Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why the altar to God cannot be made of cut stones

In the old testament, people built makeshift altars or pillars to the Lord at places that God has shown kindness to them. Sacrifices are made at the altar to God as a worship to Him. The altar also serves to mark the place where God has shown kindness to them. Because God is faithful, altars mark a permanent place where God will always remember His kindness to men, and respond to them there. In Genesis 28 and 35, you can read about the pillar Jacob built for the Lord in Bethel, and how the Lord remember the place where He has shown kindness to Jacob, and continue to show him kindness there. Noah, Abraham, Isaac all made altars to the Lord in this manner.

Actually the Lord gave instructions in the bible on how the altar to Him is to be built. It is found in Exodus 20. This shall be our anchor chapter in this writing:
24You shall make an altar of earth for me, and shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your cattle. In every place where I record my name I will come to you and I will bless you. 25If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of cut stones; for if you lift up your tool on it, you have polluted it. 26Neither shall you go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness may not be exposed to it.' (Exodus, 20:24-26, WEB)
Before verse 24 in Exodus 20, God gave the 10 commandments and the people were very afraid. And God immediately taught the people through Moses in verse 24 about building the altar and how sacrifices to Him can be made on it. The animal sacrifices speak of Jesus' work at the cross. I believe God know men will fail and the only way out is Jesus' coming to die for men's sins at the cross. This is how Exodus 20 ends. In Exodus 21, God immediately speaks about the slave in the master's house, which is a picture of Jesus being sent to be nailed at the cross because our Lord loves His Master (God) and His wife (the church, who is the bride of Christ) and chose to be pierced and remain as our High Priest in human form forever. 

So we see that God's heart is in redemption through His Son. But do you know that Jesus is hidden in verse 25 as well? In verse 25, God says that if an altar of stone is to be made (this is different from the altar of earth mentioned in verse 24), it shall not be made from stones cut by hand, because once we cut the stone, we would have polluted or defiled it. The word "polluted" means "pierced" in Hebrew. It is the same word used in the messianic verse of Isaiah 53:5:
5But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53, WEB)
The stones in Exodus 20:25 that are used to make the altar to God represents Jesus our Rock. He can only be pierced by God, and certainly not by us. That's why for the altar we use stones that are naturally cut (by God). When Elijah built the altar to God at Mount Carmel (1Kings 18) against the prophets of Baal, he built a stone altar to the Lord using twelve stones, one for each tribe of Israel. When God answered his prayer with fire from the heavens, all the stones were consumed. Both the stones and the animal sacrifices speak about Jesus' work at the cross.  

Wow. When I learnt this about the stone altar for God, it educated me about the way we should come to God. My standing before God is in Christ. And God wanted me to bring Jesus to Him when I worship Him. I do not stand before God on my own. In verse 26 it says we should not go up to the altar by steps. This means there is no level of attainment when it comes to getting closer to God. We are all the same. No one can say that he is on a high level with God using steps that he has cut (achieved) for himself. As believers we come to God on level ground and we all get to bring Jesus to God to remind Him of the perfection of His Son's work. And thus be blessed and accepted by Almighty God our Father. Only His Son's work can satisfy His heart and His righteous requirements. 

Beloved, knowing this, 
16Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.

Praise the Lord! Shalom. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

With Him, God freely give us all things.

Recently what I read all points to Jesus being in the center of things. My Pastor is huge on that. But reading about it yourself in the bible and seeing that it is true is really an awesome feeling. It also helps to ground us in his Word. It started with this verse:
He who didn't spare (past-middle tense) his own Son, but delivered (past-active) him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give (future-middle tense) us all things? (Romans 8:32, WEB)
I show in brackets the English meaning of the Greek tense for 3 verbs. Now the active voice means a person is doing an action that may have an effect on someone else. An example will be "John throws the ball". The middle voice means your action affects yourself. An example would be "John slaps himself". 

Now knowing this, let's take a look at Romans 8:32 again. It says that God did not spare his own Son. The word "spare" is in the middle voice, because our Lord Jesus has always been with His Father and Jesus and God is One God. When God did not spare Jesus at the cross two thousand years ago, God did not spare Himself as well. This means giving Jesus to die for our sins costs God. The verse then says God delivered Jesus for all of us. This word "delivered" is in the active voice.  Since God is delivering Jesus to us, it makes sense. What is amazing is the last verb. The verse goes on to say God will, with Jesus, freely give us all things. This word "give" is in the middle voice. It should have been in the active voice like the verb "delivered". Why is this "give" different? This is because once Jesus is given to us, and we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, God puts us in Christ. And since Jesus is now seated in heaven at the Father's right hand, in Christ, we are also seated at the Father's right hand together with Jesus. Now "with him", when God gives to us, it is like He is giving to Himself! Isn't that amazing! This verse is another proof that with Christ, we having been placed in God's family, hallelujah! And in God's house, God freely gives us ALL things. No wonder in the prodigal son story the father (representing God) told the eldest son (representing a son in God's household) that 
'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours..." (Luke 15:31, WEB)
and in the book of Philippians its says:
My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, WEB) 
My Pastor always preaches that God does not take a part of what belongs to Jesus and give it to us. God gives to us according to His entire riches.

Notice Romans 8:32 would read about the same if we remove the two word "with him". Yet, that is what makes everything work. Many believers go to the Father in prayer but they forgot that our standing before God is in Christ. For prayers to be effective, for us to be able to come to God and receive from Him, it is important to acknowledge the key in Romans 8:32 - that because we are WITH JESUS, God gives freely to us. We do not come to our God in prayer, thinking about how worthy or unworthy we are. We don't stand on our own. Our prayers are answered because we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. That is our accepted standing before God. 

Beloved, ponder over this. And don't forget about the key to getting our prayers answered. 

Shalom. 




Friday, November 1, 2013

The priests could not continue their service

I was reading the part where Solomon was bringing in the ark and dedicating the temple he built for the Lord. The priests could not continue their service to the Lord when God's presence filled the temple. See below
It came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of Yahweh, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of Yahweh filled the house of Yahweh. (1 Kings 8:10-11, WEB)
The priests could not stand to minister to the Lord. Once God's presence manifested, the priests service to Him ceased. This means that before God, there is no place for the work of man. What an interesting picture. It isn't a picture of God appearing and men ministering to Him. It is a picture of all working ceasing before Him when He appears. God does not want men's efforts before Him. This is because our God is the source of our blessing. He wants us to rest before Him.

