us Happy, Integrity Publishers, Nashville.

How Desperate Are You In Praying?

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While prayer-jogging at night as usual, I literally heard a small voice, “How desperate are you in praying?”

Does this question stump you? I am equally startled…

A very desperate prayer by King Hezekiah etched indelibly in my mind- 2 Kings 20 narrated that King Hezekiah was nearing death. God sent Isaiah, the prophet, to deliver the bad news that he would meet his death; and would not recover. Upon hearing it, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and burst into tears. Still, he expressed his total devotion to God and wept bitterly for God’s mercy. Isaiah was halfway out of the palace when God stopped him and conveyed a message “Go back and tell Hezekiah… I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. I will add fifteen years to your life” (Note too, Hezekiah had been a good and righteous king.)

The key here is, how desperate are you- are your pleas sowed in tears? Or merely insincere or just-get-over-and-done-with utterances?

“There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying.”

– John G. Lake

I have recorded half-hearted prayers (or mouthing prayers) versus humbling cries at my knees. I discovered I am always in for surprises, usually hours later, God has heard my prayers in my humbling posture and give me hope. (Sometimes, they do not come in the package I may have expected…).

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 

from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, 

being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 

and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, 

that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

 

“The greatest victory is often won on humbling knees.”

– Unknown

Flickering Candle

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I was encouraging a friend who was depressed from being jobless for a prolonged period. And it happened at the same time that I was talking to another friend why I like candles- because of one particular verse that had been an anchor for my soul when I was in crises eons ago-

A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; – Isaiah 42:3a

A room may be in complete darkness. But the moment you light up a candle, darkness has to flee. No matter how weak the candle wick is, or how flicker the flame is, nor how small the candle is, even the faintest of light can still light up the room. No matter how big the room in the dark is, darkness has to flee the moment there is light.

Watching the candle burning is a stark reminder that Jesus is the Light, whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of life (John 8:12). The question is what do we see in our room of darkness?

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

Even if our physical eyes are (momentarily / temporarily) veiled by darkness, do our spiritual eyes light up in the faith under fire- seeing God even in our moments of darkness?

I encouraged her to really light up a candle to observe, study it and meditate upon these life-giving truths. It is also a great reminder to myself in trying times, with another parallel to Isaiah 42:3a “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

We are called to be warriors of light to the world in darkness; and we are called to be the lamp of light to the soul (can be yourself too) in darkness.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Prison. Your Story HIStory.

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Joseph’s story reminded me of how God transformed a person through the dark prisons of experiences… In retrospection, I was once in a deep mire of crises in my younger days. At the lowest ebb of my life that God became real to me. It was at that painful pivotal point that God changed me to the opposite polar, thence my life was turned around.

We all have journeyed through “prisons” of our lives. Some due to good conduct and obedience, they are released on parole. Some are still living in dungeons because they refuse to repent, and sins got the better of them like chained bandits. Like the stiff-necked Isrealites wandering for 40 years in the desert, they were blind to see that God actually gave them chances, but they refused to acknowledge God’s sovereignty- His deliverance, leading and providence. Eventually, the majority couldn’t make it to the Promised Land… How sad to such an ending isn’t it?

We could have been like the Israelites… You know your own “prison” or “desert”, perhaps you already know what God is trying to deal with you. And the question is- don’t you want to be released earlier? The smell of liberty certainly smell better than the malodorous smell of darkness.

And believe me, we will keep at going through the same testing again and again, as God is not done with us yet, or we have not TRULY learnt His lesson that He wants us to learn.

The bottom-line is, it is really needless to go through a prolonged term in the burning furnace. God promises a life of abundance when your life is aligned right to His plans He has lovingly designed for you. God desires obedience more than sacrifices. (1 Samuel 15:22)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

(An abundant life doesn’t mean a life of riches and forever-happy-days but it means a fulfilling and purposeful life, according to His plans for you.)

If we are humble enough to seek God to show you the area(s) where you may have resisted or rebelled. I am sure God will certainly spotlight for you.

God doesn’t waste your tears nor your pain. Neither does He overlook your sojourning in the desert. There is always His purpose that is skewed towards His Glory. Your story is simply HIStory.

Let go and let God.

Second Chances

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I bought a nice hour glass from Daiso recently, which I will always play with from time to time. I enjoy looking at the process of distilling the sand, how it trickles so slowly through the neck with each passing seconds. It is an instrument that reminds me that time and tide waits for no man, and time is within my control: I either choose to waste time or to make full use of it- and every passing moment lost is lost forever… When I inverted the hour glass, it is a replay, again and again.

