Thursday 31 October 2013


Lessons we can glean from David’s military successes

King David understood the power of a bursting flood when God swept away his enemies. How did he achieve this phenomenal breakthrough? What secrets can we learn from him?

We can learn much from the life of King David because he was a man after God’s own heart. This story is about how King David achieved a massive breakthrough over his enemies.

Long ago, the Philistines confronted David just after his coronation (2 Samuel 5:17-25). When the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over Israel, they deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the Lord: “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?”

And God said to David, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim (which means "the Lord who bursts through").

Once again, the Philistines deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. David inquired of the Lord but this time God said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” When David followed God’s commands, he defeated his enemies once again. 

King David understood the power of a bursting flood when God swept away his enemies. He achieved a phenomenal breakthrough at Baal perazim where he defeated his enemies.. 


David was successful in his military exploits because:
  • He made it a point to first enquire from God as to the specific course of action to take.
  • He followed whatever God instructed him to do.
  • He gave glory to God for his success.

After his initial victory at Baalperazim, the Philistines returned and confronted him again. Lesser mortals would have rested on their laurels, overconfident in light of earlier victory. “No sweat; let’s go and defeat them.” But David was different. He enquired of the Lord again.

This time, God told him not to go up and face his enemies. “You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees” (2 Samuel 5:23).

David was told to advance only at the appropriate moment as God would fight for him. “It shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the LORD will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines” (2 Samuel 5:24).

Described as a ‘man after God’s own heart’, David frequently sought God for counsel and direction. He had this inclination to enquire of the Lord whenever he had an important decision to make. This distinctive characteristic sets him apart from the other heroes of faith in the Old Testament.

David had one consuming desire. He wanted to continually dwell in God’s presence and gaze upon God’s beauty. His deep intimate relationship with God underpinned many of his actions and exploits.

 “One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.”
(Psalm 27:4)

Though he was king, he knew the One who was responsible for his success. And David knew that the Lord had established him king over Israel” (2 Samuel 5:12a). He did not depend on his might, riches or wisdom, knowing deep down it was God who had raised him from obscurityfrom shepherd boy to royalty.

As a shepherd boy, he knew that God was the One who delivered him from the lion and the bear who preyed on his sheep (1 Samuel 17:37).

Later, through a self-esteem built over the years by intimacy with God, he was unafraid to confront Goliath using just a sling and a few stones (1 Samuel 17: 45).

It was this same humility and dependence upon Godwhether he was a shepherd boy or kingwhich led David to seek God as to how he should confront his enemies who were preparing to attack just after his coronation as king.

How did David enquire of the Lord? He could have sought God’s face and prayed and/or consulted the priests who sought for divine guidance using the Urim and Thummim.

What can we learn from King David?

Just as David did not rely on his own wisdom or strength, we should seek God through prayer and studying the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to show us the path that He would have us take.

We should cherish times of spiritual intimacy with God for it is through such times that we get a sense of his counsel and will. We should never take things into our own hands and move ahead before God’s timing. At times, the answer may not be clear and that’s when we need to wait.

At the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sought the will of God the Fatherwhether there was another way, apart from dying at the cross, by which man could be redeemed.

Moses also sought God before leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. He cherished God’s presence with him—more than blessings—in all his endeavours. If God’s presence did not go with him, he would not think of possessing the land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 33:15).


Dependence on God for guidance and wisdom

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord
(Jeremiah 9:23-24).

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)

You bless all who depend
    on you for their strength
    and all who deeply desire
    to visit your temple.
(Psalm 84:5)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
(Joshua 1:8).

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
(Romans 8:14).

Tuesday 29 October 2013


How do we monitor the progress we are making in our spiritual journey? Have we lived up to our full potential?

When we travel outstation, we depend on milestones to tell us how far we have already gone and how far more we have to go before we reach our destination.

As Christians, how do we measure success? What are some “milestones” to help us monitor progress?

In this respect, I find this quote by author Robert Louis Stevenson helpful and instructive:
“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life.”

Firstly, do we know who we are? This is a question regarding our identity. (1)

Secondly, are we living up to our potential? Have we seized the various opportunities to stir up and fully exploit the gifts, talents and resources God has given us? (2)

Novelist H.G Wells says that wealth and power are no measures of success, and that the only true measure is the ratio between what we might have been and what we have become. In other words, success is measured by how much we are able to reach our full potential.

If God gives us 10 talents, and we only multiply it by half—only five talents—we have not lived out our full potential. We should not compare ourselves with others but measure our progress by how much we have changed for the better through the years.


Here are some aids to monitor progress in our spiritual pilgrimage:

  • Progressive realisation of God-inspired vision or goals (3)

  • Number of lives we have touched and quality of the relationships we have built

  • Number of souls we have led to Christ or snatched out from the fires of hell (4)

  • Progressive development in character to become more like Christ

  • Legacythe footprints we have left in the sands of time (5)

For sure, there is some overlap in the above list. But, imperfect as they are, these points help us to think through the fact whether we have lived up to our full potential.