We see a beautiful picture of rest in Psalms 23. What does God do if He is our Shepherd? He provides for us that we have no lack, and He leads us to rest :

Yahweh is my shepherd: I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul..... (Psalms 23:1-3, WEB)
Another beautiful picture of rest is found in the feeding of the 5000. When Jesus was going to create the miracle of food multiplication through His hands to feed the people, He made the people sit down. Another picture of rest before God:
And He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And when they found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. (Mark 6:38-40)
When Jesus visited Mary and Martha at their home, Martha went to occupy herself with busy serving. Mary, however, went against the norm of her days and instead of helping her sister, sat at Jesus' feet. Unlike Martha, Mary probably had the revelation that the man, Jesus, is God. And Mary's work ceased before her Lord, and she sat down before Him. And received from Him. Later Jesus would defend Mary's actions before Martha, telling Martha that Mary had chosen the good part, which is the one thing needed from us, that shall not be taken away her. 
It happened as they went on their way, he entered into a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to him, and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me." Jesus answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42, WEB)
Thus today, if we want God to manifest Himself and be our miracle working God, it is important to adopt a position rest before Him once we have prayed. God's blessings do not have our work in it. It is all from Him. Something for us to ponder.

Shalom.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A reflection by JC

By JC. A reflection of God's goodness in her life. Written on 2nd August.

I noticed God still blesses me, even though I make mistakes everyday. It dawned on me that I did not purposely go about making things right for blessings to come my way. By right, and to the natural world, putting in effort, hard work, getting results and doing our best is what's needed to get our reward. Such efforts, are highly laudable in the eyes of society. They are often deemed as role models, capable, and able to wear more than one hat. But the truth is, they do not have Jesus on their side. We are the ones who are the loved ones of God, we are the ones who are favoured. The more I realised that, the more I think I rather have God's hand over me. Men's hands are too small. The more I realised that even if I make mistakes, it does not matter anymore. Because the I realised more, how much, how much my sins have been taken away. And I realised more, that I do not have to earn His blessings, because my sins, which I do everyday, knowingly, or unknowingly are just not an issue to God anymore. More and more, I realise that my sins are not a hindrance for me to call on God. I realise that my sins are just not an issue anymore. It's unlike the economy of society where only the cream of the crop gets the meat, or the good things. It just doesn't matter anymore. I just realise my sins does not matter anymore, it is no barrier to God. The very fact that God rushes out of the Holy of Holies to meet me after Jesus tore down the curtain through the Cross, shows how perfect the work of Jesus is at the Cross, and how pure Jesus already made me. I still do wrong things everyday. I still quarrel with my husband sometimes, still feel like pulling my hair or clutching my fist whenever my colleagues piss me off, I still sometimes have bad thinking of my colleagues. If I were to look at myself, whole day I will become so condemned. Because, what good could I have done? But thank God all this rubbish that I do, have been taken away by Jesus. Amidst all this, God still sees me pure, still wants to bless me, even though I'm in my weakness. And though I see God is just so ridiculously good, it's still probably not enough to describe Him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

God empower us to do good

I have been reading a verse recently. I find it so interesting that I have been stopping on that verse for many days. 
Yes, the stork in the sky knows her appointed times; and the turtledove and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming; but my people don't know Yahweh's law. (Jeremiah 8:7, WEB)
It is interesting the Lord would compare bird's migratory instinct to us knowing His law. This word "law" also means justice or judgement. There is nothing unpleasant about birds' migration. It is how the birds move to greener pastures in different seasons of their lives. It is an inborn instinct that they have that benefits them greatly and ensures their survival. This means in the same way, we are supposed to know God's law on the inside as an instinct. And this instinct is supposed to guide us to greener pastures in different seasons of our lives. If we continue to read Jeremiah, not having this instinct causes great suffering to come upon us. Although the context refers to the Jewish people not following God, we can learn from the verse because we make the same mistakes. See the verse below.
How do you say, We are wise, and the law of Yahweh is with us? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has worked falsely. The wise men are disappointed, they are dismayed and taken: behold, they have rejected the word of Yahweh; and what kind of wisdom is in them? Therefore will I give their wives to others, and their fields to those who shall possess them: for everyone from the least even to the greatest is given to covetousness; from the prophet even to the priest every one deals falsely. (Jeremiah 8:8-10, WEB)
Is there hope for us? Who will save us? Actually, God saved us :). Praise God! The last word in verse 7, "law", appears the first time in Genesis 18:19. By the Law of First Mention, when a word appear for the first time in the scriptures, there would be something significant. And as it turned out, if you read Genesis 18:19, God provided a solution to our problem and it is hidden in the verse itself.
For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him."  (Genesis 18:19, WEB)
Yes, the stork in the sky knows her appointed times; and the turtledove and the swallow and the crane observe the time of their coming; but my people don't know Yahweh's law. (Jeremiah 8:7, WEB)
All the words of the same color is the same word. If you look at "bring" and "coming", it has the meaning of going into a time (fruition) of God's blessings. We can thus say, from Jeremiah 8:7, that because the people did not know the way of the Lord's justice, they could not keep the time of their blessings and miss them. But as part of the Lord's blessings to Abraham (Genesis 18), now instead of us knowing the Lord, the Lord will know us, to cause us to keep the way of the Lord and do right, that blessings may be brought upon us. [We can partake of Abraham's blessings because  believers belong to Christ (Galatians 3:29)].

Wow. Really? God has done it all for us? And our doing right is from the Lord? Yes, indeed. And God has a covenant with us that seals this in our lives.
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days," says the Lord; "I will put my laws into their mind, I will also write them on their heart. I will be their God, and they will be my people. They will not teach every man his fellow citizen, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. (Hebrews 8:11, WEB)
Through the New Covenant, God put His laws (His instructions) in our mind and write it in our hearts. So we know what to do and we have a willingness to do them. And then God says He will be a God to us - which means whatever challenges we have is over. Wow! This covenant is good for us! Instead of the least to the greatest suffering for their failures (Jeremiah 8), now all of us from the least to the greatest will know the Lord and be blessed!!

