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.

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Do Not Despise Small Beginning

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Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (The seven lamps represent the eyes of the Lord that search all around the world.) – Zechariah 4:10 NLT

While on the way to a friend’s office to help rectify some defective printing goods two weeks ago, I was doing my usual morning reflection on the bus- I expressed my deep gratitude to God again for an account that I never dreamt landing on my lap without prospecting it. I acknowledged that it was truly a divine provision from God– I had to be home-bound in June to help my parents to babysit my baby niece staying with us– Since then, this Client has been engaging me for small jobs each month. I ever paused to ponder over why their projects were all so budgeted. I reckoned that this Client might not trust me for a bigger project until I proved myself with all these small jobs. I was then reminded about a biblical principle to be faithful with the little so that I can be entrusted with much (Luke 16:10). Lo and behold, I heard a small still voice that followed after my train of thoughts, “Do not despise small beginning.” It amazed me how this liner was ever found in Zechariah 4:10 NLT!

Everything has a beginning, and usually started small, so that we can take one step at a time, and depend on him one day at a time. If we remain humble and faithful, relying on God’s blueprint for us, we will be on the road God has already mapped out for us. Above all, God calls for responsible stewardship in big and small alike, to honour Him in all we do. Since everything we have belongs to Him, so if we are faithful to what have been entrusted to us in both quantity and quality, only then can we be trusted with confidence to take care of bigger things. Nothing is insignificant to God- He looks at both our heart (attitude) and our hands (stewardship), and He will reward us in His due time.

His master replied, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ – Luke 19:17

P.S. And yes you have guessed it- after 3 months, my Client decided to engage me for a higher value project. I believe my earnestness paid off. And all thanks to God! May God continues to establish the work of my hands for His Glory sake!

Courtesy photo (P1040673) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

When Pain Comes A-knocking On Your Door

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bystander will not let a hope goes unnoticed.

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

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.