#SGUnited #StayHomeStaySafe #SinglishQT Series (2) Labour Day Special QT: Mai Kan Cheong, More Than Enough- Stockpile Treasures From Heaven. 

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(Be warned: Singlish overloaded! Cheem local ‘vocab’ may stretch you! Power siah!)

When the local government raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange as a result of increased cases of the novel coronavirus on February 7, sending signal that the disease was deemed severe and infection might be contagious. This news was enough to drive Singaporeans into a panic mode, worrying about their livelihoods and the top-of-the-mind response was, “Food!”. You got it- Singaporeans went siao chiong-ing to raid the supermarkets. Worried over food scarcity should the country follow suit to lockdown nationwide, they die-die must stock up the necessities. And wah piang eh, the situation was really sibeh jialat, the shelves for toilet rolls, kitchen towels, wet wipes, maggie mee, rice, eggs, canned meat and hands sanitisers had been wiped out almost clean! I simply don’t understand such mentality especially with paper products which are not edible! Wah lau eh, like that die already loh when the aunties with mountain-full trollies of those essentials made the headlines with our infamous Singaporean symptoms: Kiasu-ism and Kiasee-ism. I myself malu as a local to witness the snatch and hoard culture. My fellow Singaporeans, tolong leh, steady pompipi, it is not the end of the world lah! This kiasu virus is even more potent than COVID-19 and soon the buay tahan virus would evolve even stronger. Sian, I had to join the queue just to get a few simple essentials, but no choice leh before the stock kosong! And sibeh suay to have to jostle with the crowd, the snaking queues really had me flipped!

(Ok, let’s turn sane with proper English now.)

These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. (Matthew 6:32) Do not be like them (the pagans), for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8) 

So, the question is, “Are you the type of person who see half a glass of water as, half full or half empty?” 

Insecurities. It is what drive us to react and response the way we did. Living in today’s world which prizes achievements, social status, material comfort and wealth, that equate success, has bred a downhill trajectory ethical culture. Failing which or fallen short of such benchmark, we may feel insecure like social misfits. And this label left many of us a disgruntled lot with a “hoarder” mentality- the constant need for covetousness and accumulating possessions to feel safe in the least. Sometimes, even the more than enough is not enough…

Because, insecurities will always breed insecurities. This fella will always precipitate:

i. Fear, so we worry. 

ii. Lack of faith, so we get anxious.

iii. Distrust in God to provide or can provide, so we take matters into our own hands.

But the best counter-measures to overcome insecurities: 

1. Turn on the power of prayers

Because worry and prayer cannot co-exist at the same time, either you expend energy worry or better utilise the time to pray- which is useful?

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. – Matthew 21:22

2. Magnify God instead of zooming in on the situation

Turn your focus to our infinite God who is much bigger and can handle anything and everything.

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ – Jeremiah 32:17

3. Meditate on God’s Promises

Rehearse the truth of His Promises over and over until they sink in, for example, one of the good reminders from Matthew 6:25-34, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. …”

4. Allow God’s Peace to rule in our heart

If God’s Peace anchors our heart, insecurities will not rock or cause a rippling effect to our soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27

5. Recall how God has met our previous needs and be reassured that God still care

We are all forgetful beings, so we need to make conscious effort to recall how God had previously provided for our needs. In so doing, we will be more assured that God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, still care to meet our needs.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

6. Trust God to supply as He knows our needs

God, as our loving Father cares for His children, will take care of what we need.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. — 2 Corinthians 9:10

7. Learn to live in contentment

Keep life free from having to want more, and learn to live with what we have at present.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

8. Seek to live one day at a time

Worry does not serve any purpose for good, just as Corrie Ten Boom aptly put across, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

Therefore, take no thought about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take thought about the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof. – Matthew 6:34 

So, stockpile the treasures above instead and the inventory will keep us in good faith to fight a good fight, over the long run. 

#SGUnited #StayHomeStaySafe #SinglishQT Series (1) QT: Seriously Sugar Rush? 

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When our Prime Minister announced on the evening of April 21 that ‘Circuit Breaker’ (hereafter will be abbreviated as ‘CB’) had to be extended till June 1 with more safe distancing measures enforced to mitigate risks of infections within the community, especially some of the non-essential services have to be temporarily closed. One of the affected services was bubble tea, which caused an ‘uproar’ with tea-lovers scrambling down to get their sugar-fix before it ceased operation at 23:59! And the social media was abuzz with these stores busy on the ground with tons of orders for the night. Bubble-tea-lover-netizens expressed that they die-die must have this sugar-with-pearls-fix, otherwise can mati if do without for the next 30 days (or longer for crying out loud)! 

The posts sparked off two ‘acrid’ responses: (a) “Sure boh, simi logic? Seriously???”, (b) “Aiyoh, where is the safe distancing measure in place??”

Risks. When people have something they would die for, they would not mind taking the risks. The debate then is, is it worth risking your life for? Indeed not my ‘cup of tea’ to seek to understand the craze over this beverage.

But it inspired me to pen my thoughts behind this episode- The perpetrator is a great Tempter.

Many of us have sweet tooth and crave for sweets; some of us are merely bored and need to have some sweets; some of us are stressed and seek after sweets to destress; some of us turn to sweets as comfort food; some of us simply cannot resist the temptation to binge; and may be some of us are just tempted to follow the trend.

Temptations. Of course, temptations come in many forms, not just the sugar or the pearls- Tempted to rebel; tempted to complain; tempted to doubt; tempted to entertain negative thoughts; tempted to fear… and the list is inexhaustible. 

We made of flesh are susceptible to temptations from time to time, and vulnerable to the devil’s schemes. But it must be emphasised that Satan cannot make us do anything! It is our own choice either to listen to him and succumb or turn away from him and resist. Satan can entice us to sin but he cannot force us to act upon it. It is our sole responsibility how we respond with either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. And we can’t pin the blame on anyone if we choose to be subject to temptation.

But by the Grace of God, it is by His Word we can resist temptations- ‘He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)… Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ (Matthew 4:7) Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written,… (Matthew 4:10a).’

“It is written…” is a spiritual authority from the bible given to us as a weapon and as a defence shield. The bible is our first aid kit, survivor guide, life manual and ammunition pack, for life.

At such unprecedented season, the extended CB has affected all strata of society. So let’s face it squarely- life may beat us down, but we can live above it when we stand firm even when life’s headwinds gust our way. Instead of focusing all our attention on ourselves and the curveballs life throws our way, let us persevere by fixing our eyes on Jesus who is our Overcomer, and He has already provided the ‘sweet healthy pearls’ from the bible:

  1. Be aware of your weaknesses or hot buttons that Satan already know:

that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices. – 2 Corinthians 2:11

  1. Be watchful and mindful of being ensnared anytime:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

  1. Yield yourself to God decisively and the devil will flee:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

  1. Stop instantly to break the sin pattern or vicious cycle:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. (1 John 3:8a) And give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

  1. Avoid situation that will tempt you:

abstain from every form of evil… – 1 Thessalonians 5:22

  1. Remind yourself of your position in Christ and Who is living in you:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

  1. Remember that God will not allow any temptation that you can’t handle and He will help you:

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

  1. Appropriate the power of prayer with “It is written…” or “God says…”

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. – Hebrews 4:12

The devil is already a defeated enemy when we are freed by Christ, and we who is “in Christ” live “in Christ” cannot be recaptured, unless we subject ourselves to practices of this fallen world where Satan is still very active. Remember, if you give an inch (2.54 cm), he (the devil) will take a mile (1.61 km)!

BE INTENTIONAL: Fight or Flight- Lock down but not knock down

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Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us. Psalm 44:5

SPECIAL THANKSGIVING FOR THE HEALTHCARE HEROES AT THE FRONTLINE BATTLING COVID-19:

No words can really describe how it has not been easy for all the healthcare personnels on the frontline, working tirelessly with the day to day demands in battling COVID-19 and coping under untold pressure. These unsung heroes have my utmost admiration for their great sacrifices, especially their time with their families. May they continue to stay resilient and God rewards them greatly. I would like to bless them with these verses:

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary (Isaiah 40:31). For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory (Deuteronomy 20:4).

Let us remember too we each have our part to play by exercising social responsibility, and together we can overcome! Keep strong and safe everyone!

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For the first time I felt the heat of “the gloom and doom” of the unprecedented season of COVID19 pandemic, that has the world in crumbles.

For the first time I have personally witnessed empty malls and people are getting 1-metre distant because of the new safety measures imposed for personal safety and protection from the spread of infection.

For the first time I can feel the intensity of the battle when the numbers of infected cases rising each day, as if earth is coming to its last day:

Borders are closed.

Entertainment venues are closed.

Enrichment centres are closed.

Schools are closed.

Offices are closed.

Malls are empty.

Food establishments are empty.

Streets are empty.

Events are cancelled.

Flights are grounded.

Salaries are cut.

Jobs are lost.

Deaths are counting……

Uncertainties, anxieties, insecurities and fears plagued everyone as news spread on social media like rampant bush fires. No one can really make sense of what is happening right now.

Does adversity mean God is not at work or His seemingly absence imply His nonchalance? Why don’t we consider hearing this Truth:

Hard times and trouble are God’s way of getting our attention! And at this very moment, God deeply desires to lead you from trouble and to spread your table with your favorite food. – Job 36:15-16 CEV

It is a wake up call that need our attention.

Cry out in the night… Pour out your heart like water in prayer to the Lord. – Lamentations 2:19 NCV.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. – Genesis 50:20

We may be locked out but not knocked down- tough times don’t last but tough people do. Keep the hope and fight with faith, together with God, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:37).

BE INTENTIONAL (3): RESTART- Get Up, Get Out And Get Going

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When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Psalm 61:2

Not too long ago I upgraded the tank for my swimming pets (Wonder shrimps and water snails) so that they will have more room to manoeuvre. I had also made a special request to the shop owner to change two of the decorative shells on the sand bed to rocks instead. Rocks to me is a great reminder that Jesus is my Rock, and on this Rock I can stand on solid ground where I will not be shaken! 

As the tank sits on my desk, I can steal glances at my pets any time. From time to time, I notice that some of the snails will hide in the crevices of the rocks, and some seem to be lodged in there for a very long time. 

This sight brought to my mind that many of us are like those snails, refusing to budge- We burrow deep into our own valleys, wallow in our self-pity parties, sink into a seemingly bottomless abyss of emotions and refuse to get out of the mud. The snails probably thinking it is safer to hide in the crevices, but how great is that darkness that enshroud them! Isn’t that more frightening not able to see any light at all?

Many of us are deceived while ensnared by the traps of the evil ones and enslaved by the devil to derail our faith by blindsiding us to the Truth. As a result, we get veered off course in the wilderness and rendered us asunder in the spiritual chasm. 

But the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord- where God directs, there is safety. When overwhelmed by our own anxieties, we often forget that we have a powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal that provide powerful ammunition against all evils (unless we are rusty in using it).

Nobody have it altogether in order to get right with God- God can take our broken pieces, exactly what we are, and made us whole. And building our lives on the solid bedrock of God’s Word, we will be able to stand strong on this Rock of Foundation, no matter what life tsunamis hit us.

The key is, our choice has to be intentional – we must want to be set free, decide to break away and not turning back. And that has to start with the mind to make that choice and follow through no matter what, then the rest of our action will follow – So get up first, then get out, and get going! 

Unchangeable. Unbreakable. Unstoppable.

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Whenever life gets into a mess

From the trying times of high stress

Those moments caught me faith less…

 

When Providence seems to be taking me for a ride

There is nowhere I could hide

I no longer know how to take things in my stride…

 

All the wanderings in my mind

Caught my spirit in a bind

There are no answers to life’s vicissitudes I could find…

 

The battles I have to wrestle each day

The rebellion of sins hold me in ransom to pay

There are times I could not even pray…

 

The silent nights seem long

My waning soul long for a song

In need of His Love to stay strong…

 

The core of my soul crippled in pain

Every fibre of my being in need of an Angel’s slain  

I am back in the valley again…

 

Weary from all the fight

When days passed without light

And God is no where in sight…

 

The howling storms of doubt and fear assail, 

I cling to the promises of God that never fail, 

by the living Word of God I ought to prevail…

 

As I watch by the breakwater the turn of each tide

The sea reminds me that God’s Love is deep and wide

That I have forgotten God is right by my side…

 

As I watch from a distance the day falls from dawn to dust

I look up to God whom I place my trust

Hold on to the Almighty I must…

 

His Character is unchangeable

His Promises unbreakable

His Love unstoppable.

Why Waiting Is So So Hard……

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“God does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what He is doing” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 NCV

Living in today’s fast-paced world where everything is a quick-fix, quick-gain, quick-grab, quick-bite, quick-sale, quick-fly, quick-quit and quick-confirm (a Singlish terminology), little wonder that people are a lot more impatient now than ever. Nobody likes to wait — except Singaporeans’ unflinching penchant for good food that long-long queue means die-die-must-try (speaking in Singlish again) — as waiting always challenge one’s patience, and is always the hardest and perhaps painful, especially when we are in a hurry.

And it hurts to know that God has never been in a hurry- He is never too early nor too late – His Timing is always perfect. But we are the problem – how do we hear His answer, nor know His Timing? 

Wait, wait and wait… Delay after delay… And yet God is still silent. We all have such seasons in our lifetime. But God has His reasons that we are not able to grasp His infinite incomprehensibleness.  

So when we are in a hurry, we are susceptible to commit the fallacy in taking matters into our own hands, thinking that God will still bless us if we think our decision is right. Little are we aware that impatience really means it is a lack of trust. When we are impatient, we are implying that we do not trust God enough to wait any longer, because time is running short and we reinforced our decision, thinking that God does not care enough to answer on time in our best interest, or perhaps, we think that God’s way is not the best. And here’s another pinch to our already bruised soul- God never reveal His Timetable nor His plans for us, ahead.

Sounds familiar? 

I had been there, and it took me donkey’s years to really learnt that trusting God’s timing is always a maturing of character and testing of faith, that I need to discern between hearing God says, “No.” and “Not yet.”. And delays are not necessarily His denial. (And yes, I often wish God can simply say, “Yes!” and make my life easier, but I guess I would not have learnt what it means to differentiate discernibly His Will in so doing.)

From time to time, I often have to remind myself how God had prepared Moses for 80 years, including 40 in the wilderness from a somebody (he was born a Prince) to a nobody (he became a refugee from murder) then to be somebody He had intended Moses for (leading the Isrealites to the Promised Land). I am sure, like Moses, we all have wondering and wandering times, struggling with “What is next, God?”, “When, God?”, “Is it time yet, God”, “What is this, God?”, “Are you there, God?”…… And God’s “Not Yet” took Moses 80 years in waiting… Woah, it is a-gulping-long-time…

God can do any thing any time, time is never a factor to Him. But He is far more concerned in our Character than our comfort; that we act in Faith than respond in fear; and that we preserver in Trust than we panic and tumble. Common to the adage that great souls are birthed through seasons of pain and suffering, our learning path will be shorter so long as we do not short-circuit our process of God’s refinements. Just as James advised, “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed” (James 1:4 MSG).

Just remember where we are standing now- how far we have come, we are not yet where we want to be, but at least we are not where we used to be. 

Here’s God’s golden rules:

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act – Psalm 37:7 NLT

Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, And he who hurries his footsteps errs.- Proverbs 19:2

Last but not least, LEARN to be patient and WAIT in trust for God’s Best in His perfect Timing.

A Victim into Victor: When You Can’t Trace God’s Hands, Trust His Heart

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And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

Not so long ago, there was a continuous spate of events about the breakdown of our local train made me realised that humans grumbled a lot when they encountered the inconveniences of disruptions. Regarded in the same light, we are also quick and inclined to throw a fist at God for the one thing that caused us great disappointment or anger, yet we failed to count the times God has blessed us with so much more. Just one setback can discount everything else.

When things aren’t going in our favour, we are susceptible to strike a protest or stage a long-drawn  rebellion. And before long, we spiralled down to a spiritual “black-hole”. The truth of the matter is, there is always a cause and effect in everything – it all start with an incidence that provoke a thought to engender a decision which in turn evoke our emotion and lead us to an action. Don’t belittle even the little thing because it is often the little foxes that spoilt the vineyards (Song of Solomon 2:15). A small spark is capable to set an entire forest on fire. (James 3:5B)

I once was on a rampage why life was so unfair to me. I felt coerced having to accept my “ill fate” that I did not deserve. Broken dreams broke my heart, so much that I came to hate this God who claimed He was good and everything was in His control. I had been cussing vehemently, “What a joke! There is NO God.” I was so broken that God actually came in person- In a deliverance session of dealing with my deepest pain, I saw myself as a three year old lost, enshrouded in darkness and wailing away. At that instance, Jesus came smiling, held my hand to comfort me and led me out of that darkness. As the back view of the two silhouettes dimmed away, I found my heart touched in a very supernatural way in showing me how much I was loved that He came to lead me out of that black-hole. That was my personal encounter with a living God that I could not deny His existence. That was how God got my little fox- it was the aching void of rejection in the need to be loved.

We all had our past, our former way of life with old mindsets and belief systems. And life in the fallen nature has us on roller-coaster from time to time. Although we may have accepted Jesus into our lives which already marked a new beginning, but some of us are still living with foxes that are nestling in deep burrows. The quality of our lives now reveal traces of what had been once-upon-a-time.

Hollow out the little sly fox(es). Jesus is very near to the broken-hearted. When we can’t trace HIs Hands in whatever situation we are in, we can trust His Heart no matter how you feel. A victim by exigencies can become a Victor by overcoming.

P.S. Today is Good Friday, let’s look at the Cross, again, the horizontal beam demonstrates how wide is His Love and the vertical beam shows how deep is His Grace. And when the two beams intersect in the middle, God affirms that nothing can separate us from the Love of God, no matter how far and how deep we have wandered. Because of His Greatest Sacrifice sending Jesus nailed on the Cross, there is no redemption beyond the impossible. Jesus bore our transgressions, carried the cross for our shame and sting by painful rejection from His own Father, yet He was willing to lay down His Life for our sake, so that we can live. Shouldn’t that give you reasons enough to hand to Him what you can’t handle? Shouldn’t that teach us not to take His Grace for granted?

Trials into Triumphs: Fear to Faith

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My life is in your hands. Save me from enemies who hunt me down. – Psalm 31:15 CEV

I ever wondered why some of us do struggle with trusting our Heavenly Father with our lives when we can entrust our own mortality to pilots who take us across bottomless oceans and precipitous mountains. Those who love to travel have this unspoken assurance and faith that the planes they are in will arrive at their destinations safely. Such is an absolute trust in finite pilots behind the wheels, but yet we fall short in trusting God altogether who is infinite and in control of the entire universe.

I am one such traveller who is apprehensive about taking flight. I really do not like the idea of floating in mid-air for hours, I felt as if my heart may pop out of my mouth any time, hence, I never get to enjoy the flight with ease. However, I do love the destination. Regrettably, in order to get to the destination, we need to embark on the journey whether we like it or not, and the road ahead is often paved with uncertainties of what is yet to come.

And truth be told, life is never perfect nor free from trials and testings. Many a times we made zig-zag turns or even u-turns in life that mess up our lives. As a result, we unwittingly enter into the wilderness or even the Valley of Baka (weeping). During those times of testings, it is human nature for believers to struggle even in our faith. Trials can incapacitate us with fears physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally and mentally.

Yet the place of our greatest triumph is usually birthed from our greatest pain- God will use our greatest failure or deepest sorrow as a catalyst for a glorifying end in our lives and the lives of others. Our valley or pit becomes revived springs for ourselves and others, where we will go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:6). Only through ‘death’ can new springs come forth and a new strength emerges.

Recall Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading at the feet of the only One who can sustain him. How deep was His anguish that He even shed tears in blood. Even to death, Jesus submitted to His Father’s Will obediently (Hebrews 5:8). Ultimately, He overcame His testing, triumphed over His enemies and emerged victoriously.

It takes fear to confront Faith;

It takes Faith to conquer Fear.

Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same plane.

Only through partnering God, can we be overcomer like Jesus did. (John 16:33) Take heart that in all things God works for good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

A Mess Into A Message: Your Story Is HIStory (“HIs-Story”)

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They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. – Psalm 105:18-19 NLT

In the earlier days as a new believer, I saw myself in a few visions where I stood before a congregation to share about God. Lo and behold, I was requested to share my testimony for a session, “Faith To Heal The Wounded Soul” at my church’s Women’s Encounter. I had to muster enough courage to stand ‘naked’ before an audience of unfamiliar faces just to relate my checkered past. At some point in life, I really hate my life, I always begrudged why my life was beset with issues and challenges that were hard to bear. My life was such a mess up- a broken home, broken body, broken life and broken dreams- health crisis, identity crisis, financial crisis, and family crisis, I had been through them all. I did wonder would my life turn out differently if I have known Jesus much earlier…… If only I stop being so obstinate, I would have avoided much hard knocks of life and saved myself from much bruises and injuries. Perhaps, I am bearing the consequences of my own rebellion and bad choices.

But I must brutally confessed that it is better to go through life with God than without Him. Life will be more bearable with an Almighty than to shoulder it alone.

And my story is HIStory (“HIs-Story”), that took me years of broken dreams and humble circumstances in order to break every ounce of pride and self-will, to come to the end of myself.

If you ever wonder why life can be a series of mess- adversity of failing health, failed career, failed finances, failed relationships, and broken dreams?

Ever wonder why are we on earth for, having to go through such crises in certain seasons of our lives?

Ever wonder why must we go through storms of life?

And ever wonder if we took one wrong turn, we have missed out God’s Best?

Even after much wrestling with God, we can never seem to find those answers with bended fists, brandished arms and clenched teeth. Most of life’s difficult questions are best answered when we go through things that try us the most, for those are the things that God allow to prove by the truth of the Word of God and His Sovereignty. And there is always Light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long, His purposes will always prevail. God certainly desire us to be freed, if only we allow Him a free rein in our lives- changes can only happen when we embrace them openly.

We are made for more than just managing problems in life, that whatever we are going through act as catalysts in experiencing God’s Purposes, Grace, Power and Glory, that unfold a greater story. And the good news is, even if we missed an opportunity, took the wrong turn or made a wrong decision, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8). God is much bigger than our disobedience or mis-calculation on our part, isn’t that comforting to know our entire life won’t be thrown off course? Everything in life has His gentle Handprints, but you hold the pen to your story.

Some of the staunchest Christians I know are people who had periods in their life when they questioned the Bible, Christ, and God.  But as they continued to examine the matter, there was overwhelming evidence that only “the fool hath said in his heart, there is not God.” In God’s economy, you must go down into the shadow of grief before you can scale the heights of spiritual glory. You must come to the end of self before you begin to live. When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.

– Billy Graham

The Only Way To Defeat Darkness Is Light

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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

A tagline from a movie trailer flashed, “The only way to defeat darkness is light.” It reverberated to me that the world is getting darker…… The recent surge of suicides reported in the news, reinforced with campaigns in promoting awareness about depression and mental illnesses, and triggered by a recent traumatic event, it hit me that the scariest part actually isn’t darkness itself, it is when there is no light inside of us – a spiritual darkness that has inconceivable repercussion on a person’s soul that will beget physical consequences.

