BE INTENTIONAL (11): If You Can’t Trace His Hands, Trust His Heart- Live One Day At A Time

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Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure.

– Psalm 16:5

April 2020 marks unprecedented moments in this little red dot where our government had implemented the temporary 1-month “Circuit-Breaker” measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 within the communities: 

i. All staff to be deployed to work from home.

ii. Only takeaways from any food establishments.

iii. No social gathering allowed, even at home.

iv. Schools and retail stores (except supermarkets) are closed.

Almost everything has come to a screeching halt, and the downtowns look like ghost towns. Never in my lifetime did I witness such an impact nationwide, and for the first time, I felt so peaceful not having to jostle with the crowd on public transport and along the streets. This pandemic indeed has the world on tenterhooks: Feeling the blues from threatening financial security? Feeling the stigma of rued chances of “If Only…” for the times we have taken for granted? Grappling with great anxieties of the unknown that life is so unpredictable? Doubts assailed our minds and fears plagued our souls like relentlessly that we are left with all the “why?” that has no answer. And it is often said that life exigencies or adversity are God’s manure for spiritual “drawing-near” or callings to repentance or a greater intimacy with the Lord. 

That be true, we may also have forgotten momentarily that God’s perspective is way superior to ours (Job 42:1-5). His thoughts are so much higher than ours, that we do not always see His Goodness in painful situations, and instantly disregard His Goodness. His permissive will may allow bad things to happen for some reasons or for His Higher Purposes, but that does not diminish God’s Goodness. If we can’t trace His Hands in crises, but we can trust His Heart, eventhough we may not understand His ways- For those who love Him, He can bring good out of the worst circumstances (Romans 8:28). 

This Good Friday, remember too what He has done:

“Nails didn’t hold Jesus to the Cross. 

Love did.”

– Anonymous

We have not been forgotten, we are still loved yesterday, today and forever, so we can be at peace anchoring on this unassailable Truth. So let’s turn our raw guttural prayers into prayers that truly express what is in our hearts. We should not be seeking to remove ourselves from the pressure cooker of life, but adopt a heavenly perspective to use such pressure cooker to reveal the power, glory and grace of God through our lives to others, Galatians 2:20 reminds us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

“It’s not how long you live, but how well you live.”

-Anonymous

P.S. How about taking this time too as an invitation to take stock of our lives to reconsider what is truly important and review our priorities, for life is more than just work, getting pay checks and chasing after the status symbols of this world.

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!

——————

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 (9): Fear-less and be fearless

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Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight… – Nehemiah 4:14b

Ever since the Wuhan Coronavirus proliferation raised to a Orange DOSCON Alert level in Singapore, the locals flocked to the supermarkets in panic mode to stock up supplies, rummaging through the shelves and wiped out toilet papers, instant noodles, rice…… It was quite an alarming sight where trollies were piled mountain high with the essential items which they do not need that much to tie over this trying period. 

The social media was since abuzz with photos of those exaggerated hoarders and inadvertently shed limelight onto Singapore where the “kiasu” (a hokkien word to describe a person having a grasping or selfish attitude arising from a fear of missing out on something) or rather “kiasi” (a hokkien word to describe a person who is afraid of death, or having the attitude of being overly afraid or timid.) viruses are evidently more potent than the Wuhan virus itself, and very soon the “buay tahan” (derived from Hokkien and Malay which means “cannot stand” or “cannot endure”) virus will join in the revolution. 

This local mutated virus is a lot harder to treat as it is psychological, with the root stemming from FEAR. Worrywarts are on the rampage because they fear about risks they have no control; fear of being powerless to protect themselves; fear of losing; fear of not having enough; fear of dying; fear of more gloom; and fear breeds more fears…… Fear is far more scary than any virus- FEAR is “False Expectation Appearing Real” is mongering at its core, cannibalising many human soul and paralyse us beyond irrationality. 

No wonder the bible provides 365 antidotes, “Fear not.”. In other words, God has provided us with one “fear not” message for each day of the year! It is also interesting to observe that almost every time God talks to someone in the Bible, the first thing He says is, “Don’t be afraid!”

Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. – Daniel 10:12

Someone once said, “Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell the storm how big your God is.” God is actually saying, “Get the message. Don’t be afraid.”

Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O Lord, smashes the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow those who rise against you. You unleash your blazing fury; it consumes them like straw. – Exodus 15:6–7

Fear not, because we have God on our side; be a fearless Conqueror, arming ourselves with the Armour of God, and fight with the powerful “fear-not” ammunitions which God personally designed. 

BE INTENTIONAL (2): REFUEL- Hope, Moment to Moment

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Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed. – Isaiah 49:23

Broken homes. Broken dreams. Broken relationships. Debilitating diseases. Devastating news. Crippling fears. Looming darkness. Relentless pain. Despaired tomorrows. Bleak future. Robbed lives. Tough 2018.

