Monday 30 September 2013


How do we overcome the giantswhether real or imaginaryin our lives?

Before the Israelites were able to possess the Promised Land and enjoy its blessings, they had to conquer their own fears.

Ten of the spies reported that the land flowed with milk and honey. But they also saw the obstacles—the fortified cities and giants who were descendants of Anak. “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:33). So they cringed in fear and defeat.

But the other spies, Caleb and Joshua, belonged to the “we can do it” category. Not that they were great in their own strength. They rested in God’s promises that He will give them the Promised Land (Exodus 3:17) and believed that God will empower them to possess it (Numbers 13:30, 14: 24).

Having the right estimate of ourselves is so important—too high an estimate smacks of pride whereas too low an estimate is not only detrimental to our self-image but causes us to shrink back from the assignments God has appointed for us.

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3). Later, Paul reiterates that we should recognise and utilise the specific gifts that God has given us (Romans 12:6).

Indeed, we need to know our identity—how God sees us—step out in faith and act.

Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified by the threat of the thundering Philistine giant, Goliath, who taunted God’s people to meet him in a face-off.

However, David, a mere shepherd boy—because He had a personal relationship with God which built his self-esteem—stood out from the rest to confront the giant.

David told Saul: “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

David cried out to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17: 45).

Refusing the armour suggested by Saul, David went into battle, defeating Goliath with a sling and a few stones.

Sometimes the “giants” that we conjure up are more a matter of a perception—imaginary rather than real. Such was the case of Gideon who had a poor self-image. He saw himself as coming from the weakest clan and as the least among his family members (Judges 6: 15). Resigned to his fate that he was powerless against the Midianites who had occupied his nation, he was threshing wheat when the angel of God gave him a tremendous boost to his morale: “The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valour" (Judges 6:12). He then went on to lead an army to defeat his enemies.

Whether the giants in our lives are real or imaginary, we can slay them if we:

  • Discard our “grasshopper mentality” (Numbers 13:33).

  • Know who we are in God—recognise our identity (Romans 12:3,6).

  • Have positive self-esteem (1 Samuel 17:37).

  • Trust in God’s promises (Exodus 3:17).

  • Depend on God’s strength/way to defeat them (Judges 6:12).

The last book of the Bible ends with a sombre note. Notice that the cowardly are lumped in the same category as those who commit graver sins.

“All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liarstheir fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:7-8).

Let’s be bold and courageous—slay the “giants” that prevent us from possessing the Promised Land and embrace the fullness of our inheritance in Christ. Let’s rise up to the challenge and step into our destiny. For we are more than conquerors though Christ!


When we step out by faith to embrace God’s calling, we need to focus on His promises rather than obstacles.

What does entering Christ’s rest mean?

Monday 23 September 2013


Who doesn’t want miracles? But we have a part to play too. What do we need to do?

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein


Students usually dread examination season. Most students work hard. Some not only work hard but pray hard as well. But to pass with distinction without giving of one’s best would require a miracle.

Despite opposition to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah and his team of workers remained focused and determined. They were undeterred by the taunts of their enemies. They prayed to God as well as worked hard. *

They prayed as if everything depended on a miracle-working God. And they worked as if everything depended on their efforts. And the reconstruction of the wall was completed in 52 days.

Here we see a beautiful illustration of God working out His will through men who were willing to be used by Him. All these elements were operative in the lives of the construction team: reliance on God, faith, planning, strategy, obedience, community spirit, spiritual warfare and the willingness to toil.  

Doesn’t this story remind us once again of the fundamental truth that both partiesGod and the believerare co-workers in the outworking of His will?

In Philippians 2:12-13, God works in us, helping us to obey Him. But we too have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:12-13, NLT).

In another story from the Old Testament, Moses prevailed over the Amalekites by raising his hands to God. This symbolic act alone is powerless in defeating the enemy. However, God wrought a miracle for His people. As they persevered by holding up Moses’ hands, the Amalekites were defeated.

“As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle” (Exodus 17:11-13).

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

As believers, we need to embrace both options in our lives: Pray hard as if everything depends on God working out a miracle. Work hard as if everything depends on our efforts.


Six leadership qualities evident in Nehemiah’s life

Sometimes, God works miracles without man playing any role at all. For example, being sovereign, He chose to reveal Himself to Moses through a burning bush and to Paul in a blinding vision.
Read about a modern-day sovereign call of God—how God raised a spirit worshipper in Myanmar from the dead and used him mightily as an evangelist.

*   Footnotes:

Nehemiah chapter 1:
“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4).
“Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man” (Nehemiah 1:11).

Nehemiah chapter 4:
But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs, Ammonites, and Ashdodites heard that the work was going ahead and that the gaps in the wall of Jerusalem were being repaired, they were furious. They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.
Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.”
Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.”
The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!” So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows.
Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
When our enemies heard that we knew of their plans and that God had frustrated them, we all returned to our work on the wall. But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.
Then I explained to the nobles and officials and all the people, “The work is very spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. When you hear the blast of the trumpet, rush to wherever it is sounding. Then our God will fight for us!”