Many people might not have realized that God's covenant contains His instructions (His laws) for us. And to God, His enabling us to follow His instructions is a pre-condition to Him being a God to us and taking over our lives. God's New Covenant will cause us to do the right things for God's glory. 

Every Christians want to do the right things to glorify God. And many times we are frustrated when we fail again and again and we may see that God's goodness to us is not the answer. We are frustrated at being forgiven too many times. Actually, the power for us to do right for Him is given by Him, by His covenant, by Abrahamic blessings that we received in Christ. 


Recently I heard of a lady from the church who left after getting feeling that God's work in us may not be enough. She read the bible, has questions, but could not get them answered. She felt that there are more to God's goodness when it comes to redemption and sanctification. My personal take is that she did not realise that relying on God's grace, because of God's promise to enable us to do good in both the Old Testament and New Testament, does not amount to lawlessness. In fact, only God's grace can bring us to God's level of holiness. Efforts may be sincere, but it will never be sufficient. 


For what can we give if we have not received from Him? We are bankrupt. Knowing that God has provide for us and enable us to do good, we can rest in Him, and do good. And when we succeed because of Him, then can we fully give Him all the glory, as we have no part in it. Praise the Lord.

The Lord bless you richly. Shalom.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What is the five fold ministry? - something you should know

Have you wondered what a five-fold ministry is? It is found here:
He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11-12, WEB)
From the verse we see that the five-fold ministry refers to apostles, prophets, evangelists, shephards (or Pastors) and teachers. Not everyone is called to hold such an office for God. For if all hold one of the 5 offices, then where are the sheep? :). All will be leaders with no followers. The five fold ministry refers to God's leaders of His flock.

1) How are people called to serve in these offices for God? 


It is a gift from Jesus. See the verses below:

7 But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.8 Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Ephesians 4:7-8, WEB)
Verse 8 refers to the giftings that bring men into the five-fold ministry by the grace of God. The word "gifts" in verse 8 is in plural, since there are more than one ministry. The word "gifts" in verse 8 is the Greek word "domata"  which has no special meaning other than being a gift. 

The word "gift" in verse 7 is a different word from "gifts" in verse 8. The word "gift" in verse 7 is a singular noun and it refers to receiving Jesus as a gift. Verse 7 tells us that how much grace you receive from God is how much Jesus you receive as a gift to you. In Greek, the word "gift" in verse 7 is the word "dorea" which means a gift given freely, not requiring any merit from the receiving party and focuses on the generosity of the giver. 

Thus, the sequence of receiving is first you receive Jesus as a free gift. Anyone can receive as it does not require merit from the receiver but focuses on the generosity of the giver. Then, after a person receives Jesus as a gift, by the extent that he receives is the extent that God's grace will be given to him. And from this grace will flow the gifts of God that put men into the five-fold ministry.

Amazing isn't it? Some men go after the supernatural. Some go for power of the holy spirit. But really, those who value the Son are the ones called by God. God's work will always have Jesus at the centre. 

2) What is the work of the five-fold ministry? 

There are 3 specific things mentioned in the bible
for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; (Ephesians 4:12, WEB)
Reading the bible really answers a lot of questions. There was once I saw on TV a pastor scolding another pastor without the accused being present. I was confused when I see that. I am not sure if the angry pastor is doing the right thing. When I read this verse, I am comforted to know that putting down others is certainly not the work intended by God for a pastor to do. There are other more important things. The five-fold ministry is supposed to perfect (to bring through adjustment in order for it to achieve to a high level of fitness) God's holy ones, serve them, so that the body of Christ as a whole may be built up. The work of the five-fold ministry certainly has unity in mind. What a high calling these guys have! Praise God! They are really a blessing to us from God. 

3) What is the result of having the five-fold ministry? 


This is stated very clearly in the scriptures:

until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (Ephesians 4:13, WEB) 
So we are meant to have the unity of faith if the five-fold ministry is functioning properly. The word "attain" means to come down, to arrive. It has the meaning of humility. We can only reach the unity of faith if we come down from a higher place to a lower place. The five-fold ministry can help us reach that place. 

The word "knowledge" is a first-hand knowledge obtained through contact. This means we know the Lord in an intimate and experiential way.  The word "full grown" means perfect, complete in every part, and does not  refer to physical growth.

What awesome promises we have as God's congregation! The work of five fold ministry will cause all of us to be humbled and be one in faith, have a personal experiential knowledge of our Lord and in the end, be complete and fully-grown in the things of Christ. Fantastic! 

Notice the emphasis on unity, as that is the first promise. For us to be united in faith must have been so important in the mind of our Father. If ever doctrines separate us, that would have gone against God's plans.

----
I hope this helps in our understanding of the importance of the five-fold ministry. They are instituted by God to serve God's people and to fulfil the purpose of God. It is to our immense benefit and we should support these servants of God in the best way we can, even as they seek to serve us as their holy duty. 

Shalom.

Monday, May 27, 2013

JC's daughter healed once she realized how much she is loved by God!

