Sunday, September 21, 2008

No Lengthy Words...

No long and winding road...
Just a simple picture...
And the Word of God.

Proverbs 3:6

Praises to God!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

...And I Will Praise Him...

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him.
-Exodus 15:2

And I will praise God at all times and remember Him, for through Him I have joy, I have freedom, I have hope and salvation. I have the eyes to read the scripture. Let's have a look!

"The Lord is my strength and my song..." He gives me strength to achieve what I have, He gives me the grace to succeed and to live. And all I can offer in return is to glorify Him. For I will commit my actions unto Him, hoping that His guiding light will shine through me and speak into the lives of others. That through my works, people will see the glory of God and praise Him too.

"He has become my salvation..." And what a beautiful thing that is. The Lord delivers me from sin, from death, from danger. Thankfully I have no enemies, because they would not be able to stand before the saving grace of God. I'd feel sorry for them. Hehe. But the Lord said:

"...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,..."
-Matthew 5:44

Through Jesus I am saved, and for that, He is worthy of all the glory for everything that happens in my life. And may it be that His glory shines into your life too.

"This is my God, and I will praise Him..." Is pretty self explanatory. Did you need anymore reason to praise God?

In all things, praise God and commit all that you do to Him, for He will make all things good and well because He knows the best way for everything to occur. Let Him live in your life and all things will follow.

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways means in EVERYTHING!! Give God all of yourself, at all times, in all circumstances. For there is nothing too big for Him. In times of trouble just seek Him and watch the paths straighten for you. Talk to Him and hear His voice telling you to go right... because right sounds right. Don't you know that straight paths are easy? And though you may walk through the valley of the shadow of death along the way, remember (note: acknowledging...) that Jesus has set you free from death, if you would only believe in Him.

...Jesus told the synagogue ruler, "Don't be afraid; just believe."
-Mark 5:36

And when Jairus 'just believed', his daughter was brought to life, by the power of God. Just believe.

All that God asks is that you believe in His Son and you will be set free. You will have a place to rest the burden of your yoke. A place of eternal peace, and a guide for all your ways. Simple.

And though it is difficult to think of praising God in hard times, when the circumstances overwhelm you still God says to just believe. Imagine the torment that Jairus felt as his daughter lay in bed, waiting for the healing touch of Jesus. His faith and belief in the Son of God, let the miracle happen. Just believe for the miracle. Pray and believe.

Why are you downcast, o my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Herman - from Mount Mizar
-Psalm 42:5-6

In times of trouble I do believe this is a great great source of encouragement. Deep within the soul of the psalmist was great depression. He was downcast, he was disturbed. Yet he told his soul (o.O)... he told his soul to put its/his hope in God because he would continue to praise God. If he could do it why can't we? Are we not equal before the Lord? As you praise Him and acknowledge Him, His blessing will overflow and His grace will come. Just you wait. Pray and praise. Pra- pra-. In Malay, the pra- prefix (or prafix) is pre- or before. There are two pra-s to every miracle and one post-. The two pra-s are praise and prayer. The post is praise again. Yes... remember to praise God after the miracle comes.

But I digress. The second half of the quote is even more encouraging and, I found, very interesting. Note that the psalmist says "My soul is downcast within me;..." Ok sure we knew that already. But after that is the key. "My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you..." Not "but", "therefore". Hint hint, especially when your soul is downcast, remember God and acknowledge Him. Because your soul is upset, remember Him and praise Him. Let your sadness be the catalyst for your praise. Just believe.

Believe, pray and praise God for the victory that I know is coming. Be encouraged because Jesus said:

"...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
-Matthew 28:20

And He succeeds through all circumstances.

Lord, I praise you for your works in this world and for all those who need the touch of healing or the straightening of paths, I pray your power overflows and your name is glorified.

May you find the peace of God in your life. (Just believe for it)


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Temptation Vs. The Joy Of Salvation

...You must purge the evil from among you.
-Deuteronomy 22:21

Everyday is a temptation in itself and every action has an element of temptation in it. The choices we make, the words we speak, everything could go a different way if we give in to temptation. From sexual infidelity to speaking in anger to spending that little bit more to have that fried Mars bar, temptations are all part of the world we live in.

For myself, the hardest temptations to fight are the soft voices that tell me to defend myself, to raise my voice, to give in to anger and argue my way to victory. In fact, so often there is no fight, I give in immediately. So frightfully easily. But when you reach the end of the hazy red tunnel, there is no victory, only pain, shame and regret.

