Take Up And Cross (Part 2)

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

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

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

  1. The way of the Cross:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Truly Matter?

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For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul? Or what will a man give as an exchange for his soul? – Matthew 16:26

Recent news about my friends in their 40s, have lost their fight with cancer, one after another since the beginning of the year. A friend rued over the missed chance to have a last meal with one of them whom he was close to, because he couldn’t find the time of convenience. And he missed the opportunity twice. He didn’t expect she be called Home so suddenly… He lamented that there was no way to assuage his pain and entertained many “If only”s…

Life has no “if only”s. And we only live once. Something that is lost is lost forever, there is no turning back of the clock… So what truly matter?

Many of us are so caught up with the world (busyness and self-pursuits) that we neglect the things that truly matter. What if you discovered that you only have 24hours to live? And what if Jesus come and it is right now a Judgement Day? How then will you account for your life? Do you shudder to think that you really get to Heaven? Be warned, Jesus said, amongst us are sheeps and goats, and some sheeps God tells them plainly, “I don’t know you! Depart from me!” (Matthew 7:22-23)

And no one can tell you if your salvation is genuine, only you know. We may even live our spiritual life pious, but God looks at our heart, and He knows whether we are fake-label sheeps. It is undeniably a frightening thought but good to always hold us in check. I shuddered most to think that I may fall away before His coming that we do not know when. I shuddered to think that I have nothing to present to the King of Kings my offering when I stand before Him, when He expects how I have lived my life on mission on earth.

Many of us lived life “soul-less” (i.e. Without purpose or meaning, and even losing your character), or “as we like it” or “when we feel like it”, or “it is okay there is always another time”. That is when we often take things for granted. Ever considered:

(a) Time waits for no man?

(b) You spend your entire life to build wealth, but it can’t buy you health; only to end up we have to spend all our wealth to regain our health.

(c) A career or your money can’t buy you happiness, eternal security, and even relationships. Life will have no meaning.

(d) You can’t take anything to Heaven, except your character and your “report card”.

What truly matter? The sting is, you won’t know what you may have to pay in the future.

Consider how you live NOW, for you never know what is going to happen the next hour. It all boils down to your choice.

Purpose Driven Life- Knowing God’s Will

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“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” – Luke 6:46

A few conversation with friends recently got me thinking, expressly when one of them shared that she would not mind God place her in a lower position with a big pay cut to be in a place where God could use her to touch and transform lives in the society. She felt that life would be more purposeful then. She rued over what is the point of living life with so much stress just to earn a fat pay, when one day she may have to pay with her lost time, aging physique and failing health? I affirmed her that God would be pleased to honour her heart desire because that is God’s heartbeat.

Truly, it doesn’t matter how much I earn. It doesn’t matter how much I have attained. What will truly appear in my Cirriculum Vitae to God: Will it be marked with spiritual milestones that God count or fleshy accomplishments that will return to dust eventually?

The bible does not exhort us to earn more money (and yes God does bless some with wealth), to get fat pay check, to live in a big house, to drive the newest car, to climb corporate ladder (and yes God does place some in positions of influence), to travel all over the world, or in short, any earthly pursuits.

Ever consider what happens when the time comes for unemployment, a painful pay cut, a “humiliating” position, a financial or health crises, over a prolonged season of uncertainties- The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble (Proverbs 16:4). The challenge at such times is, God remains silent- It is often said, the Teacher is always quiet during the Test.

We already live half of our lives knowing that life is always full of surprises. And the reality is, God often have to bring us to nothing in order to bring us to something, that is part of His humbling process to surface issues that we did not truly let go. In other word, part of us still want to have the final say (to our ideals, our plans, our rights etc.).

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. ” ― A.W. Tozer

The true greatness of a man’s strength lies in the measure of his surrender. – William Booth

Who told you that you need to get into that position? Who told you that you need to have a certain pay package? Who told you that you need to go into a venture? The list goes on. What if your expectations or your plans are not God’s will for you?