Let’s supposed a room encounters a sudden power outage, and it is enshroud in complete darkness. Any normal human being would react with a panic at an instance; most of us would cringe in anxiety of the surrounding darkness, which as a result render us immobilised with fear. And the longer we sit in that room, darkness will loom to be larger that it seems to be. Eventually, we held in hostage by its principalities.

If anyone walks in the dark, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.- John 11:10

We certainly cannot war against darkness with our mere flesh and strength, it is the principalities behind it that require spiritual weapons. Just as a physical light lights up the room of darkness, spiritual light (inside of you with the power of Holy Spirit, God’s Word, and prayers) can cause darkness to flee too!

Therefore when there is no light inside of us, we can’t activate its power, we will be like a walking dead, and life will seem like an abyss of darkness. The only way to defeat that darkness is light.

In Him (Jesus) was life, and the Life was the Light of men (John 1:4). Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5).

But the sad reality is, many of us get so accustomed to the darkness over prolonged period that we do not want to turn on the light, or rather we refuse to do anything to seek the light. Some of us have succumbed too easily; some of us held on too tightly to the chains that bound us to our own dungeon and not ready to face the light. The truth is, God has already provided the options for us to be freed, the key is whether we have let go and let God.

David prayed, “When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do” – Psalm 142:3 GNT

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I (may) sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. – Micah 7:8

Get up, search for the light, turn on the light, walk towards the light and look to the light. Darkness will have to flee even with a flickering light, no matter how small or weak is the candle wick, let the light shines.

Problems. You Have Not Reached Your Limit Yet!

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Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. – Proverbs 20:30 GN

A threesome conversation with friends on how our flesh becomes flabby as we age, that we burst into laughter when we were jesting about how soft our “chicken wings” (the area where biceps is located) are. It is a sad reality that women are more prone to donning “butterfly sleeves” if we do not exercise our arms.

I trained with weights almost every day in order to maintain the toned muscles I had painstakingly built since my younger athletic days. (P.S. Trust me, I am not motivated to exercise all the time when I had my times of lethargy, busyness and moodiness. I would try to find lame excuses to resist training….) It takes daily discipline (certainly a lot of dying to the self) and resolution to take the grind. Just as the adage that goes, “No pain, no gain.”

Weights build resistance. By adding more weights to our training, pressure are applied to our resistance which help to stretch our muscles further. Our muscles are stretched every time we add pressure and our resistance gets better with each intensity. As a result, our muscles are toned according to the weight we can handle.

In the same context, pressures of life, problems, challenges, stresses, troubles and trials help to train us towards building stronger faith-muscles, higher resilience and better character. The more intensified our training, the greater the reward to God’s Glory.

Here are some of God’s purposes in our problems to train us:

We can rejoice when we run into problems they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady (Romans 5:3-4, LB). training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. (Titus 2:12)

  1. They are opportunities to stretch our limits and to rely on Him to help;
  2. They add spiritual dimension to our faith;
  3. They are test to reveal our heart and purify our motives;
  4. They offer difference experiences in order to break down our wrong values and belief system in order to change our perspectives and our heartitude (heart and attitude) for renewal;
  5. They help to direct us when we derail from His plans for us or we are threading on dangerous grounds;
  6. They are showcases for God’s testimonies when we overcome them.
  7. They are temporary and can’t be compared to the eternal glory that outweigh them all.

Remember that God is much more interested in our character than our comfort; He is more concerned how we journey in our race than how well we started or how far we go. He will use trials to refine our character, and until we have learnt what we need to learn, God will always bring back the same issue again (and again…). What is God speaking to you through your problem or situation today?

“Problems are inevitable, but suffering is optional.”, for we have the Holy Spirit living inside us to help us.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)

A Beautiful Exchange

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To all who mourn in Israel He will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory. – Isaiah 61:3 TLB

(Studies shown that in the Biblical times, it was the custom for people in great mourning and difficulty to lay down in pile of dirty ashes.)

Today marks a new beginning: a new chapter, a new hope, a new milestone, and a renewed spirit. “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 34:19A)

Matthew 9:17 cautions that ”no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

So in order for the new to arrive, we have to get rid of the old.

The bumps and curves of life in the past year may have left us wounded with hurts and crushed by disappointments. We may even wallowed in that stinking puddle of pain, anger, bitterness and resentment. In our sub-consciousness, we may even be angry with God.

Yet our loving and gracious God doesn’t want us to remain in the ashes of the past; He wants to trade our brokenness for healing and restoration; He wants to exchange our ashes for the better (beauty). A beautiful exchange that wasn’t merited; His promise is far greater than the sum of our past, failures, mistakes and agony.

But that can only happen if we let go of what has been holding us back, and let God does His Work. Only then can we experience true freedom when we have totally release what we have been holding in our hands- if you need to forgive someone or even yourself, forgive; if you need to get rid of an unhealthy habit, rid of it; if you need to overcome the carnal nature of the flesh, crucify it.

It all boils down to a choice, we have to choose not to let what has happened to define us, and allow God to use those things to refine us. All our tears and heartaches are not without purpose, for our desert experiences seek only to draw us closer to Him so that we can learn to trust Him more.

So don’t waste another day sitting in the ashes, for we have a future ahead that can be filled with beauty. God has already done a beautiful exchange, we just need to trade up and return to Him as a new ‘wineskin’.

“I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.” – Isaiah 44:22 NASB

The Pain Of Denial (Part 1)

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P.S. I will be sharing in parts as it will be too much to share at one time. I was prompted to share my convictions, and hope by sharing this entry in my own spiritual journal, it will bring illumination in a new light.

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

We all have heard this verse far too many times. If we are honest, we also switch off many times. This has been the mandate of my previous cell at one time till a time it became alive to me– I went through a very difficult transition in my life two years ago when I was impacted with a physical condition, although not life-threatening, that a surgery could not fix and a healing miracle seemed implausible — Dashed dreams. Crushed hope. Wretched self. Menacing fears.

The first few weeks upon receiving the check-up report, I wasn’t able to worship in church– I was incapacitated to sing nor clap along. All in my mind was, “Why??” and “God, where are you?” My ex-G12 cell and my mentor had showered me with inordinate amount of concern, but I wasn’t grateful. I just wanted to be left alone as I justified the rights to my disappointments and lamely to confess my anger with God too. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend the weekly G12 meetings, and I even withdrew myself from the cell. But to my surprise, I couldn’t abandon my open cell that I had to lead every Friday. I still fulfilled my duty, shared the Word, and put on smiles (though I was struggling very badly as if a hypocrite).

Was I wearing a mask with my open cell? No. It was one method that helped me- “Deny myself.”

I couldn’t count the number of times “I didn’t FEEL up to it or FEEL like to”, “I didn’t WANT to…”, “I hate to be forced to…”, “I have the RIGHTS to…” I merely trying to cook up excuses as justified reasons. Till I came to a point that I realised I was actually very self-centered, very consumed with “I, me, myself” and very inwards-looking, focusing on myself only. I put my feelings and emotions before God as how I feel and what I want is more important than Him. It was a constant battle to deny, deny, deny, deny myself in the pit. It was even a scarier experience when I was enshrouded with darkness, alone, and found myself drifting away spiritually over six months. I was aware of such a downwards spiral, but I refused to yield as I was wrestling with God like Jacob. What really jolted me was- I began to lose myself while threading on a very thin tightrope, and any moment longer, I think I had tipped to the other side. That was unthinkably scary.

So how did I climb out of the pit, and back to the Cross? I have to simply keep denying myself daily, yes, EVERY DAY- deny my mood for the day, deny my emotions, deny my rights, deny my will, even to denying my convenience (my own time, my own pace, my own freedom…), and surrender to the Cross.

If we are honest with ourselves, it is by NATURE we follow what our flesh leads us. It is unnatural for us to contradict our flesh and that takes SUPERNATURAL intervention with the help of the Spirit. Aside to taking action to deny the self, we can draw reinforced strength from these verses:

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. – Galatians 5:16-17

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:7-8

There is no change in my physical condition, but I had stopped asking all the whys because there will never be any answer- and who am I to question the Sovereignty? It was a decision whether to continue rotting by being my own god or to let go of all and let God be God. And letting go doesn’t mean to remain status quo. Just like bible says, “Faith without action is dead”, so I had to force myself since it is unnaturally of me to crucify my flesh to weaken its desires. It is simply to put to action in denying myself.

No doubt it is an uphill task because our flesh gets stronger when our Spirit is quenched by sins. It is a humbling experience to call upon God for help in this area.

So first thing first, get right with God. Face it honestly- Overcome it with God far easier and better than letting what consumed you and lose yourself.

“What Is It You Want?” The Trivial Things.

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Throwing off his cloak, Bartimaeus jumped up and came to Jesus. “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Rabboni, said the blind man, “I want to see again.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. – Mark 10:50-52

It has never occurred to me to pray to God for trivial things. I thought it was incredulous to ask a supreme being who does big things to do something so insignificant. Until a friend put into a new perspective that God is concerned what is bothering us even with the slightest matter! (Imagine God numbers every strand of hair on our head as delineated in Luke 12:7. That shows God is a God of fine details!)

I found it amusing to be asking God, in my 15-year journey with Him, to request Him to be my alarm clock as I needed to wake up earlier to rush work. (Lest you wonder, normal alarm clock doesn’t work on me……) Initially I prayed, “God, please wake me up earlier.” Indeed, I had been waking up earlier than my usual timing, but it was still behind time as planned. Until I decided to be more specific, so I prayed to God to wake me up at 8am.

Yes, you guessed it. I really woke up at 8am!

“What is it you want?”, God asks specifically. (Matthew 20:21)

“What do you want me to do for you?”, Jesus asks specifically. (Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41)

Therefore, be specific, no matter how trivial your request.

Don’t worry about anything (including what you worry that your requests may be too trivial for the Almighty); instead, pray about everything (yes, all the little things that bother you). Tell God what you need (specifically), and thank Him for all He has done (claim and receive by faith). If you do this (by praying and petitioning), you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand (and you be in for a surprise!). His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (just trust Him). – Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

On the other hand, even if we have yet to hear our prayers answered, Jesus encourages us to always pray and not lose heart, through a parable in Luke 18, about a persistent widow pleading her cause continually, until the judge had to grant her request. Although 1 John 5:14-15 reminds us that God hears each prayer: “And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will. And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for.” Our prayers have to be in line with the Will of God, as not everything is beneficial to us. We have to trust our all-knowing, loving God wants the best for us, and leave the outcome in His Hands.

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.

The Pain Of Contentment

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Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. – Philippians 4:11-12

In the midst of some household chores, I chanced upon this quote in the Chinese newspaper that read,  “不知足的人,永远不会福。” (which literally translated as, “Those who do not know how to be contented, will never be blessed.”) resonated deeply to me.

During times of lack in my journey of entrepreneurship, I struggled the most with being contented. I seem to be consumed by thought of “Will I have the money this month?” day in and day out. I do not trust my Heavenly Father to provide? Perhaps. I lack faith? Perhaps. I worship money more than God? Perhaps. I am getting worldly? Perhaps. I am relying on my own strength instead of God? Perhaps. It is just part and parcel of being an entrepreneur? Perhaps. Thousand of possibilities.

And there is always this great void in me that can’t seem to find peace. Perhaps, it is a sense of insecurity. At such, the word, “contentment”, was never found in my dictionary. After prolonged seasons of seeking after “more securities or assurance”, I seemed to distrust God more and more. Perhaps my value system in believing that if I work hard, I will get what I have worked hard for. But nothing is further than the truth- no matter how hard I tried, the return of “investment” (time and effort) did not commensurate with what I had consecrated to. Didn’t the bible say, “one reaps what one have sown”? (2 Corinthians 9:6)

That was how I discovered something is not quite right with my mentality. Little wonder, blessings elude me because I never learnt to appreciate the little and be contented.

The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways. (Proverbs 14:14) Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)

It was high time to let go and let God. But it took me years to really learn from Exodus 16 to live day to day and taking one step at a time, where God provides just enough for the day. I have to daily exercise my faith muscles and work on my trust issue- imagine I receive a mandate from Jesus, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25) Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15) Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for you brought nothing into the world, and you cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these you shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

In whatever situation, good or bad, we are to count our blessings even in the little things, and learn to be contented. Only then will we realise how blessed we are for God’s mercies and love are often disguised in what we deemed insignificant. We are forgetful beings and need constant reminders that God will supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

God doesn’t just bless us with bigger things all the time, but often the little things that made us learn to depend on Him more, and more.

Courtesy photo from a friend who visited Canggu, Bali, on 1 October 2017.

When Conscience Pricks……

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They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. – Romans 2:15

Having been working on my own for 6 years, I know that running a business is not easy. It is akin to treading on treacherous ground when I am surrounded by a lot more shrewd business-people. On many occasions, I have been conflicted by compromising situations, either a make-it or break-it decision. I could not count how many times my conscience has been on toes.

Sometimes as a result of unwise decision with lack of prudence, we acted indiscreetly and made mistakes. I can totally relate to how it feels to have my conscience gnawing relentlessly. But when I seek to redress the wrong and do right, it feels good to breathe the air of liberation,  and able to lift my head up without condemnation.

Our conscience can bear witness to our actions, and we will reap what we sow. We have to consider even our innermost thoughts which can breed evils that prick our conscience too. If you think you can camouflage an evil thought or keeping hush over a bad action, be warned that God knows every details, whether inwardly or outwardly.

Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 23:24

When one’s conscience is seared, that is when darkness of the soul has rendered the person impotent of thinking, feeling and doing right. And if we persist in walking down the wrong path, we will be on a spiritual downward spiral.

Holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, – 1 Timothy 1:19

But if we seek righteousness, we leave no room for malice and can stand upright before others.

Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. – 1 Peter 3:16

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (Romans 13:5) It is good to include in our prayers that we be sure we have a clear conscience and desiring to act honourably in all things (Hebrews 13:18), just as Paul could declare, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” (Acts 23:1)

Our spiritual lives should be temperated by love, guided by a pure heart with good conscience and acting upon a true faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)

In a nutshell, it resonates with a famous quote that goes:

Watch your thoughts;

They become words.

Watch your words;

They become actions.

Watch your actions;

They become habits.

Watch your habits;

They become character.

Watch your character;

It becomes your destiny.

Period.

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“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

A punctuation mark has just inspired me- a full-stop, in other word, “Period”.

We have all from time to time entertain the dot, dot, dot, dot, dot, dot. But often God puts a period to where it should be. Although our life is a journey, our ups-and-downs are never a destination: Each hard knock is a school; each trial is a teacher, each experience is an education; each test is a testimony; and each challenge is your character development. And that is where we all need to learn where to put the “period”.

RECALL (Upward focus):

  1. God is All-powerful (Matthew 19:26). Period.
  2. God is Sovereign (Psalm 103:19). Period.
  3. God is our Refuge and Strength (Psalm 46:1). Period.
  4. God is unchanging, He is the same, yesterday and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). Period.
  5. God is in control (Psalms 22:28). Period.
  6. God is our double-portion (Isaiah 61:7). Period.

REALIGNMENT (Inward transformation):

  1. Fix our eyes on things unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). Period.
  2. Set our mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). Period.
  3. Guard your heart with all vigilance (Proverbs 4:23). Period.

RESPONSE (Outward action):

  1. Wear your full armor of God daily so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). Period.
  2. Think of thoughts that are true, good and sound (Philippians 4:8). Period.
  3. Hold your mind steadfast on God and trust in Him so that you can have perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Period.
  4. Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you (Psalm 55:22). Period.
  5. Do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5B). Period.
  6. Be anxious for nothing but pray for everything (Philippians 4:6A). Period.
  7. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6B). Period.
  8. Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). Period.
  9. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will direct your paths (Proverbs 16:3) Period.

RETRAIN (Forward resolution):

  1. Always be on the alert and stand firm (1 Corinthians 16:13). Period.
  2. Be an overcomer (1 John 4:4). Period.
  3. Fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Period.

And God will work things out in the end (Romans 8:28). Period.

“You Gotta Wait, Lord, I Am Not Free Now.”

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“Good day, My Child! Hope you have a good night rest. Today will be a good day! Look……”

(Interrupt……) “Sorry God, I am in a rush. There are too many things on my plate now. You gotta wait, God.”

“But I just need……”

(Interrupt……) “God, I gotta go! Please let me settle what I need to do first ok?”

God replies lovingly, “Sure, My Child. I can wait.”

As the day goes, and the night falls.

After a long hectic day, “Sorry Lord to keep you waiting…… But I am too tired now…… Can I talk to You tomorrow? I badly need a break……”

With a sad undertone, God waits in vain, “My Child, is it too much to ask you to give Me 15 minutes out of 1440 minutes of your time?”

“There is so much I want to share with You…… Have you pause to look at how I send the cool breeze while you are walking to work under the sun?”

“Have you pause to look around that I have sent angels to cheer you up when you are stressed and feeling down?”

“Have you pause to notice that you have received messages that I am trying to get your attention?”

“Have you forgotten I am just next to you?”

 

Does the above scene sound familiar? We all have moments like these when we take God for granted. When we are busy and no time for God, then we are really too busy and need to re-look into our priorities and time management. Sometimes we get too consumed by our own that we have neglected what really matter, to the extent that He has to resort to disciplining us for our good, because He wants us to learn the values of true kingdom living and not the values of this world, for everything on earth will pass away.

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” – Haggai 1:7-11

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. – Isaiah 55:2NASB

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17

We are called to give very careful thoughts to how we should be living, and to give account to everything in our lives. We will reap what we sow, and we will not know if we can stand before God unashamed on Judgement Day. God will not get angry, but out of His great love for us, He is still waiting for any of His beloved Child that none should perish but everyone to come to repentance to His saving Grace.

Every moments count. Review your life in all earnestness today; do not take it lightly, consider those who do not even have a chance to do so.

 

Courtesy photo (P1030901) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

The Past Provides Clues To What You Are Today

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Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. – Ephesians 2:1-3

I was watching a Korean drama, “Criminal Minds”, where the scenes depict how perpetrators were who they were because of their traumatic upbringing and sadistic exposure to the depravity of humankind during their childhood. Although the drama may be fictional, it contains distressing truths on:

(a) how the environment at childhood can shape innocent minds and frame a human’s psyche, and parents play a very crucial role in teaching and upbringing of their offsprings;

(b) we can sink deeper into the deep abyss of deception and come under the diabolical influence of devils which lead us to commit more evils.

The bible has warned in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” And everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4), and everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

I have often heard many professed, “I am born this way.”, but the truth is, the past — our childhood and growing years — provides clues to what we are today: what we think, how we feel and why we behave in a certain way. The environment (including the people) we were brought up in holds the key in shedding light to this misconception.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9) Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

We all have a past, but the past should no longer hold us in bondages to the acts of the evil ones, nor should we be continuing to live and walk in darkness. No matter how painful to open that door to the past, true healing can only come when we face it courageously. God is gracious and love us too much to go through pain all at one go, just like an onion, peeling comes layer by layer until it reaches the core, where God deals with us gently and lovingly, if only we allow Him to. Give that key to your prison to Jesus, He will hold your hands and walk with you through it. Only then, can you walk in true freedom and be who God has created you to be.

P.S.

Parents also play a crucial role in bringing up their kids responsibly in God’s ways.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death. (Proverbs 19:18)

Courtesy photo (P1040075) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Enslaved

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It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

The modern day world of the fallen times, we all come under pressure by people and things around us which resulted in some form of enslavement: some are slaves to social media; some are slaves to fears; some are slaves to the opinions of others; some are slaves to the expectations of others; some are slaves to past hurts; some are slaves to pornography; some are slaves to alcoholism; some are slaves to materialism; some are slaves to money; some are slaves to work; some are slaves to recognition; and the whatnots.

Whether we are aware or not, sometimes, our enslavement can be a form of escapism or as a coping mechanism, consciously or unconsciously. But God does not designed us this way nor intended for us to be enslaved by anything perishable in this world. That is why we need freedom in Christ. Only by knowing the truths, Christ can truly set us free indeed (John 8:32). Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). And as a believer, we have the Spirit of the Lord in us, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). Sin is no longer our master, as we live under the freedom of God’s grace (Romans 6:14). Though we all were once slaves to sin, but so long as we wholeheartedly obey the Word of God, to which we are committed to live in genuine repentance, we will surely be set free from sin (Romans 6:17-18).

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14

Call sin a sin, and recognise that we all need help to deal with the issue. We must humble ourselves to cry out to God. True transformation can only happen when there is genuine repentance. We can deceive others, but we cannot deceive God, we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). It is better to quickly do something about our enslavement before sin gets full-blown which resulted in death (James 1:15). Therefore, let us not misuse our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. (Galatians 5:13).

T.R.U.S.T.

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The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.- Isaiah 26:3 NASB

I still do struggle with trusting God periodically, especially during trying times. The word, “Trust”, seems too abstract to me on how to really apply it effectually. Proverbs 3:5-6 taught that we are to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways submit to Him, and he will make our paths straight. The question is how to really trust God with ALL our heart? As emotional beings, our heart can be deceitful for we can easily swayed by capriciousness of being human; even if we get our feelings under control, our mind can still wander. Hence it has been my million-dollar question on how to really trust God under stress?

Until I found the answer in Isaiah 26:3, God will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is stayed on Him, because I trust in Him. I sum up TRUST as:

Total

Reliance (on God)

Under

Spiritual

Tenacity

 

Human strength fails because we have limited capacity, there is only so much we can do, but with the Holy Spirit living in us, we can be empowered and to persevere under testings.

Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

That is why we need to rely on God totally, only then can we pull through trials, trusting God to do what we can’t. And in any relationship, trust takes time to build, likewise with God. We can build a stronger trust in a never-failing God by:

(a) Recalling what He has done before and claiming what He can do for you now

(b) Recounting your blessings and be thankful

(c) Reminding yourself of His Love and how faithful He has been

(d) Remembering that God is Sovereign over everything on earth and is still in control

(e) Rejecting negative thoughts for what we worry about usually do not happen

(f) Resisting temptation of the flesh to manipulate things your way

(g) Refocusing on the goodness of God

(h) Relying fully on the Word of God and its living power

(I) Resting in quiet confidence that God will bring it to pass

 

These building blocks not only strengthen your trust in God, you will also find perfect peace in Him when you keep your mind steadfast to Him in trust.

How Big Is God Or How Big Is Fear?

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“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” – Psalm 34:4

Someone once asked, “How big God really is?” I must admit it is hard to describe how big, how great and how infinite God is in literal terms. Not long ago, I managed to grasp a better concept- I love to spy at my mini pet shrimps and water snails with a magnifying glass from time to time, so that I can observe how well they are doing in the tank. And the more I zoom in, the larger the size of the object. Distance also plays a part because the nearer I am to the tank with the magnifying glass, the clearer the details captured. And when I take a step back, the object doesn’t look so intimidating after all.

This macro-view and micro-view analogy made me realised how big the size of God depends on how near I am to Him. And the more I focus on the object at close-up, the more I am able to see every thing with much clarity.

