BE INTENTIONAL (5)- Be Grateful and Contented

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Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor. — Ecclesiastes 7:12

As my company book closes for the month, it is also the time of the year for me this day to review about life- June has been my most stressful month where my brain usually launched into overdrive and my soul seems trapped in an undercurrent of discontentment:

I cannot count the number of gripes I grumbled and the many complaints I mumbled; 

the mistakes I fumbled and the fall I tumbled; 

much less to track the sins that had me crumbled and the pride that called me to be humble.

June is the month to account for the state of my finances, whether healthy or unhealthy: my brain crunches numbers each night long after I am supposed to be asleep, accelerating my pulse. Issues at work jab me from the right, shove me from behind and punch me square in the nose. As the adage goes, it never rains but pour!

In our rapidly volatile and uncertain present-day economy, money matters and work can drastically elevate our stress. And the double whammy of living in a consumerism culture where instant gratification is celebrated, mankind of the fallen nature categorically do not like to wait: We want instant gratification; we want life’s knottiest dilemmas to be dissolved immediately; we want everything chop-chop.

I guess I am sane, for I am not alone… 

During such challenging times, when my strength wanes and peace eludes me, the thoughts of I-don’t-know-what-is-the-heck-I-am-doing assailed me relentlessly with discontentment gnawing at me ferociously. Temptations of calling quits or running away beckoning… I got real last Monday, coming to terms with my inner struggle, my Spirit started singing away Don’s Moen’s song, “Take Me Deeper”,

‘There is a longing only You can fill,

A raging tempest only You can still…

My soul is thirsty Lord

To know You as I am known

Be in Your Presence 

Forever satisfied…’

Indeed, there was a very deep yearning I had not felt from time immemorial. My soul has been very parched as I got distracted by the cares of this world… And I can’t seem to hear God very much recently, but I knew my spiritual antenna isn’t working well. Interestingly, past online devotionals touched on money matters. And God spoke with a Rhema word, “Continual”:

His continual Presence will be my comfort and strength;

His continual Guidance will direct my every steps;

His continual Infilling of the Holy Spirit will empower me;

His continual Protection will be a canopy over me wherever I am;

His continual Healing will be a living testimony of His Power over my weaknesses;

His continual Faithfulness will be reminders of His never failing Love;

His continual Forgiveness bears the hallmark of His Grace;

His continual Provisions are wrapped in blessings, big or small, each day.

I am very thankful God rein me in. Since I can’t change my circumstances nor ignore my emotions, it takes greater wisdom (since we are more inclined to trusting our own “smart aleckness” and relying on our own strength) in knowing who is the Ultimate safety net to fall back on, and trusting God to bring us through.

The reward for perseverance is – God is faithful- I have received much surprises this week that made nice birthday presents today. I am learning to be grateful for the big and small alike, and count my blessings so that I can cultivate contentment.

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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.

When God Sings……

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Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

I ever prayed for God to wake me up earlier so that I could start my day early. On two occasions while sound asleep, I heard my spirit singing in the morning, “I have my hope in Christ alone” repeatedly. It almost sounded like a soft alarm to rouse me from my sleep gently, but I brushed it off, “Aarrgggh, I need to sleep… Be quiet please…” But the spirit continued to sing, “No fear in death, no fear in life, I have my hope in Christ alone…” While fuzzy with sleep, I peeped at the clock besides me, it was showing exactly the time I had prayed to wake up!

On the contrary, I think God is also ministering to my soul when I consulted Him about some concerns I had while prayer-strolling the night before. In another occasion while I was sleeping, my spirit sang again, this time a love song (which I had forgotten the exact words). (And yes, it was also about time for me to wake up as scheduled.)

Such a gentle whisper affirming me of His Love that morning nourished my soul. It brought to my mind the verse in Psalm 143:8 where God brings word of His unfailing love in the morning, He will show the way when we entrust our lives to Him.

Sometimes God sings as His way in expressing His Delight, Love, Affirmation and Reassurance.

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

Do you need to hear Him sings? Make a request to your Abba Father who desire to quiet you with His Love and sing to you.

“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.

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.

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).