At that instance, it brought me to 2 bible verses:

(1) This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. – Habakkuk 2:3

Seemingly dashed dreams; seemingly unfulfilled promises; seemingly lost hope- Some of us have been waiting for something, for a very long time, and it seems like eternity. Some of us ever wondered, “Have I missed His Divine appointment?”, “Have I messed up somewhere?”, “What went wrong?”, “Did I take the wrong path?” and the many head-prodding questions. We have failed to apprehend the indisputable truth that God cannot contradict Himself with what He has written in His Book. We have to first understand that God’s timetable is not the same as ours. Lastly, we can still hope in God who is the God of all seasons- To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, do read more on the same passage). The Study Bible expands Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries ,wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”

While I inverted the hour glass, God seemed to be telling me that He is the God of second chances:

(2) I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.” – Jeremiah 18:3-6

Surely we made mistakes all the time. We will all messed up, from time to time. That is the fallibleness of humankind. “Will God give me another chance if I missed His Best Gift (whether a job offer, a relationship, an opportunity etc.) for the first time?” Refer to the last verse above, and retrieve the key- “STARTED OVER”. Other bible translations offer “made another again”, “reworked”, “remade” and “formed again”, which you can take heart that God gives second chances, and it will still be His Best for you.

Unlocking The Keys To Answered Prayers

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“Why God didn’t answer my prayers?” or “Why God hasn’t answer my prayers?” has too often inundated my mind. I believe we all have experienced that kind of silence from Heaven in our own journey. We often wish God would speak or show us why, personally. Perhaps, little did we know God has already left His answers in the bible.

The bible points out some reasons why our prayers (may seem to) go unanswered:

  1. UNREPENTANCE: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” – Psalms 66:18

It is as clear as day that if we harbour sins, including secret sins, and not confessing them will shut God’s ears. In addition, even if we have confessed but shown no repentance, it means we cherish sin(s), the Lord will not listen too.

  1. ASK WITH WRONG MOTIVES: “And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures.” – James 4:3

Simple- wrong motive will not receive God’s blessing.

  1. DISREGARD GOD’S WORD: “If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.” – Proverbs 28:9

Turning a deaf ear means to ignore, which also mean, to turn a blind eye to. And turning deaf or blind over a prolong period will lead to rebellion. The verse points to the instance when we have disregarded God’s Word, He is put off by our prayers.

  1. PRIDE: “There they cry out, but He does not answer Because of the pride of evil men. Surely God will not listen to an empty cry, Nor will the Almighty regard it.” – Job 35:12-13

There are two kinds of pride: Personal Pride and Pride of Life. The axle for both centered on oneself in an elevated position, and the middle letter to “sin” is “I”,- “Me, Myself, and I”. God opposes the proud that He will not regard their prayers.

  1. DOUBT: “But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” – James 1:6-7

God is a God of Faith, and He honours those who live by faith. The emphasis to the preceding verse is the word, “Without doubting”, which means, 100% no doubt. In short, doubt equals lack of faith.

  1. NOT IN THE WILL OF GOD: “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but He does listen to the one who worships Him and does His will”. – John 9:31

God honours those who do the Will of God. On the other hand, if our prayers are not align to His Will, God will not answer.

  1. DISHONOURING RELATIONSHIP: “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” – 1 Peter 3:7

Although the context points to husband to honour his wife. The same principle is applicable in relating to anyone since God calls all of us to honour others above ourselves (Romons 12:10, Philippians 2:3)- when a relationship is honoured, God is honoured too. Matthew 5:23-24 also remind us to reconcile with someone we have issue with before we offer our gift at the altar.

CONCLUSION:

Proverbs 28:13 reminds us that “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” 1 John 1:9 also make it clear that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 

Time to unlock Heaven’s closet? Search your key.

Just Believe

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(Jesus says), ”Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1

A conversation with an ex-collegue who is also a Brother-in-Christ last Wednesday, left me in rumination… “Your job is simply to pray and to just BELIEVE. It isn’t your job to find out what God is doing in your life, nor to question His Sovereignty over why things happened as such… You just have to do your part to pray and keep praying, and simply to believe and take God’s Word as it is. You should pray like you believed!”

