2015 In Review; 2016 In Sight

by Thursday, December 31, 2015

Putting 2015 in review, I felt that this year has passed by so quickly and eventfully. It has been a year of learning, opportunities and preparation for the future. I recalled how I was recovering from a concussion in the early months, wanting to regain my memory as fast as possible. I felt really frustrated over the partial memory loss, and an inability to emotionally connect with people. I believe God can instantly heal because He is powerful enough to do so, but it seemed like His Hand was not in my situation. The impatience led to a spiritual struggle in my walk with God.

I still remembered that faithful day in February when I was newly working as a supermarket cashier. I was required to remember code numbers for many fruits and vegetables to key in the system (till today, I really hope they would implement barcodes). Multiple customers bought eggplant that day, and I was supposed to know the code number by the third time. But, I found myself not being able to remember. Work ended, and I left saddened. I asked God if I will ever get healed. I felt such a lack of faith that I disliked myself. I wanted my faith back.

It was rewarding that God granted me favor from my supervisor and colleagues, but yet agonizing since I was feeling so aimless. I wondered how long more I would need to stay in this job. I knew the feeling of aimlessness too well. I dreaded to be in that position again. In my desperate cries to God, He broke in gently, saying, “For a house is not built within a day. Patience, patience, patience!” These words was such a big lesson and reminder for me through the entire year.

I realized that patience was to be applied for my healing and my life direction. Oh yes, God could have just snap His finger, instantly heal, move time and teleport me to the place when I am living my ultimate destiny. But, He wanted to use the period of waiting to build perseverance, discipline, faith, life and social skills. The job I had as a cashier was part of my walk in moving me forward to my destiny, and I wasn’t to despise that stage. In that moment of realization, I felt liberated from all the unnecessary stress I had placed upon myself. I learned to breathe and enjoy every moment of the day, and look out for opportunities to reach and bless others with His Gospel.

This year is also the year I turned 21, regarded as an adult legally in Singapore. There weren’t any special feelings, like “YAY I AM LEGAL / AN ADULT!” when I celebrated my birthday. I was just happy that my family and friends celebrated together with me. I saw my dad’s selflessness and generosity displayed in booking the chalet, going the extra mile to rush in a cab to get BBQ food and cake for us, and wanting to give us all the best 21st birthday celebration. I saw my mum’s funny and loving side as she stayed with us through the chalet, playing and joking till the wee hours of the night while playing mahjong. I am glad to be able to celebrate my birthday with 3 other siblings. Though we are drastically different in character and life pathways, God brought us together as siblings and family. To that, I am tremendously grateful.

I was given many ministry opportunities and exposures within this year. Just to name 2, I firstly had the privilege of organizing my church’s “Freedom Camp”. Comprising of mostly young adult attendees, 3 days were set apart for us to seek God and His freedom for our lives. The camp blew me away beyond my expectations. Little did I know that He would use this camp to commence my journey towards wholeness and freedom. Till today, I am still feeling the effects of what God has done through the camp! I found myself being able to see the people I once disliked in a positive light. I found myself being able to love others more. Recently, I became reminded of my identity and authority secured in what Jesus has done for me.

In June, I was given opportunities to help out in 2 church camps back to back – 1 children’s camp, and 1 youth camp. Both camps were great times of fun and growth. I felt a little apprehensive participating in those camps initially. I did not know how God will want to use me to bless His people. I did not know if I could handle children well. As much as I was concerned about blessing others, He used them to bless me. The children were so well-behaved and receptive to God’s Word, and the youths were so hungry for more of God. The camp opportunities taught me to rely on God, and ingrained in me a burden to see youths come to Christ.

Wrapping up the year and moving on to 2016, I thank God for placing Pastors, spiritual leaders, great friends and colleagues who have walked me through this year. I am thankful for the favor and learning experiences I received through the 3 jobs I undertook. I believe this is the year where God wants me to “not remember the former things, nor consider things of old.” For He will do a new thing. (Isaiah 43:18-19) I am unaware of how this will look like, but one thing I know for sure – the road of the past has already been cut away; today is a new day filled with hope. There are new opportunities awaiting ahead and attempts I must make, leading me to step into the unknown. I am excited and hesitant at the same time, and I cannot wait to see what is in stored for me in this coming year. I look upon the coming year with great joy and expectancy.

Understanding God's Redemption Plan

by Sunday, November 01, 2015


Scripture Reference:
Ephesians 1:7-12
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

Background:
Paul continues to talk about God's great blessings for humanity. He focuses on God's redemption plan through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, and how knowing this will affect the way we live and continue walking towards maturity in Christ.

Observation:
According to the riches of His grace lavished upon us, we have redemption through the blood of Jesus, the forgiveness of our trespasses. (1:7-8)
Redemption would be a relatable concept to the Ephesians of that day since some worked as slaves. (cf. 6:5-8) Redemption would mean freedom from their master, gaining release from their captive condition. In order to be released from slavery, there needs to be a payment of ransom.

According to the riches of God's grace abounding in our lives, we become released from our captive condition as slaves of sin and the god of the age. We become forgiven and are set free from the bondage of sin through Jesus's death on the cross. He did it in our place because we can never save ourselves and cut away the dreadful influence of sin. We can never attain holiness or stand before God justified through strict abidance and striving to keep the Law. (Romans 3:20) Jesus Christ is the answer to our forgiveness, freedom from being slaves of sin, right standing with God and holy living.

The mystery of God's will, with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, is to sum up all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on earth. (1:9-10)
The mystery of God's will is to unite us in Christ as sons and daughters of His Kingdom. God's plan of salvation is never through one particular church or by being a Jew. Whether you are a Jew or a Gentile, salvation is found in Christ alone. In God's wisdom and insight, He has seen it fitting that all things in the heavens and on earth are to be summed up in Christ's glorious return.

