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Archive for March, 2009

I have written much about a downcast soul of late.  Girlfriends in God’s recent devotion talks about joy and laughter, the best medicine.  It is not just another saying from the medical profession, but it is backed up by Bible verses! 

A happy heart is like good medicine, but a broken spirit drains your strength. (Proverbs 17:22)

Yes, that is right.  As the recent downcast days have told me, I do not find strength in doing things, especially God’s things.  I’m merely passing the hours and minutes, surviving.  And it doesn’t really make sense – things seem tense around me, people don’t seem to be forthcoming, and I feel terribly alienated.  This cannot be God’s plan and purpose for me?  He has said that He came so that we can have abundant life (John 10:10).  This is no where near abundant life.

Yesterday’s sermon talked about Jesus’ last moments before the cruel cruxifiction.  It was the first time I have read into it with so much detail, and it helped me to understand the pain Christ had gone through just so that we may be reconciled to our Heavenly Father once more. 

One very interesting observation by the pastor was that the Romans did a lot to torture and torment Jesus before they actually put him on the cross.  Given any ordinary person, it would have been a goner – they would have given up their last breathe and bid farewell to it all.  But this is Jesus, the saviour of the world, not any ordinary person.  Most important of all, he knew he was here for a purpose, and there was no way he was going to leave without accomplishing that.  If Satan had been successful in turning Christ away from the cross, God’s plan for us would have been undermined.  This ain’t gonna happen with God’s plan, because He is the Almighty God.  Christ conquered the world, sins and Satan, by paying a high price ON THE CROSS.  That too so that we can have abundant life. 

Would you smile and be filled with joy today?

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Pick-me-up

Just the song that I needed in the morning ride to work, the pick-me-up for me to climb the next steps.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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Hosea’s wife

My pen-pal asked me whether I have read the book of Hosea in the Old Testament, to which I said no.  One day while I had my Bible opened, her question came to my mind and I opened up the book of Hosea.  It is not a very pleasant book to begin with – it talks about all the sins and rejection by Israel of God’s commands, words and truth.  Then it went further to talk about God’s rejection of Israel (divorce of Hosea and his wife) and ended with Hosea’s plea for Israel’s repentence, so that the nation can be restored.

A few days later I caught this song off my computer, Hosea’s Wife by Brook Fraser.  I can’t put my finger on what got me interested in the song and how it links in with the little understanding I have on the book of Hosea, but I guess I will find out soon.

Here’s to share the song with you:

I just spoke silence with the seeker next to me
She had a heart with hesitant, halting speech
That turned to mine and asked belligerently
“What do I live for?”

I see the scars of searches everywhere I go
From hearts to wars to literature to radio
There’s a question like a shame no one will show
“What do I live for?”

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using people like ladders and words like knives

CHORUS
If we’ve eyes to see
If we’ve ears to hear
To find it in our hearts and mouths
The word that saves is near
Shed that shallow skin
Come and live again
Leave all you were before
To believe is to begin

There is truth in little corners of our lives
There are hints of it in songs and children’s eyes
It’s familiar, like an ancient lullaby
What do I live for?

We are Hosea’s wife
We are squandering this life
Using bodies like money and truth like lies

CHORUS

Bridge
We are more than dust
That means something
That means something
We are more than just
Blood and emotions
Inklings and notions
Atoms on oceans

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A recent experience taught me that if I speak my mind and stay firm on my belief, the so-called anticipated rejection does not necessarily happen.  It’s as if the enemy was shocked that its tactic hasn’t worked and I’m still sticking to my gun, God’s spirit then starts to take over.

Also, when I speak of my conviction out loud, it’s out in the open and there’s no way I can take it back anymore – so I had better be accountable to it.

What usually stops me from saying things out loud is that little voice inside which says “don’t say things you are not going to fulfill – what you are about to say may not come to pass…”  Now, what I have said is my belief, “I believe such-and-such will happen,” by saying that I mean

  • yes, it may not happen, but I still believe in it (Naive?  Positive thinking?  No, it’s called “believe in the unseen”!)
  • I do not have control over it but God has placed that faith within me and He will bring it to pass, I will do whatever He will me to meanwhile.