I was then led to the verse John 14:1 and a new light was shed- Ever wonder why Jesus repeated, “believe also in Me” when He already encouraged us in the preceding line, “believe in God”, since He is God Himself?

Perhaps to most of us, God seems too abstract a concept to grasp, and He seems like a super-cosmo being that is hard for us to feel or hear Him, let alone to see Him. We have to admit that we are physical being who need to see, feel and touch real things. That is why Jesus has to remind us that He is God in a physical form too- He came in flesh, and scooped down to our level to relate to us so that we can see, hear and feel Him. In other words, through John 14:1B, God is conveying a few key messages:

  1. God in the flesh is REAL AND NEAR so that we know He can emphatise with our present

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; SEE my hands. REACH OUT your hand and PUT IT INTO MY SIDE. Stop doubting and believe.” – John 20:27

God is our refuge and strength, an EVER-PRESENT help in trouble. – Psalms 46:1

  1. God in the flesh arose as an OVERCOMER so that we have the same Hope and Victory

(Jesus says), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” – John 16:33

  1. God in the flesh is the immutable “I AM” so that we can be assured of His unfailing Nature

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). “I AM” is a powerful reminder on the nature of God- “I AM” the Almighty God, nothing is too hard for me (Jer 32:27); “I AM” Jehovah-Jireh who provides for your every need (Philippians 4:19); “I AM” the Divine Healer who heals (Exodus 15:26); and the list goes on…

Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The bible has recorded uncountable miracles that Jesus did in the past, and He will not stop performing those miracles now or in the future. We need to fall back on such history to remind ourselves, forgetful human beings, what God had done and has promised. God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Last but not least, imagine that Jesus posed a question personally- “Do you finally believe?” (John 16:31), and how would you answer?

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).

3 “T”s & “P”s

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A conversation with my business partner caught me in rumination when she posed a point-blank question, ”Poor thing, you have yet to fully recover from your last physical setback that Satan keeps battering you again through your family… Your battles very intense… But mind if I ask, are you upset with God?”

While walking home that night, it brought to mind a friend’s recent message that her husband reminded about me when he heard Pastor Sara preached a sermon during G12 Conference on hardships or trials. He told my friend that Pastor Sara had highlighted that it takes someone of “superior quality” to be able to go through trials, so I am made to be able to withstand…

Not sure if that is a compliment or affirmation, but I know one thing for sure- No point to ask the whys, no use to throw pity parties, I just have to live one day at a time, enough faith, strength and bread for me to go through day by day. At least I am thankful now to be able to “hear” Him after a prolong eight months of spiritual darkness. Today, a new revelation dawned upon me with this verse:

Devote (commit unceasingly) yourselves to prayer, being watchful (the devil is waiting at the door) AND (in addition) thankful (to give thanks in all things).- Colossians 4:2

One keyword that I didn’t notice in this verse since my 15 years as a believer, is the word “thankful” (in addition). We all can understand that it is hard to be thankful in bad times, but being thankful is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:18), because thankfulness change our hearts, perspectives, and attitudes.

The take home point is,

“Because you have prayed to Me… (Isa 37:21b).”

God hears.

Prayer is a direct line to God,

It moves the Supernatural Hands of the Almighty;

That will always intervene over the natural.

God rules & reigns.

Therefore,

Turn your burdens into Prayers;

Tune your spirit to Praise;

Thrust yourself to Providence.

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, – Ephesians 6:18

What Is The One Thing You Would Ask For?

I received this Rhema Word this morning-

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32

If God could give His Precious and only All for us, why wouldn’t He, in His Gracious Nature, give us anything? Matthew 7:7-11 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I heard a very small still voice, “If to ask God for the ONE thing, what would I ask for?” So much further ado, I asked for “TRUST”, tears streamed as I responded.

I could ask for money since it has been my utmost concern; I could ask for healing of my ears since it has been what I have been seeking for… but why did my Spirit utter “TRUST”? Because I simply needed that trust:

(a) as a Father holds my hand when I am lost;

(b) that my Father will bring me bread since it is the staple I need;

(c) that my Father is always faithful when I am faith-less and unfaithful;

(d) that my Father’s Love will not fail me;

(e) so that I can see my Father’s heart when I am challenged;

(f) to go through life more bearable knowing my Father is with me even if I have to go through hardships

TRUST is what I need, and it is something I cannot buy with riches. and that is why I asked as His Child.