Tough life. Yes, it will be, if we live without hope. The Bible did warn us that without hope, we will be like living zombies (1 Chronicles 29:15; Proverbs 13:12). That is life on earth in a fallen world – the inescapable passage of time, with inevitable phases of suffering. 

But just one simple Truth will change our lives- put our Hope in God who never fail- Our flesh will fail, men will fail and things will fall away but only God, who is Omnipresent and Omnipotent, can transcend all things.

God knows the plans He has for us, plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), and He promises that He will be our portion (more than enough), therefore we can put our hope in Him, for the Lord is good to those who wait upon Him and seek Him. (Lamentations 3:24-25). We also have a Living Hope in the power of the resurrected Christ (1 Peter 1:3), and with Christ living in us, we have the Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27). We can take heart too that hope that is seen is not hope at all; for why do we still hope for what we can see? But if we hope for what we do not see, we will then eagerly wait for it with perseverance (Romans 8:24-25).

We can draw near to God who offers better Hope (Hebrews 7:19) This Hope serves as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). Now may the God of (all) Hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Hope has to be in the moment – be intentional, live moment to Moment. And we will find renewed strength.

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.

It Is Always Easier To Quit!

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Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.… – Matthew 7:13-14

A recent conversation with a friend caught me mulling over a point blank question, “How desperate are you for a breakthrough?…… It is your choice, and your choice determines the result.”

We all live each day with decisions to make, big or small, poor or wise, and our choices determine where we will end up in: each decision will result in either repercussions or blessings. 

Some of us hate to make choices; often vacillating between A and B, unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Let’s face it- most of us love to take the easiest route, and it is a no brainer to make that choice. Why? Because it is always easier to quit than to continue, and it costs us less pain. Who doesn’t like the easy way out? 

SO,

we chose to cave in and give up, too readily and too easily. 

BUT,

if things come easy, do we need God?

AND,

The heart of the matter is often the matter of the heart.

 

The crux is, how desperate are you for a breakthrough? Here’s are some gauge you can find answers in:

  1. Are you griping, “Too tall an order I can’t do it. I am just a common man.”?
  2. Is your decision based on self and emotion or God and His direction?
  3. How many times have you pray about the situation in a day?
  4. 4. How many times have you consulted the Bible and the Great Teacher in the day
  5. How often do you humble yourself at your knees in seeking breakthrough?
  6. How willing are you to die to yourself?
  7. How willing are you to change yourself first than to change the situation?
  8. Have you exercise other sound options and try until something happens?
  9. Have you persevere until something happens?
  10. Do you prefer to settle for less?

 

Great men of suffering ever shared their experiences:

When God does an impossible task, the takes an individual and crushes him.

– Charles Swindoll

 

Until a man is nothing, God then can make nothing out of him.

– Martin Luther

 

Ever wonder, the greatest Glory awaits those who chose to persevere? Jesus persevered, at the point of death. If He didn’t, there is no Hope for mankind. Jesus is God, yes, but He was also 100% man, in the same skin as you and me.

I recalled the time I was in a health, Identity and financial crises, so broken from coming to the end of my tether, and desperately begging for a breakthrough that I literally chewed the Bible for any morsel of God’s living Word, day in and day out. As a newborn spiritual baby, I prayed like a mad woman not knowing how to fire with any spiritual gears bestowed. I just need to get out of my valley and get up on my feet. Was it easy? No. Was it quick? No. It took me a year (may be longer). Miracle happened because I chose to preserve, I made the choice to believe that God will bring me through it, and God didn’t waste my tears, my efforts to die to self and gut-wrenching pain. I didn’t give up then, so here I am, a living testimony of His Grace and amazing transformation. 

If I chose to give up then, I believe my life would have cost me more agony and landed me in more mess than before.

So it all boils down to your choice- Be wise.

Some of us may shrug at this devotion and brush it off “It is not applicable to me”. Let me submit to you that the Bible says in John 3:30, “Only when I decrease, so that God can increase”. Like it or not, we will all be tested- Brokenness is fundamental to restoration, and it is the only antidote to our self-centered nature.

 

When I am unable, God is Able;

When I am powerless, God empowers;

When I am faith-less, God is faithful;

Whenever I cringe in fear, God always stay near.

Trials into Triumph: 7 Truths to Anchor Deep When Life Gets Tough

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Christ is all, and is in all. – Colossians 3:11B

We all know that life is never perfect, and can never be perfect in this fallen world, with the vicissitudes of life in the volatile times. Sometimes, life does not go the way we want to, and we get caught up in our daily lives, and forget that this world does not define us. Whenever things are not going well, there is an inherent tendency to believe that God is not working in the situation. We are also tempted to think the worst, where everything from our vantage point seems bleak- We see no way out and perceive gloom and doom over the future. But little do we know that in such times, God is actually working behind the scenes orchestrating His plans to accomplish His purposes for our good and for His Glory. 

