BE INTENTIONAL (1): Complete Surrender

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“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry”. – Job 11:13-18 CEV

We are already a few weeks into 2019, and it feels like 2018 passed not long ago… Many of us are probably still looking back and counting the misses or the whatnots- which may affect our outlook into the new year with hope or apprehension. Therefore, the Lord has birthed this word in my heart, “BE INTENTIONAL”, to embark on a new series of writing for the year. And the first key to unlocking God’s promises of an abundant life is, “SURRENDER”.

Why? One word we usually fear the most is “Surrender”. Because the last thing we want is to give up control. The world associates “surrender” with defeat, humiliation, and losing, thus pride can be a barrier in surrendering to God. Another reason why we are fearful to surrender to God because surrendering to God requires obedience. And if we are completely honest enough, it is just that we don’t trust God thus we resist surrendering to Him. 

But, if God is going to do His deepest work in us, it will begin first with surrendering. 

So what happens when we do not surrender to God? Everybody eventually surrenders to something or someone. If not to God, we will surrender to the opinions or expectations of others, to money, fear, pride, lust, ego or emotion. Without surrendering, we will be led to more frustration, disappointments, and self-destruction. WE cannot fulfill God’s purposes for our lives while focusing on our own ways, plans and methods. 

So what does it mean to surrender to God?

1. Surrender means to yield ownership, relinquish control over what we consider ours: our possessions, our resources, our rights, even our dreams. When we surrender to God, we are simply acknowledging that what we “own” on earth actually all belongs to Him, we are just His stewards entrust with a responsibility to take care for Him. 

2. By surrendering to God, we admit that He is ultimately in control of everything, including our present circumstances good or bad. It helps us to let go of whatever that has been holding us back from God’s best for our lives. Through surrendering, we make the conscious choice (be intentional) to let go of that control.

3. When we surrender, we “give over” to God all that has kept us from wanting God’s ways first, and put the focus back to where it rightfully belongs to God. 

4. Obedience is demonstrated as the best answer- “Yes, Lord” to whatever He asks of us. We cannot call Jesus our Lord and refuse to obey Him. God demands 100% obedience.

Surrendering our lives comes on a daily basis, and is the only way to live the abundant lives God has for us. If we often find ourselves living defeated, it is simply because we have not truly come to the end of ourselves in surrendering fully to the Lord. We will know that we are surrendered when we do not react to situations emotionally, we do not demand our rights, and we are not self-serving.

The Bible is very clear about the benefits of a fully surrendered life unto the Lord:

“Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins—even those you do in secret. Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, and your darkest night will be brighter than noon. You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry”. – Job 11:13-18 CEV

In surrendering, we are intentional to give up our sins, including our deepest hidden sins. Thereupon, we can experience freedom without shame nor fear, and all that has a hold over us will be shackled by the power of this divine exchange. We will no longer be engulfed by nights of darkness and be embraced by the light of hope. This freedom promises safety, security, hope and a worry-free life when we are able to walk in victory with the Lord.

It is better to choose (be intentional) to obey Him, even if we do not feel like it. The sooner we surrender to God, the sooner He can start getting our lives straightened out. We can trust that an All-knowing, All-mighty and infinite God can run our lives far better than we do now and the future. And being a loving God, He wants only the best for us. But He won’t step in until we ask Him. Nothing can be out of control if He takes control.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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)

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?

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?

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. 🙂

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.

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.

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)