But in reality, the size of God is often downplayed by our fallibleness- things of this world and of darkness are more magnified than they really are, especially fears. No one is immune to fears and often legitimate enough to rob us of peace, joy and even faith in God. Search has also revealed that the word “Fear not” or in its equivalence, “Do not be afraid”, appear 365 times in the bible! Isn’t it intriguing to know that God in His infinite wisdom know we need help in dealing with this subject while living on earth? God has already prepared the bible for us to have one ammunition against any fear per day!

First and foremost, we need to recognise the fear that we have, and face it point-blank- confess it, confront it and conquer it. Fear is simply an acronym of False Expectation Appearing Real. And the opposite of fear is faith, in other word, you will need supernatural faith together with God’s living Truths, to counter fear.

You may realise that Satan’s most effective strategy in instilling fears to strike you down is nothing new nor creative:

TRICK 1: Fear of poverty or not having enough.

Who doesn’t fear lack? Though money is important for survival but it isn’t omnipotent. When money becomes an obsession, that is where evils (i.e. worries, anxieties, fears, idolatry……) reside. And the more you chase after something, the more it will elude you. Would it not be better to go after God, who is the God of Multiplication of 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 small fishes (Luke 9:15-17), who says He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and knows exactly what you need even before you ask of Him (Matthew 6:8)? So seek God first, and He will provide all that you need.

My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry.” (Proverbs 10:3)

TRICK 2: Fear of failures.

All man are imperfect and fallible with our fallen nature, and it is inevitable for us to make mistakes periodically. Therefore, it is ok to fail but we should stand up where we fell and not be too harsh on ourselves. Instead, we should embrace failures as rare opportunities to learn or do better, after all, life lessons are always learnt best through hard knocks. Remember, we have the wisest Counsellor and Teacher living in us whom we can consult with.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)  We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

TRICK 3: Fear of men 

If we are honest enough, all of us feel good when we are paid compliments, and we thrive in relationships where we feel appreciated. However, that can be a very thin line we are threading on as we can easily fall into the trap of pleasing men in order to win their approval, for the fear of men prove to be a snare (Proverbs 29:25). So put our confidence in God, who is not fickle-minded, that we can be secured against rejections from capricious men.

“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies (Isaiah 51:12A) Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?  (Isaiah 2:22)

TRICK 4: Fear of the unknown.

Venturing into the unfamiliar or considering the unknown future can be unnerving to all of us. With each passage of time, things around us never stay constant, and uncertainty often precipitates unsettling changes. The bible counsels us not to worry about tomorrow since we do not know what it may bring (Matthew 6:34). That is why we are to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) for faith operates in the supernatural and has the power to overcome this natural fear.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

TRICK 5: Fear of losses.

There is no gain without pain, and changes are often necessary for growth; and when there are changes, there are inevitable losses or pain in some ways. Sometimes, through losses, we draw nearer to God and gain new insights about our lives. Losses may not be that fearful if we look in light of God who owes everything in our life and we are merely entrusted with stewardship to take care for Him on earth. After all, we come to earth with nothing and we shall depart with nothing too.

I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. (Isaiah 43:4 (GNTD)) I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

TRICK 6: Fear of sicknesses.

Our bodies are subject to degeneration when we age, and susceptible to any diseases while living on earth. Although sicknesses and infirmities can be threatening, the bible warns that it is scarier to lose our soul (Matthew 10:28), for nothing will profit a man who lost his soul. And when we look in light of a better home in Heaven, whatever we are going through on earth pales in comparison to the crown of life and an unperishable body we will receive when God calls us home.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) The Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. (Psalm 41:23)

TRICK 7: Fear of inadequacies.

Both Moses and Paul wrestled with feelings of inadequacies and inferiority, when they were assigned with tasks that seemed too big a hat for them. But God who created us, know exactly what we are made of, He will not put us in places where we cannot perform nor glorify Him. Sometimes, God uses our weaknesses to display His Strength so that others can praise Him for what He can do. We can take heart that when God commissions us for a task, He will provide the means to accomplish what He has set us to do, He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). So trust Him, and do whatever He calls you to.

Paul conceded, ‘Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5, NASB) ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NASB).

TRICK 8: Fear of being alone.

God made us to have a relationship with Him and others, He never intended for us to be alone. That is why church and cell fellowship helps to meet this need of companionship, where we need each other to be encouraged, edified and supported through this journey on earth. And with Holy Spirit living in us and God who is omnipresent, we are never alone. So look deep inside and look up, and you will find  that God is always near.

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

TRICK 9: Fear of losing control.

Control-freaks fear losing control because they are afraid their lives will be out of tune, they do not even leave to chances for any unexpected situation. Such control freaks have to constantly stay on their toes in order to hold their ground. But no matter how meticulous we plan nor how strong we are, life will always caught us by surprises. Only the Sovereign God, who is all-mighty hold the reins and remains in control over everything. It is wiser for us to relinquish this right and let Him have the driver-seat of our lives; with God, nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27).

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)

TRICK 10: Fear of stepping out of comfort zone.

Almost all of us love status quo and remain where we are because it is undeniably comfortable. We are averse to stepping out of our comfort zone because what challenge us can cause us to become a bundle of nerves. Imagine if Abraham did not obey God’s call to go to a faraway place (Genesis 12:1) and chose to remain in his comfortable zone, Abraham would not have fulfilled his destiny that God had for him. It certainly took Abraham a lot of faith and courage to overcome his human tendencies, but it was wise of him to trust God for the result. Only by stepping out of our comfort zone, can we see a new beginning. Therefore,  when God calls, do not fear, for He promises to be with you on the way and all the way.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Courtesy photo (P1040139) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

 

Have Mercy On Me, O God

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Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness. – Psalm 57:1-3

While in my prayer closet sometime around January 2008, I heard my spirit singing “Have mercy on me, O God…” and following its tune, I was inspired to pen “Have Mercy On Me”. It was a very simple rendition from a heart that was crying out to God for comfort, strength and deliverance.

 

When the world is more than I can bear

All I need is your light

To shine through the darkness

When the pain is more than I can bear

All I need is your touch

And your love surround me

 

Have mercy on me, O God

Take away all that keep me apart from you

Have mercy on me, O Lord

Cleaners me of all my sins and my past

Anew

 

(Bridge)

Have mercy on me

Lord, forgive me

Your love endures

Your compassion never fail

Have mercy on me

Lord, you made me whole

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1

 

Courtesy photo (P1040555) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Under Siege

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Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

I ever wondered, since God has given us His divine authority over everything with His keys of the kingdom of Heaven, that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loose in Heaven, reinforced with all His promises of providence, deliverance and victory, why do we still struggle or wrestle with defeat from time to time, or we have yet to experience a breakthrough?

I observed that there are four areas which we may be under siege:

  1. We fell prey to the Devil’s schemes. 

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. – John 10:10A NLT

Satan is a master strategist, having live thousands of years, he has been honing his skills- he has the dexterity to steal our peace and joy; kills our hope and destroy our faith in God. Before we know it, we have been ensnared by his deceit. We can never outsmart him with our finite wisdom, we will need the living power of God’s Truths to combat his lies and send his demons helter-skelter. If we are not well-guarded in our heart and mind, we will fall prey easily to the devil’s schemes.

  1. We get entangled in our own sins that we are immobilised

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. – Colossians 2:13A MSG

When we are caught up in our sins, our spiritual antenna is not sensitive, which result in a loss of spiritual discernment, where we can no longer discern the Voice of God. Our mind will also be darkened and our understanding about God will be dimmed, we will then be easily susceptible to distortion of truth and deception from the devil. And once we give the devil a foothold in any area of our lives, we will be incapacitated under his yoke of slavery.

  1. We have not been training for war.

May the Lord, my rock, be praised, who trains my hands for battle and my fingers for warfare. – Psalm 144:1

All athletes competing in any race have to undergo strict training almost daily. We will lag behind if we rest on our laurels any time. The devil is always hungry, ready to pounce on his victims and devour them (1 Peter 5:8) without mercy. So without training, we will be feeble;  and without regular training, we will not be as effective.

  1. We have not been putting on the full Armour of God properly for 24/7, 365 days.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:11-12

The Armour of God (read Ephesians 6:10-20 to understand what consists in the full suit) is actually indestructible, but we can be susceptible to attacks if we do not arm ourselves properly. As read in Ephesians 6:11, we are exhorted to put on the full suit of the Armour of God where each part protects us in different aspect. In other word, we cannot pick and choose which we would like to put on, since if any part of the Armour is missing, then we will be guaranteed to attacks easily. Consider that when an army goes to war, the soldiers cannot afford to be flippant about putting on the full set of proper gears, for we do not know how the enemy strategises to attack. The soldiers even sleep with their gears on 24/7. How much more the battle with Satan and his demons which require spiritual weapons to fight against them, any time any day.

We can be sure that Satan knows our weaknesses, and what cause us to crumble easily, in the area which we have exposed to him. Therefore, we need to take a proactive stand, having done our part, and standing firm on our faith, we can then command Satan to get lost, and the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20A)

Courtesy photo (P1040340: Stone Garden) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

It Is Not The End

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I felt very led this morning to pen this “song” after I heard the song by a singer from Taiwan last Sunday at service. It resonated deeply with my soul, as I could relate entirely to his lyrics as I walked through that path before. Thus I decided to pen my own, as my deepest writings are always birthed from my darkest times. But they are not the end, like the Psalmists, God’s Glory always prevail. I have included the English translation lest some may not understand mandarin well.

 

在我失意堕落的时候

在我失信迷路的时候

眼前的黑暗让我迷失了自己

 

所有的疑问困惑

所有的恐惧痛苦

让我看不到以后的路怎么走

 

慌了碎了哭了

累了服了放了

这条路仍然还是要继续走

随着时光的流逝

随着时间的考验

我依然还能坚强到底

因为有一个人能够承担我所有的一切

祂不会让我孤单

也不会让我孤独

祂会陪我走完这条路

因为有祂的爱

这世界充满了希望

有了祂一切都能捱过去

 

English translation:

When I lost hope and felt depressed

When I lost faith and felt lost

The darkness ahead overwhelmed me

 

All my doubts and confusions

All my fears and pain

Caused me to lose sight of how I should walk the path ahead

 

Confused. Crushed. Teared.

Tired. Surrendered. Let go.

I still have to continue to walk on.

As time passed

As time tested

I still can endure to the end

Because there is Someone who can carry all my burdens

He will never leave me

Nor let me be alone

He will walk with me to the very end

Because of His Love

There is hope in this world

With Him, I can overcome everything

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28) In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37) For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4) For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Courtesy photo (P1040119) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

 

Divine Authority – The Keys Of The Kingdom Of Heaven

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I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. – Matthew 16:19

I was seeking God for a Word few days ago while preparing myself for our church’s G12 Asia Conference this week. And at the same time, I was praying as usual for everything in life. At that instance, I seemed to hear “I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” I was trying to dissect what this verse literally mean. Lo and behold, the pastor brought up this verse just last night!

It was during the conference that I received further revelation to its application. God was actually trying to assure me that as His Child, I hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, which meant I have been given authority over everything which I can bind or loose anything, in other words, I have the authority:

(1) to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm me! (Luke 10:19) This given authority has great divine power to kill (any enemies that are warring your flesh), to overcome (struggles and temptations) and to deliver (from any fears and bondages);

(2) because God is in me, for me and with me;

Greater is He who is in you, (1 John 4:4B) His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength… (Ephesians 1:19) If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31B)

(3) over the impossible as it is God who make all things possible. (Matthew 19:26B)

Therefore, there is nothing in life that is too hard for Him. Our part is to take hold of this key and take God as His Word by believing.

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27) Do not be afraid; only keep on believing [in Me and my power].” (Mark 5:36 AMP)

Courtesy photo (P1030791) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

When All You See Is Your Pain, Perhaps Then You Lose Sight Of God?

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I was watching “The Shack” film at https://solarmoviez.to/movie/the-shack-19835.html (Thank God for the subtitles!)- I can relate to how the main character of the movie, Mack, struggled with God when he was plunged to the abyss of pain. In the process, He had an encounter with God, where Mack confronted Him why He allowed bad things to happen and why He didn’t stop the tragedies. God knew exactly how Mack was feeling, thus He had planned for Mack to meet Him at the Shack- the place where his pain began when he lost his youngest daughter. God was showing Mack that healing can only began at the place of pain when he let go and let God- Mack was stunned when God responded to his barrage of questions, “When all you can see is your pain, perhaps you have lose sight of Me.” God had walked through with Mack his journey of inner healing thereafter.

I love this movie (except some parts are a little controversial, but as a whole, the key messages are sound and edifying). I was actually stumped at the point where God told Mack, “When all you can see is your pain, perhaps you have lose sight of Me.”

Indeed, I lost sight of God two years ago when I went for a physical review. And the double whammy was when I was told I had a higher chance of getting dementia as a result of this deterioration. At that point, my world seemed to crash down and it was a very dark night. I could not help but sobbed convulsively almost involuntarily as fears seized me. I was an emotional wreck. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I bombarded God, “God, why is this happening? I thought You can heal?”, “God, are you there?”, “Is it not in your will to heal me?” and all the “Whys?”. I remember vividly, the first few weeks after my physical review, I could not worship at church service, and I could not even sing or utter prayers. I recall trying very hard to contain my pain, as if my heart was oozing blood profusely. Even well-meaning friends wasn’t able to offer the slightest comfort, and I found myself withdrawing from them instead. Over time, my heart gradually calloused, and I was in a spiritual spiral of decline when I wallowed in my own pit. That was not all, I was rendered dysfunctional and could not operate my business, I was incapacitated for almost six months.

I received no answers to all my whys, it was a vain tussle. This emotional and spiritual battle only I could fight, no one else can fight for me. I was well aware that the only way out of the pit was to climb out of it. I recalled how God had delivered from my financial crisis eons ago, He would not stop lifting me out of any deep waters (Psalm 18:16). And reality sank in when the last statement of accounts had jolted me that my savings had been dwindling, I realised then that I had been subsisting living without any income. The detachment from God had left a deep void in my heart and the spiritual deafness had made me yearned to hear from my Heavenly Father even more. I started to draw near to God, surrendering my pain and fears, and by His Grace, I received healing emotionally and spiritually. I will re-learn to trust Him for my physical healing.

Through this journey, I recognise that sometimes God allows “the pit experience” (pain) to happen in order for us to draw closer to Him, because it is human tendency that when life is going well, we may forget about Him. Isn’t it true that we pray the hardest in our most challenging moments? And we pray the least when we get too busy? (And yes, be warned that God does discipline us lovingly when we wander off..)

As the common adage that goes, “No pain, no gain.”- Pain is often a catalyst for necessary growth:

(1) that we emerge stronger with new level of faith, trust and refined character.

(2) as it changes us for good, if we allow God to deal with the issues in our lives.

(3) so that God’s strength be displayed in our weaknesses.

(4) to humble us to rely and depend on God instead of our own strength.

(5) in teaching us the value of being Christ-like in His suffering.

God always have a purpose in your pain, let Him walk you through your pain, only He can handle it far better than you do yourself. And your healing process will be shorter too.

“Consider it all joy, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:3-5 NLT) His grace is all you need, for His power is greatest when you are weak.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a TEV) 

Courtesy photo (P1040440) taken by Rachel Hong @ Bandung, Indonesia, August 2017.

Extrapolation. Inferences. Deception.

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He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; – Isaiah 11:3B

As a visual person, I have the propensity to observe and read things around me with my eyes; and as a creative person, I have a knack for piecing together bits and pieces into a whole new creation. As a result, I have inherited a predisposition to making extrapolation almost all the time.

To extrapolate is to draw an interference or a presumption about something with existing information that is not explicit.

In other word, that means, I can tip the scale to being judgemental since my eyes judge and my ears decide. And that is dangerous because:

(1) I can be led into deception easily;

(2) I can make illogical inferences that are not true;

(3) I can become irrational;

(4) and the worst of the lot is, I, as a mere human, is sitting on the judgement seat that is only reserved for God.

Judging, in its simplest definition, is forming an opinion or conclusion about something or someone. In other word, whenever I draw an inference, I have formed a judgement. Of course, God does us a spirit of sound mind and self-control, but the flip side is, what if, my inference is wrong, based on false impression or insufficient information, my judgement will then be impaired or impartial.

It took me years to restrain in utilising this inherent trait, until I read a verse from Luke 6:37, that if I judge, I will be judged; if I condemn, I will be condemned too. And I will also be treated the same as I treat others. The standard I use in judging will be the standard by which I will be judged (Matthew 7:2).

Isn’t that scary enough to hold us in check? For only the Lord knows the heart of men, after all, who are we, standing on the same ground as imperfect beings elevate ourselves on higher ground on moral or biblical standards? Let us not deceive ourselves, for “the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

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

God In The Details

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Lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.- Proverbs 30:9

A friend gave me a hassle-free nano aquarium with self-sustaining eco-system of mini wonder shrimps and water snails. I love to take a break in between work to peep at these pets as it is therapeutic to observe how carefree they are around the tank. What really amaze me is, they can find food within their environment- they literally feed on any microorganisms bred in the specially designed eco-system. All I need is to feed them supplements – though not necessary- every alternate days to keep the shrimps happy. The round-shaped squishy looking mossy Marimo (in other word, algal ball in Japanese) latched in between the twigs provided decorative filaments to the already pretty aquarium, other than their main function to provide oxygen, and absorb waste and debris. (And yes, Marimo is considered a pet too, according to Wikipedia, since they are living organism.)

This aquarium is a very good reminder as a physical parallel to how I as an owner, an imperfect human, care for these little pets, and make sure they are fed and living well, so how much more our Heavenly Father who is perfect so desired to feed and provide for our every needs?

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin… – Matthew 6:25-34A

I have also picked a leaf from these pets that they seem to have a quiet assurance that they will be cared and provided for so they can live worry-free and happy. How much more, we as Children of God, even more precious to Him who love us, care not how we are doing?

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. (Psalm 139:2) For now You number my steps (Job 14:16A). And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) 

God is in the details. He cares for every little things in our lives. He knows what we are going through, and our every innermost thoughts. We can take heart that God takes great pleasure in giving us what we need, because He is our loving Father.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32), And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry. (Proverbs 10:3A) 

Therefore, God knows what we need even before we ask of Him. And His provision always come on time, not too much lest we forget Him, nor too little that we dishonour Him. It is always just right and on time. It is better to trust God than to put confidence in men or even ourselves. (Psalm 118:8)

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

All You Need Is A Change Of Perspectives

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The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. – Matthew 6:22-23A

As a visual person, my eyes are trained to capture what I see with my eyes; and as a creative person, I can paint a picture with a thousand words. But the flip side of this talent is, I am often challenged in walking in faith since I see, read and visualise with my eyes.

But we are called to “live by faith and not by seeing (2 Corinthians 5:7). So whenever I face issues in life, my mind is always fixated on problems as they are right before me, that often I keep rehearsing fears, worries, anxieties, doubts and insecurities. That is the power of focus, but on the wrong things. It is hard to change my mindset unless I change perspective, and in order to change my perspective, I need to change my position.

One day, I received a prompting to have a walk in the park and to talk to God about my situation. As I was strolling leisurely, and praying at the same time, I kept fixing my gaze to the ground- all I could see was the texture of the asphalted track. When I adjusted my vision to my eye level, the view was vastly differently, somehow I sensed that God was in the details, and showing me that I could see things differently. As I walked around the park, certain angle offered different perspectives with different meaning behind the scenery. While I was tuning my ears to hear what God had to reveal to me, I aligned my Spirit to God through communing with Him in prayers. While admiring the different setting, I looked up to admire the vast skies- even the shape of the clouds are all different. At that instance, it dawned upon me that I had set my heart on things of the world without the correct biblical perspectives. And because my vision was clouded, so my body was in darkness. As Matthew 6:22 says, “If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”.

All I need is a change of perspective- Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. (Colossians 3:2) The things of this world, necessaries of life, pleasures, riches and achievements, can be sought after but not to the extent of coveting them and placing happiness in such possession which eventually turn into idolatry when our focus is not on the true Source and Provider of these things. The things of this world are temporal and can pass away, how then should we live? Live no longer with a carnal mind, but with kingdom perspectives- that God is in control and everything will work for good to those who loves Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). Shouldn’t we be focusing on the goodness of God and that the Almighty promises that none of His Words will fail to be fulfilled?

Therefore it is a matter of how we see, and what we choose to focus on. A paradigm shift will require a change of lens in order to effectuate a renewal of mind and a transformation of heart. And yes, reading the bible will correct near-sightedness first. You will then find that God is actually not that far.

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

How Do You Run Your Race?

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“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” –1 Corinthians 9:24; Ecclesiastes 9:11

I am trying to shed some pounds, so I decided to head to my office’s gym. The thread mill is a challenge to me since I have a poor stamina, so every minute is a test of strength and endurance. Notwithstanding, I challenge myself for 30 minutes, and begin slowly with a paced speed. Halfway through, I really want to give up as I am panting profusely. But the motivation of shedding the pounds get me going. However, eventually I still cannot overcome my physical lethargy.

Meanwhile, a verse from Hebrews 12:1, dawned upon me, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” At that instant I receive a vision: Jesus waiting at the end of the red line, cheering me to persevere. There are many runners already run past me and ahead of me. At the back of my mind I am wondering, “Oh dear, will I be the last? Will the crowd jeer at me?”

Through this vision, I begin to ponder if I am running my own race for the applause of men or for the glory of self… Since I am already in the race, it will be a shame to give up. When I catch a glimpse of Jesus cheering me on at the end of the red line, I decided to fix my eyes on Him. (A song then played back in my head, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, by Micheal W. smith)

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full, in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace”

As I desire to run into the embrace of Jesus at the end of the line and to hear Him affirming me, “Well done!” follow by a pat on my shoulder, I reckon it is better to go slow and steady to complete the race than going fast and run out of breathe later. So I pray to the Lord to help me finish this race, no matter how daunting, I will not give up. Eventually, I manage to persevere and finish the race.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7

I care not how fast I have completed the run, God cares more about my shape. Hang on, the word “shape”, refers not to my body, but my character. So is the word “race”, which denotes my journey and my destiny. To sum it up, God is not concerned about how well I have started, nor how fast and how far I can go, He is more concerned on how strong I can grow.

Some of us may be ahead (the runners running ahead in my vision); some of us are still behind; some of us are discouraged that the “crowd” (in my vision, it represents the people around you. It also corresponds with “a great cloud of witness” in Hebrews 12:1) do not appreciate your effort, or have condemned you thinking that you cannot make it; some of us really want to give up this long-drawn race since strength is sapped…

The crux is:

Do you run with your own strength and focus on the wrong things in life, and thrown off-track?

Or, will you run in partnership with the Spirit and set your heart on things above and not on earthly things, and stay on track?

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” – Acts 20:24

Critical Spirit. The Little Things. Relational Injuries.

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Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. – Romans 14:13

 

At times we don’t feel respected.

At times we don’t feel being cared for.

At times we stepped on the other person’s feelings.

