Money Matters

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Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich. – Proverbs 21:17

I had a deep reflection while on the way home last Friday after cell, because it was a subject that was very close to my heart- Money Matters. I chanced upon Proverbs 21:17 which warns those who indulge in carnal pleasures and sensual gratifications, and spend time and money in such a way, are very likely to be poor, and not rich in or towards spiritual things. Dictionary defines pleasures as extravagant living, expensive feastings, and costly leisures or entertainments, and we have often heard that where our money goes to tell a lot about us. And interestingly, according to Ecclesiastes 5:11 NLT, it also warn that the more you have, the more you spend.

I retrospected my life now to the time I was steeped in debts before I gave my life to Jesus. It was a joke that my best subject in Accounts had flunked me in life- poor financial decisions reaped bad consequences. That catastrophe had forced me to live the other spectrum of life: back to the basics- one pair of jeans, one pair of shoes, one bag and one tee-shirt. (Lest you wonder, irrespective of style, cut, type, colour, function, it was just one item only.) Believe me or not, I literally wore them like a set of uniform. Plain Jane? Boring? Sure, but I had no means to indulge. I even had to stay away from shopping lest I be tempted. Till a time my mum had to encourage me that it was high time to change my wardrobe a little as I seemed to live like a tattered beggar. Whenever I needed to make a purchase, I had to prayerfully consulted my Chief Financial Officer (God of course) a few times, “Should I or should I not?” Now that my life is better, I no longer lived that pathetically. However I have to guard myself against all covetousness with a “want versus need” evaluation. But of course I still do make imprudent decisions at times.

Last Friday night after some insightful revelations by the author, I was nudged spiritually, and stumped by a myriad of questions I could not answer:

“Why do you need another pair of shoes?”

“Why do you need another top/ bottom?”

“Why do you need to travel to so many countries?”

“Why do you spend money on immaterial things?”

“How do you spend my money? Have you consult Me?”

“What do you think pleases Me?”

I am no Saint to be sharing this, but I felt in my Spirit to pen down what I had received: Whether we all like it or not, if we are honest, how we spent our money only seek to indulge the “self”: I want to look good; I want to feel good; I am entitled to spend the money because I have worked hard for it; I deserve to reward myself; I need comfort food or things; I want to achieve my dreams; and all on the wanted list.

Some helpful questions to ponder:

  1. Are you sure the money you have are yours?
  2. Who give you the right to spend what pleases your flesh?
  3. Are your “want”s your “need”s? So are they necessary or rather essential for you to live?
  4. Are you doing what God wants you to do?
  5. How have you been sowing in the Kingdom of God?
  6. Why are you so uptight in giving generously to the kingdom purposes of God when you can spend extravagantly on what you love?

Look at Jesus: just a pair of well-travelled sandals, perhaps a few pieces of weather-beaten garbs, and a basic appetite for simple meals.

I am sure some of us will rationalise that Jesus lived in the old era but now we have much choices, therefore the application is not relevant in today standard of living; some of us may also justify “I don’t spend on expensive things” so it won’t hurt, but I do concur that it isn’t about the value, it is our attitude of the heart: what if God asked, “How about you give what you supposed to spend it on, to bless someone who needs it more?”

Listen to how our heart respond, we will get the answer.

Money is the second most referenced topic in the Bible, where it is mentioned more than 800 times. God had first laid the blueprint so that we would not get consumed by the world. We will need God to help in our weaknesses in this area- be humble, God will spotlight the areas that we need to work on.

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Do You Know You Can Lose A Skill You Have Not Use For A Long Time?

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Always remember what you have learned. Your education is your life — guard it well. – Proverbs 4:13 GNT

Do you know that when you have not cycle for donkey’s years, you will lose the skill of cycling? Kid you not, I have not been cycling for 17 years, and to my horror, I now struggle balancing the bike! I reminisced how I used to cycle along the stretch of East Coast Park in my heyday, and loved speed. Not long ago, I picked up cycling, and it unnerved me. After rounds of flustering attempt, I finally managed to cycle a short distance.

P.S. How did I get going? I simply recalled how I first learnt cycling myself when I was in my adolescence, without any help nor affixing the bike with additional wheels.

Similarly, if we have not utilise our God-given talents or apply the knowledge we have picked up from the bible regularly, they can easily dematerialise.

Proverbs 19:8 (GNT) says, “Do yourself a favour and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper.”

Therefore, do not take it for granted, it is to your own benefit to guard what you have learnt well- continual learning and application will keep you in good stead in your personal and spiritual life.

Look At Your Hand To Remind Yourself How To Have A TOTAL Quality Quiet Time

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I was inspired to share about how we can have a quality Quiet Time with simple “Rules of the hand” (in chronological order of priority / importance):

  1. Thumb = Eyes = Read > Ingestion
  2. Index = Ears = Hear > Reinforcement
  3. Middle = Mouth = Pray > Appropriation
  4. Ring = Mind = Mediate > Renewal
  5. Pinky = Heart = Memorise > Inscription
  6. Palm = Core = Act > Application
  1. We have to first read the Word of God in order to feed ourselves spiritually. The more we read, the more Light you allowed the Word to permeate into every areas of “darkness” (not necessarily mean negativity but can be a dull / passive spirit too) in us. For the word of God is living and active, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow… (Hebrews 4:12). Light and darkness cannot co-exist, therefore “darkness” has to flee even with a flickering light- the more light there is, the less room for “darkness”.
  1. Faith comes from by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Sometimes a powerful encounter with God comes when He speaks either to you personally or through His Word. Tune your ears to supplement your reading. Hearing audio bible or devotions can be good ingestion too.
  1. It is a good exercise to appropriate the Word which we have read or heard by praying with it. God would love to have us to ask Him for anything. Our mouth is designed to sing and declare His Goodness, worship in praise, articulate what we want, verbalise His living Word that has power over principalities and internalise His Word when we speak. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) You do not have because you do not ask God. (James 4:2B)

P.S. When we verbalise our prayers, Satan and its demons hear and shudder. That is why warfare prayers are usually loud to deafen them.