We may hate to admit that tough times draw us nearer to God with greater dependence and reliance on Him that result in a greater level or new level of faith. And those lessons are precious which can never be learnt in the good times. God knows what we need in life, but we need a fresh perspective on our situation- what we perceive will be different from what God can see. Remember, tough seasons do not last but tough people do, so in order to hang on well, we will need to anchor ourselves on these living truths:

#1. Fight the good fight and keep the faith

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome!” – John 16:33

Life will always be a series of tests and our faith will come under fire. And during those times of challenges, do we cringe in fear or cling to faith? Stand firm, let nothing move you, and always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord will not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). 

We will be trained to persevere and fight in faith, for faith is the confidence what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about the things we yet to see (Hebrews 11:1).

#2. Don’t lose hope for the day and keep disappointments at bay 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Each day is a day of renewed hope since God has made each day a new page, a new chapter and a new beginning. We should be heartened to know that the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease; Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT).

Therefore we have hope each day and rejoice, no matter what is happening around us, let us not lean on our own understanding, but in all our ways, acknowledge God and He will make straight our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). And always be joyful, keeping up a prayerful spirit at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

#3. Refuse to have conversation with the Devil and stand firm 

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

It is ok to be in the wilderness but it is not ok to sojourn in it, any longer we will get lost wandering and likely to end up as bitter souls like the Israelites. When we are emotionally and spiritually down, we are susceptible to attacks. The devil loves to take advantage of our vulnerabilities to play his favourite tool- deception. As a father of all lies, he will never stop insinuating doubts into our subconscious mind. Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life (Proverbs 4:23 NCV)– an idle mind is the devil’s playground, and every temptation always start in the mind, therefore we must always guard our thoughts and renew our mind with the Word of God constantly.

The devil is also good as masquerading as angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), so not everything good is from the Lord, whether through opened doors or providing options, hence make no assumption and be spiritually discerning if it is really from God.

One of the key values we ought to learn is to be content whatever our circumstances, and always be thankful, this way the power of the enemy will not have a hold over us since his ability in frustrating us will be rendered impotent.

Each time we are tempted, we should consciously choose God’s Truths over the devil’s lies; choose to gravitate our mind Godward; choose to believe that God will work things out in the end; choose to trust God and be patient for His divine provision or intervention; choose to live in peace and joy in the moment, and find rest knowing that He has good things in store for your future.

#4. Be still and know that God is still in control and keep on trusting 

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

Although God can do anything and nothing is impossible with the Almighty, but sometimes it is not necessary that God will provide a way out in our situation, He will provide a way through it. We just have to keep trusting that God knows best because His ways and thoughts are far higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). And blessed is the one who trust in the Lord and make Him his hope and confidence (Jeremiah 17:7). 

Be still, let go of your concerns, and let God be God. (Psalm 46:10). After all, God is not deaf nor his arms too short to move (Isaiah 59:1).

#5. Cast your eyes on God alone

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1-2

Whenever we look down, we can only see things with shadows, but if we look up, we will have a wider perspective and see light. In other words, we either magnify our problems or we magnify God in the situation- which is a better choice? It is also good to look around us and admire God’s creations- there are wonders beyond our apprehension what God can do, that you be surprised there is actually miracles everywhere. 

#6. Remember God is faithful even when we are faith-less

If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. – 2 Timothy 2:13 NLT

It is an immutable fact that God is 100% faithful, even if we are faithless or faith-LESS. He knows what we need, He understands how we feel, He anticipates what is to come, and He is familiar with all our ways. He promises His Presence whenever we call on Him (Psalm 145:18).

Count your blessings what you have, not what you do not have. Recall how God has provided and blessed us with in the past, insodoing that will assure us that God will work things out in the end.

#7. We are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthen us, and continue to declare the living promises of God

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. – Romans 8:37 NLT

The almost impenetrable wall of Jericho came tumbling down only after seven days of incessant prayers marching around it (Hebrews 11:30). It is a great reminder that no matter how impossible a situation is, we will have the ultimate victory in Christ Jesus. With the Bible at hand, where it contains His Word like fire and like a hammer that smashes a rock (Jeremiah 23:29), and the living promises that when God speaks, He acts upon it and will not be unaccomplished (Numbers 23:19), we are more than conquerors through Christ in us and for us.

Therefore, be anxious for nothing, submit our concerns and lay down our requests to God and the supernatural peace of God will transcend all understanding will guard our heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). So be patient until God speaks and acts.