At time we brushed each other the wrong way.

At times unkind words lashed out heedlessly hurtful and regretted later.

At times we get disappointed.

 

Crowded schedules. Money pressures. Communication problems. Midlife crises. Emotionally inaccessiblity. Insecurities. Fears.

And there’s never time to talk. Disconnected.

When you do talk, frustrations stirred instead.

Our own share of human frailties in one way or another irritate the other. All those little things sank your heart like the Titanic.

Difficulties in relationships arise out of unresolved relational hurts, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and when they are not dealt with, those little things become issues themselves. Eventually, they grow to become relational injuries.

 

The 7-key checklist of relational injuries:

1. Acceptance in love or expectation?

(a) What is your expectation of the other person whom you are relating to?

(b) Has your expectations get too much in the way?

(c) When he/ she failed to meet your expectations, do you withdraw?

 

All of us are made different, and grow differently as well, the first step is learning to discover “What do you want?” When you let your expectations get too much in the way, it may pave the way to idolatry in your heart. When you truly love someone, you accept the person as who he/she is, not what you think he/she has to be. Remember, no one is perfect, including yourself. Even God loves and accept the way you are but, He is not done with our flaws yet. Acceptance comes with true love.

“Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7 NLT, second edition).

 

2. Responding in love or rejection?

(a) Have you been sensitive with your words and actions?

(b) How do you responded to someone even when you feel lousy?

(c) What is your language of love?

As a picture says a thousand words, so do your words and actions painted that as much. It is often contradictory why you can be patient, gentle, kind and understanding to the people who are not close or dear to your heart, but you often the “ugly split-personality” when you are with your loved ones- you are not so patient, you get angry and upset, you often lashed out unkind words, you get frustrated easily and you feel unappreciative towards them and they often get your cold shoulders. Have you ever paused for a moment the emotional injuries you have done? Consider why your dear ones have been a “punching sandbag” than a “hugging pillow” to you, it makes a whole world of difference when you spend time to share what is bothering you than to throw them around like cold turkeys. Just as you thought the other person is disconnected, chances are you, yourself probably haven’t been emotionally accessible either!

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

 

3. Finger-pointing to edify or tear down?

(a) Do you always point out the other person’s faults more than you readily label your own?

(b) Have you first seek to understand the whole situation and put yourself in the other person’s shoes?

(c) Do you demand changes from the other person?

The attitude of “That’s your problem, not mine!” is deceptive- don’t you have a part to play too? Put yourself in a scenario in a court room where you stand in as a prosecution witness in a difficult case. During cross-examinations by the Defence Attorney (DA), he will try all ways and means to pull you down by finger-arrowing your credibility and character flaws, the more you tried to defend yourself, the heavier the onslaught of verbal abuses. And you left wounded by his hurtful insinuations and unjustified judgement. Are you one who is such a Defensive Accuser (DA)?

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

 

4. Giving up your rights or demanding your rights?

(a) “Why should I?”

(b) “I expect you to be… …”

(c) “I have the final say!”

If you struggle with this area, you may have problems with pride. When one is full of himself or herself, he/ she always think himself/ herself is better than the other, thus it is hard to relinquish his/ her own rights. They usually struggled in accepting people who give them problems and who are weaker than them spiritually and emotionally. This category of people are very protective of their rights cos they always think they are right. Their expectations fall in line to what they think it should be and how he/ she should be, they are never understanding nor apathetic to consider how the other person feels or where he/ she is coming from. In any relationships, we are taught to be humble and submit to one another in reverence.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:!0) And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21 NLT)

 

5. Shallow understanding or mutual understanding?

(a) Have you been communicating?

(b) How understanding have you been?

(c) Do you understand how a person’s background has some way influenced the way how he/ she think, feel and act?

How well do you understand yourself and the other person? Understanding is a crucial fundamental in all relationships to work, and it is paramount to foster better understanding through daily communication. In times of silence, there is tacit understanding too. Understanding the background of the person whom you are relating to, can give you a better and clearer picture how certain thoughts, feelings and actions can be triggered. For him/ her to understand you better, be honest about how you feel and what you think, instead of trying to do something to get his/ her attention. All of us think and feel differently, be open to share so that in each other you will learn something and know each other better to deal with the differences. All you need is a heart to listen.

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. – Romans 15:14

 

6. Pain and gain or close and strain?

(a) What is God teaching you through the other person?

(b) Did you apply what you have learn that God is teaching you?

(c) Are you avoiding the issues?

What is your approach- do you avoid pain or confront and gain? When you close in to a relationship, you strain it even more, the wounds may fester. And anytime when the same situations happen, it will playback the old scores. Unfortunately, the way to learn is often through unpleasantries. Pain is God’s Refining Fire.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. – 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

7. Praying with an open heart or clenched fists?

(a) Have you been praying for a breakthrough?

(b) Have you pray for God’s ultimate control and His way in your relationships?

(c) Have you try praying together?

Prayers open door to miracles, for our God is a God of Transformation. Go to Him with all your emotions, surrender your rights and expectations at the feet of His throne. Look to Him first as He will lift you up in due time. He always leave the door open for those who are weary and wounded. He has a special place for them. He is always there in assurance. And He hears you and trust that He will do something. His love never fails.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel. – Philippians 4:6-7 CEV

 

All relationships goes a long way, but take heart, all is not lost yet. Give each other space, take time to do your own reflections, pray about the issues, be honest with yourself, take time to share your thoughts and your feelings openly to the other person, confessed to each other your vulnerability and mistakes, discuss with each other how to overcome barriers so as to solve those nagging issues, last but not least, be committed to making healthy changes and mean it. It takes time and courage.

There may be someone in your midst who is hurting. It is always worthwhile to confront it than to take a passive stand, even though you have prayed and trust God would do something about it, but that does not mean we should be doing nothing! How can you reap the fruit when you never bother to sow the seed? God moves as you move, you never know till you try however difficult it can be but God will supply His Strength, Grace and Mercy to keep you through.

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. – Hebrews 3:13

Keep at it, those little things CAN and WILL GO AWAY. Remember, forgiveness is a precious gift too. Don’t give up.

Knowing His Voice

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“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” – John 10:3-5

I’d learnt a very valuable lesson from my furry pet dog, Whiney- I was amazed that she only listened to me, despite my family tried to get her attention. When I called her, she was scuffling to search for that familiar voice that’s dear to her (because I am closest to her). After she found me, she would lay besides me to bask in my presence.

She never failed to recognise my voice. (Yes, she had been with me for 15 years.) Whenever she heard a stranger’s voice in the house, she would bark at that unfamiliar voice.

I was reminded that this lesson parallels to John 10:3-5. We too, can have such familiar and close relationship with our Shepherd- the more you walk with Him, the more you can recognise His Voice. Like any other relationship, in order to foster a good bonding, you spend time together (synonymous to a Quiet Time with the Lord), find out a person’s like and dislikes (synonymous to reading the Bible), communicate more to understand the person (synonymous to communing with the Lord) and do something that will delight Him (synonymous to doing God’s Will, like winning souls etc.).

And because we can hear the Voice of God, we are able to recognise the contradicting voice of the devil, and not be ensnared by him. And the good news is, just as His Word emphasised, “He (our Shepherd) goes ahead of them”, which means, our Shepherd will lead and pave the way for us to ensure that our journey is safe, for He knows the route best. He fences off attacks from the wild beasts that seek to devour His flock.

Another take home point is, “His sheep follow Him because they know His voice”- you will never get lost in the wilderness, if you have follow Him.

So start romancing your First Love and you will find His Voice endearingly familiar.

The Danger Of Dullness

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“For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.” – Acts 28:27 NSAB

From time to time, I have heard many who probed, “How can I hear God? I can’t seem to hear anything… Why is God not answering my prayers?” I do not have a specific answer for them (since I am not God nor a super saint to know His plans) but there is a key verse (as above) that prompted me to share some insights.

God reveals Himself to us in many different ways, though may not necessary be in audible voice. And we all are aware that a hardened heart or when we are steeped in sins, we cannot hear God. The verse above brings to light a natural spiritual degression, as well as a condition for God’s healing or deliverance.

 

THE BEGINNING STAGE 1: OUR HEART

1.1 When our heart becomes dull, calloused, hardened, wax gross as a result of sins……>

1.2 And interestingly, Psalm 119:70 mentions “their heart is unfeeling like fat…”, in other word, “fat” means full of oneself or things of the world…

 

PROGRESSIVE STAGE 2: OUR EARS

Our ears (to hearing God) becomes dull and hard of hearing……>

“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” – John 8:43

 

PROGRESSIVE STAGE 3: OUR EYES

We will close our eyes, which means to turn blind to the truth or ignore them……>

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:14

 

PROGRESSIVE STAGE 4A: IN DENIAL

Having hardened our heart, shut off our ears and close our eyes, we will live in denial. And that means we refuse to acknowledge there is a problem or an issue, nor to accept the truth……>

“He (Satan) will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.”  – 2 Thessalonians 2:10

 

FINAL STAGE 5: IN DARKNESS

We will then walk in darkness.

“They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness;” – Psalm 82:5

 

But God is gracious to add a “Y-junction” to STAGE 4B: RETURN, to repentance. Only THEN, can we truly experience God’s deliverance and healing. Repentance is the key that unlocks your prison.

When our Spirit is alive, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (Jn 16:13) This is when the Spirit of Truth will open your eyes and ears, renew your mind and transform your heart.

There is no way we can’t hear God since we have the wisest Counsellor living is us and He is the Spirit of all Truth, unless we must have shut our ears, close our eyes and harden our hearts– Sometimes God did reveal something to us but we may not accept it as what we are hoping for or expecting it to be.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. -C.S. Lewis”

The Ultimate Stress-Buster

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God knows when you sit down or stand up. He knows your thoughts even when you are far away” (Psalm 139:2). “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Luke 12:7)

I was sauntering around the bustling Raffles Place, the heart of Singapore’s great commercial emporium, where contemporary skyscrapers towering over me seem to glint back at me from every direction, amidst throng of immaculately well-dressed office folks scrambling from building to building. I observed that the folks there seemed to be hunchback with stress. It is comprehensible that as the society progresses, it is getting more competitive and fast-paced, that life comes burdened with daily stress. Busyness can throw us off balance and stress can easily immobilise us, but chronic stress do far more irreparable damage to our health.

Although stress is inevitable, whether as a salaried employee or self-employed, but suffering is optional. That is, we need to be like Mary, who take the time to sit still at the feet of Jesus and listen to what He had to say (Luke 10:39).

When you are overwhelmed, do you recite your woes more naturally than you do Heaven’s strength? You may even feel that God doesn’t seem to care about the nitty-gritty details of your life. But have you forgotten that your omnipresent Father who loves you, is waiting for you to draw near to Him? God already know when you sit up and stand up. He knows each intimate details right down to the number of your hairs on your head. Wouldn’t He be able to grasp your innermost thoughts and inexpressible struggles? He even know when we are far from Him.

Don’t you realise too that worry or getting anxious is not going to help matters? So why not choose the better- take your focus off and take the time to draw near to God. He will refresh, recharge and reaffirm you that He is looking out for you and taking care of your every needs.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7 NLT) Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG) The Peace of Jesus given unto you, let not your heart be troubled, neither be afraid. (John 14:27) Let not your heart be troubled, trust in God. (John 14:1)

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)

 

Faith Even On Rainy Days

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The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. – Psalm 37:23

A cell mate shared this beautiful Chinese song with me which lyrics resonated with every fibre of my being- I can relate to those times when I felt downcasted. In translating this song to English (though not literal), I hope to share this song to minister to those who need to hear it…

Song title: 祷告 (Pray)

– By Streams Of Praise

(Listen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YbBwg5B9Uk&feature=youtu.be )

 

祷告,因为我渺小;

Pray, because I feel inconsequential;

祷告,因为我知道我需要明了,你心意对我重要。

Pray, because I know I need understanding, to your Will as it is important to me.

祷告,已假装不了;

Pray, I can no longer pretend;

祷告,因为你的爱我需要;

Pray, because I need Your Love;

你关怀,我走过的你都明白。

You care for me, and know every path I tread.

有些事我只想要对你说,因你比任何人都爱我;

There are things I can only share with You, because You love me more than any one else could;

痛苦从眼中流下,我知道你为我擦。

Tears shed from pain, I know You will wipe my tears away.

在早晨我也要来对你说,主耶稣今天我为你活;

Come morning I pray, Lord Jesus I live for You today;

所需要的力量你天天赐给我,你恩典够我用。

I need Your Strength each day, for Your Grace is sufficient for me.

 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. (Psalm 139:2)

Even on rainy days, the Lord is near; Even in the pit, the Lord is there. He knows every details of our lives. He searches our heart and know our thoughts even before we could find the words to say. (Psalm 139:23)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8A) The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 121:7-8 NASB)

Keep faith. Keep going. Keep praying. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Something To Mull Over: A Matter Of Perspective

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And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

Ever heard of the adage that goes, “Many build their wealth at the risk of their health, only to lose their wealth in order to rebuild their health”? Let me offer another angle too- “Many pursue the things of this world at the risk of losing their soul, only to regain their soul by letting go of things of the world.”

People always assert that money can always be earned back, but not health when it is at risk. That explained why many have fallen to sicknesses as a result of high stress and mental illness as a result of depression.

I have been mulling over why I have been obsessing with finances, ever since I embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship, where cashflow is not insured from time to time. I sensed I may be “losing myself”. To begin with, I have been living with a faulty belief system that I need to have more in order to enjoy more, and when I finally got there, somehow I wasn’t happy in achieving the goal. Life somehow seems meaningless- is there all to it – Do our existence contingent on our possessions?

Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” – Luke 12:15

In other word, greed is a bottomless pit, the constant pursuit of wanting more or having something better, which is never ending can be meaningless.

The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. I realised that I need a paradigm shift to see things from another perspective.

 

Which Is Truly Important?

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I may not have earned a lot,

but I am thankful that I am not that poor to worry about my next meal;

I may not own a house,

but I am thankful that I still have roof over my head and a place to sleep;

I do not own a car,

but I am thankful that I do not impose upon myself such a liability;

I may not have amassed much wealth,

but I am thankful I still have good health;

I may not be a game changer,

but I am thankful that I can do what I am best at and called to do;

I may not have achieve success as the world pursues,

but I am thankful I can get up each day to do what I love to do;

I may not have a lot of material things that money can buy,

but I am thankful for the simple things that bring joy which money cannot buy nor time can redeem.

At least I enjoy true peace and a good night rest each day,

for many it costs them too high a price to pay.

At the end of the day, what can you bring to Heaven?

 

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” – Luke 16:10A

Happiness is not something to arrive at or the need to acquire it. True joy can be attained in the moments, even when you have little. Life is best lived simple, if we learn to see things from another perspective.

The Wilderness: A Call To Trust

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Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” (Psalm 35:27) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. God is in the midst of us; we shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. (Psalm 46:1,5) “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27) And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

An emotional season in the pit in the late 2015 to early 2016 had derailed me from the track of faith and incapacitated in my regular routines- I neglected my business while cowering under self-pity blankets. I thought I’d left Egypt eon ago, instead of being whisked into a promised land of milk and honey, all I could see was mountains and snakes at every turn. I had trod into an unfamiliar territory- another wilderness! When I finally jostled from my “deep slumber”, reality hit that the economy was taking a downturn, I began to feel the heat when the company registered negative cashflow for almost a year. Insecurity set in when the uncertain future loom in and fears seized me. Alas I was standing at a verge, with the army of Egyptians hot on my heels, facing me was the Red Sea, with no other way of escape.

At that crucial moment, I cried out as hard, as much, as long, to the Almighty to save me and deliver me from my helplessness. By a bat of an eyelid, I found myself on a Rock, my enemies no longer pursued me. God finally broke the long chill of the silent nights, “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.” (John 14:1) reinforced with Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He’ll make your paths straight.” His voice resonated with the word “Trust”.

In the silent mire of abyss, my impatience got the better of me, I doubted God had heard my prayers. But I ended up with a megaphone blasting my ears, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?!” (My hairs really on stand…) By this, God had shown me that even a mustard seed of faith could move mountains and they shall be moved! Thence, my faith skyrocketed to a new level.

Much as “snakes” tempted me into discouragement, God had in the same breath faithfully sustained me with His one-step-at-a-time blessings and His day-to-day-double-portion of Strength. By His Grace, He gave me a gift of an encouraging Spirit that I could be optimistic; He gave me a vision in conquering the “Goliath(s)” in my life; He spoke to me His Life-giving Promises that I could profess victory; He had shown me that He is a God of Multiplication when He impressed me with a scenario where Jesus multiplied 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5000 people full; He inspired me to compose a poem that Jesus can still a nasty storm (“Anchor Deep”); and He led me to pray with prayers I had never prayed before.

God is still teaching me something about “Trust”; and no doubt that He is bringing me closer to Him so that I can hear Him better; He is disciplining me through His refining fire to keep me going from strength to Strength and from faith to Faith; So that I can rest unto God’s Peace, “Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) and His Faithfulness, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7).

I am thankful that God had been there, and even the present. I counted my blessings for the people who has eased my burdens in some ways. I marvelled at how God had provided despite the impossibilities. There is always a miracle every day- big or small, it is how you see them.

God is not hard of hearing- Our tears are precious to Him for He is especially close to those crushed in spirit. Just be still and let God be God. He will walk on the water and grabbed you before you could sink just as Jesus rescued Peter from drowning when His faith failed him.

“The more secured you are in Christ, the stronger you stand even if your whole world came crushing down. Your security is not found in transient things but in Him alone.”

P.S. And one thing for sure- Every time I pray, the Supernatural always happen in the spiritual realm- that we cannot see now but will happen later. So keep praying- P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens).

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)” 

Why Is It Hard To Rejoice?

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“Rejoice in the Lord, and He will give you strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) In His Presence is the fullness of joy.” (Psalms 16:11)

There is actually a difference between joy and happiness. Joy is something that lives inside of us, as it is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), which we have access to the divine joy of God. It will always be there even through downtimes. Whereas the latter is something you must attain or arrive at in order to be happy.

The key to “REJOICE” in the Lord in pursuance of renewed strength:

  1. RE-JOY – Daily choose to re-joice, in order to turn on the tap of outpouring joy.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NLT) For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

  1. RE-JOIN – Daily choose to re-join to the Holy Spirit, in order to tap onto His power.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” – Galatians 5:22

  1. EN-JOY – Enter the joy of your salvation and enjoy it. Remember what you are saved for.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:12

Why joy eludes us? There may be areas we can identify:

1. Because we let the burdens of this world weigh us down and wear us out. It is a sign that we have been walking in our flesh — for the fruit of the world is emptiness— and not the Spirit (since one characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit is joy).

2. There may be areas in our lives that have drawn in darkness, i.e. unreconciled issue with someone or even God. When a candle is flickering, it can barely lit the room. The strength of the candle wick reveals the power of the flame. So when the wick is strong, the flame will be burning strongly and the room will light up brightly. Likewise, joy works in the same equation.

3. There may be an unwillingness to die to the self that we struggle to walk in obedience to what God says in some aspect of our lives.

4. We let joy be contingent on our circumstances. Does it mean we can only feel joyful during happy times? No doubt, humanly speaking. But, real joy comes to test even in difficult times. A praise-full soul find renewed strength and joy in the Lord and not through circumstances.

5. We are not living in God’s presence. How is your relationship with God? Is God merely a weekend visitor? Or a last minute drop-by when there is pocket of time? When life gets too busy to even read your bible, or pray, or to offer praise, it is simply too busy.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Offenses. Cold Love.

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For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. (Matthew 12:34B) What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and evil of every kind. (James 3:16)

We all have people in our lives who hurt us, and we hurt others too, consciously or unconsciously. And when we are offended, we are inclined to react or retaliate unchristlike. The fact is, hurting people hurt people- the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

So what is truly residing in our heart? Imagine Jesus, who know our innermost thoughts, probed, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4)

Sometimes, people are most critical in the area of their deepest emotional need- It may be their indirect way of needing affirmation, seeking love and requesting for help. As Dr. Gary Chapman puts it, we all have our love language- when we understand this, we can respond more positively. So whenever we hear criticism or get an unwarranted retort, James 1:19 reminds us, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” That means it is time to listen- as he or she may be inviting you to respond to their need in order to make them feel loved.

On the other hand, we have to be mindful that if our heart is full of malice, envy, and contention, we are easily liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. And the root of such evils stemmed from unresolved issue of pride, anger or bitterness from injustice or unforgiveness, and rejection. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul. And the danger is, Jesus had warned that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith.

“Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another… and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” – Matthew 24:10-12

Many will be offended; the love of many will grow cold, if we allow any offense to remain in our hearts. The above verse has warned that for an offended soul, betrayal, cold love, and hatred go hand-in-hand. Instead of dealing with the offense, people carry them until the weight disables their walk with God and incapacitated of overcoming their own. People do not usually stumble over boulders, but over stones– the relatively small things— which the  accumulation of all small little things can be injurious to the soul, which will demand you to retaliate in the flesh.

It is time to take a honest inventory of our heart. Let God perform a “surgery” on your heart (and yes you may need to have the “surgery” daily), “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

Each day we are faced with occasions for taking offenses- we are either given the opportunity to be offended by something, or to exercise overlooking offenses. Proverbs 19:11 says, A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy of being Christlike be demonstrated in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abound in our lives.

The Green-Eyed Monster

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A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30) It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else. (Ecclesiastes 6:9b GNT)

Many years ago, I used to love this perfume, Envy, by Gucci. I simply love its scent, and the green colour was soothing to the eyes too. It was the only perfume as a self-confessed brand loyalist, that I would stick to for years. The second generation after the popular Envy series was, Envy Me. I was contemplating then to try it out, until a remark from a close friend in the church,, “Are you sure it is a good idea to fall head over heel in love with Envy? Are you not aware that Envy is a green-eyed monster?” (My friend was trying to raise her concern without malicious intent on the product, for she knew I struggled with envy……)

Envy reared its ugly head in the early stage of my life because of my own imperfections that I seek perfection elsewhere in order to compensate for the gap: Where I should be in my career; What I should possess in life; And how I should appear to others. I was always on the pursuit of “bigger and better things”, failing which, I was green with envy whenever someone had what I could not have. I once held a conviction that I needed to have certain things to be happy, and envy bred a competitive spirit in me, “Look what they are getting? Why did they deserve it? I deserve what they have! So I am going to get more and have it better!” to a point that I secretly wished they would fail, because it made me feel better that they could not have what I could not have.

Envy was eating into me every time I compared myself to others- it didn’t make me feel superior but rather painfully lousy. And my heart could not be at peace because I was obsessed with covetousness. And contentment was never found in my dictionary.

It took me years to learn that making comparison is the root of all envy. And the very key to overcoming envy is to stop comparing yourself to others. I have to recognise that the Bible says, “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need.” (1 Corinthians 4:7-8 The Message) For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man. (Mark 7:21-23)

Instead of focusing so much on the-never-haves and the-never-happens, I should be grateful for what I do have, since life itself is a blessing, and what I have been given not others can have. There isn’t anybody like me, for God made me to do which others can’t. So there isn’t really any basis for comparison. When I knew the truth, the truth sets me free indeed.