Sharing by JC

I can never understand how much Jesus loves me, how much my Heavenly Father loves me, till I read the scriptures and when the Holy Spirit opens my eyes. My daughter had that excruciating pain at her knee cap again. It's the 2nd time. I was reading a devotion when she came out limping to me and moaning in pain. So I became nervous. It was the same symptom, her knee cap felt warm and pain when I touched it, she could not straighten her leg, that same accumulating of fluid around her knee cap and that small knee cap bone moving around the frontal part of her knee when I touched it gently. And there I was, nervous, fussing over her knee, and fear got the better of me. I imagine myself taking money out to bring her to the Dr, and all the xrays, and difficulty walking would mean a knee support, all that money. I think and think. Until I ask her to go sit down while I continued with my devotion reading. But she told me she wanted to try walk to the bathroom and bath. I just don't care what she's doing anymore, even when she said she wanted to walk to the bathroom. I mean, bathroom and water, and then what if she falls down. Most parents would not do that, but I was nervous, and the more I see her condition, the more I become nervous, so I decide to sit down and continue with my reading. I was reading Luke 5:23, Jesus says " Your sins are forgiven you." As I meditated on that, I kept thinking of the word " forgiven ". Last time I thought ' forgiven ' is a very common word, so I make light of that word. But as I meditated on it, I realized that everyday I make so many mistakes. And EVERY OF MY MISTAKES ALL FORGIVEN. Not only that, God must be so good, I make 1001 mistakes, God says never mind, and still treats me so good. It's an act of HIs love for me! I mean, after doing so many so  many mistakes, God says I have been forgiven, only someone who really and truly loves me can say that! I have a problem with forgiving people myself sometimes, and if such a person makes me angry every time, and every time I forgive that person, that person must be someone I really love, and because I love that person so much, I just willing to overlook all the mistakes! The only person I can think of to do such thing is my daughter and husband, but even then they make my blood boil sometimes. So I thought, God must really truly love me so much! And at that time, I realized that He loves me, so definitely He will do good for me. As I kept thinking about His love, I noticed that my daughter stopped moaning. So I went to check on her. To my surprise, she was standing properly. And she told me the pain suddenly just disappeared when she was bathing. And it daunt on me that, WHEN I REALIZE HOW MUCH GOD LOVES ME, THE MIRACLE COMES. So other things suddenly don't matter anymore. All I need to do is realize God loves me, and all the other things come in place.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Is there a cost to bear to be Jesus' disciple?


In the story of Luke 14, Jesus had just left the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees from a meal on Sabbath and had just told the guests of the feast, who were probably well-regarded by the society, a parable to say that they would reject God's supper with excuses so they could go about their daily matters even if they are invited. This is the reason why in the parable the owner of the feast became angry.

15When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is he who will feast in the Kingdom of God!"16But he said to him, "A certain man made a great supper, and he invited many people. 17He sent out his servant at supper time to tell those who were invited, 'Come, for everything is ready now.' 18They all as one began to make excuses. "The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.' 19"Another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go try them out. Please have me excused.'20"Another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I can't come.' 21"That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.' 22"The servant said, 'Lord, it is done as you commanded, and there is still room.' 23"The lord said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24For I tell you that none of those men who were invited will taste of my supper.'" (WEB)

My Pastor has shared about this before. If you have bought a field, you would have seen it. If you have oxen wouldn't you have tried them out already? If you have a wife, then would you not ask to bring her along to the supper? Thus, they were all excuses and not valid reasons.

Then as the Lord left, great multitudes were following Him. These consisted Jews and non-Jews who probably were not invited to the feast but were waiting for the Lord outside the Pharisee's house. The Lord turned to them and issues 3 conditions for them to be able to follow Him and be His disciple (see numbers 1 to 3 which are added here for illustrative purposes).
25Now great multitudes were going with him. He turned and said to them,
  1. 26"If anyone comes to me, and doesn't disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can't be my disciple.
  2.  27Whoever doesn't bear his own cross, and come after me, can't be my disciple.   
  3.  28For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn't first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?  29Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him,  30saying, 'This man began to build, and wasn't able to finish.' 31Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace. 33So therefore whoever of you who doesn't renounce all that he has, he can't be my disciple. 
34Salt is good, but if the salt becomes flat and tasteless, with what do you season it? 35It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." (WEB)
Conditions 1 and 2 are clear. However, I disagree with the way condition 3 is interpreted by popular commentaries. They say that these verses (verse 28-32) talk about the Lord asking followers to consider the cost of becoming His disciples. That if one tries but fails he may be ridiculed. One commentary even suggested that "better not begin than begin and not complete one's task". I disagree with that interpretation, as it does not seem right to behave as such in service to God.

I believe verses 28-32 (condition 3) do call for the multitudes to renounce all that they have to follow Jesus. But two examples (tower building and war engagement) are negative examples of people who did not renounce what they have. They are not examples for us to follow.  Why do I say that? 
  • In verse 33 it says "So therefore whoever of you who doesn't renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple." The word "So" means "in the  same manner". This means the preceding verses are examples of people who are not able to renounce all that they have and thus cannot be His disciple. 
  • The two examples refer to people trying to gain their own personal victories in their daily lives by their own efforts. They are examples of people who go about their daily lives considering only what they have in the natural. They do not consider God. In verse 28, a man desires to build a tower. A tower is something you build so you can hide from the enemies and also keep a lookout on the enemies who come. It is a picture of a man trying to provide security for himself. Yet with what he has he failed and is mocked. Verse 31 is the picture of a ruler trying to get victory in his fight in life, and it can refer to a career (since it refers to a King's conquer and conquering is really the King's job) or in general a victory one tries to gain in life over a stronghold, which can be an addiction or any challenges that one may have. But to the Lord it will always be like fighting 20,000 with just 10,000. The man is always at the losing end of his battle. Building a tower is a defensive gesture. A war is an offensive gesture. Both our offense and our defense will fail when we use what we have and do what we can apart from Him. 
  • In fact, Jesus by saying "which of you" in verse 28 and "which king" in verse 31, makes it clear that they all behave that way. If behaving that way had been right, and since Jesus judged that all of them were behaving that way, then the correction in verse 33 would not have come in. And being Jesus' disciples would not have been a challenge to the multitudes. But it is not so. Verse 28-32 are there to tell the multitudes that it will be hard for all of them to give up their natural way of doing things and start doing things God's way
  • Jesus has never asked any disciples to think about it when He called them. He just asked them to follow Him (Matt 4:18, Matt 9:9, John 1:43,). It seems the Lord has never seen the need to doubt what He is planning to do and He does not leave the decision of His plan with us. He will call us. And it is up to us to respond. But the call is clear and the good purpose of it does not depend on our considerations of it. 
  • Verse 34 to 35 talks about the salt becoming tasteless. These two verses make it even more clear that to Jesus, there is only one way  - be His disciples as any other way means we will lose our flavor. Thus, the Lord would never have intended verse 28-32 as choices that we could make for ourselves. My friend TT has this to say, "In building a tower and war they look at the chances of success based on human abilities: money or human support. They try to derive their confidence from there and  they lose their purpose. The only see lack. Once the purpose is lost, the flavor is lost. Jesus should have been their confidence and their supply." My friend Jach says this, "Jesus is the cost. And He is also the salt". My friend Las says this, "If one tries too hard, one loses his flavor". And I think they are all right. In Leviticus 2:13 you find that salt is added to the grain offering. Grain offering speaks about the perfection of Jesus to the Father. As salt has preserving quality, adding shows the eternal nature of the sacrifice and thus the eternal nature of the covenant the Lord has with the Father on our behalf. This means forever we will exude the perfection of Jesus to the Father as we are now in Him. And surely if we have any flavor of salt, it comes from our Savior. Now in Him, we carry preservation quality of the eternal covenant.
  • So in summary, the Lord is saying that the reason why we still go about finding victory for our own lives with our own efforts is because we had not consider carefully the cost it takes. And the fact is that we don't have what it takes to be able to win the fight of life. We need then to renounce this "I can do it" mindset. According to the Lord, the best way is to give up all that we have, give up all that we hold dear, let go of all our so-called lifelines that won't save us, and just embrace Jesus. We need a mindset change. We need to acknowledge that to have a blessed life, we won't be able to provide for it, and only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can provide for it. Only He can pay the price. 
In fact, at the cross, Jesus fulfills the 3 conditions on behalf of the believers and God puts the believers in Christ so that all believers can become disciples of Christ! Praise God. My good friend Jach pointed out that Jesus spoke to the multitudes before the cross. How right she is! As the multitudes did not have the hindsight like we do and they had no idea then that Jesus would be crucified, they would be so perplexed at the mention of the cross by Jesus, which is really a Roman punishment and isn't Jewish. At the cross, Jesus left His family and bore the cross, so we don't have to leave our family and bore our own cross. He renounced all that He has at the cross for us. He was made poor that we are made rich (2Cor 8:9). 