As I look to the Word of God, I learn that there is only one way to deal with this everyday life of temptation. That is, simply, to flee from it.

Avoid every kind of evil.
-1 Thessalonians 5:22

Short and sweet. The 'spirit of temptation' is such that the more you try to face it down, the more at risk you are of giving in to it or a different but related temptation. Ever said to yourself:
"I'll just go along with it for now because I'll be able to stop myself if I have to."?
So did Frodo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings. Sure, you aren't furry footed and rather stumpy and neither am I but the issue still stands. The more you face the temptation, the more you are exposed to it and the more likely you are to give in to it. So run.

Run, Luke. Run!
-Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars: A New Hope)

We are all Lukes to God's Obi-Wan. He tells us to run so run we must. Flee from temptation. Force yourself to be calm, give in to opposition if it stops you from becoming angry. Run away from that mini-market with the chocolate bars. Flee from the beckoning hands of the devil. It's not worth it.

For myself, I try to remember:

In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
-Psalm 4:4

A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
-Proverbs 19:11

When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.
-1 Peter 2:23

But it is hard. And so far, I have not been the epitome of success nor the best example of godliness. How far am I from Jesus who suffered so much yet did nothing but ask God to forgive those who trespassed against Him. Through Him are we able to defeat temptation and be saved by the mercy and grace of God.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
-1 Corinthians 10:13

Which gets me to the second half of my thoughts for this post, that we should never be so lost in temptation or far away from God that we forget the joy of salvation. And what a joy it is. Even as young as I am in God, I have already felt myself slide backward away from Him and His love.

With exams and all, I set myself up to study and focus on the papers that would determine my future as a vet, something rather important to me. In doing so I slipped away from the Word, away from this blog that helps me grow and possibly in my own faith. I began to rely on myself to study and to do other things. It wasn't till last Sunday when it was all over that I found that truly, I was empty without God. Once again I felt the joy of salvation, that intense feeling of peace and wholeness of being.

There was a time before semester started when I would walk to church with the confidence that God was with me. I would walk back singing songs of praise, stopping when I passed someone by. I'm shy... But recently I'd just forgotten that confidence, the grace of God and the armour of faith around me. And I felt it again on Sunday and realised my error.

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
-Psalm 32:1

Once you feel that joy of being with God again, it is a rewarding but disillusioning feeling. You realise how it easy it is to put things before God and before Jesus Christ. Temptation is the great example. Any temptation can lead to an addiction that redirects your energies away from God to another focus. But we must remember to put the Lord first in all circumstances at all times because with His strength we can face all adversity and temptation.

I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
-Psalm 16:8

And when you set the Lord before you at all times, you will be filled by the Holy Spirit, filled by the joy of God and of course the joy of salvation. Honestly, it is a feeling that is hard to describe, the joy of salvation. You feel your heart lift and your lips curl in a smile, your heart feels whole and peace drops a veil over you. And all that is by the grace of God to those who enter the kingdom of God and accept Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit:

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
-Romans 14:17

I implore you to be strong in the face of temptation and never lose sight of the great God who loves us. Remember Jesus and the temptations He faced and gain strength from the fact that we have a God who suffered for us and knows all about temptation.

Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
-Hebrews 2:18

Who better to go to for strength than Jesus Christ? Who better to ask to place upon our hearts the joy of salvation? Speak to God and say:

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

I pray that you will find freedom from temptation and the strength to flee from every evil.

May you feel the joy of salvation.

May you find the peace of God in your life.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

In The Face Of Adversity...

"Look at all my trials and tribulations,
Sinking in a gentle pool of wine..."
- Apostles (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice' Jesus Christ Superstar)

In the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, the apostles sing the verse carefree, thinking more of themselves and how they'll go down in history ("So they'll still talk about us when we've died.") than appreciating the final hours they have with Jesus. However, those first two lines, if broken away from the rest of the song and studied from different point of view, bear a lot of truth and weight.

Think about it. Think of all your "trials and tribulations". Imagine them sinking away into a cup of wine and disappearing from your life. That's what Jesus wanted for us. His blood, the wine we drink, was spilt to drown our sin and remove our troubles. Jesus died to save us. When He died on the cross at Calvary, our transgressions were forgiven and a living sanctuary was placed upon us by the Father through the Son. And in by this living sanctuary we are protected from all worldly trials and troubles. Is He not the Saviour?