  1. Our mind is often a playground for the devil and easily susceptible to deceptions. That is why it is so important to guard our mind as it is like a gate to our soul bypass our heart. The only way to guard our mind is to constantly fill it with the Word of God by meditating upon the Truths. And when we know the Truth, the Truth will set us free indeed (John 8:32). The benefits of meditation: (a) train our mind to be renewed by the Word of God, which in turn effectuate a change of heart; (b) it aligns our mind and heart to the center on God; (c) it reinforces spiritual discipline of believing and trusting God for His promises. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
  1. Writing aids memorisation. And we best remember things that we store in our heart. And our heart is the central part of our being: we feel, speak, react and behave out of which is from our heart. That is why God prefers us to imprint His Words upon our hearts. “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” (Deuteronomy 11:18 NASB) The heart of every matter is a matter of the heart: your heart is either a dead scroll or a living tablet, you reap either of the fruit you have sown in your heart.
  1. Last but not least, all our fingers can only work together with the palm to be fully functional as a hand. Our hand is designed to perform actions. Ever wonder why we open our hands when we are prayed over? That is a receiving posture of faith. When we don’t put to action what we read, hear and know, it is fruitless- Knowledge without application is abortion. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Look at your hand daily to remind you the importance of a TOTAL quality Quiet Time, and you will reap the full benefits of being fruitful in your walk with God.

Courtesy photo (P1030698) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

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.

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.

Pollution. Stars.

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A recent conversation got me thinking- a lady expressed,”Nowadays we could hardly catch any stars. I think the stars have disappeared…” Another lady corrected her, “No, the stars have always been there, just that due to pollution, we can not see the stars.”

How true, just like we often wondered in the midst of silence if God has left us…The truth is, God has never leave us. The crux is, we are too “polluted” by the clutters in our lives that we have missed hearing Him and feeling His Presence.

(I am sure you know prolonged exposure to pollution can be toxic, eventually it choked you, and your health suffer as a result.)

If you could take the time to be still, and look up hard enough, you will see that God is there. He promises in Hebrews 11:6 that “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. God is calling you to EARNESTLY seek Him. “Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalms 46:10

The very first step is, God says in Isaiah 38:1B*, “Put your house in order…” So, get rid of your clutters first then you will be able to see clearly. I am sure we all are great with house-cleaning: trash the unnecessary and unwanted bags of rubbish! Easy peasy isn’t it? Less cobwebs, less dust, less parasites.

*The story: King Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. Prophet Isaiah was sent by God to release this word to the King to put his house in order, otherwise he would not recover…

(The story continued- King Hezekiah was sure he had put all “his house” in order and pleaded his case, God heard and added 15 years to his life.)

P.S. Be amazed at how God puts those glitters in the blanket of darkness.

Growing From faith to Faith and strength to Strength

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… as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to (1) follow Him. Let your (2) roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be (3) built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. – Colossian 2:6-7 NLT

(This verse reminds me of a Quiet Time devotion I was inspired to pen at the beginning of this year- DEEP ROOTS…)

I repeated reading the above verse and glean much treasures:

(1) FOLLOW

The moment we become a believer, we are called to follow Jesus, but in order to continue doing so, we must renounce self daily (Matthew 16:24 Weymouth NT). Those who follow Him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life (John 8:12). True followers of Christ will talk (teaching and deposition) and walk (living it out with actions) like Him over time.

(2) ROOTED

Jesus is our true Vine, if we remain in Him, we can bear fruit (John 15:4). The vine is where the true Source is: God’s Presence, Power, Protection, Provision and Providence. How deep our roots in the vine, will determine how well we abide in Him and how strong we grow.

(3) BUILD

When our foundation is God, we will grow strong on solid ground and live secured in Him. – Matthew 7:24

As a result, “THEN”, which means “after we hv done so”, will our faith grow strong, and stronger each time we live the biblical truths in our lives. Only when we apply the truths, inner transformation will change our heart and attitude, that the outward fruit will b an overflowing thankfulness.

Ponder……

1. DISTRACTED?: Have we been following Jesus daily or we have been busy chasing the world?

2. MALNOURISHED?: We have not been growing or get stagnated because we have not grow our roots deep in the true Vine, nor water our roots well enough with the Water of the Living Word daily? Even plants need daily nutrients fm sun, water and gd soil.

3. UNSTABLE?: Is our foundation shaky? Anything build on this shaky foundation will not withstand the test of inevitabilities.

So, start right, plant deep, build well, remain strong, grow solid and go far.

So when adversities blow……

We can follow the Light even in the midst of darkness;

We can be strong when plugged to the true Power Source;

We can stand firm on the correct solid Foundation;

We can grow from strength to Strength in our faith when tested;

We can be thankful because gratefulness is the byproduct.