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.