What is the ONE thing you would ask for?

My Survival Kit

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I often hold on to my bible like my survival kit. It is where I can find my appropriate medication for any condition, antiseptic lotion, first aid band and immunity fortified supplements, any time. Few days ago, I experienced a “cut”, I will run through my survival kit to treat this “cut” to stop further bleeding and avoid a festering wound if left untreated. Of course, pain is alleviated after.

It struck me- Which of God’s promises do we cling on to when we encounter a testing, crisis or trial?

I hv these two first-aid bands always printed with either these 2 verses:

1. Romans 8:28

“And we know tt in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who’ve been called according to His purpose.”

God is still Sovereign, and reigns in every situations. All things are in His control. He will work things out for our good in His time. We need to trust that God will not let us be crushed nor scorched beyond what we can bear, because we are His Beloved.

2. Numbers 23:19

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

God is not fickle like us, nor faithless like humans do. God is true to what He speaks because He cannot conflict His Character, compromise His Integrity nor be inconsistent to His Faithfulness. Therefore take heart that all His Promises never fall to the groud without accomplishing what He sends it.

Cling hard, trust hard, believe hard and walk (with God) harder-  my survival tip. 🙂

Standing Firm Under Testings

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Recently, I have been hearing many friends fall away from faith due to disappointments with God for unanswered prayers that leave them with anger and bitterness… It was sad just because we cannot have the things we want, we lost the belief of God’s existence or we simply dismissed that God is not true to His claims of who He says He is. How often when God blesses us (so many times), we forgot to give thanks or praise Him, but how quickly or easily we get bitter when we get disappointed or during times of silence fm God.

How can we guard ourselves and stand firm under testings?

1. Recognise that life on earth do not consist happy times everyday nor be smooth sailing

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

2. Do not forget God’s everlasting mercies and overlook His intentions

… do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?- Romans 2:4

3. Take joy in testings because they are opportunities to better your character

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

4. Emulate Job that he did not blame God for the bad things happening in his life and God rewards his righteousness

“… Shall we accept good fm God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. – Job 2:10b

5. Take heart that God bless those who endure and crown them with life

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

6. Remember God works things out in the end

The Lord works out everything to its proper end– even the wicked for a day of disaster. – Proverbs 16:4

Therefore……

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Rom12:12

Stand firm, and you will win life. – Luke21:19

Take home point: Stand firm against the devil schemes, persevere in prayers, patient in Hope, endure testings, trusting and believing God beyond circumstances and the weaknesses of our flesh.

Growing From faith to Faith and strength to Strength

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… as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to (1) follow Him. Let your (2) roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be (3) built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. – Colossian 2:6-7 NLT

(This verse reminds me of a Quiet Time devotion I was inspired to pen at the beginning of this year- DEEP ROOTS…)

I repeated reading the above verse and glean much treasures:

(1) FOLLOW

The moment we become a believer, we are called to follow Jesus, but in order to continue doing so, we must renounce self daily (Matthew 16:24 Weymouth NT). Those who follow Him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life (John 8:12). True followers of Christ will talk (teaching and deposition) and walk (living it out with actions) like Him over time.

(2) ROOTED

Jesus is our true Vine, if we remain in Him, we can bear fruit (John 15:4). The vine is where the true Source is: God’s Presence, Power, Protection, Provision and Providence. How deep our roots in the vine, will determine how well we abide in Him and how strong we grow.

(3) BUILD

When our foundation is God, we will grow strong on solid ground and live secured in Him. – Matthew 7:24

As a result, “THEN”, which means “after we hv done so”, will our faith grow strong, and stronger each time we live the biblical truths in our lives. Only when we apply the truths, inner transformation will change our heart and attitude, that the outward fruit will b an overflowing thankfulness.

Ponder……

1. DISTRACTED?: Have we been following Jesus daily or we have been busy chasing the world?

2. MALNOURISHED?: We have not been growing or get stagnated because we have not grow our roots deep in the true Vine, nor water our roots well enough with the Water of the Living Word daily? Even plants need daily nutrients fm sun, water and gd soil.

3. UNSTABLE?: Is our foundation shaky? Anything build on this shaky foundation will not withstand the test of inevitabilities.

So, start right, plant deep, build well, remain strong, grow solid and go far.

So when adversities blow……

We can follow the Light even in the midst of darkness;

We can be strong when plugged to the true Power Source;

We can stand firm on the correct solid Foundation;

We can grow from strength to Strength in our faith when tested;

We can be thankful because gratefulness is the byproduct.