We have been predestined according to His purpose to be the praise of His glory. (1:11-12)
Having believed Jesus, God has destined that we are to be the praise of His glory. As we believe and hope in Christ, desiring to bring praise to God in our lifestyles, our lives will reflect God's glory and greatness extensively so much that people will see God through us and can't help but acknowledge God's existence and praise Him!

Truth:
1) Knowing the price Jesus has paid for our sins should change our way of living.
Jesus gave up His divine privileges, humbling Himself in obedience to God. He came to earth in human form, experiencing excruciating pain while dying a criminal's death on the cross. He subjected Himself to sufferings and humiliation, just so that we who believe by faith in what He has done for us will be saved. By His blood, we are reconciled to God.

It is a privilege and honor to come in relationship with God, the King of Kings. We will never be able to talk with God personally - even as a Friend - if not for the obedience of Jesus. Knowing the price Jesus has paid for our sins should change our way of living. We will forsake our former and sinful ways of living, counting that lifestyle as garbage and nonsense. We will pursue holiness, righteousness and a deeper relationship with God.

2) If we desire unity, we have to seek oneness with Jesus.
God has destined that everything be summed up under the authority of Christ. In this retrospect, if we desire unity in our family, school, workplace, church, etc., we have to seek oneness with Jesus. When we are in Christ, being moulded to become more and more like Him, we can affect culture and influence others. People will notice the way we exhibit Christ-like virtues and resolve to keep peace and unity because we promote these values strongly through our words and deeds.

Jesus prayed, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21) We are saved by the same price, the blood of Christ, and we have to be united in Christ as well.

3) No matter where you are and what you are doing, your life can bring praise to God.
God has placed us as salt and light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:13-16) If we will purpose to live bringing praises to God, no matter what job position, academic stream or life stage we are at, we can reveal Christ. Even if you do not have a leadership position, high paying job, or brillant grades to get into a good school, you will still be successful because you seek to obey God and bring glory to Him. God's favour will be upon your life, and your lifestyle will count as a pleasing worship to Him.

Application:
1) Take time to pray and give thanks to God for what He has done for you. It is because of the blood of Jesus that you are saved, redeemed, brought into His family and a relationship with God and have your life entirely transformed!

2) Are there disharmonious situations in areas of family, work, school, etc.? Pray, asking God how you can bring unity and peace in those areas.

3) Think about the school / family / job position God has placed you at right now. Why do you think you are placed in this position? How does God want you to glorify Him in the way you live? List them down, and if there are some corrections God want to bring into your life, submit to His Lordship. You have a great purpose for being here on earth. Don't ever doubt that!

Prayer:
Father, I thank You for this relationship I can share with You because of the price Your Son paid for me on the Cross. It is a privilege to worship and talk with You. I really don't deserve this. I ask that You will use me to bring Your culture of unity and peace to my family and workplace. I pray that You make me more and more like You each day, and may my life bring praise to You, leading others to know Your great Love for them. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Destined To Be Blessed

by Saturday, October 31, 2015
Scripture Reference:
Ephesians 1:1-6 (NASB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Background:
Paul writes a letter to the church in Ephesus in about AD 60 while being in prison. He worked the ground for 3 years, working tirelessly to bring the Gospel and raise up faithful followers of Christ. (Acts 19-20) Having been established as a fairly new church, Paul desires that every Ephesian Christian be growing mature in the faith. He makes known to every Christian the insights of what God has done for humanity, what it means to be in Christ, and how knowing what God has done should transform one's faith and lifestyle to become mature.

Observation:
God has chosen to bless us in Christ.
According to the kind intention of His will and great grace, He has chosen to bless us. (1:3) These are spiritual blessings in the heavenly places - blessings that are beyond our physical nature world, conprising of our intended calling as holy and blameless (1:4), adoption as sons through Jesus (1:5), and perfect acceptance in the Beloved [the finished work of Jesus]. (1:6) It is in God's nature to bless us because He wants us to live our lives to the fullest.

Before the foundation of the world, we were chosen to be holy and blameless before Him.
Before the world was ever created, God has chosen us in Christ to be holy and blameless before Him. (1:4) Even after the Fall of man - when we have all gone astray, walking our own destructive, sinful paths - His decision has never changed. Just like how Jesus has lived in this world being holy and blameless, God sees that we will be like Him as well. He will pursue us relentlessly so that we will realize who we have been called to be.

We are predestined to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.
Having lived in a time when we did not recognize God's plans for our lives, we have subjected our souls to our carnal nature and the god of this age. (2 Corinthians 4:4) We belonged to the family of this world, and the end goal for all it's members is slavery to sin and destruction. God has predestined that we will be adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ (1:5), crossing over from destruction to life.

Truth:
1) God will never withold His desire to bless us. However, we can only be truly blessed when we are in Christ.
I have seen people accumulating riches, nice houses, obtained good positions and pays in their jobs, and yet feeling empty. Just 2 weeks ago, I had a conversation with a friend who was way senior in age. She just got her dream home, money for retirement, a man who loves her, etc. But, I saw emptiness in her eyes. I saw her finding comfort in the things she had, and yet clearly not feeling happy. She told me, "You know, Joy, I have settled down and gained everything I need. I know it's hard, but I try to be happy..."

My heart was saddened because she has lived for so long, and yet she is still searching to be happy. To me, she wasn't living life; she was just trying to fulfill her wishes and needs for the sake of survival. That was when I realized this: God loves to bless His children. However, we will only become truly blessed when we are in Christ.

Most would settle for a stable life, trying to fulfill the physical things they think they need. They searched for temporal things to make them feel blessed in their definition, but that is not the true blessed life. The true test of feeling blessed is when we are down and out, suffering and in pain, and yet we feel genuinely blessed because we are living abundantly with God's Presence as our hope, strength, and source of favor.

The blessings of God will flourish in an even greater measure, affecting not just us, but the people around us, when we are in Christ.