Notice that there is no difference in the way Jesus commended the one who was given two talents and the one who was given five talents: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25: 21,23).

It is not so much a matter of numbers and productivity but how faithful we have been in discharging the tasks entrusted to us. From God’s viewpoint, faithfulness is of paramount importance though He has also called us to bear much fruit * (John 15:16). 

Footnotes*  This “fruit” may be the lives changed through our influence or the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us.







Friday 25 October 2013


Can we seek medical treatment if we believe in miraculous healing?

Three years ago, Jane, a fervent Christian in her 50’s, noticed a small breast lump. As she believed in miraculous healing, she adamantly refused medical treatment. That proved to be a costly decision. Recently, she succumbed to breast cancer ––whereas she could have been cured if she had sought medical treatment early.

However, her story does not discount the fact that God still performs miracles today. Even terminally ill patients have testified to miraculous healing. 

More often, however, healing takes place when God works together with doctors and medicine. Let’s explore some of the issues related to faith and medicine.


Is God pro-health?
God desires that man enjoy the blessings of good health. One of His many names is Jehovah-Rapha––‘God our healer’. The Israelites were promised fertility and health if they obeyed God. They were also warned that they will be afflicted with diseases if they disobeyed Him (Deuteronomy 28: 27,28).

Healing was as much a part of Jesus’ ministry as preaching. Among those healed were lepers, paralytics and the blind. In the majority of cases, Jesus healed people without requiring faith on their part (Mark 6:56). Sometimes He performed few miracles because of their lack of faith. But, nevertheless, He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them (Mark 6:5).

God, being sovereign, does not heal always. And we cannot possibly fathom why some remain unhealed. Many disabled people gathered round the pool of Bethesda. But Jesus chose to demonstrate His healing virtue to one invalid (John 5:2-9).

Total wellness is an integral part of God’s will for His people: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).

Does God heal only through supernatural means?
Having faith does not necessarily mean we have to shun medical treatment. Isaiah ordered a poultice to be applied to King Hezekiah’s boil (Isaiah 38:21). The apostle Paul told Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). If “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22), then the latter has a definite place in the life of believers. Certain plants (herbs) have healing properties (Ezekiel 47:12). A notable example is foxglove (digitalis) which has long been used to improve the pumping ability of a weak heart.

Do doctors have any role to play in healing?
Jesus certainly does not discount the role of doctors in treating diseases. Otherwise He would not have said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31). The apostle Luke was a doctor who followed Jesus in His healing ministry. Jesus seems to imply that doctors and practitioners of supernatural healing should happily coexist. Why can’t both camps work together and learn to respect each other?

Does seeking medical treatment signify a lack of faith?
How can we be deemed as lacking in faith––or considered as “second-class” believers––when we seek medical treatment? Scripture expressly says that medicine, herbs and physicians all have a role to play in healing.

Does believing in miraculous healing mean that we cannot seek medical treatment?
Believers who are sick should avail themselves of miraculous healing:
  • Affirm and declare by faith that God heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:3).
  • Let the elders of the church pray for them (James 5:14).
  • Seek to be ministered by those endowed with the gift of healing (1 Corinthians 12:28,30).
However, the sick need not shun or stop medical treatment as a demonstration of faith. Doctors treat but God heals. ‘Faith healers’ who insist that patients stop medical treatment––as a precondition for supernatural healing––may face litigation if death occurs. For example, a diabetic patient may slip into coma and die if drugs (or insulin injections) are suddenly stopped.

Shouldn’t medicine be rejected as it represents man’s ingenuity?
The view that any product of man’s creativity is evil is indeed seriously flawed. Having created the world, God gave man the injunction to multiply, subdue and rule the earth (Genesis 1:28). This ‘cultural mandate’ drives all of man’s productive endeavours––from scientific to economic; from sustainable development to environmental conservation. Our creative potential bears the marks of our Creator, who created each snowflake distinct from the rest.

Countless lives have been saved since the advent of antibiotics and vaccination. It’s baffling why some hyper-spiritual ‘faith healers’ wholeheartedly embrace the benefits of modern inventions but reject modern medicine. Logically, they should stop travelling in cars and airplanes, and stop enjoying the benefits of mobile technology.

Some ‘faith healers’ view modern medicine as evil as the serpent has long been a symbol of the medical fraternity. Clearly they have forgotten the account when God told Moses to make a bronze serpent. Those bitten by snakes would not die if they looked at the serpent set on a pole (Numbers 21:8-9).

Those with terminal cancer with bony metastasis have been told, if their faith in God is strong, they would be able to endure the excruciating pain. Is there any merit in such a practice?
If the pain persists despite prayer and healing ministry, the humane option is to give the patient a strong pain killer such as morphine. Why prolong their agony by withholding medicine? Let them spend their last days in comfort. No healer, no matter how impressive his or her list of success stories, should be found lacking in a most needful quality––compassion. 