The Bible also tells us that we already have more than we need and far more than we deserve. Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God. We can pick a leaf from the Apostle Paul who said, “I have learned to be content.” So being content is a learning process that we have to exercise continually- when we are content, there is no room for envy.

It Is Time To Let Go

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A teacher took a pouch of gems and asked, “Class, how heavy do you think this pouch of gems is”? The class was clueless to guess its weight. After a while, the teacher broke the silence, “It actually depends on how long you are holding it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, it is bearable.”

“If I hold it for an hour, I will start to feel the trembling of my arm.”

“If I still hold it for another day, my arm will break!”

“It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

We love to carry “baggage” don’t we? As the days passed, the longer we piggyback this “baggage”, irrespective whether we pick up any thing along the way, the heavier it gets, till we are bent over from carrying it. With feeble arms and wobbling knees lugging this “baggage”, we will reach a point when we can barely move. Yet, we do not want to let go……

Wouldn’t you be doing yourself a disfavour to be incapacitated by such a “baggage”? Your “baggage” can be unforgiveness, bitterness, hurt, memories of the past, anger, even past relationship, and the-whatnots.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

“Why not try giving away your “baggage” to Someone who can help you unload and deal with your “baggage”?” Look for Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

…… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1B-3

It is time to let go, and let God. It is more liberating in doing so.

The Parable Of The Sun

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While encouraging 2 friends who were burdened and discouraged with their vicissitudes of life, God spoke to me about “The Parable Of The Sun” where we could find God in Nature.

  1. Have you ever pause to look at the sunrise, when you wake up each morning? 

If you have not, pause, and look at the sun, be still- It is a beautiful reminder that God’s love is new every morning.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. – Lamentations 3:22-26

  1. Have you ever pause to look at the sunset, when you are heading home each evening?

If you have not, pause, and look at the sun, be still- It is a lovely reminder that we are not to let our burdens for the day to weigh us down when the sun sets…

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” – Ephesians 4:26-27

(Though the bible mentions only “anger”, burdens beget sins too.)

Come tomorrow, admire the sun which God has created, and remember He makes each day new, with renewed Strength, Hope, Faithfulness and Love- It is a NEW chapter. It is a NEW you. And God still stay the same.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” – Luke 21:34

God’s Masterpiece

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At some point in time, I struggled with my own identity, often questioning my existence in God’s Plan and Purpose for my life. Until I literally heard a Voice relating a story and my Spirit singing away (at the end of the story):

A Master potter was at work with his clay to prepare for his art show. After years of refining his skills, his effort paid off; He painstakingly arranged all his potteries in the gallery space. And finally the art show opened its doors to the public. Everybody admired the beautiful pieces as they were perfectly made. Until they came to a showcase where it displayed all chipped, broken and unpolished potteries. One member of the audience, out of curiosity, popped the question, “Why do you display such ugly works on this showcase, Master? They are not worth even to look at.” The Master potter replied with a smile, “I am sure everybody looks at those beautifully crafted potteries displayed on the open pedestals. They appear to look grand and perfect. But to me, they are common pieces which anyone can made. If you take a closer look at them with a magnifying glass, you will see they have chips too. Would you then see them as ugly? So nothing is perfect nor without flaws. But these potteries which you have called ugly, useless, worthless and ignoble, are my greatest masterpieces. I am proud of them so that is why I have separated them on this showcase. Yes, they have cracks or chips not because I made them that way but in the processes when they are made, they are refined by the elements. Don’t you think, each and every pieces are unique? So unique that they are beautiful in itself. Not only do they bear my handprints, they have also withstand the test of time. Each cracks and chips on them has a story behind, and that is what made them more beautiful. And I am most proud of these masterpieces. Although I value all my work the same, but I chose these broken potteries as my signature works because they have noble purposes. And I see them uniquely beautiful. How else will others know they are made by me?” The audience was stunned silenced.

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this? ”Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? – Romans 9:20-21

Do you see yourself as a pot that is lousy with no purposes or value? The world may see the intelligent, smartest, pretty, multi-talented “pots” as perfect and beautiful, but the fact is, they all have cracks and chips we do not see. If you have felt inferior, take heart, because you are truly God’s masterpiece for a noble purpose. It is just that, perhaps, it takes time for you to be fully polished that you can shine like a hidden diamond out of soot. The Master Potter who had made you had put His Heart, Love and designed talents / purpose in you- you are one and only in this world, which only you can do.

(You Are God’s) Masterpiece
(Modified lyrics from the original secular “Masterpiece” song by Atlantic Starr)

A simple touch of His Hand,
And everything is right.
The loving way He looks at you,
Each and every day.
He’d given you the Freedom no other love has known
And now be thankful girl, thankful girl

The countless ways He’ve touched your heart
Is more than you can count
The beauty that He have shown to you
shows that hope’s not lost
A picture perfect painting, that’s what His Love is
And yes you need to know, He loves you so

Chorus:
Ooooh
God’ve made a masterpiece in you
a work of art it’s true
And He treasures you His Love
Ooooh
God’ve made a masterpiece in you
a work of art it’s true
And He treasures you

When times you wonder what you’ll be
Have He not hold you
A lost and dejected soul this world
could show you nothing new

But now your life’s a canvas
painted with His Love
And it will always be
And do you see

God walks with you together
Through time will never part
The Divine Cross He’d shared
is close inside your heart
It will be forever
never let it go
this promise He still make
Heaven is yours to take

Repeat Chorus

When you’re lost and insecure
He builds you up and make you sure
that everything will be alright
My love

Repeat Chorus

(The Divine Cross He’s sharing
is close inside your heart
It will be forever
never let it go)

The Value Of Giving Thanks

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I have learnt something very interesting in John 6:1-14 where Jesus fed the five thousand people. I am sure many us may processed the passage like this:

1. 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 small fishes how to feed 5000 people? Like the disciple Philip, we think it is not possible.

2. Philip has wanted very much to keep the portion to themselves (the disciples) and ignore the needs of the rest.

3. How impossible it is to have 12 basketful of leftovers!

4. Jesus created a miracle of multiplication!

It is nothing unusual as we are well acquainted that God is the God of the impossible- He is more than able to create miracles; He makes a way when there seems to be no way.

But, I would like to shed a light to verse 11-13Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Here’s the catch: Jesus GAVE THANKS (emphasis in caps) for the little, and the 5000 people had enough to eat!

(You can also cross reference to Matthew 15:29-39 where Jesus fed the 4000 with just 7 loaves of bread and few fishes- Jesus gave thanks.)

So I have learnt that giving thanks is a key to multiplication! Such is a power of an attitude and heart of thanksgiving in prayer.

Giving thanks:

1. Releases God’s providence- MULTIPLICATION

2. Realigns our perspective on God not on our circumstances- GOD-FOCUS

3. Reminds us about the heart of our Heavenly Father- DEPENDANCE

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:7-11

Having said that, it does not mean God will multiply our material possessions whatever we desire. The miracle of multiplication is meant to advance His Purposes and to display His Glory. If you ask for cell multiplication or more souls to win, the Lord will most surely honour such a prayer. If you ask for a two-fold financial support — not on coveting personal abundance– so that you can run a business that bring Christian values to the world and impact lives for Him, surely God does not withhold?

Instead of focusing on the “little” (whatever that you have or are facing now), be thankful, count your blessings for what you have than what you do not have. Never forget to give thanks for what you are given, and in HIs time, He will bring about something beautiful.

Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, – Ephesians 3:20

The Tunnel. Hope.

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Delayed hope makes the heart sick… (Proverbs 13:12 HCSB) Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid… (Job 11:18-19A)

The front cabin of the new Downtown Line train has a glass window which allow passengers to peep through the underground tunnel. The tunnel is fairly dim and it takes considerable effort to observe what lies ahead. As the train approaches a destination, the tunnel is aglow with light, brighter and brighter. While half drowsy from the sleep-inducing passage underground, a small still voice jolt me, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Do not lose hope.”

God really has a way in distilling life lessons through things around us- the tunnel is a great reminder that no matter how long the tunnel is, no matter how long it takes to catch a glimmer of light, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The only way out is to keep walking, for the longer I sojourn in the tunnel, the more overwhelming darkness seem to enshroud me. But having hope is stronger than entertaining fear.

When hope is delayed at any length of time, the mind gets uneasy and the heart will sink, ultimately it fails till our inner man gets dispirited and ready to be dejected, giving up all hope.

There is this quote that goes, “We can live about 40 days without food; about 3 days without water, and about 8 minutes without air, but not a second without hope.” And another, “Hope is the last thing to lose.”

The bible warns that heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop (Proverbs 12:25A), and a crushed spirit saps a person’s strength (Proverbs 17:22). And when strength is dried up like a potsherd, the tongue will cleave to the jaws; as if we are laid in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:15). The antidote to a sick heart is, to have joy, for a cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul (Proverbs 17:22). And having hope engenders joy.

We may be fallen on bad times, but as we set our eyes and heart on the God of all Hope, He promises His encompassing Presence (Jeremiah 23:23-24). We can take comfort because as we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Never lose hope, because tough season won’t last but tough people do. And we have hope in God who never fails.

P.S: Do take the train through the tunnel, and observe the passage.

A Blank Page

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Each book, each chapter, each page,
Strewn with autographs of life-
Scribbled with regrets.
Pierced with rejections.
Trampled with derision.
Crumbled with resentment.
Composing into a cacophony of hoots and wails.

And Heaven declared a new lease of life.
Erased with The Divine Blood, leaf by leaf.
Finished.
A brand new page-
Tomorrow births a new beginning.
A blank new chapter-
Tomorrow glimmers a new hope.
How would you choose then to fill those dashes?

The brushes. The bruises. The stings.
Try again. Get up again. Start over again.
Tomorrow is a blank new page.

But ever thought how many pages you have left?
Those misses you are afraid to try again…
Those times you fail to treasure…
Those lives you have no time to care…
A blank page.

“Forget the former things;  do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-20

Look At The Farmer

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See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. – James 5:7 NLT

My journey on entrepreneurship is often fraught with challenges that is beyond apprehension. When times are bad, business gets a slow-down, and prolonged seasons of barrenness can really test faith as well as financial strength, and the next moment, discouragement sets the scene.

While in my usual habit of taking a prayer-walk at my park down the block, I saw a vision of a farmer ploughing the ground, and planting some seeds. After planting the entire field, perspiring from such hard labour, he waited by the side overlooking the field with anticipation…… At that instance, the scene seemed to freeze for the longest time- the farmer was still in the same position, waiting patiently……

This vision seemed to be conveying to me:

(a) The field represents my business and the land is given by the Lord;

(b) There is a time for everything: plowing, planting and harvesting- a time to sow and a time to reap;

(c) The farmer is synonymous to: (a) patience- seeds take time to sprout; (b) stewardship – watching over the field is call of duty; (c) faithfulness – seeds require constant tender loving care (watering, fertilising, pulling out weeds and even pest-control). And do not neglect the little things for the little things is a proof of trustworthiness. (Luke 16:10)

(d) The outcome is never instant, it takes a lot of hard work- it takes years for the seeds to grow into trees;

(e) It takes seasons of faith to trust the Lord to provide, as He determines the outcome.

We are to work hard if we want our field (apart from work, our ministry counts too) to bear fruits: Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. (2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT)

Farmers toil with blood and sweat, neither can we have it all easy too, otherwise God will not mention the wise and hardworking ants in the bible (Proverbs 6:6, Proverbs 30:25)! However, God is still the ultimate God of the Harvest, our duty is to just do our best and leave the rest to God. And in His time He will bring about our due in due time. Just trust, and wait patiently.

The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. – Psalms 145:13b-16

That is one thing for sure, God will never let us go hungry.

Metamorphosing Into The New Season

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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

As you pass this mid year of 2017, are you still carrying the baggages of the rued past? All the ne’er-do-well that embittered you; all the might-have-been that frustrated you; all the all-over that unnerved you; all the why-me that crunched you; and the sins-in-the-flesh that checkmated you.

The pains. The tears. The dollars. The seconds. The misses.

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Metemorphosing Into The Seasons

1. Basking in the heat of SUMMER

Lying supine in the meadow flanked by the flower-beds resplendent of flamboyant blooms, carpeted lusciously in green, enshroud by a warm symphony of suffused gold and pink rays, the butterflies flit flirtatiously from one flower to another; a morning avian serenading you; the beautiful nature beckons.

Dreams seem beautiful. Life seems wonderful. When will time freezes at this standstill?

2. Sojourning SPRINGtime

The vibrant kaleidoscope of colours mushrooming the landscape coupled by a dream-like and surreal aura from the relucent glaze of the sun sends you bedazzled, enchanting like a jewel box sparkled with shimmering satin and sequins.

The beauty is lingering. The future is promising. When will hope springs forth certainty?

3. Traversing AUTUMN terrains

The foliages rustling at your feet, the pebbles rattling, the onslaught of the autumn chill gnaws your spine relentlessly. Moonlight filtered through the naked branches and scattered dappled patches on the foliages-strewn ground. And the next minute passes like a slow-motion suspended trailer.

Everything mellows by time. Everything plunges into a comatose. When will it be a resuscitation of vitality?

4. Enveloped by the WINTER avalanche

The journey through the uncharted terrains gets rougher, encompassed by a thick bedding of snow. The incessant showers of snow pellets frosted your vision, greeted by life obscurities and enfolded by a hyperventilating miasma of tempest, the road ahead looks solemnly bleak.

All hopes come to blight. All efforts come to naught. When will dawn be glimmering?

But……

Be thankful for what you have instead of counting what you had missed;

Be thankful for what you went through instead of whining over the bumps;

Be appreciative of your-pain-in-the-neck for these often are the people whom God used to teach you something;

Instead of complaining about the thorns on a rose, be thankful for the roses amongst the thorns.

Behold 2017. A reborned person. A renewed mind. A reformed heart. A refreshed Spirit.

Even With Grey Hairs I Am With You 

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Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6A) I will be your God throughout your lifetime–until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4)

I was having a coffee break with 2 friends yesterday chatting about retirement plans when the uncertain future caught us a little apprehensive since we are single with age catching up. One of them shared that she does not look too far ahead to the future as we do not know what can happen tomorrow, therefore it is more important to live in the present, trusting God each step, day by day. Recalling God’s faithfulness in the past had helped her to deal with life’s challenges with renewed faith, strength and comfort. She shared a particular verse from Psalm 23:6 which she always anchored herself on- “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL THE DAYS of my life.” (Emphasis in caps). This verse appeared to be a life-giving bread for me, at the same time I “heard” a small still voice, “Even with grey hairs I will be with you”.

Most of us dread old age, especially when our bodies are subject to decay anytime.

Most of us dread loneliness, especially when we may be walking through life alone.

Most of us dread darkness, especially when we are in our pits.

Whether we are single or married, or whether we are in the high or low season, we all face different issues in each stage of our lives that can render us insecure and fearful about what is next. Although reality bites— our world may fall, and men fail—  the Lord our God is always constant, till the end of the earth, today and forever: God gave His Family (God’s community) who can uphold us, His closest Companion (Holy Spirit) who is always with us, HIs billet–doux (love letters from the bible) which remind us of His Faithful Love, His spiritual communication tool (prayers) which we can tap into the Source of Power, and His Songs (worship) which minister to our souls.

Look back, at His Faithfulness;

Look now, at His Loving-kindness;

Look ahead, at His Trustworthiness.

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

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.

It All Boils Down To Your Choice

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Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one. – Matthew 5:37 NLT

We make decisions every day: what to wear, where to go, what to eat, what to do etc. Some decisions are no brainer, while some require wisdom. And our choices, good or bad, will determine the outcome; and the outcomes will determine whether your life be filled with abundance or with repercussions.

Oftentimes, our feelings dictate our choices more than what we know the right thing to do. And you made that final decision- your choice:

To do Quiet Time or not to do Quiet Time- it is a choice.

To join cell or not to join cell- it is a choice.

To attend church or not attend church- it is a choice.

To forgive or not to forgive- it is a choice.

To trust or not to trust- it is a choice

To serve or not to serve- it is a choice.

The question is, what determines your choice?

Anything vacillating in between, is considered “evil”, in other words, “excuses”, because they are the result of being double-minded. To quote a scenario- I am sick, so obviously I should stay home to rest and decide “No” to any activities, as opposed to, I will see how and decide later how my mood is, then I will decide if to head out or not. In James 4:8, it says, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” So the crux of the matter is the matter of the heart- how your heart is where your choice will be.

When we entertain “if” or mete out certain conditions to making our decision, is also considered “in-between”. For example, “if God do this for me, then I will listen to Him”, in other word, manipulating God in “deciding your choice” to be “yes” or “no” is considered “evil”.

We have to first DECIDE in our mind and just put to action, our heart will then follow. It is not the other way round when you FEEL like it, for our hearts are deceitful above all things else.

And of course, certain big decision have to weigh with wise counsel (Cell leaders, mentors and elders) or Body of Christ (for collective confirmation from Holy Spirit / God)-

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. – Proverbs 11:14

Be wise, tune to the Holy Spirit living in you, (or weigh with the Body of Christ) and make the right choice that honours God.

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.

Habits – It Begins With You

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Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. – John 8:34

When we do something, good or bad, over and over again, we fall into a habitual pattern, which either discipline or enslave us. Humans are by nature, creatures of habits, and experts said that it takes 21 days (daily) to form a habit. Our daily living is made up of good and bad habits. We grow up picking up habits from someone or somewhere, over time.

If you are a habitually latecomer, it is because you have “cultivated” a habit for being late, opposed to someone who is always on time, because the latter cultivated a habit to be earlier. The difference is, when both are given the same amount of time, it is a matter of what you do, a matter of choice and an act of will. Such habit can be changed – I recalled that my bible school fined latecomers a dollar, even if a second late, and no excuse shall be entertained. The $1-fine-tin was heavy in the first few weeks until it got lighter and lighter over time. This proved that latecomers can be trained to be on time.

Even Olympics Athletes train (almost) daily, they “beat” their bodies to follow very strict disciplines (1 Cor 9:25)- and they have the strongest will because they aim for the gold medal. Similarly, you will reap what you sow, if you will yourself to do it- if you truly want to break a bad habit or a sin, replace it with a good habit or a virtue, cultivate this discipline and sustain it for 21 days (or perhaps longer) continually.

Some examples:

  1. Need to get into the habit of doing Quiet Time (QT)?

Start picking up your bible (start with the easiest chapter say Proverbs or Psalms), make a commitment to spend say 15 mins to read 1 chapter, daily, every morning say 8am. Keep to 8am daily for 15 mins, over 21 days (or longer until it becomes a second nature to you).

  1. Need to get into the habit of praying?

Set aside a time where you would pray for 1 thing daily. Keep praying the same thing over and over at the same time until it becomes part of your praying routine.

  1. Need to break a bad addiction?

Whatever this addiction is, don’t SEE (including lust), don’t TOUCH, don’t HEAR (example gossip) and don’t BE there (example extravagant shopping) at all. Bible says “FLEE” from temptations. Turn to the bible instead since it is “live”, and keep to it, till you no longer feel “itchy” or tempted.

  1. Need to break the habit of ungratefulness / grumbling?

Write down 10 things you are thankful to God for the day, count each a blessing and show your gratefulness to God with verbalised prayers. Keep to it until you no longer feel the need to grumble.

  1. Need to break the bad habit of being late?

Find an accountability partner whom you would hold yourself liable to every time you are late- fine $10 or more (non-refundable), depending on the severity of this bad habit. Decide ahead to reach your destination say 10 minutes earlier (works better than being exact), buffer your travelling time an hour (or so) earlier, and work backwards. Commit to this over 21 days or longer until you form a new habit of always being early.

  1. Need to break the habit of wrong thinking?

Bible says replace our thoughts with thoughts that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, fixate about such thoughts (Phil 4:8). That is the power of focus- train our mind to think ONLY of thoughts that are good, say any truth from the bible that is most relevant to you, mediate upon it until your mind is renewed and transforms the way you think.

Basically it is to do something good to replace the bad, cultivate the good things and sustain it. It doesn’t matter how much time you need nor how best to go about it. The crux lies in your attitude- if you are willing to change, you will do it and change. Start small, little by little- patterns of bad habits can be broken by a new habit and transformation begins.

The 7 Virtues To Transforming Your Relationships And Your Character

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In the church, we have heard a lot about the importance of having faith, trust, love, holiness and perseverance. We have also been taught that our mind and words have hidden power that either edify or destroy, whether with husband, children, parents, colleagues or even the people whom we are trying to reach out to.

Yet, in life’s tsunami of challenges, we are often greet with situations that not only challenge our spiritual credentials, but also affect our relationships. I have discovered treasures in the bible that help to transform our relationships and even our character:

1. The virtue of LISTENING

To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. – Proverbs 18:13

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20

And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” “Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”” – 1 Samuel 3:9-10 NASB

2. The virtue of SILENCE

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. – Proverbs 17:27-28

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. – Proverbs 17:14

3. The virtue of PATIENCE

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. – Proverbs 14:29

A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. – Proverbs 15:18 

Love is patient, love is kind. – 1 Corinthians 13:4 

4. The virtue of HUMILITY

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:5b-6

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. – Isaiah 66:2b

…he crowns the humble with victory – Psalm 149:4b

5. The virtue of DENYING YOURSELF

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:3-8

Look after each other so that not one of you will fail to find God’s best blessings. What out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives. – Hebrews 12:15TLB

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24

6. The virtue of REST

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29

And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”  – Exodus 33:14

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” – Mark 6:31

7. The virtue of FOCUS

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalms 46:10

but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:27

The Wilderness

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Just as I thought I had left Egypt years ago, instead of being whisked into a promised land of milk and honey, all I see was mountains and snakes at every turn. I had trod into an unfamiliar territory- another wilderness! When I finally woke up from my “deep slumber”, alas I was standing at a verge, with the army of the Egyptians hot on my heels, facing me is the Red Sea! There is no way of escape.

At that crucial moment, I cried out as hard, as much, as long, to the Almighty to save me and deliver me from my helplessness… By a bat of an eyelid, I found myself on a Rock, my three enemies no longer pursued me. God finally broke the long chill of the silent nights, “Do not let your heart be troubled. TRUST in God, trust also in Me.” (John 14:1) reinforced with Proverbs 3:5-6 “TRUST in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He’ll make your paths straight.” His voice resonated with the word “TRUST”.

In the silent mire of abyss, my impatience got the better of me, I doubted God had heard my prayers. But I ended up with a megaphone blasting my ears, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?!” (My hairs really on stand…) By this, God has shown me that even a mustard seed of faith can move mountains and they shall be moved! Thence, my faith skyrocketed to a new level.

Much as “snakes” tempted me into taking a court action and discouraged me in my unemployability, just as much God has faithfully sustained me with His blessings and His double-portion strength in each and everyday. By His Grace, He gave me a gift of an encouraging Spirit that I could be optismistic; He gave me a vision of conquering the “Goliath(s)” in my life; He spoke to me His Promises that I could profess victory; He shown me that He is a God of Multiplication when He impressed me with a scenario where Jesus multiplied 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5000 people full; He inspired me to compose a poem that Jesus can still a nasty storm; and He led me to pray with prayers I had never prayed before.