2) Holinessness and blamelessness should be our identity.
God has called us to be holy and blameless before Him, adopting His likeness and attributes. Holiness and blamelessness should be our identity, and we can truly live that out when we are in Christ and have our lives yielded to the Holy Spirit.

Living as holy and blameless may seem quite far fetched to any individual who is struggling hard to overcome sin. Know that God, who has chosen us to live out this identity, is faithful to see and aid us through with His grace to be more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

3) God yearns for everyone to be His sons and daughters.
God may have predestined us to be adopted as sons and daughters in his family, but He also gives everyone a choice to choose if they would like to be in His family. He has given freewill as a gift to mankind, and He will not bypass that freewill. In His will, He yearns for everyone to be adopted His family and live the blessed life, because this adoption is not exclusive to any individual; it is meant for all.

Application:
1) Do you feel that life is meaningless even though you have everything? Or, do you feel life is meaningless because you have nothing in this world to live for? I will encourage you to forsake your old pursuits, dedicate your life to God, discover the good path He has for you, and start walking in it.

2) Do you find it hard to believe God for provision and finance? Do you fall into a perpetual cycle of worry and insecurity about your future? It is time to stop worrying and start believing that God will bless you abundantly. Bring your needs before God in prayer. 

3) Do you struggle with condemnation, always having thoughts that you are a downright sinner, and that you will never be able to become holy? You do not need to keep striving in your own strength, beating yourself so that you might attain holiness. Depend on the Holy Spirit's power, and live from the identity He has called you to be - a son and a daughter, holy and blameless. Dedicate time to pray and read His Word.

Prayer:
Dear God, I thank You for the blessings You have bestowed upon my life. It has always been in Your gracious and loving nature to bless me with everything You have. I know that You are my Good Father who holds me in the palm of Your Hands, and I am secured in You. I dedicate my life to You once again, and I pray my heart will always remain open and teachable to Your Spirit in every season. Make me like You to be holy and blameless. Use my life as a blessing for others to see Your good intentions for them so that they may turn to You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Miracle My Soul Longs

by Thursday, October 29, 2015
Hey bloggers and readers! I thought I should just take some time out from the devotion write-ups I have been doing and share some thoughts that have been burning deep within my heart for the past few weeks. It's been really long since I shared any personal, spontaneous thoughts as well. This may not be very organized, but well. here goes!

What would you define as a miracle from God? Some would attribute it as an extraordinary, bizarre God-happening that cannot be explained by science and logic. Some would say it comes through healing the sick, gold dusts/gemstones appearances, someone coming back from the dead, creative miracles, water turned into wine, etc. I love the miraculous so much that I will sit for days extensively just to read books and watch videos of men and women being used by God to operate in the areas stated above, because that is what my God can do, and it's honestly fascinating.

In my regard though, the greatest miracle isn't healing cases, gold dusts, etc. (though these may form as a bridge to recognize God's Hand) I regard the greatest miracle of all time as the miracle of salvation. When God changes a person's heart to recognize Him, genuinely love Him, become surrendered and conformed to His will, willingly. Moreover, this miracle impacts eternity! For in that day of perfection, there isn't a need for healing, prophecies, tongues, knowledge, etc. anymore. (1 Corinthians 13:8) What will remain is love, faith, hope, and the souls of man.

We have gone astray, walking in our own paths and subjecting our souls to the god of this age. God is jealous for us all because He has created us for something more, but many have chosen to settle for less. We are supposed to find our purpose in our Creator who created us, knows us, and can fulfill our life potentials in the best way possible. But, many have sought for meaning in the created that will forever leave them empty.

We should all be interested to let God use us to bring the miracle of salvation to others. Oh yes, it may involved evangelism, repair work, discipleship, counselling, etc. - time consuming efforts so to speak. But, time will never seem wasted on our hearts if we move out of God's compassion, seeing what the Father does, and does likewise.

I long for revival in my nation. I long to see people come to accept and know Jesus not as a historic, random figure, but a Person who loves them. I long to see the people of God united - not to doctrines; to Truth, Jesus Christ. We will not just be interested to make non-Christians our brothers and sisters; we will all love our brothers and sisters who are on the same team as us (Team Jesus).

Revival first start in us. We got to give God the secret places of our hearts, daring Him to move and set us apart. We got to exemplify Jesus wherever we go. We got to get connected with people who will run God's vision collectively.

One of my heart's desire is to let people somehow have a foretaste of Jesus so that they get mind-blown when they realize Jesus is far greater, loving and perfect than I am. I pray that you will live to be a blessing and shine the light of Jesus wherever you go.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Hebrews 10:23-25

God's Way Is The Best Way

by Monday, October 26, 2015
Scripture Reference:
Ezekiel 4

Content:
God had confirmed Ezekiel's call and commissioned him to be the watchmen for his nation. Almost immediately, and from then on, warning messages of God's coming judgment were given to Ezekiel.

At God's instruction, he had to proclaim through ominous symbolic actions, compromising his comfort and dietary laws to show Israel the condition they would live in should they not repent of their rebellious ways.

Interpretation:
• We must humbly pursue obedience; not comfort or reputation.
The mockery and opposition towards Ezekiel's messages would be rather high since it appeared to be senseless. His reputation as a priest would be ruined. However, that was the way God wanted to show Israel what they would have to go through if they remained unrepentant.

Obedience to God isn't always easy. It may seem illogical, outrageous and degrading at times. People may mock or persecute us because we made a stand to obey God.

In such times, our stand must remain unwavering. We must humbly pursue obedience; not comfort or reputation.

• God will go through great lengths to grab our attention.
God proved His love, patience and passion for His people through Ezekiel to protect them from the coming consequences they would face. He went through lengths to "break" the religious dietary laws Ezekiel upheld so strongly as a priest just to extend grace and aid His people back on track.

