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)

 

When Forgiveness Is Hard……

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Having been in certain ministries with people, coupled with my own personal journey, I am compelled to share my experiences on this hard-to-put-into-practice- forgiveness. Hope in some ways it brings to light the issues in our lives.

Love does not keep any record of wrongs that others do – 1 Corinthians 13:5B

Do you know, relationships, especially marriage, self-destruct, not because of petty accumulation of all the little things nor the deepest hurt? It is simply because of unforgiveness- It is the unyielding refusal to forgive.

It is naviety to think we can be immune or trained to be invulnerable- No relationships are spared from hurts and any person escapes unscathed. Yet certain wounds seem to scar for life. Why?

“Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” – Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

Impossible to forgive? Sure, no one says it is going to be easy. Let’s try counting seventy times seven to practise forgiveness. And yes, that will be impossible to keep count too. Forgiveness is on-going, even daily, until you no longer feel the same intensity as the offence first inflicted upon you.

You may not forget the hurt, but you intentionally chose not to hold the person who hurt you in ransom. Again, again and again…

You may get flashbacks, but you made a minute-quick decision to close the door to that memory. Again, again and again…

You may feel the hurt (who would not anyway?), but you are resolute to release the right to get even. Again, again and again…

You would certainly think the person do not deserve it (who would not think so anyway?), again, again and again… forgive.

You certainly would not feel like forgiving (who does anyway?), again, again and again… forgive.

You may think it is so unfair to let the person go so easily, again, again and again… forgive.

Forgive, because you are doing yourself a great favour- for you free yourself from emotional imprisonment, from the past and the future. Otherwise, the past will always continue to hound you. The past is past, and you would not want to relive the past now do you? The past can’t be changed, but you can change the now and the future, so why would you not prefer to? The air of liberty is definitely more breathable than the malodorous stench of your own prison. And the person who suffered de facto is you — for all you know, the offender whom you hold ransom, might have forgotten the offence and living life happier — while you are still licking the same wound?

So why do many keep playing old records? Because they chose to do so and allow themselves to reopen the wound. How can one keeps licking the same wound and expect it to heal completely?

Forgiveness does not equate forgetfulness. Neither does it mean to condone the mistake.

Forgiveness isn’t contingent on the behaviour of that person either.

Forgiveness does not mean resuming the relationship in the same level of trust instantly — for trust has to be rebuilt over time for the relationship to be fully restored — forgiveness is our part in reconciliation with the offender.

In a nutshell, forgiveness is unconditional — the offender nor the situation will change — and is instant.

Remember, if you have experienced the grace of God, how could you withhold the same grace you have been given unmerited? If you truly understand the magnitude of how much you are forgiven — look at Jesus, before breathing his last nailed on the Cross for our transgressions, “Father, please forgive them (you and me), for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) — then true forgiveness comes easier.

Rend your heart, the bible says in Hebrews 12:15 Phillips, “Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others” 

If you are feeling the same, thinking the same, reacting the same and behaving the same- chances are, there is no true forgiveness from the deep recesses of your heart. It is time to do something on your part and let God handles the rest.

Let the true Love of God change you first, let go of the hurt, and release forgiveness to those who hurt you, for He loves you too much to have you hurt. Remember too, God loves the other person just as much too. Only the true Love of God can heal — take heart that God does not keep archives of our wrongs — so take His Heart instead, and you will get a new heart eventually.

The Environment Just Won’t Change

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While on my way to church one morning, I reflected over my cell leader’s Word on “Compassion”, which inspired me to pen “The Environment Just Won’t Change”.

“Compassion? Are you kidding?”, “Why should I when he is undeserving?”, “Why should I when she is getting on my nerves?”- Do they sound very familiar to you? Far too often, we smacked them with forget-it verdicts.

Your home. Your workplace. Your environment. It is the people that made up your world.

Your family. Your colleagues. Your anybody. Those are the people who are are lost in a fallen world that need compassion.

No doubt, it is easy to serve the people you love.

Much less to say, it is an easy feat to like the people who are nice.

Unfortunately, Jesus is more interested in how you treat the thorns.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.” -Luke 6:32-34

Aarrggh! Ggrrr….