Instead of cowering under pity-blankets as I would in the past, I would recall how the Lord delivered me from the slavery land of Egypt years ago and His never-failing faithfulness. I drawn near to Him and He draws near to me. My turning point came when I confessed of a cherished conviction, in repentance I cried to the Living God, “Help me!”

No doubt God is teaching me something. No doubt He brought me closer to Him so that I can hear Him better. No doubt He is disciplining me through His refining fire to keep me going from strength to Strength and from faith to Faith. I can rest unto God’s Peace, “Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) and His Faithfulness, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” (John 15:7)

I am thankful that God has been there. I am also thankful for the people who has helped eased my burdens. I have been through the dark tunnel a few times and God has been there. And God is not hard of hearing- Our tears are precious to Him for He is especially close to those who are crushed in spirit. Just be still and let God be God. He will walk on the water and grabbed you before you could sink just as Jesus rescued Peter from drowning when His faith failed him.

“The more secured you are in Christ, the stronger you stand even if your whole world came crushing down. Your security is not found in transient things but in Him alone.”

Refiner’s Fire

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An interesting conversation with a friend about “trusting God” inspired me to pen this devotion- she forwarded a devotion on this topic that I responded to her that trusting is a lesson that takes ongoing re-learning. She replied, “Yes it is. Like playing a game- It gets upgraded whenever we pass one level. Life is fun, isn’t it?”

Indeed, akin to any computer game, as we conquer level by level, our journey will be fraught with different sets of difficulties that challenge our limit each time. Just when I thought I have passed Level One colourfully, it doesn’t end there, I have to ascend to Level Two, then Level Three until I get to my destiny. This episode brought me to a verse where God would test each of us and refine us as gold.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12). Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10).

But first let me share how gold is processed, as this is foundational to our understanding why God uses refining fire, furnace and gold as analogies.

Gold is processed through smelting and refining. High heat, pressure and chemicals are used to remove impurities from the gold. Gold in its raw material contains rock, gold nuggets, scrap gold etc, need to be re-liquefied in a hot furnace. Various chemicals are added to the molten substance to separate the gold from other metals. The process has to be repeated in greater intensity in order to remove all impurities for gold to be refined and pure.

The bible is full of verses on God’s refining fires:

  1. God knows exactly what we are made of.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” – Job 23:10

  1. God know what is in our hearts.

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. – Proverbs 17:3

  1. Fires refine the quality of our faith.

So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:7

  1. Trials build our character.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

In retrospection, I did not have my life easy, but I can attest to through trials, my faith is tested under fire but I have learnt to grow stronger. I deem fires as necessary for refinement. I can only pray that God will give me the strength to persevere and his mercies to carry me through, from faith to Faith, strength to Strength and glory to Glory. So do not be surprised at what you are going through, God is doing a deeper work in you. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

We Can Be Super Hero!

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While watching “Wonder Woman” movie recently, I had imagined myself to have super-power to fight evils- I thought it was simply cool to be a super hero, that I wished I could have such amazing powers.

At that instant, I was reminded that we, as children of the Almighty God, have super power too, as co-heir to Jesus Christ!

1. We can fight any demons and evils

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. – Luke 10:19

2. Our power is at work 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. – Ephesians 3:20

3. Our power is rechargeable

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29

4. We have the power with our tongue

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. – Proverbs 18:21

5. We can heal the sick

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” – Mark 16:17-18

6. We can fight any temptations

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. – 1 John 5:4A

7. We can demolish strongholds

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. – 2 Corinthians 10:4

So in other words, we have the power to speak over “death”, heal the sick, to kill demons and to destroy evils. And of course, we have the power to overcome darkness in any areas of our life.

Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. – Psalm 68:35

Take on this new identity as a super hero in God’s Kingdom. Have a super-charged week ahead!

When You Feel Small……

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I believe, some of us, from time to time, felt challenged by our own inadequacies or bruised under a barrage of discouragements, that we did question our own identity.

I recalled one instance in my life (as a very young believer) when I was crushed under pressure at work coupled with a personal sting (I was still struggling to recover from my identity crisis resulted from a broken home and emotional turmoils since young), my spirit was grieving. And that one catalyst engendered a chain reaction that maimed my confidence. The next instance, I struggled with speaking for days, fumbling with words.

One night in the midst of that emotional struggle, I distinctly heard a small voice, “The least is more significant to Me…” God was lieterally speaking to me! I quickly turned to my bible in order to tune my spirit to the Truth. Just as I flipped open, I was led to 1 Corinthians 12:22-25 that read “... those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”

Recalling Paul, the great persecutor of his times, who constantly felt tormented by a messenger sent by Satan, yet God empowered him with His Grace and supernatural Strength; Mary Magdeline, the adulteress, whom Jesus saved her from being stoned by the people who condemned her; And not discounting Moses, who once was a murderer, struggled with his own inadequacy and speech deficiency. Needless to mention those hard tax collectors who were regarded as scums of society, had became close disciples of Jesus.

Yet, these are the people who were greatly used by God. Jesus indeed had a special heart for “the-not-so-normal-people”. He saw beyond what men failed to see. Men look at outward appearance but God looks at the heart. People around you may judge you by what you can’t do, but we can take comfort in the God who believes in what you can do.

For he who is least among you all — he is the greatest. – Luke 9:48

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” – Matthew 20:16

“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

At times when you may have felt small, Jesus cares.

Those times when you may have felt condemned, Jesus cares.

When you felt no one cares a dime about you, Jesus cares.

He has a special heart for those the world has chosen to disparage.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

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This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths,  ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. – Jeremiah 6:16

My ex-colleagues have always been addressing me as “Miss GPS, can you direct me how we should get there?” or “GPS, is this the correct way to that place?” or “GPS, please direct me, otherwise we will all get lost!” Isn’t it funny that a non-driving-license holder has a better sense of direction than those (I mean, not all drivers have poor sense of direction) who own a driving license? Perhaps, I just know a little more since I was quite “well-travelled” being chauffeured around.

Not long ago, this GPS teaser shed a new light…

The best GPS system is still the One who is omnipresent and all-mighty. He can see a far much better picture and has the “state-of-the-art navigating system”. He is the best Person to get directions, directing our every path; where we should be heading and where we should stop. And He knows best which is the safest route without the unnecessary zig-zag turns, the crazy jams and the merry-go-rounds. And we can trust that we will be in one piece without the mess-ups. Wouldn’t all drivers like to travel safely with no time waste?

So let God has your driver seat. Just admit it, we are all poor drivers (I mean, in life). You will come to a cross-road, a juncture, not knowing if you should turn to the left or the right- His Way or your way? From time to time, you will come to an amber light, should you dash ahead or slow down- wait for Holy Spirit or run ahead of the Spirit? You will at times beat the red lights, and oh dear, you are summoned to face a fine- to be rebellious or be obedient? You will certainly be stuck in a heavy traffic jam that seemed to take ages to clear, and oh no, you find yourself in the throes of mood- be patient for God’s timing or be impatient and miss your kairos moment? You will occasionally miss the correct turns- trust God or trust your own wisdom? Not to mention, you will have to go one big round- how long will it take for you to learn a lesson?

Ring a bell? Remember how the Isrealites had been wandering in the dessert for 40 years. Remember how God called Abraham to a place he did not know and God gave him the Promise. The difference between the two is- trust God or trust yourself? Obey God or rebel against Him?

And one thing for sure, God works for those whose hands willingly let Him take the driver seat, the heart that fully surrender to His Sovereignty that He will take them where they should be going.

So allow God to be your GPS. And He will take you places!

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. – Isaiah 42:16

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.  The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.” – Luke 3:4b-5

Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. – Proverbs 4:25-27

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. – Psalm 77:19

The Antidote For The Pain That Comes A-knocking On Your Door* (Part 2)

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*Continue from “When Pain Comes A-knocking On Your Door” as posted the previous day

 

Here is an antidote for your pain from Luke 8:50:

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be healed.”

For the wounded hearts and the ailing souls.

 

In need of more prescriptions? The Physician will be glad that you ask.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be provided.”

For the pockets decorated with holes.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be delivered.”

For the lives at the end of the tether.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be guided.”

For the future that loomed with an overcast.

 

“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and [you] will be victorious.”

For those who need to straddle through many hurdles.

 

For effectiveness, gargle your prescription with a glass of faith three times a day after “bread” and voila, you are on the brink of restoration.

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.

The Art of Weaknesses

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The Beginning: A stark white piece of paper.

In the Process: When passed through many hands over the years, the paper aged in yellow, got the crinkles, the creases and the bad stains.

In the End: A crumpled paper- A pair of hands out of curiosity unravels the crumpled paper, all he sees is many holes and cracks, any further dealings with it however gentle, will tear the paper. “Useless paper, trash it, it is getting in the way!”

The Making: Another pair of hands picks the crumpled paper from the trash bin, though he sees the holes, he sees the cracks, he wears a smile in delight as if he had found a treasure, “Great! I found it, this is what I want!”. He tears the paper into small pieces, throw into the blender to blend into a paper pulp. The pulp when mixed with water surfaced the impurities, the dust, and the fine sands. Whoosh! A recycled paper is created, but it speaks volumes- the right weight with the right strength, the even surface and the beauty of the paper texture, all in a perfect finishing touch.

This art of paper-making lies the eyes of an appreciated master and his pair of skilfull hands. He turns waste into beauty.

The Art of Weaknesses: Isn’t our life like that crumpled paper? A paper of mishandled holes and the cracks of life? No one knows the process of how each of us went through, all we see is just a crumpled paper, and soon be condemned as useless paper and shoot it into the bin.

Everyone of us has our own weaknesses, and all these weaknesses usually have a link to the past- an inheritance of the growing up years. Unfortunately, our responses and our actions often put people on the judgement seats without further cross-examinations of how these triggers came about- “Why are you like this and that…” Unfortunately, that paved the way for misunderstandings, impatience, anger, frustrations, disappointments and even weariness- “I have enough…”  Unfortunately, weaknesses tested all relationships- “I give up…” Unfortunately, so often the prosecution did not even look within themselves- “Nothing to do with me…”

If you counsel a girlfriend, she will share with you the problems and the weaknesses of her boyfriend. If you counsel a boyfriend, he will confide in you the same problems and the weaknesses of his girlfriend. Apparently, their problems have to do with each other weaknesses.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that they are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)” As we learn about life through trials and tribulations and grow, likewise we learn strength from our own weaknesses as well as from others. It is always easy to love someone who does not give you much problems, but God especially uses weaknesses to reveal each other vulnerability and grow in strength together through problems.

Everything that happened, there is always a purpose, a reason and a message. In every relationships, God always uses each other weaknesses to teach the other something. God does not use weaknesses to hurt or destroy each other, He uses weaknesses to do His work. God could be teaching each of us the limits of our own strength, our attitudes, our patience, our tolerance, our level of understanding and sensitivity to each other and thereon.

God in His New Testament has taught many truths that edified a relationship, here is a 7-keys checklist:

1. CHECK YOURSELF

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eyes? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-4)

We are always quick to remonstrate others’ weaknesses without even first look at our own. And problems do not merely existed as one-sided. Always first check yourself.

2. CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

All of us has a past. Our thinking, attitudes and actions were shaped by our upbringing, especially those with unhappy past inflicted a deep wound in their lives, there is always a struggle with the emotions. But instead of letting such weaknesses consumed us, make an effort with God’s Strength to crucify the old self and put on the new self, the other party should be encouraging and try to help in whatever ways he or she can.

3. ARE YOU LISTENING?

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Sad to say, most of us have ears but do not listen. More sad to say, all of us are quick to speak without listening first. The big picture would be incomplete with those missing little pieces, thus it gives way to so much misunderstandings and frustrations.

4. ARE YOU GENTLE WITH YOUR WORDS?

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31) Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:23)

When we are frustrated; in a bad mood; or in anger, our tone and manner definitely will be harsh. Harsh words can be an outburst of rejection, such insensitivity may hurt the other person than you realised it. Bear in mind also the mentality of the recipient whether he or she is in a foul mood, simple words may misconstrued as otherwise. Quarrels are usually sparkled off from careless and harsh words, the gentle your words expressed, the less sensitivity will be induced.

Learn to be sensitive with your words for there is power when professed, they either bless or curse; or build up or tear down. Bad attitude is definitely not a language of love, therefore exercise self-control and gentleness, “encourage one another and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)”

It is always better to talk face to face, or over the phone than through emails or sms as the tone and manner of words and the style of expression can be ambigious. When you voice it out personally, you can grasp the tone and manner better and also determine the receptivity of the receiving end.

5. HAVE YOU BEEN PATIENT?

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

Weaknesses of one teach another patience and tolerance. If God has been so patient with us and longsuffering with all our sins, what makes us to be less tolerant and patient with others? Love is patient and patience perseveres in love.

6. HAVE SELFISHNESS STANDS IN THE WAY?

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

“Why should I make the first move?!?”, “It is all her fault, I have nothing to do with it!”; “You can think what you want to think and say what you want to say, I don’t care!” Sounds familiar?

In almost every relationships, we each have our own expectations of the other, falling short of it, we let selfishness and pride reign and ultimately it gives way to disappointments, resentment and anger. No one is perfect, we should be humble and always think of the others more than yourselves.

7. ARE YOU FORGIVING?

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13) A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11)

Much as it hurts God for all our mistakes, our flaws, our sins, and He still forgives us times and again, do you have the right not to forgive others too? No one is infallible to flaws, mistakes and sins, thus we all need forgiveness one after another. Forgiveness is a gift from God, since He has so freely given us, can we deprive someone else of this gift too?

The Beauty:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 7-8) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:8-9) The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:22-23, 26)

It is best to confront issues, talk about them than letting them remain as they are. The more you try to hide or avoid will eventually eat into you. Identify the issues to each other, recognise the triggers, admit your own vulnerability, pray and commit to God and deal with the issues with wisdom and tact. In such round-the-table confrontation, you would probably be in for a surprise of things you may have blindspots to.

No one can change a person but believe that if you have committed to pray for that person and the relationship to God, you can be sure He will be in control and something supernaturally happens in the process. God does beautiful wonders.

But it does not end with us resting on our laurels after the prayers. God works in the process. Each of us should try to learn how to communicate and understand each other better; build better trust and faith; accept and love each other despite the weaknesses; help each other to overcome the weaknesses and encourage each other to be a better person that God has intended for him or her.

The art of weaknesses is a lifelong learning process.

Fake Label Christain

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True and False Disciples

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ – Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

I remembered a friend shared that a lady with imitation AAA rated (means very close to the real goods) Gucci bag checked into the actual Gucci store during its sales. She felt proud to own that label which was the envy of many. A sales representative caught her red-handed for carrying an imitation, and a police case was filed. The lady was then escorted out with glares by many bystanders. The consequence was unthinkable- She might go to jail for such a folly in passing off an imitation that could crown her to be a real Guccian.

Do you see any association to the passage about what God says about goats and sheeps in His Church?

Just by one label- Fake Christain.

And God has the eyes to see who carries such label and He labels them goats. And goats are casted out of His Gate. Many of us professed our faith and yet live a life only as a Sunday Christian. Many of us claimed that we believed and prayed the sinner’s prayer yet our lives are not reflecting true conversion.

Don’t be surprised, God also have something to say about those who are so fervent about God and involved in a lot of ministries but fall short of being a true believer because their hearts are far away from believing Him and acknowledging Him as Lord and Saviour. Read the verse 22-23 again- It addresses the group of people who did God’s work, mind you, and yet, God can see through their hearts.

Isn’t it scary to hear God telling you, “I don’t know you!” or “I never knew you!”? Would you really know you are truly saved? Do you think just having a stamp on your passport guarantees you an entry to Heaven? If so, everyone can have it easy. We can always chose to be a non-practicing Christian.

Let me give you an illustration- A General Practicioner (GP) is a doctor with a certificate that verifies his professionalism. What if this GP never practises medicine after graduation, can he still be a doctor? Will he still be seen as a credible doctor to the public who is seeking medical help?

Likewise, sure, we get an acknowledgment that we are christians when we prayed the sinner’s prayer. So what is next? Read verse 21 again- It emphasis the last line, “BUT (means by this condition) the one who DOES (be doer not hearer) the WILL (God’s purposes and plans for all of us) of my Father…”.

Verse 23b has an even solemn message- “Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” Who are these people? Dictionaries define breaking God’s laws as being lawless as “not bound by laws”, “wicked”, “trangressor”, “disobedient”, “violator”, “immoral” and the list goes on. In short, it simply means, no regards for God’s Laws- You know about the rules yet you defy them. We are people of lawlessness because we sin from time to time. But take heart, that Jesus singles out “workers of lawlessness”. Workers work hard day and night with an intention (either for promotion or just to earn more money etc.). In interpreting this, if we continue sinning (it is already at work) and breaking God’s laws or principles intentionally (deliberate disobedience), God has an ultimatum- “depart from Me!”

For example, we all know that carrying imitation goods are prohibited. If we get caught by the original manufacturer, we are in big trouble because we break the laws. It is clear that we cannot escape from such laws. So knowing it, and we deliberately act against this law, would not justice has its way one day? Perhaps, if your conscience is working, you would have stop robbing someone of the copyright.

James summarised in James 2:14-25 (NIV) that the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Let’s check our hearts:

What are we truly- Are we REAL label for Christ?

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

Flickering Candle

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I was encouraging a friend who was depressed from being jobless for a prolonged period. And it happened at the same time that I was talking to another friend why I like candles- because of one particular verse that had been an anchor for my soul when I was in crises eons ago-

A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; – Isaiah 42:3a

A room may be in complete darkness. But the moment you light up a candle, darkness has to flee. No matter how weak the candle wick is, or how flicker the flame is, nor how small the candle is, even the faintest of light can still light up the room. No matter how big the room in the dark is, darkness has to flee the moment there is light.

Watching the candle burning is a stark reminder that Jesus is the Light, whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of life (John 8:12). The question is what do we see in our room of darkness?

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

Even if our physical eyes are (momentarily / temporarily) veiled by darkness, do our spiritual eyes light up in the faith under fire- seeing God even in our moments of darkness?

I encouraged her to really light up a candle to observe, study it and meditate upon these life-giving truths. It is also a great reminder to myself in trying times, with another parallel to Isaiah 42:3a “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

We are called to be warriors of light to the world in darkness; and we are called to be the lamp of light to the soul (can be yourself too) in darkness.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16

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.

Second Chances

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I bought a nice hour glass from Daiso recently, which I will always play with from time to time. I enjoy looking at the process of distilling the sand, how it trickles so slowly through the neck with each passing seconds. It is an instrument that reminds me that time and tide waits for no man, and time is within my control: I either choose to waste time or to make full use of it- and every passing moment lost is lost forever… When I inverted the hour glass, it is a replay, again and again.

At that instance, it brought me to 2 bible verses:

(1) This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. – Habakkuk 2:3

Seemingly dashed dreams; seemingly unfulfilled promises; seemingly lost hope- Some of us have been waiting for something, for a very long time, and it seems like eternity. Some of us ever wondered, “Have I missed His Divine appointment?”, “Have I messed up somewhere?”, “What went wrong?”, “Did I take the wrong path?” and the many head-prodding questions. We have failed to apprehend the indisputable truth that God cannot contradict Himself with what He has written in His Book. We have to first understand that God’s timetable is not the same as ours. Lastly, we can still hope in God who is the God of all seasons- To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, do read more on the same passage). The Study Bible expands Habakkuk 2:3, “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries ,wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.”

While I inverted the hour glass, God seemed to be telling me that He is the God of second chances:

(2) I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Can I not, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand.” – Jeremiah 18:3-6

Surely we made mistakes all the time. We will all messed up, from time to time. That is the fallibleness of humankind. “Will God give me another chance if I missed His Best Gift (whether a job offer, a relationship, an opportunity etc.) for the first time?” Refer to the last verse above, and retrieve the key- “STARTED OVER”. Other bible translations offer “made another again”, “reworked”, “remade” and “formed again”, which you can take heart that God gives second chances, and it will still be His Best for you.

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.

Just Believe

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(Jesus says), ”Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1

A conversation with an ex-collegue who is also a Brother-in-Christ last Wednesday, left me in rumination… “Your job is simply to pray and to just BELIEVE. It isn’t your job to find out what God is doing in your life, nor to question His Sovereignty over why things happened as such… You just have to do your part to pray and keep praying, and simply to believe and take God’s Word as it is. You should pray like you believed!”

I was then led to the verse John 14:1 and a new light was shed- Ever wonder why Jesus repeated, “believe also in Me” when He already encouraged us in the preceding line, “believe in God”, since He is God Himself?

Perhaps to most of us, God seems too abstract a concept to grasp, and He seems like a super-cosmo being that is hard for us to feel or hear Him, let alone to see Him. We have to admit that we are physical being who need to see, feel and touch real things. That is why Jesus has to remind us that He is God in a physical form too- He came in flesh, and scooped down to our level to relate to us so that we can see, hear and feel Him. In other words, through John 14:1B, God is conveying a few key messages:

  1. God in the flesh is REAL AND NEAR so that we know He can emphatise with our present

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; SEE my hands. REACH OUT your hand and PUT IT INTO MY SIDE. Stop doubting and believe.” – John 20:27

God is our refuge and strength, an EVER-PRESENT help in trouble. – Psalms 46:1

  1. God in the flesh arose as an OVERCOMER so that we have the same Hope and Victory

(Jesus says), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.” – John 16:33

  1. God in the flesh is the immutable “I AM” so that we can be assured of His unfailing Nature

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). “I AM” is a powerful reminder on the nature of God- “I AM” the Almighty God, nothing is too hard for me (Jer 32:27); “I AM” Jehovah-Jireh who provides for your every need (Philippians 4:19); “I AM” the Divine Healer who heals (Exodus 15:26); and the list goes on…

Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The bible has recorded uncountable miracles that Jesus did in the past, and He will not stop performing those miracles now or in the future. We need to fall back on such history to remind ourselves, forgetful human beings, what God had done and has promised. God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Last but not least, imagine that Jesus posed a question personally- “Do you finally believe?” (John 16:31), and how would you answer?

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. 🙂

Abundance

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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it ABUNDANTLY. – John 10:10 ESV

Cross reference to other translation, is “full” (NIV)’ “satisfying” (NLT) and “everything” (GWT).

I have often wonder aboutt the word “abundance” which implies to me, “richness”. In the World’s dictionary, it literally means “material wealth”, where I can hope for million dollars, successful businesses, dream houses, dream cars, edifying relationships, satisfying marriage, healthy body… That’s abundance!

Until I read and re-read the first liner that Satan steals, kills and destroys. If abundance equates to material wealth, Satan can only steal and destroy but wealth can not be killed.

So in other words, in God’s dictionary, it means “living to the full.” It is a promise that no matter what is going on around us, we can have PEACE in the midst of storms; we can have JOY in times of darkness; we can have HOPE when circumstances seem hopeless; we can have SECURITY when times are uncertain; we can have STRENGTH when our flesh is failing; we can have CONTENTMENT in times of little; we can still partake of His Blessings no matter what, for God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can live life to the full which cannot be bought or compensated with whatever figures in your bank account.

