Rescue operations

28 August 2014

I can be quite hard on myself for failures – some are big and some are small, but it always leaves me in despair. Sometimes things happen beyond my control and without reason, and it can send me spiraling almost into depression. Yet more, if it was due to a mistake i made, i could be so hard on myself that it cripples my ability to focus on what needs doing next!

In our moments of despair, it is so tempting to want to run and escape or even blame someone. I find it comforting to know that i believe in a God who has specialized in people like this throughout history. God’s care over each of them brought them from the deepest valleys to the highest mountains. Elijah was persecuted for being a faithful prophet – he ran away from the persecution and begged God to end his life as he gave up. Elijah went to sleep under a tree in despair hoping never to wake up. Only then to be woken up by an angel of God who baked hot bread for him and refreshed Elijah to continue as one of the greatest prophets. Moses ran away after killing a guard but was not only forgiven, he was established as the person who would lead Israel out of Egypt. Then there is also David’s sin with Bathsheba. Yes, there are consequences of our mistakes, there is pain as well. But God specializes in rescue missions when we are at our lowest point and about to throw in the towel. Many of the great people of God’s kingdom were in need of this rescuing and were in fact so rescued.

Each of us have been rescued from our deepest despair of life without God when we claimed Jesus as our Savior. Still, there will be times we also need another rescue operation. There is no one better at it than God. i need to first turn to God, confess my mistakes or declare my need for His intervention, and then take the courage that God will give me to continue on. He never abandons or gives up on me, so i must never give up on myself either.

Lord Jesus, i confess that i do make some serious mistakes, i do need your forgiveness and covering from shame, guilt and despair. I do not hide these things from You because You are my Abba Father. You are merciful, gentle and full of grace. I ask for your forgiveness, your grace and your encouragement to walk on, to get up and dust myself off everything that weighs me down and hinders me. i will not be bound by my mistakes and i ask for You to break them off me completely in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord.

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27 August 2014

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2

We want to be in God’s will and we want to know what is God’s will in our lives. Yet the answer almost never comes as a set of directives to follow, nor is there a script to follow through in our daily lives. It easily feels like God’s will eludes us.

Yet this verse provides a vital starting point to knowing God’s will. But it requires me to change my perspective on life. It requires me to stop trying to conform to the patterns of this world first. Unlike finding the will of God, finding out or knowing the patterns of this world do not require special effort on our part. It is written in history books, it is recorded on film, it is in the nature of the world’s economy, jobs and social issues. These patterns present themselves as common problems, worries and pressures.

God says, do not allow yourself to follow the crowd and way of this world. But how? Some of it may be good or even necessary. How do we distinguish? How do I live in the world but not be of the world?

God says, by renewing my mind. Renewing my perspective on things. Two people can be in the same set of circumstances, but their perspective and attitudes, their reactions to the same set of facts may make all the difference. So how do we play a good game when we have been dealt a lousy hand? By remembering God’s assurance and presence in our lives. By whispering his Name in the midst of anything and anytime. By pausing to acknowledge Him even during the mundane moments of life. To make it such a habit of “checking-in” with God throughout the day, that it seems as if He is always there.

Just as important is to be still and listen to His still voice in the silence. He does speak to us. I have heard and felt His presence but often I am too busy thinking or doing other things, I miss it. The Holy Spirit helps us and we must devote moments, even seconds to begin with, to shut out everything and expectantly wait to receive godly communication from God. It comes as images, thoughts, reminders, words from Scripture and all the like.

It’s a battle of our minds and heart. The world will try to claim it’s place as the centre and we must counter by declaring that God is the centre no matter what.

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I declare that You are the centre of my thoughts, heart and body. Father, I devote this and all that I set out to do each day into Your presence. May Your presence touch each task I do, each thought I have and each person I meet or speak with. Bring me back to Your centre. Bring my focus back to You when I whisper Your Holy Name, “Lord Jesus”, so that I do not get carried away by the patterns of this world.

26 August 2014

Jesus foresaw our failures, our mistakes, our acts of sin, when He died on the cross for us. I tend to struggle with the concept of Jesus atoning for my sins because His death on the cross happened so long ago. But Scripture reminds me that Jesus foreknew each of us and our whole lives were already laid as an open book before Him when He went to the cross.

Jesus is alive and still continues to intercede for me and each of us. He is well versed in our weaknesses and struggles. In Mark 14:27-31, Jesus predicted Peter’s denial of Jesus ahead of time. The specifics that Jesus revealed in his prediction were not guess work – they were accurate events which Jesus saw because He is not bound by time or space.

I stumble all the time in my spiritual walk. I second guess myself and have doubts about my ability and my future. I am not able to see what Jesus has seen and I do not know where I am going and what I will do but Jesus does. I fear making mistakes in the future, but Jesus has already seen the mistakes I will commit. And Jesus has promised never to leave me or forsake me. This promise is one of the keys to intimacy with Jesus. My intimacy with God can be based on the simple promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me, no matter how I screw up. Rather than hide from Him, I can always run to Him in my broken condition and He will be there with open arms. Peter went on the be a great apostle for Jesus despite his early failures and so did many other men and women of faith. I am no exception and I will do great things for God.