Deep Roots

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“The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don’t have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.” – Luke 8:13 Contemporary English Version

The idea……

You know how well can a plant grows? It needs enough nutrients from good soil, sunlight, water and deep roots. When a plant has little roots, and when in shallow soil, it may initially sprout and look good, but it doesn’t last. The plant withers quickly because they don’t have deep roots.

There are 4 functions of deep roots:

1) Absorption: help the plants to drink more water and supply nutrients of good soil to the plant.

2) Anchoring: to support and hold the plant to be firm and strong

3) Storage: store food and nutrients from the soil

4) Reproduction: depending on the concentration of the absorption of nutrients, how strong the roots determines how fast the shoots can grow

Besides deep roots, good soil provides nutrients to the plant through roots for it to absorb good nutrients. A plant also needs constant fertilising and watering under sunlight, in order to grow strong and well.

The application……

  1. If you want to be healthy and strong spiritually, you need deep roots.

2. If you want to stand firm under harsh conditions, you need deep roots.

3. If you need fruits, you need deep roots.

Basically if you want to grow, you need deep roots.

Deep roots:

1. Grow… from strength to Strength 

2. Glow… from Glory to Glory

3. Go… And bear Fruits

Take home points……

1. Deep Roots

Oftentimes we hear the Word of God, we don’t take the time to let it sink deep: We can get excited but act superficially; We can be sensitive to HS but react emotionally; We can tune spiritually but move impulsively. It shows that we don’t allow the Word to really change us deep inside. A person with deep spiritual roots is a deep person, not a shallow person, where you can withstand the tests of times; when somebody in your family gets sick or somebody dies, the trial doesn’t blow you away, because you’ve got roots, anchoring deep. Our faith in God must be deeply rooted in our understanding of the character of God. It is through knowing the character of God from feeding on His Word that we grow in our faith

2. Good Soil

Good soil provides: (a) a conducive environment for the roots to grow deep, (b) good nutrients for plants through absorption of its roots, (c) a strong support bed for the roots to anchor. But good soil needs constant ploughing in order to bring fresh nutrients to the surface, otherwise it will be dry, harden and barren.

3. Enough water and sun

All plants needs enough water and sunlight in order to grow well: Plants need water for photosynthesis and the sunlight to process it. Similarly, photosynthesis is akin to renewal, we need to water ourselves with the Living Water (Jn 7:38) and Son-light in order to grow renewed.

Reflection……

Trials, tests, and your weaknesses give you the best answer:

1. What kind of soil is your heart: Barren, unploughed, shallow or rich soil?

2. How deep is the root of your faith?

3. How is the quality of your Quiet Time: Do you take the time to allow the Word to sink in by meditating upon it? and apply it so it can change you? Remember, knowledge without application is abortion.

B.T.W.

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The past few weeks I have been very very very tested physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. In the fire, I was pointed back to the very basic fundamental of truth- FAITH. I read, re-read, learn, re-learn & meditate, re-mediate, many times…

I summed up FAITH in one abbreviation “BTW”. Yes, “By The Way”.

As we journey along the way, remember that Faith is strengthened:

B = BELIEVE-ing 

prayerfully that our all-abiding God is true to what He has promised in His Word;

T = TRUST-ing 

wholeheartedly that our all-powerful Sovereignty has our lives within His control His Way;

W = WAIT-ing 

faithfully upon an all-loving Father who knows what we need and in time to bring about His appointed Work.

Btw, it is abbreviated in continuous present tense- EXERCISING Faith as we walk.

Even the Seas, Mountains, Rivers, Hills And the Rocks Obey God!

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I was prompted to turn to Psalms 114. The exegesis of this Psalms is about the Lord’s deliverance for His people:

  1. Leading to a Promised Land (ver 2);
  2. Parting the Red Sea to make way, (ver 3 cf Exodus 10- Fleeing fm the pursuing Egyptians);
  3. River Jordan dried up, (ver 3 cf Joshua 3- Delivering the ark);
  4. Mountains and hills like Sinai seemed to jump like animals (ver 4 cf Exodus 19- the earth shakes and awakens);
  5. God gave living water from the hard rocks in dry places (ver 8 cf Exodus 17- Drawing water from dry rock).