That is the highest order of abundance.

Have a blessed day looking to God to help you be filled with His Abundance.

P.S. Try apply this- “Satan can rob you of (hope), kill your (hope) and destroy your (hope).

3 “T”s & “P”s

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A conversation with my business partner caught me in rumination when she posed a point-blank question, ”Poor thing, you have yet to fully recover from your last physical setback that Satan keeps battering you again through your family… Your battles very intense… But mind if I ask, are you upset with God?”

While walking home that night, it brought to mind a friend’s recent message that her husband reminded about me when he heard Pastor Sara preached a sermon during G12 Conference on hardships or trials. He told my friend that Pastor Sara had highlighted that it takes someone of “superior quality” to be able to go through trials, so I am made to be able to withstand…

Not sure if that is a compliment or affirmation, but I know one thing for sure- No point to ask the whys, no use to throw pity parties, I just have to live one day at a time, enough faith, strength and bread for me to go through day by day. At least I am thankful now to be able to “hear” Him after a prolong eight months of spiritual darkness. Today, a new revelation dawned upon me with this verse:

Devote (commit unceasingly) yourselves to prayer, being watchful (the devil is waiting at the door) AND (in addition) thankful (to give thanks in all things).- Colossians 4:2

One keyword that I didn’t notice in this verse since my 15 years as a believer, is the word “thankful” (in addition). We all can understand that it is hard to be thankful in bad times, but being thankful is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:18), because thankfulness change our hearts, perspectives, and attitudes.

The take home point is,

“Because you have prayed to Me… (Isa 37:21b).”

God hears.

Prayer is a direct line to God,

It moves the Supernatural Hands of the Almighty;

That will always intervene over the natural.

God rules & reigns.

Therefore,

Turn your burdens into Prayers;

Tune your spirit to Praise;

Thrust yourself to Providence.

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, – Ephesians 6:18

What Is The One Thing You Would Ask For?

I received this Rhema Word this morning-

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32

If God could give His Precious and only All for us, why wouldn’t He, in His Gracious Nature, give us anything? Matthew 7:7-11 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I heard a very small still voice, “If to ask God for the ONE thing, what would I ask for?” So much further ado, I asked for “TRUST”, tears streamed as I responded.

I could ask for money since it has been my utmost concern; I could ask for healing of my ears since it has been what I have been seeking for… but why did my Spirit utter “TRUST”? Because I simply needed that trust:

(a) as a Father holds my hand when I am lost;

(b) that my Father will bring me bread since it is the staple I need;

(c) that my Father is always faithful when I am faith-less and unfaithful;

(d) that my Father’s Love will not fail me;

(e) so that I can see my Father’s heart when I am challenged;

(f) to go through life more bearable knowing my Father is with me even if I have to go through hardships

TRUST is what I need, and it is something I cannot buy with riches. and that is why I asked as His Child.

What is the ONE thing you would ask for?

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.

Truth Or Hypocrisy?

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While I was at my church service last week, I saw many hands raised up worshipping The Lord, and the people in reverence adoring and praising Him. In the midst, I received an impression “Do the people meant in their heart what they confess with their mouth?” Or rather, do our hearts truly reflect what we say? What’s more we are called to worship in spirit and in TRUTH.

All worship songs are written by lyricists or composers who meant every word they confess and profess. They contain themes like “God is The Lord of my life”, “You reign and rule in my Life”, “Nothing else could take Your place”, “I’ll go where You go”, “He holds the First place in my life.”, “I’m nothing without You”, “Jesus lives in Me.” And so much more… But do we meant what we say or sing? Are we worshipping in Truth? Do our lives reflect what we say with our mouth? Are we double standards on Sundays and all other days?

I was brought to this verse from Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

God knows we are imperfect, He does not expect us to be perfect to worship, adore, revere and fear (godly respect) Him. What He really looks at is our heart- are we contradicting ourselves? Do our lives reflect what we profess every Sunday?

I do not know about you, but I was caught with this reflection that I take solemnly- What’s in our hearts will always influence the way we think, behave, act and believe. Our hearts are where our true inventory is.

Proverbs 12:22 NLT “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.”

Prosper = Prosperity?

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I was seeking The Lord on a matter about giving last nite, I was brought to this verse in Jeremiah 29:11 NIV, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to PROSPER you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is the most classic verse to old-time Christians and young believers alike. Truth be told, I actually had a different understanding, and for the first time I ever discover the true meaning of “prosper” (as far as I remember)…

When I was a very young believer, I thought “prosper” means “prosperity”. As I progressed in my spiritual walk, I thought it also means “successful”. Until, I read a different translation and check the original root word in Hebrew (for the Old Testament).

In context, this verse was specifically directed to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. The original Hebrew translated “prosperity” as “peace, safety, completeness, satisfaction, health or blessings”. It does not imply financial prosperity or success as the world defines it. And blessings are not necessary material or financial blessings as well, it can be if God’s Presence goes with us, it is also a blessing; when God answers our prayer requests though may not be in ways we expected, it is also a blessing.

And of course, God can bless us to be successful if it is His Plan and Will for us. But to put it explicitly, “Prosper” is NOT “Prosperity” or “Success”.

Actually NLT translation comes closer to the intended meaning:

For I know the plans I have for u,” says the Lord. “They are plans FOR GOOD and not for disaster, to give u a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Plans for good” is what God intends for each of us: He is in control of our lives, our future, our destinies that fulfill His purposes and He knows best what we need in the present for our own GOOD or what He thinks is GOOD for us. We can take heart that our infinite God is far greater an mightier beyond our finite understanding of this truth.

Judgementalism

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My recent rumination over a “failed leadership mission” set me pensive to be able to craft my thoughts. Over the years I have had fair share of being part of conversations about leadership, whether at work and sadly in the church too, out of which the most complaints about not able to look up to particular leaders.

I once had this issue with my ex-colleague, a peer whom my ex-boss set above me. I did struggle for a period, till two things slapped me:

1. Men look at outward appearance: Weaknesses, failings, incompetencies…

2. We sit on the Judge’s seat passing judgements without fairness

Both has to do with a position of superiority, and the root is pride.

Why?

1. Because we have expectations or expected criteria of what a leader should be? Falling short or failing which, we cannot look up to such short standards.

Pause: Have we too matched up to our own criteria or expectations before we qualify the leader?

2. Because we saw the incompetencies, weaknesses, failings, unchristlikeness, handicaps (Emotional and Spiritual) of the leaders that we discounted or failed them immediately.

Pause: Do we ourselves who judged passed as well?

3. Because we cannot submit to people spiritually or/ and physically younger than us.

Pause: Is it a pride issue?

4. Because we do not want to die to our preferences and only select people who are like us or can do better or can dance aroud them.

Pause: Everyone is made different, no one can be alike, so shall we all jump ship all the time because of such issues?

Take home point… Do we fail to see the heart of the chosen leaders over us? Are we aware that we also fail God’s heart?

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

My Survival Kit

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I often hold on to my bible like my survival kit. It is where I can find my appropriate medication for any condition, antiseptic lotion, first aid band and immunity fortified supplements, any time. Few days ago, I experienced a “cut”, I will run through my survival kit to treat this “cut” to stop further bleeding and avoid a festering wound if left untreated. Of course, pain is alleviated after.

It struck me- Which of God’s promises do we cling on to when we encounter a testing, crisis or trial?

I hv these two first-aid bands always printed with either these 2 verses:

1. Romans 8:28

“And we know tt in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who’ve been called according to His purpose.”

God is still Sovereign, and reigns in every situations. All things are in His control. He will work things out for our good in His time. We need to trust that God will not let us be crushed nor scorched beyond what we can bear, because we are His Beloved.

2. Numbers 23:19

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

God is not fickle like us, nor faithless like humans do. God is true to what He speaks because He cannot conflict His Character, compromise His Integrity nor be inconsistent to His Faithfulness. Therefore take heart that all His Promises never fall to the groud without accomplishing what He sends it.

Cling hard, trust hard, believe hard and walk (with God) harder-  my survival tip. 🙂

The One Thing

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Many of us wake up each morning or through the day thinking or asking, “What should I wear today?”, “What should I eat today?”, “Where should I go today?”, “Who should I go out with today?”, “Which movie should I watch today?”, “What should I cook today?”…

Though God assures in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…” Oftentimes I felt we are inclined to treating God like a vending machine dispensing our wants, expecting our due we think owing to us, or perhaps, even as an ATM machine where we can dispense cash from the Heavenly Bank anytime we ask for it.

The bible is indeed full of promises that God will take care of our needs, and our daily living does matter to Him, but what is the ONE thing that really or truly matters to you? Would you rather have material needs than God’s Presence? Would you rather indulge in earthly pleasures than gaining heavenly treasures? Would you rather be dissatisfied with more than to be contented with the One?

Have we ever try starting our day asking God or think about thruough the day “What do You want me to do today, God?”, “What can I do for You today?”, “How can I please You today?”, “How should I start my day with You?”, “Where do You want me to go today?”, “Who should I bless today?”…

Like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:4 asks, “The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.” As Psalm 84:10 reinforces “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wicked people.” (I can relate to this verse that indeed I am most happiest in God’s House (His Church) every Sunday than being at the most prestigious corporations any other day).

Let us be like the Psalmists to seek the one thing that matters most first- God Himself.

Standing Firm Under Testings

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Recently, I have been hearing many friends fall away from faith due to disappointments with God for unanswered prayers that leave them with anger and bitterness… It was sad just because we cannot have the things we want, we lost the belief of God’s existence or we simply dismissed that God is not true to His claims of who He says He is. How often when God blesses us (so many times), we forgot to give thanks or praise Him, but how quickly or easily we get bitter when we get disappointed or during times of silence fm God.

How can we guard ourselves and stand firm under testings?

1. Recognise that life on earth do not consist happy times everyday nor be smooth sailing

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

2. Do not forget God’s everlasting mercies and overlook His intentions

… do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?- Romans 2:4

3. Take joy in testings because they are opportunities to better your character

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4

4. Emulate Job that he did not blame God for the bad things happening in his life and God rewards his righteousness

“… Shall we accept good fm God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. – Job 2:10b

5. Take heart that God bless those who endure and crown them with life

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

6. Remember God works things out in the end

The Lord works out everything to its proper end– even the wicked for a day of disaster. – Proverbs 16:4

Therefore……

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Rom12:12

Stand firm, and you will win life. – Luke21:19

Take home point: Stand firm against the devil schemes, persevere in prayers, patient in Hope, endure testings, trusting and believing God beyond circumstances and the weaknesses of our flesh.

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

3 Good Reasons Why We Should Have Our Quiet Time In The Morning

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1. Morning is a good reminder of God’s Love and Faithfulness

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin AFRESH EACH MORNING (emphasis added). I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who SEEKS (emphasis added) him; – Lamentation 3:23-25

Each breaking of dawn is a brand new day, a brand new chapter in your book of life- His renewed mercies and never failing love. We need such reminders each morning so that we do not forget God’s faithfulness through the day, especially when we are going through tough times or facing challenges.

2. Morning is the best time to give God your undivided attention and make Him your priority

In everything you do, put God FIRST (emphasis added), and he will DIRECT you and CROWN your efforts with success. – Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)

Morning is the first time of the day, so spending time with God in the morning is putting Him first place- undivided attention, uncluttered mind and unhurried spirit. It best demonstrates loving and listening to God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul.

3. Morning sets your day right, with God

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. – Ps 143:8

God will command your day: (1) He will reveal Himself and His Plans for you through His Word; (2) He will guide you the way you should go; and (3) He will direct your thoughts and emotions.

Jesus has already set the example for us-

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” – Mark 1:35

P.S.

I just done my morning QT. 🙂

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.

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.

Deep Roots

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“The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it. But they don’t have deep roots, and they believe only for a little while. As soon as life gets hard, they give up.” – Luke 8:13 Contemporary English Version

The idea……

You know how well can a plant grows? It needs enough nutrients from good soil, sunlight, water and deep roots. When a plant has little roots, and when in shallow soil, it may initially sprout and look good, but it doesn’t last. The plant withers quickly because they don’t have deep roots.

There are 4 functions of deep roots:

1) Absorption: help the plants to drink more water and supply nutrients of good soil to the plant.

2) Anchoring: to support and hold the plant to be firm and strong

3) Storage: store food and nutrients from the soil

4) Reproduction: depending on the concentration of the absorption of nutrients, how strong the roots determines how fast the shoots can grow

Besides deep roots, good soil provides nutrients to the plant through roots for it to absorb good nutrients. A plant also needs constant fertilising and watering under sunlight, in order to grow strong and well.

The application……

  1. If you want to be healthy and strong spiritually, you need deep roots.

2. If you want to stand firm under harsh conditions, you need deep roots.

3. If you need fruits, you need deep roots.

Basically if you want to grow, you need deep roots.

Deep roots:

1. Grow… from strength to Strength 

2. Glow… from Glory to Glory

3. Go… And bear Fruits

Take home points……

1. Deep Roots

Oftentimes we hear the Word of God, we don’t take the time to let it sink deep: We can get excited but act superficially; We can be sensitive to HS but react emotionally; We can tune spiritually but move impulsively. It shows that we don’t allow the Word to really change us deep inside. A person with deep spiritual roots is a deep person, not a shallow person, where you can withstand the tests of times; when somebody in your family gets sick or somebody dies, the trial doesn’t blow you away, because you’ve got roots, anchoring deep. Our faith in God must be deeply rooted in our understanding of the character of God. It is through knowing the character of God from feeding on His Word that we grow in our faith

2. Good Soil

Good soil provides: (a) a conducive environment for the roots to grow deep, (b) good nutrients for plants through absorption of its roots, (c) a strong support bed for the roots to anchor. But good soil needs constant ploughing in order to bring fresh nutrients to the surface, otherwise it will be dry, harden and barren.

3. Enough water and sun

All plants needs enough water and sunlight in order to grow well: Plants need water for photosynthesis and the sunlight to process it. Similarly, photosynthesis is akin to renewal, we need to water ourselves with the Living Water (Jn 7:38) and Son-light in order to grow renewed.

Reflection……

Trials, tests, and your weaknesses give you the best answer:

1. What kind of soil is your heart: Barren, unploughed, shallow or rich soil?

2. How deep is the root of your faith?

3. How is the quality of your Quiet Time: Do you take the time to allow the Word to sink in by meditating upon it? and apply it so it can change you? Remember, knowledge without application is abortion.

When You Do Not Feel God’s Presence In Your Life

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“When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I will make sure you won’t be disappointed.” – Jeremiah 29:13 MSG

This new year, I have been greeted with many bad news of friends who contracted stomach cancer, a dad in critical condition in the ICU, and another whose father just passed away… It was enough to cause me to pause- “These are your children, where are you God in all these?”

It was not a new year to begin with, but I prayed that their trials will not derail them from the faith. We all have from time to time, in our lament under trials and testings, could not feel God’s Presence too. And the irony is, God promises that He is always there, in good times and bad times. Why is that we could not feel Him?

There are 3 keys found in the preceding verse: (1) Denial of self; (2) Drawing near; (2) Desperation

1. Denial of self = ver 13a “when you get SERIOUS”

We can only have room for God if we deny ourselves: our rights (rights to get angry etc.) and our treasures (any possessions, relationships etc). God did knock on our hearts, we may have opened the door, but the crux is, did we allow him to enter and take a VVIP room in our hearts? Some of us probably did not realize we only allow him a common room or a temporary stay in the suite. How to know? Simple, when our lives get successful or rather sufficient, we will get our true answers.

2. Drawing near = ver 13a “FINDING me”

I am sure all of us prayed the hardest during hard times. Have you felt like God was a million miles away or like there was this veil between you and God? Our sins have separated us from God. But if you feel far from God, guess who have moved? Us. Because God is always there. We can pray all we want, but God beckoning us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8). Drawing near means being still in God’s Presence, seeking Him with cleansed hands and purified heart (James 4:9).

3. Desperation = ver 13a “want it MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE”

Why God let us get to our pits? Because He knows what we are made of so He let us try if we can figure out anything. He knows we will only surrender when we get tired, frustrated, helpless or hopeless. The only way out or up fm our pits, is to call for help- help from a more sovereign power. This is the only way, He gets the attention of those who are deaf to His whispers that He needs to shout to rouse us.

Then, God ends with “I WIll MAKE SURE YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED”.

Therefore, be desperate, even in good times, and you will never be disappointed.

Remember, God says, “I am the WAY (narrow pathway), the TRUTH (never failing promises in the Word) and the LIFE (salvation and abundance).”

Bitter Roots

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Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; – Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV

The recent episodes at home had shaken me a little to realize my whole family had grew their own bitter roots into a strong tree… It is a “tragedy” to witness how such a small trouble-maker can cause upheavals that are injurious. I am not surprised because my family yet to have their Gardener (God) to help them deroot rotten roots. But ever wonder, Christians who have our Gardener are falling from Grace too? May be some of us do not realize we grow bitter roots, knowingly or unknowingly.

We can defile people by our bitter roots that someone we hold against fails to obtain the grace of God. Cross reference to Deuteronomy 29:18, Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.”

Our bitterness could cause another person to turn away from God and worship idols. Imagine God holds us accountable for our actions (Refer to Romans 14:12)…

So, how do we deroot our bitter roots? 3 keys: (1) Get rid, (2) Be, (3) Forgive just as

GET RID of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as with every form of malice. Instead, BE kind to each other, tenderhearted, FORGIVING one another, JUST AS God through Christ has forgiven you. (Emphasis in caps) – Ephesians 4:31-32

1. Get rid = action – it means throw away the toxic.

Do you know that you will get poisoned instantly the moment you decide to hoard toxic? So the longer you hoard it, the more you will accumulate. So ridding them must be done immediately.

2. Be = action – Act on it to be kind, tender hearted etc… 

Do you know we are not natural doers? Taking actions have to be through conscious effort conscientiously and cultivating the discipline to upkeep it. Practices make perfect? No, practices make progresses.

3. Forgive just as = action – Decide and choose to forgive just as God HAS FORGIVEN you.

Do you know that you have to first decide in your mind in order for your heart to follow? Not the other way round. Your mind is a command center of your body that send messages for your body members to act on them. Decide first and choice will follow. By the way, a good reminder- do you have the right to withhold the same grace God has given you? Recall the magnitude of how much God has forgiven you.

Last but not least, remember that we once live in foolishness and the principles of this world, but Jesus has redeemed you and crucify your old self to free you from the power of slavery of sins ruling your life so that having experienced this unmerited grace of God that you can share the same grace to others. (Romans 6:6-7; Titus 3:3-7; Colossians 3:5-10; Ephesians 4:22-23)

So, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16

B.T.W.

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The past few weeks I have been very very very tested physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. In the fire, I was pointed back to the very basic fundamental of truth- FAITH. I read, re-read, learn, re-learn & meditate, re-mediate, many times…

I summed up FAITH in one abbreviation “BTW”. Yes, “By The Way”.

As we journey along the way, remember that Faith is strengthened:

B = BELIEVE-ing 

prayerfully that our all-abiding God is true to what He has promised in His Word;

T = TRUST-ing 

wholeheartedly that our all-powerful Sovereignty has our lives within His control His Way;

W = WAIT-ing 

faithfully upon an all-loving Father who knows what we need and in time to bring about His appointed Work.

Btw, it is abbreviated in continuous present tense- EXERCISING Faith as we walk.

Even the Seas, Mountains, Rivers, Hills And the Rocks Obey God!

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I was prompted to turn to Psalms 114. The exegesis of this Psalms is about the Lord’s deliverance for His people:

  1. Leading to a Promised Land (ver 2);
  2. Parting the Red Sea to make way, (ver 3 cf Exodus 10- Fleeing fm the pursuing Egyptians);
  3. River Jordan dried up, (ver 3 cf Joshua 3- Delivering the ark);
  4. Mountains and hills like Sinai seemed to jump like animals (ver 4 cf Exodus 19- the earth shakes and awakens);
  5. God gave living water from the hard rocks in dry places (ver 8 cf Exodus 17- Drawing water from dry rock).

The Psalmist is reminding us of the miracles God had performed- even the Seas, Mountains, Rivers, Hills and the Rocks obey God! Nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 18:27), such is the Goodness and Power of our majestic God. All we need is, a mustard seed of faith (Matthew 17:20) that can command the sea, move mountains and draw and turn water- nothing is too hard for the Lord (Jeremiah 32:27).

Roughing out in the pit? Stuck in dead places? Surrounded by insurmountable obstacles? Turn to the Psalms where the psalmists record miracles, deliverance, restoration and comfort of the Lord.

Remember that God is the God of the “mountains” and “valleys”:

“In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. and the glory of the Lord will be revealed… and I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys. I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.” (Isaiah 40:3-5A NLT; Isaiah 49:11 NLT; Isaiah 42:16 NASB)

Are You Really A “BELIEVE-VER”?

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(A) Jesus said to her (Martha), “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”- John 11:40

(B) I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. – Mark 11:24

The Keys……

(A) Believe first then you see.

(B) Believe first then you will receive.

Synopsis

Faith, belief, and trust are all translated from the same root in Greek in the NT, some form of ‘pistis’. Whereas, unbelief, doubt, etc, are all derived from the same with the prefix a-.

The Idea……

Is Believe = Faith?

You must be believe that something must exist in order for you to believe.

Faith is putting something you believe and trust in. You can’t believe in something you do not have faith in, right?

Believe = accept (receive favorably) as the truth, whether have proof or no proof

Faith = act upon this belief (the truth, whether have proof or no proof) even though you do not see

When you believe in a lie, you will naturally inclined towards it.

Having faith means, you need supernatural power to overcome this belief which is a lie.

Consequentially, when you believe in the truth, you will naturally act upon it. Having faith means, it is a spiritual empowerment for believing this truth when you have yet to see the result.

The Scenario……

Imagine yourself going to perform an acrobat- treading on a thin rope. You were told that all safety precautions have been taken care of, including a pool of people stationed below to stand by should you trip. You believe the professionals have done their part. You believe you can do it after rounds of practice. You trust that the rope will not snap and that the people below will catch you when you fall. You have faith that  all will be well. (It will be good if you put God in the picture.)

Take Home Points……

For belief to be faith, it must act on what is true, irrespective of circumstances nor how you feel. So, what do you believe in? That is where you have to realise where do you place your faith in: Yourself, others or God? Because the object of your faith will determine the outcome.

You call yourself a believer because you believe there is God right?

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? – Romans 10:14A

So how about what God promises in His Word, do you truly believe?

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”- John 14:1

When you know the truth, the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Because you know it is the truth, it is up to you to believe. But when you believe, then you can have faith even if you can’t see anything yet. The key emphasis here is BELIEVE. Knowledge processes in our mind; Believe comes from the heart (Romans 10:10); Faith comes from hearing, when you hear, you can choose to believe or not (act upon what you believe in), consequentially, your faith depends on what you believe in.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”- John 20:29

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; – Mark 16:17

Reflection……

Unbelief is a heart issue: The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Humble ourselves: Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”- Mark 9:24 

  1. You have been seeking God about something, but somehow over time you have stop believing or praying… Identify the cause.
  2. How or what do you think you should do in order to see different result on what you are seeking for this year
  3. Take an inventory of your spiritual health: Identify the areas that you fall short of so that you can overcome.