Everyday, new challenges arise to meet you. Everyday, the inevitable imperfection of the day will slip through and challenge you, whether big or small, major or minor, musical or irrelevant, something will come by. And in these times of trouble, God is there for you. Building you through these trials, strengthening you for the future.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
- James 1:2-3

God calls us to persevere, face the troubles with the joyous realization that it is through these challenges that we grow and prepare ourselves for the larger troubles that will hound us. And so is it not right for me to say, "We should be happy when we get in trouble"? No! Definitely do not go about being the mischievous child, looking for trouble to make life exciting! What the verse means is to face all the challenges of life joyous in the presence of God and knowledge that He will take us through all troubles, hopeful and patient in the face of adversity.

"You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in saftey."
- Job 11:18

For when you have hope, you have the faith and firm conviction that says, "My God is with me, my Saviour, my Healer, who will watch over me and protect me from harm." Jesus is there, always watching over you. Be comforted.

And where else would you first seek comfort than in prayer and worship?

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
- 1 Peter 5:7

And for your constant strength, the solid foundation to build your defense, the Holy Word of God is unwavering, immovable.

"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that may be successful wherever you go."
- Joshua 1:7

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- Romans 15:4

The Bible is not a set of rules. God is not a tyrannical dictator. The Bible guides and encourages. God protects and builds us up. Think again of your "trials and tribulations". If any of them seem to great for you, as I'm sure many will seem, know that all of this can be overcome:

"For nothing is impossible with God"
- Luke 1:37

Through God, you will find that indeed, the challenges you face sink in that gentle pool of wine that is the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, what emerges is joy, peace, hope, perseverance and character. Again, trials are not to bring you down but to build you up. The ultimate trial was the lead-up to Jesus' crucifixion. He was alone, condemned, forsaken, flogged, insulted and rejected. Yet this greatest trial was the greatest victory to impact humanity. And it emerged from that "gentle pool of wine". How Jesus suffered. However you might suffer, know that now you have a Saviour watching over you. It might seem hard:

But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.
- 1 Peter 4:13

Just trust in God to deliver you from your challenges and meanwhile, rejoice that you are being built up. You will be delivered. You will be matured. You will have persevered as the Lord gives you strength.

As for me, I'll go toddling along knowing that Jesus is with me and that:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- Hebrews 13:8

May you be encouraged and strengthened. I pray for you and wish you all the best.

May you find the peace of God in your life.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rest For The Weary

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
- Matthew 11:28

It seems that everyone around me is tired. Eyebags are prominent and the most common groan is "Sien ah..." or "Shag ah shag..." or "I'm so tired... I don't know why." And that's just within the first years doing Veterinary Science around me. The world is a tired place it seems. Everyone is rushing around trying to make a living, build a life, live the life of the world. Inefficiency, frustration and depression come from fatigue. Isn't that obvious? Evidently not. I'm learning that slowly too (and I just told it to you! Those who cannot do... teach?).

Jesus was quite aware of the world around Him, how eventually even the strongest man, the most righteous man, the most God-fearing man would tire and would stumble. For the treasures, or should I say burdens, of the world are heavy. Jesus calls His sheep to Him, asking for a belief in Him that He might give rest to those who believe:

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
- Matthew 11:29-30

As we chase our goals and run headfirst through the lives laid out for us, whether by God or circumstance, we slowly but surely build up fatigue. Anyone who objects raise your hand and say so! God knows how fruitless fatigue can be so He calls out to those who would hear and proclaims:

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."
- Jeremiah 31:25

The promise is this: God will give you rest. There is no loophole, no disclaimer, no condition upon your heart. When you come to God to worship Him, even with one song, there is a peace and strengthening of the spirit. Just for a moment, all the burdens of the world fall away. All frustrations fade away in the joy of God.

Yeah, never believed I'd be saying this sort of thing either ;) It's true though. Try it.

I'm not sure how much people understand that the cross is not only a symbol of God's triumph over sin and the Lord's sacrifice for the lost people of the world but a burial place. This burial place is a burial place, not for man, not for animal but for the problems you face in your life. All the uncertainty, all the frustration, irritation, sinful nature and addictions that you ever faced in your life. Bury them at the cross and know the truth that:

God loves you, Jesus loves you and He will give you rest.