All throughout scripture, God is willing to use the miraculous to get us back on track – even going so far as to send His only Son as a sacrifice. He will go through great lengths to grab our attention, bringing us through the best path He has created for us.

To me, free will is the gift God has given because He exceeding loves us, but it is also the gift that has hurt Him the most. He will never bypass our free will.

If we will understand God has best intentions for our lives, our response would be teachability, humility, and immediate repentance.

• God's judgment sanctifies us to become holy.
God had purposefully spoken to different kings and prophets just to make His plans happen for His beloved people. They were meant to be the light to all nations, so that salvation may reach to the ends of the earth through Israel's testimony. (Isaiah 49:6)

But, God would rather see His land devasted, Jerusalem ruined, His people killed and exiled, than to have them give such a false witness to the Gentile nations. Judgment would begin in Israel first so that they would understand their folly, turn from sin, and once again become the light to all nations.

In 1 Peter 4:17, it states that “judgment will begin in the house of God”. He will not condone people who persecute or insult the people of God, but He uses the trials to make us more like Jesus, becoming sanctified to be the salt and light to the world. 

Application:
1) When the obedience God requires of you demands your comfort or reputation, will you obey anyway? He may be asking you to stay in a job you don't like, settle for lesser pay/lower job position, endure with uncooperative teammates, etc. It may seem stupid in the world's point of view to stay on, but God's way is always the best way.

2) If God were to dismantle the plans you have, telling you that there is a better way, even if you cannot perceive, will you surrender and follow Him? His best intention is to prosper and bless you, not to harm you.

3) You may be facing injustices or persecutions from your family, friends, colleagues, etc. because you professed faith in Jesus. Choose to see your trials as opportunities to respond and be like Christ. Never give up!

“So, if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” - 1 Peter 4:19

Boldness To Be A Speaker Of Truth

by Sunday, October 25, 2015
Scripture Reference:
Ezekiel 2-3

Content:
Ezekiel had just seen a glorious vision of the glory of God, bringing forth the realization of the God He served. There, God imparted to Ezekiel His messages for His people. He told Ezekiel that the people he was going to minister to "are a stubborn and hard-hearted people." (2:4) They would not accept his message because they were completely rebellious. Nevertheless, God still wanted Ezekiel to speak so the people know they had a prophet among them. The vision then ended, leaving Ezekiel overwhemled by what he received.

7 days later, God gave him a message, appointing him as a watchman for Israel. He cautioned him to warn his people immediately when a message is given to him, or the people would die in their sins and Ezekiel would be held responsible for their deaths. (3:16-22)

Interpretation:
• The opinion of God should always come first before the opinion of others.
God pre-warned Ezekiel that the people he was going to speak to were completely rebellious. He may surrounded with threats because he chose to obey God. God wanted him to know that the opinion and treatment he was going to receive from others should not stop his obedience towards God. (2:4-3:7)

Put yourself in Ezekiel's shoes. He doesn't need to second guess his hearers' opinions to God's message - He know these people will surely reject his message. He is in a tougher position than any one of us because he know his message will fall on deaf ears. For us, we may not know.

Sometimes, when God give us a message to deliver to someone, we are afraid that the other person may not accept our message. We perceived in our minds that the message is offensive, therefore we conclude that we should not say it for fear of offending them.

However, we are not to be concerned over the person's rejection to God's message - that is not our business. We should be solely concerned to do the will of God. The opinion of God should always come first before the opinion of others.

• Choose God's ways and live; choose rebellion and try to live.
"Son of man, listen to what I say to you. Don't join them in their rebellion." (2:8) There seemed to be no point for Ezekiel to speak God's message since those people no longer regarded YHWH as Lord over their lives. Ezekiel would face the choice of choosing God over joining his fellow countrymen in rebellion. Choosing God would mean being the outcast, and dealing with feelings of hurt and rejection. The temptation of following Israel's ways seemed the easier way out. Therefore, God had to exhort Ezekiel to not join the people in their rebellion.

Every person who desires to live for God will face the temptation of going back to their old lifestyle. In the past, we were once lord over our own lives. We could use our Sundays for work, sleep, friends, indulgence in immediate and sensual pleasures instead of being in church. It seemed that the old lifestyle is better since we have the freedom to do what we wanted in our own timing.

Living like this may bring happy feelings in the short run, but there will be this lingering feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness. We are not living merely to wake up, eat, work, study, socialise, sleep, and repeat this cycle for the rest of our lives - there is a purpose why you and I exist. The emptiness in your heart will never be satisfied unless you sought after Jesus and fulfill the destiny God has for your life.

The choice presented before us is clear: Choose God's ways and live; choose rebellion and try to live.

• We have a responsibility to speak God's truth over our hearers' lives.
God called Ezekiel as the prophet for the hour so Israel might know that God was concerned and had their best interests at heart. The messages Ezekiel spoke on behalf of God were meant to fulfill it's intended purpose. It was in hope that Israel would repent of their rebellion and be confident in what God would do for them in the distant future. God held Ezekiel responsible of warning his countrymen of their peril should they still continue in their rebellious ways. (3:16-21)

When God calls you to speak correction over someone who has walked in a wrong path, He is giving a chance for that person to turn from their ways to Him. Not speaking His word would be akin to witholding God's call of repentance from their lives, and you will become responsible for their actions thereafter.

As we are graced with the privelege of knowing and hearing God, we have a responsiblity to speak God's truth over our hearers' lives, whether they would hear it or not.

Application:
1) When God wants you to deliver a word that you regard as offensive to another person, do you hestitate and imagine in your mind how the person might react? Thinking too much would result in fear of offending the other person, and hence not obeying God. Also, you might attempt to water down and rephrase God's message altogether so that it sounds nicer and more accepting to your hearer.

It is better to find favour with God, than find favour solely with men and lose favour with God. Aim to obey God and speak the truth always.

