Friday, 21 June 2013

FEAR NOT, STAND FIRM

When we face crisis, we need to realise that the battle belongs to God. We just need to stand firm in faith and act only at the appropriate moment. 
To illustrate this principle, we examine three different accounts in the Bible.

                                                                     
In the exodus account, the people of Israel were fearful because they were locked in a tight situation. The Red Sea lay ahead of them, rendering escape impossible. Behind them, the army of Pharaohwith their horses and chariotswas closing in on them, relentless in hot pursuit.

Terrified, they cried out to Moses: “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? (Exodus 14:11).

It was true that Pharoah’s army was behind them and the Red Sea was before them but they had forgotten one thing: God was above them.


                                                                                 
Moses, demonstrating great faith, answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14: 13-14).

                                                                    

And, as they say, the rest is history. As Moses lifted his rod over the sea as if to “divide it”, in obedience to God’s command, a miracle happened. Moses’ symbolic act was instrumental in the unfolding of God’s deliverance of His people. He was God’s co-worker. The sea parted and the people of Israel were able to pass through it as if it were dry ground. When the army tried to cross over, the walls of water on either side collapsed on them and they were drowned. 

                                                                    

When Judah was threatened by invading armiesthe Moabites and AmmonitesKing Jehoshaphat stood before his people and cried out to God: “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

Thereafter, God’s message of deliverance came through the prophet Jahaziel: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.”’ (2 Chronicles 20:15).

King Jehoshaphat then told the nation: “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20b).

Next, the king appointed a worship team to declare God’s faithfulness: “Praise God for His mercy endures forever.” He made these worshippers move ahead of the army, a most unconventional way of going into battle. As they worshipped, God caused their enemies to fight and kill one another. Thus God gave King Jehoshaphat victory over his enemies without him having to go into battle. Because he feared God, there was peace and rest for Judah during his reign.

In the account of Jesus’ betrayal, Judas led a band of soldiers to arrest his master. Simon Peter, in an attempt to protect Jesus, drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:10-11).


Jesus knew what lay in store for Him. After travailing in prayer at Gethsemane, He knew that He had to tread the path of Calvary, offering Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of man. He was in absolute control of the circumstances. There was nothing the captors led by Judas could do to Him which was not in accordance to God’s will. There was no need to strive, no need to fight His way out from captivity. He was calm, cool and collected.

                                                                       
Fear is the enemy of faith. When we remember that God promises to stay with us through thick and thin, we should not allow circumstances or feelings to overwhelm us (Hebrews 13:5b).

Sometimes what faith requires of us is merely to stand firm. And often that means doing nothing but looking towards God. It means crying out to God in helplessness and desperationjust like what King Jehoshaphat did when Judah’s security was threatened.

At other times, we may have to act according to God’s instructions—just like what Moses did when he lifted his rod as if to “divide the sea”.

When we face crisis, we need to know when to stand firm and when to act—and that is to move in the direction of God’s will. All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

RELATED POSTS

FAITH, FEELINGS, CIRCUMSTANCES
The greater our faith, the more we are freed from the tyranny of our feelings and external circumstances.


OVERCOMING CRISIS
Who or what do we turn to when crisis strikes? Where do we place our hope and trust?


IS FEAR POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE?
Many a time fear has been bandied around as something negative. But fear has its positive side as well.
http://bit.ly/1iFjeql



Sunday, 16 June 2013

COMFORT FOR THE FATHERLESS

FATHER’S DAY is here again! But what about those without fathers?

FATHER’S DAY! Once again we remember and recognise these heroes in the family who play a significant role as provider, protector, role model and teacher of moral values.

But not everyone is blessed with fathers. How about those who have no fathers? How will they feel during this season? They may have fathers who have left the family because of death or divorce. Or absentee fathers who spend most of the time away from home.

May the warm embrace of Abba Father comfort the fatherless at this time.

May the fatherless find strength and support as they meditate on the Word—that they might, in turn, be a source of encouragement to others without fathers.

And may they find comfort and succour as they pray in the Spirit and delight themselves in His presence.

May they find close friends with whom they can pour out their hearts—upon whose shoulders they can lean.

Finally, may they find purpose and meaning in their pain as they commit their lives to the all-wise God.

                                                                          
References:

As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalm 103: 13-14).

You have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
(Romans 8:15 b-16).

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
(Romans 8:26-27).

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4).

For he sets the lonely in families (whether it is a family or a body of believers).
(Psalm 68:6).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

(Proverbs 3:5-6).


RELATED POSTS

FROM TRAGEDY TO MINISTRY
Some may be called to live above personal disappointment to serve others.


FROM PROBLEMS TO POTENTIAL
Problems, one after another. But Joseph handled them well and moved from pit to prison to pinnacle of power.

Friday, 14 June 2013

HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?

To live soberly and purposefully during these perilous end times, we need to arm ourselves with wisdom and discernment.

