Past, present and future

30 April 2014

When I had first come to faith, a lot of my emotions and attention were placed on the past mistakes that Jesus had forgiven me of. For some of us, that may be the main propelling component of our faith. I read of children and adults in Uganda who were the aggressors of the savage murders years ago, only recently finding faith in Christ and reconciling their past with the victims’ families. Much needed to be forgiven, much needed to be redeemed.

Indeed, redemption is also one other critical component or result of faith. God not only forgives but also redeems what was lost. If not completely right here and now, we are told that it will happen one day nonetheless. Many family relationships are healed and beautifully redeemed. Some marriages are saved. Forgiveness in itself redeems many hurt feelings.

Then there is also the future promises of the Lord which forms a major part of our faith. The ultimate promise being that we will be with the Lord in heaven one day.

With our past mistakes forgiven,  our present being redeemed and the future assured, i pray that everyday can be lived in thankfulness and joy. Sometimes, momentary troubles can distract me from these eternal blessings that are mine. And I pray that no matter what happens, these eternal joys will shine brighter and shine through any cloudy or gloomy day ahead.

Father Lord, there may be gloomy and stormy days in my life, but i pray that even in the midst of this, i can look up and know that You are there holding all my past, present and future completely in your hands. I thank you and ask that you be sovereign over all of my past, present and future. Thank you Lord.

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Faithfulness in trials

29 April 2014

Walking in God was never and is not supposed to be easy. For Noah, he was required to endure ridicule over building an ark for doomsday. David had to run and hide for his life from King Saul before he was crowned king and even after that, David had to fight battle after battle. Ruth had to wander to foreign lands with her mother-in-law, Ruth, and was barren in her previous marriage but later found favour in the eyes of Boaz and bore him a child who would be the lineage to Jesus. Joseph endured kidnapping, false accusations and threats – separated from his family because his brothers betrayed him, but only to save his brothers and family from famine many years later.

The list goes on. But when the faithfulness of their character enabled them to endure, they were crowned with blessings. But the fruits of endurance came much later and i believe each day before that would have seemed like the longest day.

But more than just receiving blessings after patiently enduring and being faithful, these individuals became and formed part of God’s plan to bring in the Messiah, Lord Jesus Christ. They were the predecessors of Jesus, the bloodline of the King of Jews.

Though life may be tough, i can take courage from the fact that these faithful individuals endured a lot more than me and were able to fulfill a glorious role in God’s plan.

God’s plan for redemption did not stop at the death and resurrection of Jesus – His plan continues on for as long as there is today – and by faithful living, i am being part of His divine plan. There is only one plan that will prevail at the end of the day, and that is God’s plan. I am either in His plan or not. My faithfulness today is not only earning me a future blessing for myself, but may also be a blessing for future generations to come. We all shared and gained from the faithfulness of these individuals, and so will the next generation, but that depends on what legacy we leave behind.

2 Peter 1:4 “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Lord Jesus, I as i walk in my faith, i pray that you keep my eyes and focus on you. There will be trials and tests to but i know that enduring them in faithfulness will bring me in line with your will and create an inheritance for me and future generations. Care for me, lift me up, and walk with me so that i can make sure to follow your direction in my life.

23 April 2014

Many books and sermons have addressed the struggles of Christians integrating faith into the work place. For me and many Christians our daily employment does not have any direct connection with the gospel in a traditional sense, but the point of these books and sermons is that faith at work doesn’t always look like what we expect.

However, at the end of the day, I would admit it is not going to be possible to always find a meaningful or understandable connection between my employment and my faith. In that sense, integrating faith into work is not so much me constantly trying to find “meaning” or “connection” between employment and faith – but rather me resting in the assurance that no matter what happens, I can give the labour of my employment to God.

I believe that whatever employment I have now is a gift from God to provide for myself and family and others. With this gift, I exercise it to the best of my ability and when I offer up my work to God in prayer, God will sanctify and bless the work. That in itself is integrating faith into work.

Lord Jesus, I offer to you the works of my hands in my employment. I pray that you receive it and bless it so that good fruits may be born from my labour. I love you Lord. Thank you for receiving and blessing my labour and I await to see the fruits of this labour which I am dedicating to you.

Times of testing

24 April 2014

A test of character comes when the going gets tough. We see examples in the bible of the faithful being tested in tough times and coming through victorious as they kept their integrity to God.

When David was being hunted by King Saul, David remained an honourable man of God. Even when David had the chance to kill King Saul he relented because he believed that despite the wrong doing against him, the king was still someone ordained by God.

We also read in Daniel that when he heard of the decree that it was illegal to pray to anyone but the king, Daniel went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Daniel was eventually ambused and sent to death by God saved him miraculously.