2) Do you sometimes feel envious when you see others living wild, 'Sundays-free-to-socialise' lives? This envious feeling that "others seem to live a better life than you" would arise because the enemy doesn't want you to live for God. Partly, it may come from your need of friendship, desire to be in control, perception of the bible as the book of many rules, etc.

A strong yearning to go back to your old lifetstyle may be a red flag, indicating that you may not have placed God as priority over your life. My encouragement to you is to align your allegiance to God, reject rebellion, understand how good God is, realise your God-given destiny, and bring your needs to God in prayer.

3) Pray that when you need to speak the truth in love, you will be bold enough to do so because you are motivated by God's love for them. Like Ezekiel, pray that you may have an "obstinate and hard-hearted heart", and "a foreheard as hard as the hardest rock" (3:8) to speak God's truth no matter what people may say.

Knowing The One You Serve

by Friday, October 23, 2015
Scripture Reference:
Ezekiel 1

Content:
It had been 5 years since Ezekiel and his fellow countrymen were exiled by the Babylonians. Ezekiel was trained as a priest (1:3), but the hope in fulfilling his priestly role seemed bleak since he was no longer in his own beloved nation. On July 31, 593BC, he was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon when the heavens were opened and he saw visions of YHWH. God showed His magnificent glory to Ezekiel, changing his life and deepening his perception of God.

God showed Ezekiel a vision consisting of:
1) 4 living beings. (1:5-14)
Each being had 4 faces (human face in the front; face of a lion on the right side; face of an ox on the left side; face of an eagle at the back) and 4 wings.

2) Wheels attached to the 4 living beings. (1:15-21)
The wheels were covered with eyes, moving in every direction and in unison.

3) Surface above the 4 living beings. (1:22-28)
The surface was like the sky, glittering like crystal. Above the surface sits a glorious throne, and on the throne is a figure of the man gleaming like fire, surrounded by a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day.

And that was what the glory of God looked like to Ezekiel. (1:28)

Interpretation:
• God remained in control even when Israel was in exile.
Israel tasted glory as a nation when God established them from King David's reign. Now, they were being brought to exile because of their rebellion. They were no longer a nation, and therefore no longer able to pride themselves in being an Israeli. It seemed that God abandoned them, and the natural train of thought would be that control was no longer in God's Hands, but the Babylonians.

Through the vision, God showed Ezekiel that He remained in control even when Israel was in exile. The face of the 4 living beings represent the chief creatures of their domains (human having dominion over all creatures; lion over all wild creatures; ox over all domesticated creatures; eagle over the birds of the air). The throne sat above the surface and the 4 living beings, explained that God remained sovereign in control over all creation, and most certainly, in Israel's situation.

• God's glory and presence was not constrained to the holy place or the holy land.
Israel thought the presence and glory of God was constrained in their land or their temple. Given that they were in a pagan, foreign place, they thought that God would not see their plight. But, God was not constrained to a place.

The wheels covered with many eyes represent that God was still in the lookout for Israel, and that His glory is movable - not confined to a holy place. Yes, in God's righteousness judgment, Israel had to face exile, but God promised that He would go with them in their exile. He would still see them through their situation.

• Ezekiel was brought to a deeper revelation of the God He served before answering his call.
What would have been going through Ezekiel's mind as he sat with his fellow countrymen? He could have thought like the exiles, thinking that they are all gone case since he had been in residing in Babylon for 5 long years. Or, he could have been channelling his questions of Israel and his own future to God, hoping that God will somehow answer.

Though the scriptures are not clear about his thoughts, there is a reason why God showed Himself to Ezekiel in that manner: To show him who exactly he is going to serve. This God He served is:

1) Far more glorious than he could have ever known.
2) Holy, sovereign and righteous. The rightful One who can deliver due judgement.
3) The all-seeing One who remains concerned over His people and would never abandon them.
4) The promise-keeping God who will not forget the convenant He made with His people.

With that magnificent vision of God as a basis, Ezekiel knew exactly who He was serving before He answered the call of God upon his life.

Application:
1) If anyone is going through a situation as result of something you have done wrong, and you really want to turn over a new leaf, know that God still remains in control over your present situation. He will be with you, walking you through - He will not abandon you!

2) God's Presence and glory is not constrained to a church building. In situations I feel hopeless about, He sees and will reveal His glory in my situation.

3) Grasp a deeper revelation of who God is. Desire for God to reveal Himself to you. Then, you will truly know the God you serve.

Adopting Jesus's Attitude In Our Experiences

by Friday, October 09, 2015
Don't let your experiences of hurt, betrayal, disappointments, etc become the gospel truth you put on as spectacles, determining everything you perceive about circumstances, others, and God in a negative light.

Those experiences show you the truth about living in this fallen world - it is “now and not yet”, imperfect outcomes in this imperfect world, impact of the fall upon mankind, etc.

When you allow those experiences to colour your perceptions, you are actually worshipping your past. In every conclusion you come out with, you become one who "consults" your past. No longer will you be open to the truth or a better change in circumstances.

In whatever you have and will experience, be it good or negative in your eyes, you should make this conscientious effort to ask yourself, “What is Jesus seeing in my experience? How would He think if He is in my situation? What is the takeaway lesson that is the truth here?”

Then, you will feel His thoughts and emotions. You will think like He thinks, act like He acts, and hope like He hopes.

With The Crown Of Thorns, You Became A King Forever

by Thursday, September 10, 2015


Jesus was anointed at Bethany by a woman in preparation of his burial. He predicted his death, and at that point, his soul was deeply troubled. He faced unbelief from the people despite the miraculous signs He had done. He predicted his betrayal by Judas, and denial by Peter. He was going to be arrested and face death in the most humiliated and excruciating painful way.

What He was, is, and will go through is anything but bodily and emotionally painful. He had more legitimate reasons than anyone to say, “No one really understands my pain”. He could stare at the face of pain feeling sorrowful, dejected and hopeless. He could choose to be alone, complain and care about His own pain. But, till the end, He continued loving, remained others centered, and submitted to the Father's will.