The apostle Paul did warn us to expect perilous times in the last days. There will be spiritual decline and pretensions:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. * And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
                                                                        

                                                                            




DECEPTION
First, we should wise up by preparing ourselves against deception. Jesus warns that deception will be a prominent feature during the end times (The Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24).

Believers have to be wisein fact, extremely vigilant and discerningif they want to stand up against deception in these last days. Satan is like a roaring lion seeking to devour the weak and unwary (1 Peter 5:8).



GIFTS
Peter exhorts us to be alert and sober that we may pray, to love one another and utilise whatever gifts or resources God has given us to glorify Him (1 Peter 4:7-11).

More on stirring up the gifts:


CALLING
Paul instructs us to live circumspectly, make the most of every opportunity, seek to understand God’s will for our lives and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-18).

More on seeking God’s will:

Apart from discovering our own unique calling, we need to focus on the Great Commission. In order that the Gospel may reach every nation (Matthew 24:14), we have to play our part, whether it’s to go, pray or give financial support to those who go (Matthew 28:18-20).


WATCH AND OCCUPY
The parable of the ten virgins warns us to be numbered among the wise virgins whoever watchful of the bridegroom’s returnhad oil in their lamps.

Watching does not imply twiddling our thumbs as we gaze towards the heavens. It implies a God-consciousness in our lives, not just doing our own thing.

The ones who were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage in the days of Noah (before the flood) had clearly excluded God in their lives. They were swept away when the great deluge came. And Jesus warns us not to have that same spirit of reckless abandon so that we won’t be caught off guard when He returns.

Being watchful is not quite easy to figure out. You might say, “Bills have to be paid, food has to be laid on the table, children have to be educated. How can I just watch?”

But we’re told not only to watch but to occupy ourselves productively until He returns whether it is “serving Him in ministry” or engaging in whatever trade we’re called to. Won’t there be two men working in the field when Christ returns and one is taken, one is left (Matthew 24:40)? Why did Jesus paint such a mundane picture of productive livingnot “holy” work in church—just before His return?

More on how to “occupy ourselves”:


LIKE A THIEF
Paul said that Jesus will come back like a thief in the night. But will believers be taken by surprise when Jesus comes back again? No. His coming will only take unbelievers by surprise.

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5).

The Bible does not tell us the exact date of Jesus' return. But believers close to His heart will know the season of His imminent return through various signs He has given us. “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates” (Matthew 24:32-33).

One of these signs which have to be fulfilled before Jesus returns is this: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

Someone has said, “Live as if Christ can come any moment. Plan as if Christ will come in a thousand years. For to God one day is as a thousand years.” No one can accurately predict the future. We can only get a sense of the times and seasons we’re living in. And these end times are indeed perilous and turbulent.


 * HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS:  

TROJAN HORSES
 Beware of Trojan horses both in the world and the church.

DANGER OF PROFESSIONALISM

SPIRITUAL DARKNESS AND LIGHT

DANGER OF PERFORMANCE CULTURE
http://limpohann.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-danger-of-performance-culture.html

Monday, 10 June 2013

SENSING THE SEASONS OF LIFE

Many baby boomers sense that time is running out now that they are on the last lap of their faith journey. Some are already retired while others are “slowing down” with a view to retire. To them “autumn” has come. Before the harshness of “winter” descends on them, they want to optimise their skills, talents and resources for God’s glory.
                                                                     


A seminary lecturer calls it a day, having imparted theological truths to students for the past twenty years. Sensing God has called her to take a break from academic life, she steps out to be an itinerant preacher to the less privileged living in the rural areas of Malaysia.

An engineer lends his expertise helping the locals dig tube wells in Africa. A doctor serves as a volunteer in a mission hospital in Thailand. By providing English lessons, a teacher offers hope of a better life to marginalised kids in mainland China.

Bob Buford, author of Half Time, believes that in the second half of our life, people should be moving from success to significance. Armed with wisdom, experience, skill and training acquired through the years, retirees can contribute much to the home, church and community. Many would have attained financial stability and thus have the financial resources to help others. All these factors plus God’s empowerment enable seniors to lead fulfilling lives with eternal significance.

While they are still mentally and physically healthy, baby boomers should seek God for fresh directions in life. As they reinvent themselves, they will be able to enlarge their circle of influence and impact many lives in the church and community.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2).

“Teach us to realise the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Baby boomers should ask God for big plans and vision. Their golden years might prove to be the most fruitful and rewarding period in their lives.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).



Sunday, 9 June 2013

EXCELLENCE AND PERFECTIONISM

Strive for excellence, aim not for perfectionism.

Have you seen a glass blower at work? He starts blowing the long tube of molten glass till it becomes a beautiful vase or bottle. Does he get it perfect every time? Of course not. But he continues to strive for excellence till he becomes extremely skillful.

                                                                  

“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).


“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again” (Proverbs 24:16).

Didn't God use Moses who was a stutterer?