Lord Jesus, you are near and here. You will never leave me or forsake me. Everything about me is open to Your eyes and there is no hiding from You. Yet you are merciful and gentle. May my mistakes be forgiven and be used to make me more intimate and stronger for You.

Praise Him

25 August 2014

It’s easy to praise God when something good has happened. But someone once said that we can also praise God and thank Him even before we have received what we have asked Him for.

We ask in faith, so perhaps we can also praise in faith. Knowing that regardless of our circumstances now, good things will come, good things will follow, because our Lord is merciful and good. Let us proceed to sing praise even when it is raining on us. Let us come with gladness knowing that all is well not only with our souls but also everything else.

Lord God, be merciful to us Lord and show grace to us in our prayers. I know that You hear my prayer and that nothing falls on deaf ear. I can repeat myself but You will never grow weary, You listen and You are preparing the answers to my prayers for me. You are not slow to act, You are not aloof, You will deliver and You will come through. Praise You Lord for You are faithful. Praise You Lord for You will comfort me in my need. Thank you Lord because you are close to me and discern my thoughts from afar. Praise my Lord, for I have found favour in Your eyes!

Control

24 August 2014

There are many things i like to control. I like to control the temperature of the room, the type of food i eat, what i do with my spare time and so on. Control provides me a sense of satisfaction and security, but very easily this appetite for control gets “out” of control. I start to want to also control where i will live in the next couple of years and i am not satisfied just with what i am eating and doing now, but i want to also be able to determine whether i can continue to do so for time to come. The same thing goes with science and advancements in science and medicine. There are some who have been accused of “playing God” – by controlling the outcome of biology through genetic engineering. At what point is this too much? At what point is our need for control unhealthy and harmful to our spiritual lives?

Adam and Eve were tempted to eat from the forbidden tree but were allowed to eat from every other tree. They both had rights to the whole garden and ruled over all creatures God created. They were the only two human beings and at that point in time, i think they had plenty of “control” given to them. But one thing we see from this is that human nature is never satisfied – the serpent tempted them by offering them the chance to have TOTAL control – the chance to be like God. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5. And then it happened – the temptation to have everything and anything they wanted, total control – total knowledge of everything like God.

My flesh will always want that kind of control and will never be satisfied. For as long as i am in the flesh i will continue to struggle like this. Perhaps that is why a lot of the New Testament talks about walking in the Spirit and letting the Spirit control us instead of our flesh. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:6-7.

Let me give up the need of my flesh to control everything to You my Lord God. My Abba Father who cares deeply for me and who pours out abundant mercy, grace and love to me. I want to walk by the Holy Spirit so that i do not gratify the desires of the flesh which are unquenchable. Only You my Lord can satisfy the deep longing in my soul. My need for control can only be quenched by giving it up and not by taking up more of it. Help me Lord to give it unto You – to give you control in return for a life full of your goodness, wonders and blessings.

Blossoming fruit

23 August 2014

Nature reveals some of God’s ways. When a seed is first sowed, nothing is seen or noticed in the ground. Then the first sprouts appear but the tree itself takes time to grow roots and grow tall. Even then, it is still just a tree without fruits, but in season, the first fruits will appear and eventually supply refreshment to many.

At times what God is doing in us can be hidden like a seed. When we have started to grow roots we can get impatient and want to see the fruits. But if our spiritual tree produces fruit, there is not enough protection as the tree is not tall (and therefore easily brushed off the low hanging branches) and the roots too shallow so that there may be insufficient nutrients to sustain the production of fruits in the long run and the tree itself may even be too fragile to weather out the storms in life.

Our Father is the gardener and even Jesus spoke about our Father as the gardener who prunes us so that we may produce more fruit. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2

Lord God, thank you that you are the caretaker of my life. You gave me the Holy Spirit as a deposit and guarantee of my entry into Your Kingdom. You continue to cultivate in me the godly attributes i need to have in Your Kingdom. At times I may feel your work is slow, but i know good fruit takes time to come. May i patiently and obediently allow you to prune me in the way which produces an abundance of fruit.

Seasons

22 August 2014

Just as there are seasons in the year, there are seasons in life. There will be times of joy, excitement, adventure, new beginnings, and there will also be times of pain and struggle. Each stage is crucial for growth for our characters and our spiritual integrity. We do not realise our weaknesses until we are tested and at the same time we also grow in strength through the tests and trials. From one victory to the next, God leads us in triumphant procession!

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

Lord Jesus, i want to embrace each season that i walk in. In times to rejoice, let my heart rejoice to the fullest, in times of trials, let me pour myself out to you, but in everything, let me grow more intimate with you, more grateful and aware of your care and presence in each season. So that i may know how real and true your plans are for me – plans to prosper me and to give me a future.