Keeping Secrets

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When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”  And You forgave me!  All my guilt is gone. – Psalm 32:3, 5 NLT

Sometimes I encounter friends who would share something with me but end up hushing me to keep them a secret. And I often wondered, if it is meant to be a secret, it is better not to share with me in case I may forget to honour my promise to retain confidentiality. Not only is it a burden to keep promises (because we may fail any time), it is also a burden to keep secrets, for fear of being found out one day if confidentiality is breached by careless and loose tongue.

I am thankful that having served as a former cell group leader had trained me to abide by “professional-spiritual” ethnics in protecting my cell members’ trust in me. And the bonus of shepherding a group had limited my capacity to remember so many things shared with me. Every time, I would feel burdened for them having to keep “secrets”, and I had witnessed how they wasted away with moans and groans all months (or even years) long, to the extent they are numbed and crushed. Like Psalm 38:8 in the bible warns, “I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.”

Whether secrets or not, we all will pay a price for sins or disobedience- even if we can fool men, but we cannot deceive God who can see or know every secret things in our lives.

Ah, you who hide deep from the Lord your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” – Isaiah 29:15

And the more we try to hide, the more darkness will lurk in every corner of our soul., for our soul is not meant to ingest sin. At the end of the day, there will always be something gnawing inside us relentlessly.

The murderer arises at dawn; He kills the poor and the needy, And at night he is as a thief.  (Job 24:14). In the dark, thieves break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. (Job 24:26). Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. (John 3:20)

It is needless to suffer the miseries of unconfessed sins. Ephesians 5:11 exhorts to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13). If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9). Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16).

Remember, as the Chinese proverbs goes, “There is no paper that can contain a fire.”

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, – Acts 3:19

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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.

Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifices

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“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT

I had a catch-up with an old friend, Jae, whose sharing got me in deep rumination:

Snippet 1: When was the last time you can feel that you have grieved the Holy Spirit?

Jae shared about an argument that his 13-year old niece had with her mum who was so upset over her words that she was sent off to her room, “You better think over the words you have just said to me…” My friend knew his niece would cry badly as she had a very stern mother, so he went to check on her. True enough, she was crying badly, so Jae went to comfort her and tried to offer the usual niceties… But guess what was the response of his niece upon receiving his comfort? “Uncle, I do not blame my mum at all, I cry because I have grieved the Holy Spirit…”

I was absolutely stumbed for words to hear that coming from a 13-year old girl. It got me thinking when was the last time we could really FEEL that we have grieved the Holy Spirit by the things we said or did? If it has been a while to have such sensitivity like his young niece, it means that we have not been walking in the spirit closely in our daily lives. So often we pointed fingers and go around the blaming circle, without reflecting whether the problem first lie with us.

Snippet 2: “If this caused my children to stumble and turn away from the Lord, then I rather forego it…”

Jae’s brother can afford to upgrade his comfortable abode to a beautiful luxurious home as God has blessed him with much wealth over the years. His brother has been planning over 3 years how to build his dream home, that he looks forward to living in it with his family. Until a day he just decided to abort his plan and forfeit a huge deposit. Jae was shocked by his abrupt decision so he sounded him out what had happened. His reply was, “If living in a lap of luxury is going to stumble all my young children, especially the youngest one, that they start to behave like some rich pampered kids, just because they are blessed to have a lot more nice things, I rather forego my plans than to risk them to turn away from the Lord…”

I really salute this father for having a kingdom mindset- A God-loving father gives up all his rights for the sake of the next generation in the fear of the lord! Are there any of our decisions or things that we do will compromise the values of the Kingdom? So often, we thought by doing certain things will better the lives of our family- better house, better car, better things, without considering the true value of living on earth.

“Those who honor me I will honor.” – 1 Samuel 2:30B

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

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.