The Psalmist is reminding us of the miracles God had performed- even the Seas, Mountains, Rivers, Hills and the Rocks obey God! Nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 18:27), such is the Goodness and Power of our majestic God. All we need is, a mustard seed of faith (Matthew 17:20) that can command the sea, move mountains and draw and turn water- nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:27).

Roughing out in the pit? Stuck in dead places? Surrounded by insurmountable obstacles? Turn to the Psalms where the psalmists record miracles, deliverance, restoration and comfort of the Lord.

Remember that God is the God of the “mountains” and “valleys”:

“In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. and the glory of the Lord will be revealed… and I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys. I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.” (Isaiah 40:3-5A NLT; Isaiah 49:11 NLT; Isaiah 42:16 NASB)

Are You Really A “BELIEVE-VER”?

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(A) Jesus said to her (Martha), “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”- John 11:40

(B) I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. – Mark 11:24

The Keys……

(A) Believe first then you see.

(B) Believe first then you will receive.

Synopsis

Faith, belief, and trust are all translated from the same root in Greek in the NT, some form of ‘pistis’. Whereas, unbelief, doubt, etc, are all derived from the same with the prefix a-.

The Idea……

Is Believe = Faith?

You must be believe that something must exist in order for you to believe.

Faith is putting something you believe and trust in. You can’t believe in something you do not have faith in, right?

Believe = accept (receive favorably) as the truth, whether have proof or no proof

Faith = act upon this belief (the truth, whether have proof or no proof) even though you do not see

When you believe in a lie, you will naturally inclined towards it.

Having faith means, you need supernatural power to overcome this belief which is a lie.

Consequentially, when you believe in the truth, you will naturally act upon it. Having faith means, it is a spiritual empowerment for believing this truth when you have yet to see the result.

The Scenario……

Imagine yourself going to perform an acrobat- treading on a thin rope. You were told that all safety precautions have been taken care of, including a pool of people stationed below to stand by should you trip. You believe the professionals have done their part. You believe you can do it after rounds of practice. You trust that the rope will not snap and that the people below will catch you when you fall. You have faith that  all will be well. (It will be good if you put God in the picture.)

Take Home Points……

For belief to be faith, it must act on what is true, irrespective of circumstances nor how you feel. So, what do you believe in? That is where you have to realise where do you place your faith in: Yourself, others or God? Because the object of your faith will determine the outcome.

You call yourself a believer because you believe there is God right?

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? – Romans 10:14A

So how about what God promises in His Word, do you truly believe?

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”- John 14:1

When you know the truth, the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Because you know it is the truth, it is up to you to believe. But when you believe, then you can have faith even if you can’t see anything yet. The key emphasis here is BELIEVE. Knowledge processes in our mind; Believe comes from the heart (Romans 10:10); Faith comes from hearing, when you hear, you can choose to believe or not (act upon what you believe in), consequentially, your faith depends on what you believe in.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”- John 20:29

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; – Mark 16:17

Reflection……

Unbelief is a heart issue: The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Humble ourselves: Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”- Mark 9:24 

  1. You have been seeking God about something, but somehow over time you have stop believing or praying… Identify the cause.
  2. How or what do you think you should do in order to see different result on what you are seeking for this year
  3. Take an inventory of your spiritual health: Identify the areas that you fall short of so that you can overcome.

How To Have Joy

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“Your words were found and I ATE them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;” – Jeremiah 15:16a NASB

When I discovered your words, I DEVOURED them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, – Jeremiah 15:16a NLT

Are you like Jeremiah who met much contempt and reproach at work that he’d to appeal to God for mercy and relief? Jeremiah in his natural flesh struggled. He complained that he found little pleasure in his work because he saw nothing but miseries- The weeping prophet had lost the joy in what God had called him to do. God however assured Jeremiah that those who remain with God, and faithful to Him, He would deliver him from trouble and carry him through it.

In verse 16, Jeremiah describes his first reception of a Divine revelation through the Word of God. God’s Truth is like deep-hidden treasures, those who seek it will find it. The key here is- “ATE” or in another translation- “DEVOURED”. Jeremiah ATE or DEVOURED God’s Word and His Truth became the joy and delight to him.

Are you scratching your head pondering “Huh, how to EAT the Word?”

Just like physical food to hungry souls are satisfyingly filling;

Spiritual food to hungry souls are satisfyingly nourishing.