His followers were strengthened when Jesus rose again. Remember when Jesus rose again, the net of 153 fish (John 21:11), which is a picture of men being captured into the kingdom of God, no longer breaks, signifying the strengthening of the disciples' kingdom efforts. Isn't it amazing?

So now we can heave a sigh of relief. In Christ we are all disciples. We would want to put Christ first. But it is His work and His obedience that empowers our walk as disciples. Not our self efforts or sacrifices. Praise the Lord!

Shalom.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jesus bore our sicknesses - Sharing by TT


Sharing by TT

Matthew 8:17
"He himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." 

Isaiah 53:4-5
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; … But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed."

When I first received Christ and was told by my Pastor about Mat 8:17 and Is 53:4, I was really touched by what Jesus has done for us.  I marveled at why Father God would allow his only begotten son to receive our sins & diseases, and die for people like us.  I remembered looking at my pet fish at that time, and telling it, "No way am I going to let my daughter die for you, little fish!"  Aren't we just like little fish or even lesser in God's eyes?  Yet, no.  The love of God our Father towards us is beyond our understanding.  God sent his son to die for us.  And what Jesus has done on the cross is so complete and finished that there is nothing else that we can do, but to receive His love, and to receive the benefits that Jesus's death and resurrection on the cross has paid for.  

A few weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night because my body felt very itchy.  At first I thought my skin was too dry due to the air-con.  I applied moisturizer and tried to sleep, but it came back again and again.  It happened almost every night and my lightning-fast mind only thought of applying anointing oil after several nights passed.  Some nights ago, the itch was back.  Instead of waking up and putting anointing oil or moisturizer, I pictured Jesus on the cross and told myself that Jesus bore the skin condition for me and by His stripes I am healed.  And indeed, Praise Jesus, I miraculously fell into deep slumber, and did not wake up anymore that night.

Beloved readers, if you are facing any challenges in health or otherwise, remember to look to Jesus.  He has already borne all our sicknesses and weaknesses.  He is made weak so that we can be made strong.  If you come across any loved ones who are sick, tell them about how Jesus has already taken our sicknesses and diseases, and all we need to do is to receive our wholeness from Him!

Monday, May 20, 2013

JC has a revelation about God is her Father who made the heavens and the earth

Sharing by JC

My leader once shared how God went back in time and repaired his childhood. I did not understand though. Until I was reading the Bible in Genesis 1. " In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth." When I read the Word God, I heard the same prompting in my heart again. When I read the Word " God", He was telling me " Your Father ". And then I read the next verse, " And God ( the Holy Spirit was telling me again that it's my Father when I look at the Word God) said: " Let there be light." And I read on. So everytime when I came across the Word "God", the Word " Your Father" will come along also. Then I suddenly remembered back in my primary school days, there were this group of pupils who liked to bully me. Everytime when something happened, they always have their father coming to school to " back them up". And they would never fail to jeer at me, telling me things like their father did this, their father did that. But when things happen to me, I'm always alone. I did not have anyone when I needed help, I did not have any father to boast about, to tell what He did for me. As I continued reading the scripture, everytime when I read the Word " God", the Spirit would tell me " Your Father". So suddenly things opened up to me. I was so shocked. I was thinking, you mean the One who made the Heavens is my Father? The One who made the light is my Father? The One who made the expanse, the shrubs, the plants, the land, is my Father??!! I mean, I did not know my Father is so powerful. I did not know my own Father is so clever to make so many things.  Because all this while, when I talked about father, I only think about my natural father. I did not receive God as my real Father.  With due respect to him though, when I read the scriptures, its like I only have one Father, and I forgot about the natural one. Its like the natural father never appeared before. Its as if the One replaced the natural one. Then I went to the window and see the sky. I was thinking, my Father made that sky??!!. And I was going, " Wow! so big!" .Cos in my life, I was never amazed at my natural father before. Yes, I know, many people know God made this, made that. But when the Spirit prompted me " Your Father", whenever I saw the Word " God ", suddenly, it's like I never have any other father before, except my Heavenly Father. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

God's judgements cannot be found

Sometimes God's Word is contradicted by what we see around us. This contradiction can be experienced by people around us and they ask us why things happen the way they did and we can't provide the answer. These questions can be really tough to deal with. We may also experience circumstances in our own lives whereby it seems God's Word has failed us. And we can't explain why things happen the way they do. 