He washed his disciples’ feet, doing a task that was regarded as lowly since it was reserved for the lowliest of menial servants at that time. He dipped the piece of bread and offered it to his betrayer, Judas. In that time and custom, when the master dips bread and personally hand to their guest portions of what is before him, the intention was to honor and manifest good will. Jesus was indeed extending love and friendship to the very one who was going to betray Him!

Even when His heart had a cause to remain troubled, He encouraged His disciples instead, saying, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:6) Even when He couldn’t see the future and had reasons to doubt, He spoke forth in faith that, “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again, a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” Also, He declared, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” His faith remained unshaken in the Father.

In His arrest, He didn’t resist the Father’s will even though everything in Him would have screamed out to do so – to use His divine powers to somehow destroy everyone present and run away (speaking for instance). He healed the High priest servant’s ear even though he was part of the “arrest Jesus” party. Throughout these entire time, He remained steadfast and showed love till the end. His love triumphed over whatever the enemy aimed to plan – and this love is something that the enemy is never able to counterfeit forever!

With a crown of thorns, He became a king forever.

In the face of pain, whether bodily or emotionally, it is easy to humanly react by whining and wallowing in dejection and hopelessness. It is convincing to us that, “no one will ever understand my pain”. The attempts of others trying to relate with us may bring some sort of comfort, or may even seem futile because the level of pain is regarded to us as unbearable. But, take heart. Our Savior, Lord Jesus, our High Priest, understands our pain.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. – Hebrews 12:1-3

May we learn to adopt the attitude of Jesus in the face of pain - learning to be loving, remaining others centered, and submissive to the Father's will. Don't allow these good virtues to be lost in the midst of our pain.

Jaeson Ma - Glory Lyrics

This is what I pray 
There's got to be more than what seems to exist 
Cause you were born to go higher 
We were born for adventure 
So dare to dream bigger 
Because If you don't have a passion worth dying for 
You have nothing worth living for 
Don't live for the things of this world 
They are passing away 
But live for the Glory that leads to eternity 
Glory is grace perfected 
And our greatest glory is not in never falling 
But in rising everytime we fall

Hope Despite Hopelessness

by Friday, August 28, 2015
Hoping for something to turn out better despite hopelessness can be tough and emotionally tiring. Everything in and around you just screams to give up on hope. But yet, it is hard to let go of hope since you know the hope you first hold on to is real. The emotional tension is real, and it is something I have been experiencing from time to time.

Upon reflection, I was reminded of a sharing I did months ago about the prophet Habakkuk. The more I read this, the more I was encouraged. So I thought I would share it here. For those who have been holding on to hope for something, I hope this will encourage and spur you on to hope again.

Habakkuk was an Israelite prophet (a messenger of God) living in the nation of Judah. In the previous events of Israel's history, Israel was split into 2 nations: Northern (10 Israelite tribes) and Southern (2 Israelite tribes) Kingdom - Judah.

The Northern kingdom had already fallen into Assyria, leaving the tiny Southern Kingdom as the remaining nation of Israel. Even though the previous king of Judah, Josiah, attempted to bring about a religious revival to get people back to worship God again, the revival did not have a lasting impact. Judah's spiritual condition was in an all time low state.

Habakkuk lived in a time when his people in Judah were living in evil strife and had no regard for their God. He longs for his people to repent, but they insisted in their own rebellion. The areas of disappointment Habakkuk faced came from 3 areas:

1) The people of Israel
The Israelites were supposed to be the people of God - a nation set apart to be the light to the world and reveal the true God to surrounding nations. But, they have turned away from God. They chose not to obey God's law anymore, but commit evil deeds and violence.

Habakkuk must have longed for the people to repent and come back to God, but the people chose their own path. The people's disobedience toward God made Habakkuk disappointed. 

2) How circumstances turned out for Israel
Habakkuk had lived through a time of great hope – There was religious revival by King Josiah, increased national importance, increased material wealth. But as he looked around him now, the nation faced destruction at the hands of the Babylonian armies, and even the fields that had previously brought prosperity, now lay barren, in a drought-ridden land - no more crops, no livestock.

There seemed to be no hope in Israel's situation. Habakkuk was disappointed at how the situation turned out for Israel - He certainly wasn't expecting his nation to go into exile.

3) The Lord's reply
Habakkuk had been waiting for the Lord to intervene in restoring the backslidden nation to Himself, but it seemed that God was not answering His prayer. Habakkuk certainly hoped that God would bring the Israelites to repentance, but the way God was going to do so was to raise up Babylon. 

Habakkuk could not take the Lord's reply - how could He allow Babylon, a nation in a worse unrighteous condition, to invade in and wipe them out? The Lord's reply must have disappointed Habakkuk, and it gave rise to his second complaint.

Presently, we are not immune to the areas of disappointments that Habakkuk faced in his time. When we have hoped for a person or a situation to happen, and it did not turn out in a way we expected, we get disappointed. Sometimes, it seemed that God is not doing anything about our situations, and we get disappointed by His 'reply' - when He does not seem to answer, or He answers in a way we do not expect.

How, then, do we hope again? Following the example of Habakkuk:
1) Be honest about your feelings
Even though Habakkuk was a prophet who knew God to a certain degree, the disappointments drove him to a point when he had to ask God, “why”. Habakkuk was honest in bringing his feelings before God, not attempting to hide and pretend that everything was okay.

If Habakkuk had not expressed his feelings to God in a real manner, he would still live in feelings of doubt, hopelessness and anger. God would not be able to reply him personally in his situation.

As long as you hide the wounds in darkness, they will never fully heal. Open up those wounds, and give the pain to Jesus so that He can heal you. Be honest before God, and find friends who can share your burden and pray alongside you. I find that having people around who can journey and fight alongside you a great comfort in times like this.