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21

Here’s the take- A purpose driven life is one that sets on doing the Will of God. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13). Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15)

Success is, fulfilling the complete purpose for which God has made you. It is in His Will that what we have been entrusted with on earth is merely a means to advance the purposes of His Kingdom. Success has nothing to do with wealth, accomplishments, status, or standard of living, as the world defines, nor will they appear on our CV to God. We are called to live a life of obedience to the Father when we fulfill the purposes that God had pre-ordained when he made you and me. But do you know the purposes you are made for? Let go and let God. God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. Until you learn this principle, expect that you be going through the same test again, and again.

And let’s face it- we already have half a foot in the grave, and what really matter in your next half of your life? And you never know the hour your time has come, therefore, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for you do not get to bargain in front of God’s Judgement Seat.

Do You Profess True Ambassadorship For Christ?

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While I was studying about what typifies a true Brand Ambassador* for a product- a Brand Ambassador has to reflect the spirit of the product he or she represents. He or she will be the mega-watt spokeperson for the brand.

* A person can be the brand itself, for example, David Beckham can be a brand himself, which he need not necessarily represent any club, since he has established himself well.

In a nutshell, a Brand Ambassador is someone who mirrors its personality (charisma), personifies its character (substance) and communicates the instrinsic benefits (values) of the product. And he or she endears consumers to the brand. The image of such Brand Ambassador has to be wholesome to uphold the good reputation of the brand so that consumers believe in its credibility and reliability. With such good standing, the brand will resound in every corners of the earth through viral marketing. That means everyone is watching! Any one wrong move will negate the brand equity. And the worst case scenario that can happen will be colossally inconceivable- consumers will boycott the brand and the brand value down to zero.

You guessed it, a lightbulb imbued me incandescently- JESUS-BRAND. You and I are called to be an Ambassador for Christ once we crossed over to His Kingdom. In other words, Jesus-brand is our divine birthright.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20

It is going to be our lifetime commitment. The challenge is, we got the whole world watching! Even the Prince of Darkness is abetting us to change allegiances.

The question is, what is the epitome of Christ Ambassadorship?

We have to burrow down to the essence of the brand- that is a sixty-four-thousand-dollar question- what makes Jesus for who He is?

1. Do you first seek passionately the Kingdom of Righteousness or indulge relentlessly in carnal pursuits?

2. Is your devotion perfumed like Mary or incensed like Martha?

3. Does your life reflect the transformation of a New Man or the stagnation of the Old Man?

4. Are you in sync with the Holy Spirit in your daily walk or desensitised by the burdens of your daily living?

5. Do you embrace the magnanimity of the Benevolent King or the heart of the unmerciful servant?

6. Do you embody the fruit of the Spirit or bear the fruits of the sinful nature?

7. Do you bless others with your talents generously or seek only to safeguard your own interest?

8. Does your conversation bespeak a Living Hope or blaspheme with faithlessness?

9. Do you see others with the compassionate eyes of Jesus or through a coloured lens of the self?

10. Do you resonate like a beautiful piano with the hands of love or resound like a hollow gong with a heart of stone?

11. Would you lose your life to respond to God’s calling or you rather keep your life and neglect His ministry?

In a nutshell, a Jesus-Brand Ambassador has to live a life like Jesus did; do like He did; walk like He did; feel like He did and see like He did. In other words, we are to be like Him.

Christ Ambassadorship is unquestionably no easy task, it is as austere as keeping the Ten Commandments. And the sweet side of the deal is, there is certainly a reward for doing a good job.

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. – Matthew 16:27

Desire to have a fruitful Return Of Investment (ROI) to God? Start living with a befitting label.

1. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. – Colossians 3:2

2. If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. – Philippians 2:1-4 (The Message) 

3. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. – Galatians 5:16-26

4. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? – Mark 8:34b-37

Do You Know That The Bible Is A Book Of Strategies?

While helping a client to strategise her brand growth, I have to come up with a Brand Strategy Blueprint for optimal market roll-out. My role is akin to playing Chess- every move will either be a stalemate or a checkmate.

It then dawned upon me that apart from being a Brand Strategist, I can be also be a Battle Strategist. Do you know that the bible is a book of strategies? The bible originates from the true blue Master Strategist of All times.

We are aware that none of us will be immuned to battles, whether battle of the principalities, the flesh or soul, whether at your workplace or at home. In those challenging times, did we consult the living book of strategies in warring against the opposing forces, or we merely scrapping through on our own head knowledge?