I wrote in an earlier post that my dad died suddenly from heart attack and I did not even get to see him one last time. I prayed and did all the "christian" things but yet the outcome seemed dismal. Events like this challenge the idea of God taught in the bible. They raise doubts in our mind that God is not good enough, and did not do enough to help us, or the way He does certain things isn't right. The incidences you go through may be different from mine, but I think we all have our fair share of such thoughts. This type of thoughts could create misgivings in our mind about God. If left unchecked, we will begin to doubt God. Begin to doubt His Goodness in our lives. The next time when we are faced with a challenge, we will become unsure if He will help us. By then, our faith has already weakened. We begin to think that He isn't that good to us anymore. Once He was good to us all the time. But perhaps not anymore. 

Then as a way out, some of us may begin to attempt to explain the Word based on what we see. A good example would be healing. I believe the Word clearly says that we are healed by Jesus. All of us. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. He did not lay conditions on anyone. And Jesus said whoever has seen Him has seen the Father (John 14:9) and that He only does what the God is doing (John 5:19). But we are challenged to believe this truth when we see Christians we know believing for healing and yet some of them continue to be sick. And some died. So many Christians begin to explain, saying that God heals some but does not heal some. That's not biblical, and isn't supported in the New Testament. This is a good example of Christians altering doctrine in order to explain what they see around them. 

When events happen that challenge our doctrine, and if we shouldn't doubt God and should avoid changing His doctrine to explain outward circumstances, then what should we do? There is an example in the bible and we can learn from Jesus' answer.

In John chapter 9, Jesus' disciples asked Jesus why is a man born blind. That's tough to answer as it seems to contradict the goodness of God. In the scriptures, Jesus told them it is so, in order that the work of God might be revealed in him. Jesus went on to heal the blind man by sending him to a pool called "Sent". And the blind man came back seeing. Jesus is showing us how to get the godly answer to something that we don't understand. 
  1. First, continue to trust that God wants to do something good even in that situation. 
  2. And secondly, direct the afflicted people to Jesus, and let God take care of it.
  3. Jesus never explained why the man is born blind. Thus, neither need we feel obliged to provide explanations to things we ourselves don't have the answer to. This will prevent us from altering God's doctrine to suit our lack of understanding.
Let us look at another verse.
Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements, and his ways past tracing out! (Romans 11:33, WEB)
The context of the verse above is about how God saves the church and all the Jews by His mercy. 

Regarding the Lord's "judgements" in the verse, Barnes' Notes on the Bible says that:
His judgments - This word in this place evidently means his arrangement, his plan, or proceeding. It sometimes refers to laws; at other times to the decision or determination of God; at others to the inflictions of his justice. In this last sense it is now commonly used. But in the case before us, it means his arrangements for conferring the gospel on people compare Psalm 36:7," His judgments are a great deep."
HELPS Word-studies has this to say about the word "unsearchable":
properly, impossible to fully investigate, no matter how great the effort (inquiry); unsearchable (inscrutable); impossible to discover; elusive, going beyond all human ability to even locate.
If you look at Romans 11:33 now with these information, you will realize the way the Lord is good to His people to save them is unmatched by anyone. Completely unchallenged. His kind thoughts cannot be found in us, and thus are completely incomprehensible to our limited frame. And the pathways that He takes we can never follow. We can never be as good as Him. We can never truly understand how good He is to us. Try your best to think of how good you want God to be to you, and He will still exceed it. Isn't a God like Him worth believing even when we don't understand sometime?

No wonder Ephesians 3:19-20 says this:
and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (WEB)
His Goodness to us is beyond our imagination. Praise His Holy name!

Shalom.

After thoughts: In relation to the abovementioned verse,  I have been looking at Ephesians 3:16-19 for many days now. And I find the verses very difficult to understand. And I think there is something there. Not only does it deal with a mystery revealed, Paul shared something that must have been key to the success of his work. If you are reading them too, please send to me your thoughts if you have any. Thank you and shalom.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Good work is received.

Our job is always a large part of our lives. In the past when I go to work the way I see it is that I need to get the job done. I hope to do good work each and every day. And that's good. But it puts the pressure on me to do it. My hope is that God will bless me so that I can do a good day's work. But because I am not perfect and many times the conditions are not ideal, things don't get done the way I wanted. That brings frustrations. And I feel responsible for the failures.

To this point you might not have realized what is wrong with what I was doing. The problem is that I feel responsible for my job. Good as that is, it is wrong. God is responsible for my job. By thinking that it is up to me to do the job well, I only get in the way. Even if I am asking for His blessings, it is to help do my thing. It should have been me watching Him do His thing in my life. Not Him helping me do my thing in my life. There is a big difference.

The question is: "Who has the control?" Me or Him? I need to pass that control to Him. Again, it is about casting our cares to the Lord (I have an earlier post on that). For the things we care about, we are so afraid to lose control. We could not let Him handle it on our behalf. But to have victory in that area, we need to surrender the control of that area to our Lord. For me my work gets me. For you it can be your children. It can be your marriage. It can be finances. Or anger management. Or an addiction. As long as you feel you are responsible for it, it will get you. But we are not supposed to be final person responsible for it. We belong to God.
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me. (Gal 2:20, WEB)
My realization started last year when I begin to think that if Jesus has done all the work and said it is finished (John 19:30), then it means all the blessings I need is accomplished by Him. Perhaps I can receive His finished work into my life. So I begin to confess everyday to receive the Lord's finished work into my life as I do my job. I speak it to receive it. It is simple. Every day I tell the Lord, "Lord, today I receive your finished work in my life." I still do what I can. But now whenever something good happens, I know it is a finished work that I receive. In that way, I do not consider that it is me who is responsible to produce results. I still do my job, but I obtained results from Jesus. I rely on Him for the results.

I cannot begin to tell you how well it works out for me. I begin to obtain results in my work that I have not seen in all my years of work. Jesus' finished work is simply amazing. To do this, you need to let go. Let go trying to be the person responsible to produce results for your area of concerns. You might not be ready right now to do this. But it is good to consider this, and perhaps one day you will be ready to let go, and receive Jesus' work instead.