The Quality Of Your Relationship With God Is Foundational To Every Areas Of Your Life

It is simply:

1. Because of God’s foundation in our life, we will be more conscious of Him in our walk

We will all be facing crises of life from time to time, however discouraging or hopeless, we as children of God must remember that the foundation of our hope is God. And that foundation will never be destroyed if our foundation of God is secure, whereby any events of life do not change that. With this foundation in place, we will walk right.

“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.'” – 2 Timothy 2:19

2. Because without Him, we do not have life

Everything was made through Him. Life is only found in Him. And with Him, we have the light of life. With this light, we can shine even in darkness. A candle flame may flicker or burns strong depending on the strength of the candle’s wick.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made thru him, and without him was not any thing made tt was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, & the darkness has nt overcome it. – John 1:1-51 ESV

3. Because through Him, you can do all things!

If our relationship with God is secure and strong, we can stand firm on the Word of God which are His Promises.

“For I can do everything thru Christ, who gives me strength.”  – Philippians 4:13 NLT

4. Because without God as the Architect, our labour will b in vain

As God created us and planned our lives according to His special blueprint for us, He promises to usher us in His Highest Purposes for our Highest Good. Otherwise, we would labour in vain with much sweat and toil, our efforts would reduce to nothing.

If the Lord doesn’t build the house, the builders are working for nothing. If the Lord doesn’t guard the city, the guards are watching for nothing. – Psalms 127:1 NCV

(Cross reference to Matt 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49 about the wise man building his house on the rock.)

Reflection: It is good to be honest to evaluate the quality of your relationship with God- It may give you insights to challenging areas in your life. Do you realise the difference between walking in His Ways and standing on His Word, as opposed to walking in your ways and standing on your own wisdom?

Love Forgives

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Over the years, I have encountered many who find it hard to forgive the hurts or damages done to them… One day, I literally heard a word, “Love forgives.” and was brought to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I went “Huh?” The 1st thing I got to do was to check myself, “God, do you mean there is someone I need to forgive?” No sound, no spotlight, so I probed further, “Or are You teaching or reminding me what love is all about?” Silence……

Till I read this passage in a detailed translation that sheds new light:

Love is long-suffering, love is gentle, benevolent and considerate. It does not covet nor be envious, it does not speak with exaggeration, neither is love prideful, Love is not rough or harsh in words, manner & behaviour. neither is it centered on oneself, one’s interest or one’s rights, it is not subjected to anger and displeasure so easily, it harbours no offenses nor keep in remembrance of any wrongs. Love certainly does not take pleasure in evil but take delight and gladden with the truth. It always defends and guards, It always relies in confidence and trusts, it always believes, it always persists steadfastly despite suffering and hardships. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The very core of Christianity is LOVE.

It is Love that Jesus dies… and it is Love that we could live. – 1 John 4:9

The first characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is Love. – Galatians 5:22

God exhorts that we truly are His disciples if we love one another. – John 13:35

It is the Love of God that we are forgiven. – Micah 7:18-19

We love because He first love us. – 1 John 4:19

Love forgives.

If we read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 slowly, again and again. We will get a nutshell- Love forgives. and it doesn’t end there, verse 13 emphasises that among faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love.

So why many of us cannot forgive has to do with:

(1) Love that has grown cold = We did not take the effort and time to nurture love.

(2) Love that has died = We do not bother to revive or restore love.

(3) Our self-interest (including our rights and things we hold in remembrance) overrides the interest of another = We are big on Me-I-Myself.

Time for a self-check?

Healthy Spirit, Fruitful Life

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Someone whom you find it so hard to love been banished into your cold palace.

Joy seems ephemeral especially in tough storms.

When the stresses of life seem overwhelming, peace stays transient in your heart.

Your iota of patience is challenged whenever dealing with an avalanche of frustrations.

Those barrage of unkind words afflicted woundedness to the heart.

And life’s disappointments always seem greater than God’s goodness.

There is simply no time in serving the Lord, reading the bible and praying faithfully.

Though bearing the name of Jesus, yet your mannerism do not reflect His gentle disposition.

Self-control is on the wane when confronted by a persistent sin in your life.

 

Everyone is watching. And they know Jesus through you by how you carry His Name.

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. -1 John 4:13

Did you stumble others by your unloving, unkind and ungentle actions, impatience, grumbling attitude, lack of self-restraint and faithless deeds?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

On the surface, an apple looks scrumptiously healthy in pink, only to discover a few days later, the apple is infested with maggots. Much to one’s dismay, the imperceptible side of the apple was mucked. And one rotten apple can indeed caused the whole basket of apples to rot. The stark truth is, what is on the outside bespeaks what is in the inside and vice versa.

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. -Matthew 7:16-20

In a similar context of sin, anger for instance, can ignited a simultaneous combustion of reactive agents (emotions) that emitted explosion (sins); in your anger, would you able to exercise self-control and be gentle with your words and patient with your actions? In your anger, would your heart be at peace and react out of love and kindness? It doesn’t mean your fruit will be burned to zero ground, but it does affect the quality of your fruit which in turn affect the health of your Spirit. And the health of your Spirit determines the fruitfulness of the Spirit. And the fruitfulness of your Spirit determines the level of fruitfulness in your life as well as any spiritual endeavours that you have embarked on.

So, how do you rate the health of your Spirit on the scale of 9?

Here’s a prescription of 9 Vitamins to strengthen your Spirit on a daily dosage:

1. LOVE = 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

2. JOY = James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

3. PEACE = Ephesians 4:3

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

4. PATIENCE = Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

5. KINDNESS = 2 Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. GOODNESS = Ephesians 5:9

for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth

7. FAITHFULNESS = 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

8. GENTLENESS = Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

9. SELF-CONTROL = Titus 2:11-13

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Fruitfulness has to be taken place with an inner Spiritual transformation that will go outward characteristically. And a fruitful life comes from living healthily with a healthy Spirit in you.

If You Love God (Enough), You Will Trust Him

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I once was seeking God’s direction for my life, when it suddenly dawned upon me that “If I Love God Enough, I Will Trust Him.”

Hard word… Chewing upon it, I realised that in any love relationship, it takes TRUST. If you love your spouse, you trust him / her implicitly don’t you? Likewise, you trust him/ her because you love him/ her right?

In the same light, have you ever pondered the reason why many of us find it hard to trust God is simply because we don’t love Him enough? Sure, it can be due to lack of faith. But, (aside to a sovereign reason), you put faith in something you love or trust, don’t you?

Put it simply- if you love a person, you would believe in the person, have faith in the person, trust the person, you want to spend time with the person… because you love him/ her.

So it caught me hard why I do fail at trusting God (sometimes…) Lack of faith? Possible. But the root is still, because I do not love Him enough.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. – John 14:15 NASB

So when Jesus said,”“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1). Do you keep His commandment? If you love God, you will keep His commandments. So when Jesus asks us to trust Him, do you take Him for His Word? If you love God, you will take His Word and trust Him.

By the way, if you find it hard to trust God sometimes, is as good as loving Him sometimes and at other times mean you don’t love Him since you can’t trust Him?

But, love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8), irregardless in good times or bad times.

How shall we then love God? First, rekindle the first love relationship with Jesus by spending time with Him and rebuild that trust by romancing Him, alone. All things else will fall in place if you seek Him with all your heart, He will be found by you (Jeremiah 29:13). Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8)

Drawing Near- His Words (From Psalm 119)

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To me, nothing beats spending that time of intimacy with God. Only at such an appointment, I feel very close to Him, I get encouraged, refreshed and strengthened each time. And I feel my faith rises to a new level. It is especially touching to hear Him speaks. And one of the ways He speaks, is through His Words (your bible, His billet-doux to you). I was brought to Psalm 119, and was inspired to pen this piece.

Drawing Near- His Words (From Psalm 119)

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When my soul is faint from longing for Your Presence

Your Word brings alive a glimmer of Hope

Your Love never snuff out my flickering wick

For Your Faithfulness endures forever

 

When my soul gets weary with sorrow

You strengthen me with Your Word

Even when I am deep down in my valley

Your Word preserves me through and through

 

Turn my eyes from worthless things

Turn my heart from selfish gains

Turn my feet from deceitful ways

You will ensure my well-being according to Your Love

 

In the morning You are my portion

Into the night You are my song

Your Word is like a lamp unto my feet

And a light unto my path

 

Those who love You will tremble at Your Word

And nothing can make one stumbles

Nor be caught in a deep slumber

Peace will be my everlasting convenant

 

Though I constantly take my life in my own hands,

And often tested Your Promises

Yet Your hand ever ready to help me

And save me from straying in my wilderness

 

If I truly and humbly obey Your Laws,

You will keep my ways pure and steadfast

Neither will I be subjected to shame

I can walk about in Freedom and in Light

God is, I Am.

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The God who spoke, still speak.

The God who listened, still listen.

The God who moved, still move.

The God who molded, still mold.

The God who forgave, still forgive.

The God who blessed, still bless.

The God who transformed, still transform.

The God who delivered, still deliver.

The God who empowered, still empower.

The God who strengthened, still strengthen.

The God who healed, still heal.

The God who saved, still save.

He is the God of yesterdays, today and tomorrows.

He is the God of all possibilities, where men can’t, God can.

God is, I Am.

Your Love Covers It All

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When hurts aching

You are stronger

than all my weaknesses

 

When faith shaken

You are greater

than all my mistakes

 

When condemnation knocks

You are bigger

than all my failures

 

When darkness despairs

You are brighter

than all my darkest moments

 

When hopelessness cries

You are deeper

than all my pits and valleys

 

When silence can’t find the words I could say

When tears can’t express exactly how I feel

Lord, you have counted them all-

my every heartaches, and my every tears.

 

I need Your embrace right now, O Lord

I know You stay close beside.

Although darkness falls, Your Light will shine

And I will rise, with You

For Your Love covers it all.

 

“Love bears all things, believe all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:7) Be strong, and let your heart take courage, as you wait for the Lord! (Psalm 31:24) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Rom 12:12)”

Anchor Deep

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“Anchor Deep” I had written 10 years ago, to encourage your soul or with someone who needs the Saviour Hand.

Anchor Deep, this written piece was inspired from a beautifully written book of Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday: Hurricane Warnings.

I have always likened my difficult times to a journey sailing through a rough thunderstorm, charting the uncertainties and battling the odds, but with all my strength sapped. Efforts came to naught and the end seems near… With weather-beaten fragility, I still hold on tight, bobbing along the lashing waves, not letting go, never.

Your storms of life brewing right now?

Anchor Deep.

In His Strength“… Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” – Deuteronomy 20:3-4

In His PromisesThen they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. – Psalm 107:13-14

In His Love“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” – Matthew 7:9-10

 

ANCHOR DEEP

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The sky blanketed in sudden darkness

The wind hollered at gale force

The trees swaying in a matchless rhythm

Uninvited. Unexpected. Uncontrollable.

Cold sweat coalesced. Tension mounted. Perplexities hounded.

The weather is brewing…

Anchor Deep.

To the Power of the Cross.

 

The sails jostled relentlessly

The hull throbbed awash

The storm whipped incessantly

Thunder rumbled. Rain rattled. Waves lashing.

Doubts. Apprehension. Disillusion.

My hope is eluding…

Anchor Deep.

To the Love of Christ.

 

The waves buffeted with futility

The sea resounded with finality

A soul tossed with fatality

Yet futile. Yet final. Yet fatal.

The blows. The crumbles. The crunch.

Yet Heaven seems so distant…

Anchor Deep.

To the Truth of His Promises.

 

Anchor Deep.

For that pair of Hands across the uncharted water of death.

 

Anchor Deep.

For that Voice even storm stands still.

Under the Carpet

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One sultry weekend afternoon, a young wife decided to keep the house spick and span as it had been quite a while she last cleaned the house since her monstrously hectic work schedule. The husband comfortably retreated into his couch to read the papers while the wife vacuumed the floor.

As she lifted up the carpet, to her dismay, she found a cruddy avalanche of dust, loose hair strands, cobwebs, food crumbles that had invited an army of ants. The cacophony of noises from the vacuum cleaner and the wife’s shriek irritated the husband.

“Look honey! You should have help to clean the house when I have been busy. See, what is this under the carpet?!?” the wife hollered with frown furrowing her forehead.

“Is this my problem?!? What has it got to do with me?!? You are supposed to clean the house! But all you do is work, work, work!” the indignant husband bellowed.

“What are you trying to imply?? You have a part in this house too! It is also your responsibility to keep the house clean, don’t dump all the dirty work on me? All you ever care straight from home is your television, your papers and your computer!” the wife engaged the verbal war.

Flames of anger danced in the husband’s eyes, he retorted involuntarily, “You think about it, are you any better?? When I first know you, you weren’t like this but now you are always over-reacting over nitty-gritty stuffs. Remember the last time you…”

The wife interposed with glint of intensity suffused her eyes, “Why are you bringing up the old scores?!? Why everything I do I can’t seem to be doing it right in your eyes?!? You are always picking on me in this and that…”

Fingers-arrowing. Incessant-brawls. Emotional-vehemence. Disconnected in a bad note.

Cold wars blanketed the house for days. Eventually the couple decided to reconcile by glossing over the conflict, “Let it go and move on.”

However, an angel was sent on a special mission to intervene between this couple. He gathered both the husband and the wife, “Remember the ruckus both of you have about under the carpet? The more you sweep anything under the carpet, the more it’ll grow? Why not seek to clean it up when the dust has not yet settled, it will be a lot easier to maintain this house cleaner then. Both of you have a part to play and the responsibility to keep this house clean. Here’s a lesson for both of you from Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

“The strongest of marriages is one which has weathered the most storms. Look around you, is there any relationship that is not fraught with problems? It is in learning to deal with problems that surfaced each other’s weaknesses that both parties will learn to overcome in patience and perseverance. As all of us are different, thus the way we relate to each other is different too- in the way we think, the way we react, the way we perceive and the way we feel and even the way we expect. It is like putting two individuals of different backgrounds and attachment styles which may have caused the variance in preconceptions, the frictions and the blows.

But problems have purposes, and it is always in problems that you can understand each other better and improve the relationship. Issues are always best to iron out face to face than merely glossing over them or sweeping them under the carpet as unintentional or intentional relational injuries may resulted in woundedness. Such woundedness can cause the relationship to strain. Thus anytime when the same context happens, it will play back those old scores that has been buried. Anything that falls short of our expectations can hurt. Pride can hurt. Demands for our own rights can hurt. Indifference or insensitivity can hurt. Lack of understanding can hurt. Lack of communication can hurt. Tempers can hurt. Unkind words can hurt. Impatience can hurt. Any weaknesses can be like a thorn in another person’s flesh.

Remember, all of us has weaknesses and we are all learning over time. Remember, the God who will never leave us just as we are.”

Whiney & I: My Master & I

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Excerpt from the journal of a dog:

10 years. I have been through thick and thin with my master since I was 2 months old. My master have been a surrogate mother to me, she nurtures me with much love and care, training me in ways that she knows what is best for me.

She meant the world and everything to me. I seek to be the first to greet my master every morning by her bed, every evening by the door and every night before I hit my la-la land. Our daily bonding time gives me the affirmation of my worth and the assurance of her presence.

When words are beyond me, she can understand totally how I feel. Whenever I am fearful of rumbling thunders or feel insecure in a threatening environment, I will run to my master cadging her to carry me. Only then will I feel safe snuggling in her arms because I can trust that she will protect me. Even her voice alone is such a great comfort, I will feel uneasy if I do not hear her for a single day. Needless to say, I always stick close to her day in and day out as I know I will never get lost following her.

I pleased my master the most when I am obedient. Nothing matters more to me than my master’s approval. My task is to make her happy in everything I do. At times I have my fair share of tantrums, I hurt my master with my defiance or inappreciativeness. When I still remain a recalcitrant brat, my master left me as a cold turkey. Despite the cold treatment, my master did not leave me to my device, her unwavering patience and faithfulness had touched me to penitence.

I am very thankful to my master for what I am now. I wondered, how would have life been without her…

Woof woof, Whiney.

Not trying to drum up a publicity on my beloved dog, I am simply marveled at how a little fury creature has taught me valuable lessons, that is, it illustrates implicitly in the same breathe on our relationship with God. Whiney’s devotion and faithfulness to her master stemmed from her love for her.

How much more would a loving God, our Master, do for us just like I would take care of Whiney?

If you were to pen your journal, how would you have written on your relationship with your Master? And how would you show your love for your Master? Since God has given His Best to you, what is the best you can give to Him?

Spending time with the Lord daily requires consecrated commitment and a reverent heart. Every day is an invitation to draw near to Him- commune with Him in prayers, listen to His Voice in worship, know Him by His Word and understand Him with His Heart.

He is faithful till the end. Because your name is Beloved.

This song by Don Moen plays back many times in my head, as if an antique gramophone clamor to play again…

I Want To Be Where You Are

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I just want to be where You are,

dwelling daily in Your presence;

I don’t want to worship from afar;

draw me near to where You are.

I just want to be where You are,

in Your dwelling place forever;

Take me to the place where You are,

I just want to be with You.

 

Chorus:

I want to be where You are,

dwelling in Your presence,

Feasting at Your table,

surrounded by Your glory;

In Your presence that’s where I always want to be.

I just want to be,

I just want to be with You.

 

Bridge:

O my God, You are my strength and my song,

And when I’m in Your presence

Though I’m weak You’re always strong.

 

Pls: Yes, mothers, your kids can be a more relevant example.

– Inspired by the movie “10 Promises To My Dog” and “The King & I”

The “Goliath(s)” In Our Lives

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Many times in vain I attempted to hear from God what is going on in my life as it beset with problems and struggles. Just few weeks ago, with a bated breathe and a heavy heart I entered into God’s sanctuary, ceased striving and kept still that I would find rest for my soul. I persistently seeked Him and desired to hear Him. With my eyes closed, I cried to God for help and counsel.

In a flash, I saw myself in a battlefield, brandishing my bible in mid-air charging at the ferocious looking “shrek” (if you know the animated movie showing in the cinema. I did not see the show though…) in a gigantic height, towering over at the other end of the battlefield, with an army!

But what that vision trying to tell me? The scenario changed, I saw this pint-sized boy, cladded in a shepherd garment, brandishing a weapon like a stone tied with a rope, galloping head on fearlessly. In a juncture, Goliath was clobbered dead and the philistine army was wiped out! A small boy triumphed over giants?? Still, what this vision was trying to tell me?

The vision unveiled, David triumphed over Goliath not by his own strength. As small his built was, he had a very big heart for God and a big faith to believe God would definitely help him to fight this war for him. David’s boldness did not beat a fearful retreat, and neither did Goliath touch even a strand of hair on David’s head. David professed faith when he trusted God, “I know God will fight for me and delivered me out of this.” No wonder, God called David “A man after His Own Heart”.

It described succinctly in a contemporary context where “Goliath” could represent our fears, worries, anxieties, challenges, obstacles or whatever weaknesses we maybe struggling  with in our lives and that it may have grown insidiously. Goliath may come with an army of other “Goliath-buddies”. But as we face them head-on, instead of cringing in fear, try recalling the spiritual victory of David over Goliath, we will be able to stand in faith for the battle is not ours alone. The bible is our spiritual weapon to call on the Living Power of God Words to wage against whatever Goliath(s) in our lives, as in Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…”

This vision had been spiritually resonating in me that I have been asking myself, everyday is a challenge, would I beat a fearful retreat and let the army of Goliath advanced against me or should I summon even if it is a mustard seed of faith to trust God to deal with my Goliath(s)? Trust God or trust our own strength, victory or defeat is determined by our faith.

The Potter And His Pot

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I have all along been struggling to reconcile with God- I cannot believe what I am, what I have or what I have been through are His best to me. How can a perfect God gives an imperfect “best”? I might have thought, since I missed His best timing or gift(s), I can only make do with His second best, or, for a lack of better word, it should be “alternatives”. I might have thought, because of my sins, I lost the best blessings from a Holy God.

During my usual retreat to seek the Lord in the last lap of the year, the first leaf that appeared when I turned the bible to Jeremiah 18:2-4, “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.”

Read the last verse one more time, slowly this time….

The rhema word to me was: God still gives His best, even for the second time. (There is always a second time again, isn’t it?)

God is a perfect God, He cannot give imperfect gift(s). But these gifts are given to what seemed best to Him, not to us. God is also an infinite God of all-power and knowledge, He knows best what is best for us, how can we mere finite beings questioned an infinite Being on how things should be or expect how life should be?

God is our potter and we are His clay. You can trust that only beautiful pieces are displayed in a master’s showcase. Each pot is his masterpiece; handmade things are never the same, they are all uniquely shaped and made, and every pieces have his fingerprints. Know for a certainty that the master is proud of each and every one of them.

He has you in mind when He made you.

(Pls: When cracks appear on any of the pots, it never missed the eyes of a master. Sometimes, instead of patching up the cracks, He may made a new piece to replace the cracked pot. This time, the new piece may be even better than the old. Sometimes, He allows the cracks to be there, as He thinks in His best capacity, the cracks enhanced the pot beautifully and make it more outstanding.)

Who Else But You (The Wonders Of (His) Nature)

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Who alone can set the earth in motion, and the universe be filled, but You. (Gen 1)
Who can command the morning, and cause the dawn to know its place, but You. (Job 38:12)
Who can control the clouds, and flash lightning, but You. (Job 37:15)
Who can still the storm, and hush the waves, but You. (Psalm 107:29)
Who can turn a desert into pools of water, and a parched land into springs, but You. (Psalm 107:35)
Who says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,”and says too to the rain to shower a downpour, but You. (Job 37:6)
Who will oversee the land with its increase, and the trees to yield their fruit, but You. (Lev 26:4)
Who can lift up valleys, lower the mountains and hills; level uneven ground, and rough places a plain, but You. (Isa 40:4)
Who feeds the birds of the air who neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and also provide food for the wandering ravens, but You. (Mat 6:26; Job 38:41)
Who can deliver from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will also deliver from the hand of the Philistines, but You. (1 Sam 17:37)
Who can part the Red Sea and drown all the pursuing Egyptians, and tumble the walls of Jericho to enter the Promised land, but You. (Exo 14; Jos 6:20)
Who can multiply 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5000, or 7 loaves of bread and few fishes to feed the 4000, and much is leftover, but You. (Mat 14:13-20; Mat 15:33-38)
Who opens the door that no one can shut and close the door that no one can open, but You. (Rev 3:7)
Have I not given you the power of life and death by the authority for which you speak and the faith to believe? (Prov 18:21; Mat 10:20; Mat 21:19b; Mark 11:23-24)
Have I not given you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosen in Heaven? (Mat 16:19)
Don’t you not see and realize now? Trust and believe. (Rom 10:11 NIV & NASB)