Take a cue- the person whom you always have issue with the most gives you an inkling who you really are, that is, the condition of your heart. Irritants are always good catalysts for testings in a research lab.

Testing… testing… testing…

The people you find irritating may still be irritating;

The people you can’t handle may still be as challenging;

The people who do not deserve your kindness may still be undeserving;

The people who don’t appreciate you may still remain unmoved;

The people who hurt you may still hurt you.

Do they still deserve your compassion?

Before you pass a verdict, remember, Jesus did not choose whom He wants to be compassionate to. He gave the grace, freely.

We can’t control the way our family, our colleagues, our friends or strangers respond to us. And it is not our job to change them, nor our business to judge them. Our compassion should not be hinging on how these people behave or react. Neither do we give compassion when the weather is clear or when the temperature is good.

Compassion is an act of grace, not an attitude of judgement.

Compassion is self-giving, not self-keeping.

Are you not a recipient of the compassion of Jesus too?

Testing… testing… testing…

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” – Romans 12:20

Now Jesus is very interested in your soul- not how far you end but how well you grow.

Let me offer you another perspective- we all live once. A tar baby today may be your dearest friend tomorrow.

Perhaps you need some dosage of love-pills to nurture the health of compassion. Love and compassion are buddies. Try weighing yourself with this measuring scale “1 Corinthians 13:4-8”

Love is patient and long suffering but never gives up; love is kind, thoughtful and cares for others more than for self. Love is not jealous nor envious, it does not boast, it is not prideful. Love is not rude nor act ungraciously. it is not selfish nor it insists on its own rights or ways but put others’ interest above the self, it is not easily irritable or resentful, it does not take into account of wrongs that others do. Love does not take pleasure in unrighteousness, but always rejoices with the truth. It bears all things and put up with anything, believes all things and never loses faith; It hopes all things and always looks for the best, It endures all things. Love never fails; it never dies.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Love your neighbour as you would love yourself (Mark 12:31), for great is a love that covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)” 

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.

Careless Words Can Kill

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Being a familiar recipient of past scorns, I could very well relate to careless words. What really hold me on good ground is the verse that God is ultra-stern on- “But I tell you, on the day of judgment people will have to give an accounting for every (empty, careless, idle, thoughtless, worthless or useless) word they speak. For by your words [reflecting your spiritual condition] you will be justified and acquitted of the guilt of sin; and by your words [rejecting Me] you will be condemned and sentenced.” – Matthew 12:36-37 AMP

Imagine, every words are recorded in God’s account that we ultimately have to come before Him on the day of judgement. If you read verse Matthew 12:37 carefully, it is “by our words, whether we be justified or acquitted of the guilt of sin…” Woah, scary isn’t it?

If we are truly honest, we all are guilty of careless words whether with another person or even with God:

(a) Broken promises

(b) Empty words

(c) Tongue-lashes from anger

(d) Gossips count?

(e) Grumbling counts?

(f) And the what-nots…

Prov 12:18 says “Careless words stab like a sword”, which literally mean it is as good as (attempted) murder.

It took me years (including being trained under as a cell leader to lead by example) to really master the art of silence whenever I am upset or angry (the latter is not of my personality to arrive at). Simply, it is harder to remain silent than to react because silence is Strength under Control. It is a lot much easier to flare. Apart from remembering the preceding verse, the other verse is Proverbs 18:6-7, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”

Let me give you an illustration- All of us has a battery life in us, that indicate our strength. Aside to indicate our energy level, it also indicates our emotional quotient. Imagine you scold somebody very harshly, the battery life in that person will minus a bar or more depending on the severity. It can be dangerous if the person’s battery life is left with a bar… We can either choose to top up the person’s battery life with kind words or deeds or rob the person with unkind words or deeds. So the take home point is, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Proverbs 18:21

What kind of fruits are you reaping? In other words, it should be “heaping” in your life? If we have been recipients of the magnitude of God’s Grace, Forgiveness, Mercies, Gentleness and Love, is it too difficult for us to show in our human weakness even a portion to others?