Here’s the application:

1. Reading by seeking > 2. Feeding by filling > 3. Chewing by meditation > 4. Swallowing by digesting > 5. Retaining by storing (in your heart and mind) > 6. Nourishing by transformation. (And mixed with faith will be most profitable).

Result: A God-filled soul with a Spirit-filled joy.

Healthy Spirit, Fruitful Life

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Someone whom you find it so hard to love been banished into your cold palace.

Joy seems ephemeral especially in tough storms.

When the stresses of life seem overwhelming, peace stays transient in your heart.

Your iota of patience is challenged whenever dealing with an avalanche of frustrations.

Those barrage of unkind words afflicted woundedness to the heart.

And life’s disappointments always seem greater than God’s goodness.

There is simply no time in serving the Lord, reading the bible and praying faithfully.

Though bearing the name of Jesus, yet your mannerism do not reflect His gentle disposition.

Self-control is on the wane when confronted by a persistent sin in your life.

 

Everyone is watching. And they know Jesus through you by how you carry His Name.

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. -1 John 4:13

Did you stumble others by your unloving, unkind and ungentle actions, impatience, grumbling attitude, lack of self-restraint and faithless deeds?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

On the surface, an apple looks scrumptiously healthy in pink, only to discover a few days later, the apple is infested with maggots. Much to one’s dismay, the imperceptible side of the apple was mucked. And one rotten apple can indeed caused the whole basket of apples to rot. The stark truth is, what is on the outside bespeaks what is in the inside and vice versa.

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. -Matthew 7:16-20

In a similar context of sin, anger for instance, can ignited a simultaneous combustion of reactive agents (emotions) that emitted explosion (sins); in your anger, would you able to exercise self-control and be gentle with your words and patient with your actions? In your anger, would your heart be at peace and react out of love and kindness? It doesn’t mean your fruit will be burned to zero ground, but it does affect the quality of your fruit which in turn affect the health of your Spirit. And the health of your Spirit determines the fruitfulness of the Spirit. And the fruitfulness of your Spirit determines the level of fruitfulness in your life as well as any spiritual endeavours that you have embarked on.

So, how do you rate the health of your Spirit on the scale of 9?

Here’s a prescription of 9 Vitamins to strengthen your Spirit on a daily dosage:

1. LOVE = 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

2. JOY = James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

3. PEACE = Ephesians 4:3

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

4. PATIENCE = Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

5. KINDNESS = 2 Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. GOODNESS = Ephesians 5:9

for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth

7. FAITHFULNESS = 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

8. GENTLENESS = Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

9. SELF-CONTROL = Titus 2:11-13

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Fruitfulness has to be taken place with an inner Spiritual transformation that will go outward characteristically. And a fruitful life comes from living healthily with a healthy Spirit in you.

If You Love God (Enough), You Will Trust Him

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I once was seeking God’s direction for my life, when it suddenly dawned upon me that “If I Love God Enough, I Will Trust Him.”

Hard word… Chewing upon it, I realised that in any love relationship, it takes TRUST. If you love your spouse, you trust him / her implicitly don’t you? Likewise, you trust him/ her because you love him/ her right?

In the same light, have you ever pondered the reason why many of us find it hard to trust God is simply because we don’t love Him enough? Sure, it can be due to lack of faith. But, (aside to a sovereign reason), you put faith in something you love or trust, don’t you?

Put it simply- if you love a person, you would believe in the person, have faith in the person, trust the person, you want to spend time with the person… because you love him/ her.

So it caught me hard why I do fail at trusting God (sometimes…) Lack of faith? Possible. But the root is still, because I do not love Him enough.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. – John 14:15 NASB

So when Jesus said,”“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1). Do you keep His commandment? If you love God, you will keep His commandments. So when Jesus asks us to trust Him, do you take Him for His Word? If you love God, you will take His Word and trust Him.

By the way, if you find it hard to trust God sometimes, is as good as loving Him sometimes and at other times mean you don’t love Him since you can’t trust Him?

But, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8), irregardless in good times or bad times.

How shall we then love God? First, rekindle the first love relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him and rebuild that trust by romancing Him, alone. All things else will fall in place if you seek Him with all your heart, He will be found by you (Jeremiah 29:13). Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8)

Your Love Covers It All

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When hurts aching

You are stronger

than all my weaknesses

 

When faith shaken

You are greater

than all my mistakes

 

When condemnation knocks

You are bigger

than all my failures

 

When darkness despairs

You are brighter

than all my darkest moments

 

When hopelessness cries

You are deeper

than all my pits and valleys

 

When silence can’t find the words I could say

When tears can’t express exactly how I feel

Lord, you have counted them all-

my every heartaches, and my every tears.