It did not make me lazy. In fact, it makes me a lot more effective and I become calmer. I think sometimes we are too hard up for results and we lose our cool. Only when we hand the responsibility over to our Lord can we ever be calm and collected all the time. Our trust is now placed in Him. And the Lord never fails. After showing me the results of trusting in Him, the Lord also shared with me a verse to back this up.
4But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; 8for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, that no one would boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2, WEB)
The supporting verse is Ephesians 2:10, but I also produce a few verses prior to that so that you can see the whole context. It is linked to how even in our salvation, it is a gift and not a work. And we are alive together with Him and not apart from Him. And how wonderful that the Word says that we are created by God for good works, which He has prepared for us to walk in them! Praise God! The Lord did not just saved us. But He knows we need to do good even when we are alive to feel fulfilled. And even that He has prepared for us! Praise God!

So beloved, knowing this, we can rest. Rest while we work. The great apostle Paul knew about this.
But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was bestowed on me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1Cor 15:10, WEB)
So knowing this, stop striving. It is a grace. Receive Jesus' finished work instead in your area of challenge. Relax. People will begin to see the difference in you. Where before you were anxious, hard up, now you will be calm, relaxed, composed. And when good things happen without you striving for it, they will know it is our God and not us and give praises to Him. They will see that you are set apart (made holy). And they will want your God.

Shalom. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

JC's daughter gave her $6 out of the blue

By JC
I can never understand how precious Jesus is until I gave what I think is very precious to me. My daughter gave me $6 just last week. I was surprised. I asked her why. She said she wanted to give me money because I keep giving her. I felt very warm in my heart. I knew this action could not have come from any of my teaching. I don't feel close to my natural parents at all, so I do not have the natural instinct to want to do something for  my parents. So naturally, I do not teach her about honouring parents. So I know this is definitely God teaching her. Anyway, I decided I just put the money she gave to me in the offering bag. I did not think much about it. On Sunday service, before I popped the money into the offering bag, I realized that I was giving something to God which is so precious to me. Because that was my daughter's love gift to me.  Although it's just a $6 thing, but that was from my daughter. As I thought of that, I realized that God gave His Son Jesus to me. And at that point, I suddenly realized how precious Jesus was to God. Of course it cannot be compared to my $6 offering, but it just came to me that to God, Jesus is very precious, and He gave something so precious to me? I have been to church for few years, but only recently I realised how precious Jesus is in God's eyes. And for God to give me something so precious, made me realise that I must be someone that God really loves. Maybe others may think, ya, God loves everyone, but I never understand the main focus of God is until I realise how much He loves me. I know humans are the heart of God, people can see it like so common thing. But at that moment, as I reflected as I gave the offering, I felt as if I was the only one that God loves.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mouth of the Righteous Speaks Wisdom - Sharing by TT



Psalm 37:30
“The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom…" 

I am sharing a very simple verse today, and what a blessing this verse is!  I went for a job interview a few weeks ago and it's my first interview in more than 12 years.  I was the last candidate and bored with the waiting, I started looking for bible verses I can meditate on.  This verse came to me, and as I meditate on it, I was fascinated by how Jesus made us righteous and because of that we speak wisdom.  It was not because I am smart, or very knowledgeable that I speak wisdom, but plainly just because I am made righteous by God!   In fact, it is a double benefit, first I was made righteous, and because of righteousness, I speak wisdom.  This is very encouraging indeed before a job interview! 

To cut a long story short, the interview was tough, and the interviewer used pressure tactics by repeatedly asking the same questions.  I came out of the interview frustrated and didn't think they would even consider me.  Interestingly, a week later, the HR arranged for a separate chit-chat session with the interviewer.  During the chit-chat, she revealed that she really liked my responses in the written test, as well as during the interview.  I must have spoken and written wisdom, for she seemed a really difficult lady to please!   

Beloved, we are all made righteous by Jesus.  In our work, in our daily lives, and as we serve, we speak wisdom.  You are made righteous, and as you serve this Sunday, and speak to the people you serve, know that the Lord will speak wisdom through you and touch the lives of the people you meet.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

God will build you up

An old friend shared something she learned recently from a colleague, which is "men are all born equal, but some grew more stupid over time".  His reason is God made men the same but it is men's fault that they are not performing. The context is that of a company. Some of you might agree.

But how differently God sees us, I immediately thought. When Jesus was alive the people around him consist of Jews and non-Jews. And they were not perfect people. I am sure there were many people who sinned. They could be wife beaters, dishonest people etc. They were all under performing or even non performing by God's standard. But given that how does Jesus see them?
Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34, WEB)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. When He sees people who are weak, He has compassion on them. He does not blame them or put the onus on them to perform. He thinks they lack shepherding. Wow. So leadership is the key to making a difference and is the solution to under-performance. Instead of blaming the people for not matching up, Jesus cares for the people like sheep and would like to Shepherd them out of their misery. Many leaders blame their followers for not being good enough. But to the Lord, the key lies with the leader.

But what should the leader do? Let's watch what the Lord does.

In the verse above, the Lord taught them, thus effectively feeding them with the truth of His Words. That is the parting instructions He gave Simon Peter as well, when He restored Peter publicly by the Sea of Galilee.
So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed (Greek "Boske", occurrence 1 of 2, in present imperative active tense) my lambs (arnia, occurrence 1 of 1)." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Tend (Greek "Poimaine", occurrence 1 of 1, present imperative active tense) my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?" Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him, "Feed (Greek "Boske", occurrence 2 of 2, in present imperative active tense) my sheep. (John 21:15-17, WEB)
On the surface, Jesus gave Peter 3 instructions. He wants us to first feed His little lambs, then move on to shepherd His sheep (the more mature ones) and then to feed His sheep. But the Lord's tender kindness is hidden in the tender care when He chose the words.

The word "feed" is the Greek "Boske" and it appears only in verse 15 and verse 17. The word "tend" is the Greek "Poimaine" and that is the only time it appears in the bible. "Boske" means to feed with pasture. "Poimaine" is different from "Boske" as it means to shepherd and pastor the people in terms of guiding and protecting them (see ref 1). You can see the Lord would have chosen words not used anywhere else, thus putting His emphasis on these instructions. All 3 verbs are in the present imperative active tense. This means  it is the Lord's command that His leaders on earth should be actively doing them all the time (it will forever be a continuous action). In fact, the word lamb "arnia" only occur once! Such is the importance the Lord placed on those young in faith. Not only are His leaders to feed them first, their proper focus should be on them.