Also, it’s rather exciting to stand up for my conviction.  Some kind of a bravery act by my standard.  So, when I heard this song on the radio I thought it’s perfect, I’m gonna live it the new way!

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Today I was feeling anxious and I decided to go out for a stroll.  I talked to God along the way and I thought of Philipians 4:6,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.”

I also meditated on this considering that my anxiety was the direct result of the need to be in control,

“To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning natural consequence.”

Then I went on to pray, mirroring what I know of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Lord, if it is Your will, please make it go such-and-such-a-way.”

Then I paused.

God’s will.

What exactly is God’s will?

I got really confused….  How should I pray?

Is God concerned about physical circumstances?  How about our physical bodies, does it matter to Him?  These are temporary and worldly things, why would God be concerned about temporal things in His will?  Does it therefore mean God doesn’t really care how we live?

Jesus in his ministry preached about how we ought to live, Sermon on the Mount is a classic example of such – if God is not concerned about our physical circumstances Jesus would not have preached on it.  Why?  To me I think it’s because how we live has a bearing on our spiritual well-being.  Example, ‘do not be yoked with unbelievers,’ for we may be weak and our spirits may be influenced by unbelievers. 

How do we then know what His will is for us?  To know what another’s thought is we probably need to know this person fairly well – how he sounds like, how he thinks.  God is much higher than us and so are His thoughts, it’s probably not too easy to fathom His mind?!

But that’s not how our Heavenly Father is to us – He is not far away.  We are the ones who are far away from Him, when we sin.  He recognized that and He provided a solution for this problem – Jesus on the cross – we are reconciled to Him and there is no excuse whatsoever for the distance any longer!

God’s promises are:

Come near to God and He will come near to you (James 4:8); and

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13).

I will continue to pray and in order to seek His will I need to be open to Him, so that I will have no problem recognizing His will when I’m close enough.

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I discovered today that a downcast soul is not God’s desire.  Neither is a disturbed soul.  I learnt in Revelation that God’s language is hope, joy, peace – the Creator’s character.  When our souls are downcast it can only speak Satan’s language – despair, destruction, lies, guilt.

Today I chose to believe and hope in the unseen – because there is no other way.  I didn’t get or feel any better believing in the destruction – that was the light-bulb moment and God spoke to me, “pray and ask”.

In Revelation 20:8 it talks about the Israelites being prepared for the battle (encamped outside the city of Jerusalem), but they didn’t need to even lift a finger, God sent down fire to devour the enemy.

Similar to that, we are to be prepared for battle – being a disciple does not guarantee us happily-ever-after – we are the church and we fight the battle with God at the frontline.  It is our act of obedience to His words and preparedness to face the battle that “allow” Him to be at the frontline.

So, not by my might nor by my power, but by Your spirit will I be armed for the battle; and I hold on to the faith that with You at the frontline there will be no defeat.  Amen.

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Psalm 42

This is how I have been feeling of late, downcast.  Questions go through my head – why, how, when…  Of course I do not know the answers to these questions.

A lot of what David wrote in Psalm 42 is reflective of my thoughts.  Verse 4 talks about when I was filled with joy – where has that gone to?  The fact that I am not accepting the facts of the matter and continue to be filled with bitterness results in not having God’s joy in my heart.  Sins, they block out God’s joy and works within me.

In verse 10 my enemy is throwing me a challenge, “where is your God?  Isn’t He mighty to save?”.  I am my own enemy when I try to find a scapegoat, unforgiveness of self and others (probably including God) still heavy upon my heart.  How does God fit in there when I am in depth of sins???

David took the right path, as he followed God’s lead – he remembers God’s mighty save in Jordan (v.5), he meditates on God’s faithfulness (v. 8 ) and to actively praise the Saviour (v. 11).

I could do that, couldn’t I?  Even though the waves sweep over me I could still do this, couldn’t I?

Yes, I can and I will.  There is nothing more precious than peace and joy in the heart, hope in the unseen.  This is what Jesus had promised His disciples.  And that is what I will have if I follow His lead.  Amen.

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