We worked early and late, from sunrise to sunset. And half the men were always on guard. I also told everyone living outside the walls to stay in Jerusalem. That way they and their servants could help with guard duty at night and work during the day. During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water.

Wednesday 18 September 2013


Discomfort awaits the faithful. To bring out the best in us, God may lead us to places where we get stretched like a rubber band. 


How would you respond if your boss decides to pile more assignments on your desk because he knows you are a reliable worker?

This seems to be true in the spiritual realm as well. Discomfort awaits the faithful. There will come a time in our lives when God is going to stretch us like a rubber band. After all, a rubber band's usefulness is related to the fact it’s able to withstand tension when stretched.


In the Parable of the Talents (Luke 19: 11-27), two faithful servants were given the responsibility of taking charge of five and ten cities. It seems strange that they were given more work—instead of rest—as reward for their faithfulness.  

Human nature is such that we tend to shun the untried and uncomfortable. We'd rather stick with the familiar rather than take up new positions of responsibility.

But if we aspire to hear God’s voice and move as the Spirit leads, we will have to accept the fact that we will be stretched. Though it may be uncomfortable, the impact of our lives will grow. We will be making waves instead of ripples.

Our faith is like a mustard seed. Once it has been galvanised into action, we may hear God speaking to us: “Son, you have been faithful with just a little, I will make you rule over much.” Just like the faithful men in the Parable of the Talents who were put in charge of cities.

As we move to the next level, our seed-sized faith will become tree-sized faith. Like trees which provide shelter for many types of birds and animals, our lives will impact many because we are willing to pay the price by breaking out of our comfort zone.

                                                   Launch out into the deep

During Jesus’ baptism by John in the river Jordan, the Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaimed, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”

Immediately after that, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).

Why the sudden switch from endorsement to testing? Why did God allow Jesus to suffer the discomfort of fasting? Why did God allow Jesus to be tempted at the end of a forty-day fast? Jesus would have been most vulnerable then to the temptation posed by the devil which was to turn stones into bread.

I believe the answer is this: Before He began His public ministry, Jesus needed not only the empowerment and endorsement of the Spirit—which He received during baptism—but also the enriching experience of endurance and victory over temptations.

“Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Similarly, God would have us endure trials and temptations to prove our faithfulness before we embark on ministry. It might get pretty uncomfortable at times when we step into the paths the Spirit has lined up for us. But move ahead we must. For God is taking us to a higher level.

Let us trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into new areas and opportunities as we develop the gifts and talents God has endowed us. It will be an exciting adventure of ever increasing faith and empowerment.

“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it”’ (Isaiah 30:20-21).


When we step out by faith to embrace God’s calling, we need to focus on His promises rather than obstacles.

Moving on beyond the basics, the traditional and our comfort zone

How did Jesus overcome the wiles of the devil when he was tempted in the wilderness?

Thursday 12 September 2013


With obedience comes joy and fulfillmentbut not before dying to self, activation of the gifts God has given us, knowing God’s will for our lives and living it out.

Dying to self is necessary for fruit-bearing. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). (1)

We need to stir up the gifts God has given us. Paul exhorted young Timothy: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). (2)

And, finally, we need to discover God’s will for our lives. For how can we live it out if we don’t know His will for our lives? (3)

Doing the will of God the Father was foremost in Jesus’ thoughts as He moved about ministering to people. After chatting with the Samaritan women at the well, Jesus made a profound statement: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34).

His disciples had earlier come to him, urging him to eat. I can imagine them saying: “Well, Master, you’d better eat. It’s time for meals already.”

But Jesus deflected their thoughts away from physical food by telling them there is something else that truly satisfies and fills their deepest longings.

Now there is nothing wrong with delighting in delicious food (Ecclesiastes 5:18). But are our minds only thinking about food to tickle our palates and fill our stomachslike the disciples?

It seems Jesus is asking us: Is our “food” to do His will? How much do we care about accomplishing God’s purpose in our lives? Do we think about doing God’s will as much as we think about food? Do we buy the idea that we can derive great pleasure from doing God’s will as much as delighting in a sumptuous meal?

Following God requires self-denial. But it is not without great reward, joy and fulfillment.


I remember the lyrics of this familiar song which is so meaningful: “There is no peace, no joy, no thrill like walking in His will, for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” Though there is a yoke involved when we follow God, it is one we would gladly carry.

Obedience and fulfillment come in one package:


(1) For more on Dying to Self:

(2) For more on Stirring up the Gifts:

(3) For more on Seeking God’s Will:

Tuesday 10 September 2013


When we forgive we are actually doing ourselves a favour.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover the prisoner was you.” — Corrie Ten Boom

When Holland was under German rule during World War II, a brave Christian lady called Corrie Ten Boom hid several Jews, who were then hunted down by the Nazis, in her home. Later, betrayed by an informer, she was sent to a harsh concentration camp.