2) Wait for the Lord's reply
 Although Habakkuk was perplexed, he did not draw back in his devotion to the Lord. He was determined to stand watch and see how God would answer the 'why'. He wanted to know what the Lord had to say. (2:1)

Disappointment is not merely a feeling, but a matter of faith as well. If Habakkuk had not waited for an answer but came to his own conclusion without seeking God, he would have lost his faith and become a backslidden prophet. So, wait upon the Lord for His reply. For the Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

3) Know that God is just and He remains in control
In every unfair treatment given to someone, there is always a desire for justice. The sense of outrage exists when justice isn't met. Habakkuk is full of outrage because it appears to him that justice isn’t being done by God in raising up Babylon to punish Israel. (1:5-11) He can’t reconcile that with the holiness and justice of God. Habakkuk’s big question boils down to, “Is God just? Can I count on Him to do the right thing?” (1:12-17)

We see that the justice of God is met when God punished Babylon in the end (2:6-8). God still remained in control. Habakkuk could only see a wicked nation overpowering one more righteous than itself (Babylon overpowering Israel). But God says Babylon will also be punished.

Habakkuk wanted to see justice done straight away. So do we. Habakkuk’s cry “How Long, O Lord” (1:2) is also our cry. God’s answer is “be patient – justice will come” (Habakkuk 2:2-3). To see God’s justice requires patience, and we have to trust that God is just and he still remains in control even when we are disappointed.

God will judge those who have wrong the righteous in His timing, and for us, we are to remain faithful because we know that God is in control - the just shall live by faith. (2:4)

4) Remember the Lord's faithfulness
As The Lord answers Habakkuk by pointing out that He is just and in control of the situation in his nation, Habakkuk looks to the good things God has done in the past, and becomes assured that God remains faithful and will come through for his nation.

He remembered how God came to their rescue in Egypt and at Sinai (3:3-7), and his defeat of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (3:15). He is reminded that God has always been faithful to his people and will continue to be faithful in the present crisis.

Disappointments absorbs our attention, and it becomes easy to focus on the few things that have gone wrong that we lose sight of the many things that have gone right. Yet, God has done great things in the past - your past.

Therefore, never allow your present circumstances to cloud your view of the future. God has done great things for you. Celebrate them, and remember the Lord's faithfulness like Habakkuk. “In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in the years gone by.” (3:2)

5) Rejoice in The Lord
The prophet Habakkuk learnt to rejoice in The Lord. After God revealed to him that Babylon would conquer and destroy his country, Habakkuk came to the conclusion that no matter what his circumstances were, He would find his joy in God. His words could, and should, be ours.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as sure footed as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (Hab. 3:17-19)

We have to always remember, that the promises God gave to us are meant to be fulfilled despite of our feelings of disappointments. While hope deferred makes the heart sick, a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12) Turn to God, and hope again.

The Voice Of The One I Love

by Saturday, August 01, 2015
“Don't let any voice be louder than My voice over your life. As you speak My promises, you are nulling the enemy's deception and influence over your life.

Some may think that darkness would overcome them eventually because they lost hope in the Living Word that brings light and life to their path. But there has never been once since the time of the Old Testament till today that I have spoken and failed to act; promised and not carry it through.

Like Balak, you have to constantly reflect back and ask, "What did The Lord say?", and act like Balaam, "only do what The Lord tells me."” - God

A Life Well Lived

by Thursday, July 02, 2015
The greatest life well lived is a life filled with meaning. Many have been preoccupied with pursuing their own agendas in life with the aim to fill that void – so much so that we have dismissed the very reason why God placed us on this earth for.

It would be so regretful to look to the end of this life’s course to find that everything accomplished was futile because you have not discovered the reason for your existence and lived a meaningful life. To utter the words of Quoheleth, the author of Ecclesiastes, “Everything is meaningless.”

When God created man, He placed all these things to bring fulfillment upon his life:
1) God fellowshipped with man,
2) God made man a social creature,
3) God gave man work, and
4) God gave man dominion over the earth

Today, many seek meaning through relationships with friends, work, climbing the “ladder”, etc. They try to find fulfilment through all but not the very first reason above. They have not realized that fellowship with God is what brings true meaning in life.

May you discover the very reason for your existence. Step into the shoes of Jesus, and start to live His life. You will see His goodness, His glory and the emptiness of your life fulfilled by Him.

“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

You Are Essentially Worthy

by Saturday, June 27, 2015
The perceptions of what others may think about you and their inability to see your value doesn't define your worth. You are essentially worthy, for your Creator who made you calls you His masterpiece and He knows you best.

People who choose to stay hurt, hurt others. Their negative words is like a knife cut to your chest, and the enemy will take those words to magnify the impact and bring forth bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, etc into your life with that aim to bound you in his chains. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy you - he knows his time is running short.

But knowing the truth of who you are sets you free. You are able to live in that abundant life Jesus has for you. The wound will longer stay a bleeding and stinging wound; just a scar that doesn't hurt and reminds you of how strong you are and how far you have overcome. And you are still beautiful even with that scar.

So c'mon. You are better than what others think and even what you think you are. Don't change yourself because of others' negativity. If there is only one reason why you should change yourself, it should be because you want to be changed more in the likeness of Jesus. Live meaningfully with eternity in mind.

The Need For God

by Monday, May 18, 2015
In Adam and Eve's time, the serpent deceived them to take the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As they take the fruit, they will “become like God, knowing good and evil.” The enemy's goal was to dismiss humanity's dependence on God . They would make self judgments on matters without consulting God.

Today, the enemy's deception upon humanity is still strong and prevailing. Many depend of self and dismiss the fact of their need for God. So the question pops, “Why do we need God?” Simply put, we are not all self-sufficient.

We live, move, breathe and exist because there is a Creator who fearfully and wonderfully made you and me. The essential existence of our will to live comes from God - which explains the reverse: the essential existence of the will to no longer live (suicide, depression, etc) comes from the evil one.