Are you being bowed down by work, studying, strife or worry? While work and studying are undoubtedly necessary and strife can sometimes be inevitable, worry is not. In Chapter 12 of the book of Luke, Jesus said to His disciples:

"Therefore I tell you, do no worry about your life, what you will eat or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."
- Luke 12:22-23

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"
- Luke 12:25-26

There you have it. Why worry? Sure, it's natural to want to know what's going to happen next, whether everything will be alright. But that's what trusting God is about. Placing your burdens at His feet and letting go of your worry just for the while. At the end of the day, if you can just let it all go, Jesus will give you rest, both spiritual and physical, giving you the strength to carry yourself through the trials you face, tomorrow. Let them go for today. When tomorrow comes then you can worry about it.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
- Matthew 7:34

And if ever you feel that the rest God promises is unattainable, please realize that Jesus too, though divine, was human too. He felt the same hunger, sadness and tiredness that you do. Yet He endured by his faith and trust in the Father. If Jesus Christ knew to come to God for rest, how much more should you come to Him for a break? And maybe a Kit-Kat.

"The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down."
- Psalms 145:14

Be at peace and be at rest. Go get some! :)

May you find the peace of God in your life.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Trusting God

He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" 
-Numbers 20:10

This verse was my devotional reading for today. To put it into context, the Israelites were stuck in the desert without water, understandably frustrated, thirsty and displaying the natural human tendency to blame figures of authority. So they came to Moses who had, by God's will, brought them out of slavery from Egypt and, obviously, they complained rather loudly to Moses.

"Why did you brings us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink.
-Numbers 20:5

First thing to note I guess is that the people were so ready to go back to slavery, to go back to the devil they knew. God had promised a fertile land, flowing with "milk and honey" in exchange for faith but the people had no trust in Him to deliver them nor trust in Moses who spoke for Him. As a result, they were stuck in the desert to wander and wonder.

The thing is, I'm learning (a bit slowly) that God is always there to take you through life the best way. Part of that is to be ready for change and not afraid to go forth at the Lord's command. Jesus called on the fishermen:

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 
-Matthew 4:19

Simon ("called Peter") and Andrew could have stuck to fishing fish. Now I have nothing against fishing, in fact I do enjoy hauling the poor creature by a hook in the mouth and landing it. Ah the joy. But Simon ("called Peter") and Andrew did not hesitate:

At once they left their nets and followed Him. 
-Matthew 4:20

And they became the first disciples. Now surely they had some thoughts of sticking to their old lives. Surely they worried of what the future held for them. But I do believe that they had such faith and trust in Jesus that they knew that whatever befell them, He would pull them through. Indeed, where would Christianity be without them and all the others who just believed in God and continued on through opposition, persecution and 'all the hard times'? They all believed in God. And that belief is what will get you (and me) through every trial.

But there's no denying that it is hard, so ingrained in the world are we that we strive automatically to be independent and self-sufficient. But in the times when you fail, and you're all alone with your failure. Independence is not a blessing nor an ability that will help you recover from the disappointment and eventual loneliness. There have been times when I just felt so left out, so disconnected, such a failure in my own right. No, I'm not making this up. And every time, just praying and letting myself trust in God dries the tears and lays peace upon my heart. As an additional bonus, sometimes the Bible smacks you in the face with things I ought to have learnt that might have stopped me from falling. It's quite amazing.

And God has never failed me. In all the hard times He is there, whether to support me, calm my anger, guide my words or supply me with a carpark when I wake up late. 

Ask and it will be given to you;...
-Matthew 7:7

All it takes is a little bit of faith just say a little prayer and to unlock the glory of God in your life. Trust in Him. Just a little. He does the wonders.

For all my words and praises to God, it does need to be understood that Christians are still human. We still make mistakes and are still subject in to human desires and temptations. That is all part of our walk with God. The only difference between 'non-believers' and 'believers' is that faith that God is there and He has the best plan for you. He doesn't ask any more than a simple belief in Jesus Christ and the words of the Bible.

Now the Scripture isn't an ultimatum. By no means is it an ultimatum in a "disobey and go to hell sense." We all have the choice to follow. But when the Word teaches you things like:

"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also"
-Matthew 5:38

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
-Luke 6:37

"Do not hate seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself..."
-Leviticus 19:18

Are these words something any ordinary person should strive towards anyway? Yes? Well then all there is left is to believe that He is and always was watching over you in your heart and spirit calling you.

Learn from the Israelites who refused to truly believe and trust in the living God. He is there.

Move away from the devil and step out to the truth.

May you find the peace of God in your life.