In post-war Germany, she happened to meet the prison guard in a church. The latter, seeking forgiveness for the cruel things he had done in prison, asked, “Will you forgive me?” Though her heart was cold towards him, she knew forgiveness was an act of the will, not an emotion. She realised God’s prerequisite for forgiveness—if we don’t forgive those who have wronged us, God won’t forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15). Struggling hard, she forgave him. 

To forgive our enemies—and to bless and pray for them—goes against the grain of human nature. If God forgives us daily for our sins, how can we harbour bitterness against those who have hurt us? But only a deep experience of God’s unconditional love can empower us to forgive. It wasn’t easy even for a spiritual giant like Corrie.

Forgiveness is an act of obedience on our part in response to God’s word. It is not a feeling. Forgiving those who have wronged us, though difficult, is necessary to overcome our inner hurts and pain.

The world’s philosophy tells us to take revenge: You must get even. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. But we have to demolish such vindictive thoughts, taking them captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We are told to put off the old nature, put on the new nature and be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ephesians 4:22-24). By doing so, we do not allow anger to fester (Ephesians 4:26) or bitterness to take root (Hebrews 12:15).


It does not mean we condone the act of injustice inflicted upon us. But we forgive anyway. Forgiveness not only restores our relationship with those who have offended us but also restores our fellowship with God. We also stand to benefit in other ways—physiologically and psychologically. Thus, when we forgive, we are doing ourselves a favour.

According to Dr. Michael Barry, author of the book, The Forgiveness Project, research has shown that more than 60 percent of all cancer patients harbour unforgiveness. Harbouring such a negative emotion creates a state of chronic anxiety.

Chronic anxiety, in turn, produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which suppresses the production of natural killer cells, the body's defence against cancer cells. As such, forgiveness therapy is being used to treat cancer in some medical centres.

Besides the negative temporal effects, unforgiveness also has spiritual consequences. It cuts off God’s favour from our lives. In fact, those who are forgiven by God but fail to forgive others are handed over to the jailers (torturers) until they pay up their debts (Matthew 18: 34-35).

When we harbour unforgiveness, we are letting Satan take advantage of us (2 Corinthians 2:11). Similarly, if we allow anger to fester, we are giving an opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). The evil one can only create a stronghold in our lives if we give him a footholdif we open the door of our lives to him.

The eternal consequences of unforgiveness are serious. We will not be forgiven by God if we fail to forgive others. 
  • “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). 
  • In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus also implied that we must forgive others before God can forgive us (Matthew 6:12). 
When we align ourselves with God’s wordthat we are to forgive as we have been forgiven by Christwe will experience freedom and healing. 

Compared to The Great Commission, the healing of emotional wounds may not be a “big thing” as far as the church’s agenda is concerned. Nevertheless, it has a crucial role in liberating and preparing believers for their God-appointed destinies.



Many of us have emotional baggage that we lug along even after we have become believers. How do we travel light? What weights should we lay aside in order to run well in the spiritual race?

A “burning bush” experience with God set a broken soul free and launched him into an ‘inner healing’ ministry.

How we can be set free from bondages, emotional wounds and baggages to live a victorious Christian life—one filled with meaning, purpose and power.

Monday 9 September 2013


Facing hard times? An all-sufficient God is able to meet all our needs. How can we affirm and declare this truth?

Lord, I thank you that you promise to supply all our needs (1). I trust in your provision for my physical needs. I agree that without faith it is impossible to please you (2).

I am grateful that sometimes you even choose to bless me exceedingly above all I can ask, conceive or imagine (3).


Why should I look with envy at those who are filthy rich (4)? Those who live solely for their own desires do not know your peace and presence. I don’t want to compare what you have blessed me with what they have.

For I know that, when you bless, there is no accompanying sorrow (5).The righteous may have relatively little. But, in your eyes, it is better than the abundance of the wicked (6).

Like a weaned child resting against his mother, I am composed and still (7).  I am contented (8).

Yet, your Word tells us there is the other side of the coin to consider. Faith alone is not enough. 

You teach us to observe the industrious anthow we need to work hard and plan (9). You also instruct us to learn from the life of Josephhow he stored grain in times of plenty. And his family and a nation were saved during famine.

By aligning my thoughts with your wisdom and living by its dictates, I can enjoy the blessings of peace, contentment and financial security.

As I meditate on the above, I assimilate your wisdom into my life (10). It becomes a part of me. I know I will live to see your faithfulness. And, because of your blessings, I will be able to declare your goodness to others.


(1) “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

(2) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

(3) “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

(4) “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word” (Psalm 119:37).

(5) “The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

(6) “It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich” (Psalm 37:16).

(7) “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me” (Psalm 131:2).

 (8) I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).

(9) “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

(10) “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).


What does the Bible say about abundance and riches?

How biblical principles can help us attain financial freedom

Our worldview and values determine how we make financial decisions in life. A wise move from an earthly viewpoint may not necessarily be so from an eternal perspective.


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