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.