Other examples can also be found in the bible. It reminds me that tough times are to be a test of my character and integrity. And it is in these times when the most glorious testimonies are found.

On the other hand, when times are easy and good, it can also be an opportunity for the enemy to strike because we are off guard. King David fell to sin in times like these, so it is a reminder to me to never let my guard down and to be alert when things seem fine.

Lord Jesus, teach me and remind me to keep my integrity during tough times and to stay alert during times of rest and ease. There is a season for everything, but in all seasons, you are God and i shall endeavour to be holy in all seasons because you are holy all the time.

What is my value?

28 April 2014

It goes without saying that we apportion value to everything. It also goes without saying that each of us can attribute different values to the same things.

I recently saw on the news that an old Chinese porcelain tea cup, the size of a thumb, sold for US$36 million. The vast population would not have apportioned such a value to a relic like that, but only a select group of people have decided that something so small would be worth something so great.It boggles my mind that something i would not have even taken a second look at was in fact a hidden gem.

That made me think about how much we are valued by God. Am i that hidden gem?

The majority of us would agree that human life is valuable and even more so if we were to talk about our own life. But how does God assess our value? If our value was in beauty, power, intelligence or net worth, then Jesus’ ministry would have looked a lot more different. The truth is, none of that matters or is of any value to God – because it all came from Him anyways.

Our value is not even in good works or the choices we make, because God has loved us before we were even created. Each of us has an intrinsic and eternal value. Value which is not affected by anything good or anything bad we do. We are valued – period. Unlike the volatility and fickle valuation we assign to earthly things – our value remains unchanged before God. I can’t even comprehend how that can be. But i know, because Jesus came for me and died for a sinner like me. The wrath of God was against me, but even in the midst of this wrath, my value was untarnished, and a safety line was thrown in to redeem me.

Lord Jesus, thank you for always loving me even in my most unlovable state. Thank you that you do not apply fickle and conditional value toward me, but instead see me through eternal eyes and hold me in great worth and value. I may feel like a worthless or unimpressive tea cup at times, but you tell me i am worth far more, beyond anything i can imagine!

Philippians 4:11-13

27 April 2014

Today a pastor mentioned that eternity and life on earth is only separated by a very thin veil. That whilst most people think about approaching and working toward eternity, the truth is that eternity and this life is actually lived in parallel. Everything we do now has an eternal consequence to our life that will eventually be lived in eternity. Whether that eternity is spent with God or without God is a matter of choice we make now, and not something we can choose in eternity.

Yet so often, i go through life now thinking about and pining over the future and what it will entail for me here on earth. Often i struggle between giving thought about eternity with God (which is reassuring because I have put my faith in Jesus) and on the other hand, wondering what quality of life i will have here now.

Paul talked about learning the secret to being content in every circumstance. Philippians 4:11-13, Paul writes:

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Despite knowing that only a thin veil separates me between life with Jesus in eternity which i know will be spent in perfect peace, abundance, joy and love, i still suffer from the uncertain and unstable condition of living here and now on earth. But Jesus shall keep me and strengthen me. No one can go through life without feeling pain, but at least i have access to Jesus, just like Paul, who will strengthen me in all circumstances. Whilst here, i will struggle – but i know that my struggling is earning for me an eternity which is measurably good.

Lord Jesus, i need your strengthening and encouragement. Keep me steady in my path and keep me close to you. Let me not wander from your care and let me not lend my ear to fear, worry and anxiousness. But let me lend my ear to hearing your assuring still and gentle voice. I will be still and know you are God.

A day of rest

26 April 2014

We read in Genesis that God created the earth and the beginning of life in seven days. It’s easy to mistake that God rested from His work since then and everything else continued on its own natural path.

But Jesus said “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.

And certainly that must be true. That God has never ceased from working from the beginning of time until now. There were no holidays or breaks for God and none of us would have expected anything less!

Yet God gave us the Sabbath to rest. In His wisdom, He knew we would need to retreat from the busyness of life and be quiet and still for a day in a week. It was is a gift. The day of rest is to revive our souls in the Lord. To remember His goodness and to also reflect and listen to His direction before we speed off again into another week of work and busyness. Yet in this day of rest, God never stops working on our souls. I believe God continues to work out our future and path even as we rest in Him. Sometimes when we refuse to rest, we also refuse to let God work and sort matters out for us too.

Lord help me to give more thought into receiving and using the day of rest to rest and reflect in you. Help me to get my bearings and compass tuned in the day of rest so that i do not speed off without your direction. Revive my spirit and give me the strength for another week ahead. Thank you for also preparing the way and aligning the path as i wait upon you in my rest.