Some patients have been told they are not healed because they lack faith. Is this the right thing to do?
Whether their faith is great or feeble (Mark 9:24), patients who seek miraculous healing trust God. They also respect the healer for his or her successful track record. Why burden them with false guilt in their darkest moments? However, in cases where sin hinders healing, the foregoing does not apply.

Is sincerity enough?
Jane sincerely believed she could experience miraculous healing. She thought that the kind of faith which pleased God was that which rejected medical intervention.

But her sincerity wasn’t enough. The tragedy was that she had placed great faith in a particular ‘faith healer’––instead of digging into scripture to discover for herself the truth regarding faith and medicine.

A proper understanding of the relationship between faith and medicine is essential. God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Tragedies similar to Jane’s case could have been prevented if people grasp this truth: Miraculous healing and medical treatment are not mutually exclusive.
Please check out:


When we are sick or minister to those who are sick, what approach should we adopt?

  •  Remove hindrances to healing––unconfessed sin, unbelief.

  • Seek miraculous healing and medical treatment. These options are not mutually            exclusive.

  • Wait upon God.

  • Acknowledge His sovereignty. Commit the results to God.

  • When miraculous healing does not occur, do not put the blame on the sick.

  • Be open-minded about miraculous healing without medical intervention.

  • Don’t try to figure it out––God’s ways are beyond us.

  • His peace and presence will comfort us when all else fails.

The above article was first published in the Oct- Nov 2013 issue of Asian Beacon magazine, Vol. 45 No. 5


God does not answer all our whys this side of eternity when we’re confronted with non-healing––even when all the prerequisites have been fulfilled for spiritual healing.




A biblical view of sickness and healing




For a quick overview: 

To access similar articles in Christiantymalaysia.com

To access similar articles in Asian Beacon magazine:

Tuesday 22 October 2013


When we spend a lot of time watching, we tend to forget to be watchful. What does it mean to be watchful?

I love to watch movies that have a delightful mix of drama, love, action and history such as “Gladiator” and “The Last of the Mohicans”.


Millions all over the world love to watch a ball being dribbled and kicked around in a stadium. Some are bird watchers while others watch the latest trends in fashion.

We all like to watch sensational and exciting videos on YouTube. The latest images our friends share on Facebook captivate us. At times, we love to watch the world go by as we enjoy a cuppa with our friends.

“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” William Henry Davies.

Not that these habits are wrong in themselves (1 Corinthians 6:12). But don’t you think we spend too much time watchingmuch of which is triviain a highly spectator-oriented world?

But there is a different kind of ‘keeping watch’. Jesus reminds us to watchful on several occasions.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

We have to be prepared for Christ’s second coming: “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36).

The parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) warns us to be numbered among the wise virgins who—ever watchful of the bridegroom’s return—had 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.

All these words have a similar connotation: Be watchful; be alert; be vigilant; wake up. They remind us to be on our toes, spiritually-speaking.

Tragedy strikes when we think we are spiritually in tip-top condition but, in fact, we are not. Such was the case of the church in Sardis. The angel’s message for this church was a warning: Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you” (Revelation 3:2-3).

Similarly, the angel warned the church in Laodicea: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarmneither hot nor coldI am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:15-17, 19).

Don’t you think that being spiritually bankrupt—and without realising itis the ultimate tragedy? 

Jesus warned of the danger of spiritual blindness and arrogance in the Parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14). The Pharisee was confident in his own righteousness and looked down on the tax collector who had humbled himself before God, asking for mercy.

And that brings us to the topic of self-examination. Watch out for sins such as pride, self-sufficiency, immorality, love of money, fame, and power.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates.

Are we watchful concerning what we view (Psalm 101:3) and think about (Philippians 4:8)? Have we examined the purity of our affections? “Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life” (Proverbs 4:23).

“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1Timothy 4:16). 

Unless we are aware of our true spiritual state, we cannot change. When was the last time we examined our lives?

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

We also need to be aware of wiles of satan. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Through false teaching and false ‘signs and wonders’, satan utilises lies and deception to accomplish his purposes.

Like Ezekiel, we are called to be watchmen who warn others of danger and the need to repent (Ezekiel 33: 7-9). But, to be credible, we need to be watchful as to how we live. Our lives should stand for integrity before a watching world.

For those of us who are leaders, we need to watch our conduct as shepherds. Have we fed and loved the sheep placed under our care (Ezekiel 34: 3-4)?

Finally we need to watch our conscience. If we reject the voice of our conscience, our faith will be shipwrecked (1 Timothy 1:19).

By acknowledging our spiritual poverty like the tax collector above, by realising that we have fallen short of God’s standards like the church at Sardis and Laodicea, we are taking the first step towards spiritual restoration.

Blessed are the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3).

When is self-examination helpful and when it is not?


Be aware, be warned. It’s already here. We should wise up by preparing ourselves against deception. Deception is a prominent feature during these end times.


Shouldn't we get rid of sin consciousness in our lives?


It all starts with the eye, the gateway which allows evil to creep surreptitiously into the mind.