We live hoping for a better tomorrow, a better life, a turn of fate into a positive one. Where does this hope come from? It may come from the desire to be better than our surroundings, or the need for survival. We may attribute this hope we have to ourselves initially, but it will soon die as meaninglessness and hopelessness creep in from happenings around.

So back to the question: Why do we need God? Because
1) He is our Creator. Without Him, we would not be here today.
2) He brings us to hope anew - in the midst of good and trying circumstances.
3) He is our Provider. He is the sustenance of all lives, and He promises we will always have enough - if we will trust Him and seek first His Kingdom.

Be A Giant Slayer

by Wednesday, May 06, 2015
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 17
// Reflection from discipleship, “Facing The Giants”

Many succumb to be “slaves” of their “giants” as they allow intimidation, fear, and familiarity/deception of their weaknesses to overtake them. The “giants” win easily without a fight, and they become “slaves”.

Identify the “giants” in your life and face them head on like David. Take on the weapons given by God and be endued with the Holy Spirit's power to fight the “giants”.

It will be the “giants” that shall be your “slaves”, not you becoming the “giant's slave”.

Wait On The Lord

by Wednesday, May 06, 2015
To those who have been waiting for the promises of God to come to pass / a breakthrough in some area or some person:

Tiredness, discouragement and hopelessness creep in as we cry out, “O Lord, when?” and it seems that nothing is changing for the good. I did ask The Lord many times, “Why can't you do it now, since you are the God of impossibilities?”

To that, He always replies, “The timing of the promise I have given to you lies in My hands, and My timing is perfect. Trust My heart.” It's really really hard to look with this perspective especially in down and out times.

I imagine the scene where Jesus claimed [as He refers to Himself], “Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it up in 3 days.” (John 2:19) And while being at the Cross, the internal tension He faced within at the brink of death was extreme. I imagine Him saying to God, “Father, I believe in Your promises. They shall come to pass.”

And with that, He declares, “It is finished!”  (John 19:30) He died without any physical prove from God that He will resurrect from the dead, but God the Father indeed proved Himself faithful. Jesus is alive today, and it is because of Him that we can have victory over our circumstances.

He understands what you are going through. He really understands. Trust God's heart. Don't be dismayed or discouraged. Hope in the Lord, my friend!

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness. He 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?

Living Life Other Worldy

by Monday, March 30, 2015

Scripture Reference / Romans 12

Content:
Paul starts off with a plea for believers: "give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you" (12:1) "All he has done for you" refers to the offer of His mercy and salvation plan. The true way to worship God is to give myself fully to Him, not copying the behavior and customs of the world but allow Him to transform me and change the way I think. (12:2)

Paul aimed to break away the mode of comparison from person to person by warning the people "not to think you are better than you really are."  (12:3) God has bestowed different gifts and abilities to each person, and I am to use my gift for it's intended purpose; not as a boasting factor to claim that I am more spiritual. (12:6-8)

Interpretation:
God will change the way I think to be other-worldly so that I am able to know His good and perfect will for my life.
The practice of the world has been that of a selfish nature. Eg. "I only care for myself. If anyone is in trouble, it's their trouble; not mine." In it's practice brings forth self-centeredness. Allowing God to change the way I think brings forth a mindset of Christ: to be others-centered, other-worldly, living with eternity in mind. I will know God's will for my life and live for Him.
The honest evaluation of a person is not based on comparing with another person; but by faith. (12:3)
Comparison comes from a heart of pride and insecurity. When I measure my spirituality based on another person, I am not able to genuinely love the other person since I am always aiming to be better than him/her. I can only evaluate my walk honestly based on what God says - I can only become better by walking with God and allowing Him to change me.
To break comparison is to develop humility, and humility starts off by remembering that every growth I have received in my walk comes from God alone - even my faith. I am not able to have faith unless God had initiated His redemption plan. Humility acknowledges that everyone needs each other, and I can only remain in the function that God has given to me. While I can desire for God to use me like someone else, I cannot become someone else. (12:4) Humility brings other-centeredness. I will begin to think of ways that I can help others, bring glory to Jesus, and trust Him with the results of the initiatives He has called me to kickstart on.
When I use the gift God has given to me with it's intended purpose, it brings forth fulfillment of God's commandments.
Jesus mentioned that the law can be summed up in these 2 great commandments:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  - Matthew 22:37-40
God gives me gifts not because I can fulfill my self-serving needs; He gives me gifts so that I can become a blessing toward others. When I use the gifts to bless others, I am fulfilling the commandments of loving God wholly and loving my neighbor as myself. Gifts, then, should not be taken for granted, but used excellently. (12:6-16)
"Never pay back evil with more evil." (12:17) Leave vengeance into God's righteous judgment.
Humans have this sense of justice. When someone did something wrong towards them, their first instinct would be to fight for justice and pay back the person their just desserts so that they would learn from their mistake. However, taking vengeance in my own hands would ultimately lead to hurt, and people will judge my testimony. Therefore, "never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God." (12:17-19) "Conquer evil by doing good." (12:21)
Application:
1. Commit myself once again to give myself wholly to God, allowing Him to renew my mind so that I can become more like Jesus.
2. The only way to become better is by walking with God closely and remain teachable to changes. Allow God to bring forth that humility. Evaluate myself: What does God say about me?
a. I am a child of God. I am made in His image.
b. I am essentially worthy. I am part of the plan of God.
c. I am filled with the Spirit of God. I can be more than conquerors, and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
d. I am one part of the Body of Christ. I need people; they need me too.
3. Endeavor to use every gift and opportunity God has given to love and bless others. Serve with excellence, not taking things for granted.
4. Whenever I feel angry and wish to take matters into my own hands, remember: "In your anger, do not sin." (Ephesians 4:26) Act honorably, willingly forgive, and move on. 
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