It will be too many strategies to list, but to share an example:

  1. How will God entrust you with true riches (may not necessarily mean wealth. It can be riches of the Kingdom, riches of relationships, riches of sound health etc)?

3 STRATEGIES FROM LUKE 16:10-13

(A) Be faithful with the little things (Cross ref to Matthew 25:21)

(B) Be trustworthy (Cross ref to Proverbs 16:11)

(C) Serve God (Cross ref to Matthew 6:33)

Strategies can be adopted in various ways for multi-pronged effectiveness. When comes to war, a General needs to research and know the enemies well: their plans, tactics, routes, and weaknesses, in order to counter attack with the right strategies, whether require single or multilevel. Similarly, we also need to know who is our “enemy” (physical or spiritual), the deceptions of the evil one, our weaknesses etc, in order to counter the attacks with the Living Guidance of God.

REALITY CHECK 1: Do we know our bible well enough to arm ourselves well?

Do you know too that you can strategise your own spiritual growth? Hebrews 5:13-14 says, “Everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their sensibilities to distinguish good from evil.”

REALITY CHECK 2: From where you were to where you are now- how well are you growing?

If Only……

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“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” – Ecclesiastes 11:4 LB

 

If only I establish my career, then I will be able to focus building God’s Kingdom…

If only I have good financial standing, then I will have no worries to serve God…

If only I have the mate, then I will be able to serve and grow in The Lord together…

If only my business is stable, then I will have more time to do the things God wants me to do…

If only my life gets on the right track, then I will be able to accept Christianity…

If only I am happy, then I will be happy to meet the needs of others…

If only I have more time, if only I m not tired, if only I do not have a demanding job, if only it is not too far….

IF ONLY…… THEN…… never ending list.

How about, if you stop finding excuses, then your life will be very different from how you have planned or anticipated? That day of ‘if only, then” will never come because our lives on earth willl never be perfect: no time is perfect, no condition is perfect, nothing gets perfected. And when one day you think you have “arrived” where you want to be, you will ALWAYS ask for more next- “Wait till… Then…” Wait, and wait, and wait, and nothing gets done. God will always have the last room in your life. But, God did not choose a perfect being with a perfect life to perfect His work, He chose us, imperfect beings with imperfect lives, to be work-in-progress for His perfect Glory. He did not say, “Follow Me later” but “Follow Me NOW.” (Ever wonder, the bible records only imperfect scenarios, other than the perfect Son of God?)

To drive home the point:

What are you waiting for? When God is calling you now, will you just get started and God will direct you along the way? Be in for His Surprises this way.

Satisfaction At Work

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It has always been an encouragement to me especially in my early walk trapped in prolonged darkness. And for the first time in 12 yrs I noticed this verse 13 “satisfaction in our labour is a GIFT fm God.” A carnal mind would strongly refute that satisfaction is a result of what we sweat for and a reward of our toil- “I deserve what I work hard for!”

Sounds familiar? Many people strived today because of discontentment and seeking satisfaction that never truly satisfied. They were not satisfied because they go after things that fade away or never meant for them to enjoy, they focus on their selves that subject to inconsistencies and fallacies of a fallen nature.

Satisfaction mentioned herein is not a promise of success or wealth, but that of an enjoyment of the fruits of our effort. The goal of our work is not to gain wealth and possessions on earth, but to serve the common good and bring glory to God- Because: (1) He is the ultimate Creator, Boss and Owner of our jobs; (2) He made us with the talents He wants us to put to good use for Him; (3) He wants our lives to be attestation and testimonies of Him, and (4) He wants to usher us in His Highest Plan for our greatest good, according to His blueprint for each of us.

So when we work unto The Lord, with the focus in pleasing and glorifying Him, our work will be enjoyable, satisfied and multiplied. (Having said this, it does not mean we will not face problems at work…)

Satisfaction is a gift from God, because of our obedience:

Whatever we do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (including one self), and we shall receive our reward. – Colossians 3:23-24; Ephesians 6:7-8

On another hand, there is also a flip side or a danger to being satisfied:

As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me. – Hosea 13:6

Awwww… God knows our hearts, what we are made of and even knows where we will b falling away… Pay heed that we shld always seek and find satisfaction in Him and not the things He made.

Read Ecclesiastes 3