So God is in the business of feeding and building people up. Not demanding performance from them. He Himself is the food (He is the Word of God) that provides strength so the people may overcome. We don't need to be smart to follow Him. Sheep isn't good at being smart. They are just good at following the shepherd.

 In fact, He does not call the strong and the mighty. This is who He calls:
For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God. But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, "He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord." (1 Cor 1:26-31)
Were you downcast? Did anyone look down on your recently? Are you feeling that you are not able to perform? If you feel you are not wise, nor mighty, nor noble according to the world's standards, God can use you. He will feed you and empower you. And in Christ His wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption will be given to you. At the end, that He may make you a success. You will do mighty things for Him. In that day, you will tell everyone how kind and generous your Savior has been to you. Praise His Holy name!

Shalom!

Reference:
1) HELPS Word-Studies
Cognate: 4165 poimaínō – properly, to shepherd, caring for (protecting) the flock.
4165 /poimaínō ("shepherding, pastoring") is distinct from "feeding" (1006 /bóskō). 4165 (poimaínō) focuses on "tending" ("shepherding") (WS, 274), which includes guarding, guiding, and folding the flock and is only provided (ultimately) by Jesus Christ – the Shepherd, who calls under-shepherds (such as elder-overseers) to guard and guide His people by His direction (1 Pet 5:1-5). See 4166 (poimēn).
[4165 /poimaínō ("to shepherd, tend") occurs 11 times in the NT, usually with a figurative sense of "shepherding (tending) God's flock." This provides Spirit-directed guidance (care) conjunction with feeding His people (teaching them Scripture).]

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Let God take over, He cares.

This year is an important year for my daughter's education. The work gets tougher and she is preparing for an important exam in two years' time. She had worked hard for the past years and to me this is the year she needs to really step on it and put in her best. However, as the work gets tougher, she also begins to work less. And that worries me. I thought I had to intervene. I bought workbooks. I wanted to set schedules for her to do her work. As I become more troubled, I also smile less. It affects my daughter, as she begin to see me becoming less approachable. When I coach her in her work, I also become stricter and perhaps more impatient, as my heart is troubled. And it did not work well. She prefers to do her work on her own without coming to me anymore. And all my plans for her to do the extra workbooks end up in frustration. I thought to myself that I really need her to stick to the plan. But things are really looking worse then before.

Then when I was driving one morning the Lord gave me a nudge. I did not hear any words. But I instinctively know what He is trying to say. He told me "why not rest and entrust it to me?". The Lord tells me He wants me to entrust it to Him. I realized I had been holding on to the situation. It is like a delicate China that I thought I had to hold on and take care of it. I had thought if I let go, the delicate China I have in my hands will break. How silly I was. In most parts of my life I could rest and trust Him. And my daughter's education got me. I had believed I needed to solve it, do something to make things work. I had thought without my plans, it will crash. To tell you the truth, I had held on to it cos' I had not trusted God enough. That is the reason I could not let go. I could not pass it to Him and I held on to the issue.

So after the Lord reminded me, I had my moment of epiphany. I think to myself "of course I can pass it to Him, I should have trusted Him!". So in my heart, I determined then to entrust my daughter's education to the Lord, and rest, trusting God has taken over and He will work it out.

You know what? The situation reversed and turned immediately for the better very soon. I found my daughter instead of running away, coming back to ask me questions. And we had good discussions. She even asked me extension questions at a later time, which shows active engagement and thinking, which is a very good sign. And I also become a lot more restful.

The Lord cared enough about me to ask me to entrust my problem to Him instead. He cared about my peace of mind, my happiness, my family harmony. Really, when He took over, things become much better. I could finally heave a sigh of relief. He delivered me from my troubles. All glory to Jesus. We are built to trust the Lord. Not strive. 

And while talking about this with some good friends, I suddenly found myself remembering this verse.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
I realized that casting my care to the Lord is an act of humility! Thus, trying to work out our situation, thinking that "I can handle it" is being prideful.  For years when I read this I could not link casting my care to the Lord to Him caring for me. I had thought if I keep casting my cares to Him, it will give Him more work and how is it linked to Him caring for me? But since this is the Word of God, then God is the One who wants us to cast our cares to Him. It is not us who want it, but Him. Because He is concerned that we will be very troubled if we don't cast our cares to Him. He knows we can't handle our cares. Only He can. He wants to deliver us from our troubles. Because He cares for our well-being. Wow! Suddenly it all makes sense. And I finally could understand this verse. How kind our heavenly Father is!
Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going, you can't follow now, but you will follow afterwards."Peter said to him, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for me? Most certainly I tell you, the rooster won't crow until you have denied me three times. "Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. (John 13:36 - John 14:1)
Normally our bible is segmented into chapters but they are done on a best effort basis for ease of cataloging and indexing. Originally the text isn't in chapters. If you look at the end of John 13 and link it with the first verse of John 14, you get the verses above. You find that the Lord instructed His disciples not to have their hearts troubled after Peter boasted about his obedience and good works, which is prideful. Thus again, we see that not letting our hearts be troubled (casting our cares to Him) is really trusting God and is an act of humility (the opposite of being prideful). And the basis for that is Jesus' finished work.

Do you have an area in your life you feel you tried but is frustrated with and you see no results? Our Father in heaven today loves us and cares for us. As such He wants us to cast these cares to Him. Hand the cares to Him and let Him take over. We rest. God knows we will get much better results this way. He has your well-being in mind. He wants to deliver you from stress and strive. And it also an act of humbling ourselves before our God. Trust in the work of Jesus instead. Let not your hearts be troubled. 

Be blessed by God Himself instead for your situation. Blessings can only be received. Striving on our own could never create the blessings we need. We have a good God who is willing to take over. Let's humbly step aside, and let Him. 

In my heart, I just want to praise God and our Lord Jesus Christ unceasingly for so loving us.

Shalom.