 

I need Your embrace right now, O Lord

I know You stay close beside.

Although darkness falls, Your Light will shine

And I will rise, with You

For Your Love covers it all.

 

“Love bears all things, believe all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:7) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, as you wait for the Lord! (Psalm 31:24) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Rom 12:12)”

Anchor Deep

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“Anchor Deep” I had written 10 years ago, to encourage your soul or with someone who needs the Saviour Hand.

Anchor Deep, this written piece was inspired from a beautifully written book of Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday: Hurricane Warnings.

I have always likened my difficult times to a journey sailing through a rough thunderstorm, charting the uncertainties and battling the odds, but with all my strength sapped. Efforts came to naught and the end seems near… With weather-beaten fragility, I still hold on tight, bobbing along the lashing waves, not letting go, never.

Your storms of life brewing right now?

Anchor Deep.

In His Strength“… Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” – Deuteronomy 20:3-4

In His PromisesThen they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. – Psalm 107:13-14

In His Love“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” – Matthew 7:9-10

 

ANCHOR DEEP

———————-

The sky blanketed in sudden darkness

The wind hollered at gale force

The trees swaying in a matchless rhythm

Uninvited. Unexpected. Uncontrollable.

Cold sweat coalesced. Tension mounted. Perplexities hounded.

The weather is brewing…

Anchor Deep.

To the Power of the Cross.

 

The sails jostled relentlessly

The hull throbbed awash

The storm whipped incessantly

Thunder rumbled. Rain rattled. Waves lashing.

Doubts. Apprehension. Disillusion.

My hope is eluding…

Anchor Deep.

To the Love of Christ.

 

The waves buffeted with futility

The sea resounded with finality

A soul tossed with fatality

Yet futile. Yet final. Yet fatal.

The blows. The crumbles. The crunch.

Yet Heaven seems so distant…

Anchor Deep.

To the Truth of His Promises.

 

Anchor Deep.

For that pair of Hands across the uncharted water of death.

 

Anchor Deep.

For that Voice even storm stands still.

The “Goliath(s)” In Our Lives

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Many times in vain I attempted to hear from God what is going on in my life as it beset with problems and struggles. Just few weeks ago, with a bated breathe and a heavy heart I entered into God’s sanctuary, ceased striving and kept still that I would find rest for my soul. I persistently seeked Him and desired to hear Him. With my eyes closed, I cried to God for help and counsel.

In a flash, I saw myself in a battlefield, brandishing my bible in mid-air charging at the ferocious looking “shrek” (if you know the animated movie showing in the cinema. I did not see the show though…) in a gigantic height, towering over at the other end of the battlefield, with an army!

But what that vision trying to tell me? The scenario changed, I saw this pint-sized boy, cladded in a shepherd garment, brandishing a weapon like a stone tied with a rope, galloping head on fearlessly. In a juncture, Goliath was clobbered dead and the philistine army was wiped out! A small boy triumphed over giants?? Still, what this vision was trying to tell me?

The vision unveiled, David triumphed over Goliath not by his own strength. As small his built was, he had a very big heart for God and a big faith to believe God would definitely help him to fight this war for him. David’s boldness did not beat a fearful retreat, and neither did Goliath touch even a strand of hair on David’s head. David professed faith when he trusted God, “I know God will fight for me and delivered me out of this.” No wonder, God called David “A man after His Own Heart”.

It described succinctly in a contemporary context where “Goliath” could represent our fears, worries, anxieties, challenges, obstacles or whatever weaknesses we maybe struggling  with in our lives and that it may have grown insidiously. Goliath may come with an army of other “Goliath-buddies”. But as we face them head-on, instead of cringing in fear, try recalling the spiritual victory of David over Goliath, we will be able to stand in faith for the battle is not ours alone. The bible is our spiritual weapon to call on the Living Power of God Words to wage against whatever Goliath(s) in our lives, as in Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…”

This vision had been spiritually resonating in me that I have been asking myself, everyday is a challenge, would I beat a fearful retreat and let the army of Goliath advanced against me or should I summon even if it is a mustard seed of faith to trust God to deal with my Goliath(s)? Trust God or trust our own strength, victory or defeat is determined by our faith.