P.s. To clarify- it does not mean I have perfected it, none of us can arrive there. But we can only get better with the help of Holy Spirit if we lead a spirit-filled life. 🙂

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

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The Porcupine. Or the Prickle-Pig. The unlovable hallmark of this spiny rodent is its 30,000 erectile sharp barbed quills which can really imbed skin-deep. The quills ballooned like a giant pin-cushion when provoked and the quills will lodge in the predator’s flesh when brushes against it. The quill expands and cause the wound to fester which slowly leads to death of its predator.

All of us are porcupines aren’t we? We can be prickly in times of anger, frustration, irritation and in the throes of bad attitudes, we dislodge our quills to the conflicting person in moments of impetuousness, impatience, insensitivity and unkindness. All of us are either densely-quilled or sparsely-quilled, either we are sharp and shrewd or unassuming and naive, but we all have “quills” due to each flaws of our character.

A lashing of hurtful words = Few quills dislodged.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

An outburst of anger = Few quills dislodged.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

A harsh criticism = Few quills dislodged.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

A rude remark = Few quills dislodged.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

An insensitive action = One quill dislodged.

Ouch!

A rejected gesture = One quill dislodged.

Ouch!

An untrue confrontation = One quill dislodged.

Ouch!

(The list is inexhaustive…)

Can you count how many of your “quills” has been embedded into another person’s heart? Needless to ask, your answer would probably be “I don’t know.” Any idea how vulnerable when tempers fray and fuses blown? Don’t be surprised those quills left behind are innumerable. The aftereffects either be the wounds are oozing profusely or the flesh has hardened, thereby birthed forth wrath, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and any grudges, causing ANY relationships to strain. One crack. Two cracks. Three cracks. Cracked!

The porcupine is a very vocal animal, it makes noises when it is disgruntled or riled, there are streaks of attitude in a porcupine. Aren’t men nature similar? We grumbled in dissatisfaction, we tongue-lashed in fury and we show our attitudes in times of differences.

How then can two prickly porcupines still get along with each other? Don’t raise the quills! You need to learn with one another to interact with the right tone and manner, relaying the right messages, adopting the right attitude, conveying the right responses all with the right words and actions at the right time, and through the right mode of communication.

Deep Love

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Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].- 1 Peter 4:8 Amplified Bible (CF: Prov 10:12)

This verse dropped in on me this morning. I expounded on it in different translations, and prompted to share it as my Quiet Time thought. May it illuminates you in the same light.

In essence, we know in 1 John 4:8 that God is Love; we love because He first loves us, and having experienced His unconditional but perfect Love, it will naturally overflows out of our heart through His Spirit in us, which enable us to love others. God forgave us out of His deep Love for all of us (in spite of whether we really love Him or not), and cast our sins into the depths of the sea, never to remember (Micah 7:19). The Blood of the unblemished Lamb shed on the Cross had covered over our multitudes of sins that we can be redeemed from our unrighteousness and restored to His Righteousness. God demonstrated a Greater Love when He laid down His Life [He’d first died to Himself] for His friends (us).

Unfortunately, in this fallen world, our love is flawed because we are imperfect. Our hearts are also full of strifes, giving rise to carnal desires because we often walk in or led by our flesh, that give full play to sins. Relationships suffer as a result, when love becomes conditional to what we think, how we feel and how we behave.

God has already provided His model of Love in that verse- In seeking to Love first, we are walking in the Spirit, and not the flesh:

(a) Truly loving someone makes us kind to his/ her imperfections, charitable toward his/ her faults and overlook the imperfections of him / her, insensible to their errors.

(b) We will be able to forgive and be reconciled to those who hurt us with the Love of Christ, who died for them too. Their sins and offenses will not be held in custody against them because true love is not easily angered nor keeps record of any wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5b).

Last but not least, Apostle Peter enforced that “Above all things”, literally in spite of all offenses: how hurt we are, how we feel, who is right or who is wrong, we should put in place a love that is deep and unconditional, modeling after God. For true love never fails; it can cover over a multitude of sins. It will be useful to recall why you love that person in the first place.

And remember too, we are just as capable of hurting others; and imperfect as we are, liable to go astray, we all have occasion to cast ourselves on the charity of those we love.

Mother Theresa inscribed a poem, “Do It Anyway” which is a good reminder for us-

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.