Wednesday 22 January 2014



Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that testings are an integral part of the Christian experience as much as blessings and victories.

However, the process of growing into maturity involves learning to persevere through our trials and arriving at a place of unshakeable faith.


What are some of the important signs of the end times Jesus spoke about at the Mount of Olives?

Persecution, deception and falling away from the faith (apostasy).

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24: 9-13).

It is implied by Jesus that if we fail to persevere, if we fall away because of persecution or become victims of deception, we will NOT be saved (Matthew 24:13). A most serious warning indeed.

Thus it is so important to be strong and well-rooted in Christ as the turbulence of the end times will only get worse.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6–7).

It is equally important that we do not allow the cares, worries, riches and pleasures of the world to distract us and lure us away from the faith, like the seed which fell among thorns in The Parable of the Sower:

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

Indeed we should be like the seed which fell on good soil: “But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the wordretain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15).

The process of growing into maturity involves learning to persevere through our trials and doubts, and arriving at a place of unshakeable faith (James 1:2-4, Hebrews12:11 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-17).


Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that trials are an integral part of the Christian experience as much as blessings and victories. Indeed, there will be times when even fervent believers begin to doubt. They feel as if God has forsaken them (Psalm 77: 8-9).

But the truth is this: God will never leave or forsake them (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6).

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James1:2-4).

Hebrews chapter 10 highlights the fact that persevering faith is needed to remain saved:
But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
(Hebrews 10:38-39).

Jude reinforces the truth that persevering faith is needed:
“I wish to remind you, as you all know, that God, when once he had brought the people out from Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5). Instead of taking possession of the Promised Land after leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, God’s chosen people fell.

Paul outlines, in greater detail, the events leading to their fall from God’s favour:
“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did —and were killed by the destroying angel.

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

Peter exhorts believers to be all the more diligent to confirm our calling and election for if we practice ‘these qualities’ we will never fall (2 Peter 1:10).

And what are ‘these qualities’? They are spelled out in the preceding verses:For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

Peter issues a solemn warning to believers who willfully choose to live in sin:
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21).

But how many have the faith to persevere?  Jesus laments in Luke 18:8b: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”



What fate awaits those who sin repeatedly after they have believed?

Tuesday 21 January 2014


As long as we have breath, we are bound to have problems. We worry when our children fail to return home in the wee hours of the morning. We may be anxious about the prospect of being axed due to corporate restructuring. Or we may be overwhelmed as to how we are going to pay our hefty medical bills or fund our children’s tertiary education.

When we worry, we expend a lot of nervous energy which is better channeled to serving God and advancing His kingdom. Satan is most delighted when the army of God is weakweighed down and distracted by the cares of the world (Luke 8:14).


However, the Bible is replete with wisdom and pointers how we can overcome anxiety and worry.

Firstly, we need to trust God’s promise that, no matter what happens, He will never leave  or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We may not feel it. Circumstances may tell us otherwise. But we need to confess and affirm this truth that God will not leave us without hope or help.

Secondly, we need to trust that God will deliver us. And even if He does not deliver us the way we would expect, we need to trust Him that He has allowed us to go through difficult times for our spiritual discipline and growth (Hebrews 12:11). Let us learn from Joseph who trusted God even when he was thrown into the pit and prison. For his unwavering faith, he was finally vindicated when he became the governor of Egypt, second in rank to Pharaoh.

Thirdly, we need to study, meditate and declare aloud God’s Word so that the truth permeates our soul. The more we dwell on negative things, the more a sense of foreboding controls us. If left unchecked, it may choke us and make us feel miserable.

Some may say, Come on, isn’t that mere positive thinking? No. What is the difference between faith and positive thinking? Positive thinking is “free floating”; it is not necessarily hitched to something solid whereas faith is focused on an objecta fact. Faith rests in God’s wordto be exact, God’s character and the promises in His word.

Fourthly, if we’re overwhelmed, try praying in the Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Fifthly, do not sabotage our faith. Sometimes we get encouraged by a message on ‘overcoming worry’ but quickly slip into worrying mode again. If we continue to groan and moan, we nullify our trust in God. We need to be single-minded. We must not suppose that we will receive anything from God if we are double-minded (James 1:7).

Sixthly, we need to be realistic. We need to look at the problem squarely and pray that God will give us wisdom to solve it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). For example, if we are beset by financial worries, we need to be thrifty, live on a budget, learn to be financially savvy, plan and work hard if we want to be free from debt.

Next, we need to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness to us in the past. We should set up our own memorial stones* to help us sail through the storms of life. When we get worried over the trials we are facing, we can cling on to God’s faithfulness. As He has dealt with us in the past, He will continue to be faithful to usnow and in the future.

Finally, we need to realise that, more often than not, the bad things we fear may befall us seldom come to pass. As we reflect on our past, we need to ask ourselves how many times are there when something really bad happened? 

We need to remind ourselves not to live in the future but be primarily concerned about today’s troubles. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

“You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).


*  Footnotes:
After the Israelites crossed the river Jordan, Joshua instructed them to take twelve stones from the river and set them up on land as a memorial (Joshua 4:1-7). This was not only to commemorate the crossing but to remind the people of the miraculous power of God. If they face any trials in future, these memorial stones will remind them of God’s deliverance.


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

When we realise that the battle belongs to God, we just need to stand firm in faith. And act only at the appropriate moment.

Who doesn’t want success? But are we willing to take the first step which is to meditate?

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


The 10 “commandments” in life
Someone has taken the trouble to pen these beautiful words (author unknown, edited).

1. Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that you pull out when you are in trouble, but it is a "steering wheel" that directs you along the right path.
2. Why is a car's windscreen so large but the rear view mirror so small? Because our past is not as important as our future. So look ahead and move on.
3. Friendship is like a book. It takes only a few seconds to burn it, but it takes years to write.
4. All things in life are temporary. If they are going well, enjoy them for they will not last forever. If things are going wrong, do not worry as they cannot last long too.
5. Old friends are gold. New friends are diamonds. If you get a diamond, don't forget the gold. It's because a diamond always needs a base of gold.
6. When we lose hope and think that it is the end, God smiles from above and says, "Relax sweetheart, it's just a bend, not the end.
7. When God solves your problems, you have faith in His abilities. When He doesn't solve them, He has faith in your abilities.
8. A blind person once asked a sage: “Can there be anything worse than losing one's eyesight?” He replied: "Yes, losing your vision!"
9. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them. When you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.
10. Worrying does not take away tomorrow's trouble; it takes away today's peace.


Soak yourself in the truth from God’s word. Declare it aloud and claim its promises. Let it minister to your soul.

Do you constantly replay or obsess over negative situations? Known as rumination, it can feel like a broken record. Your mind rehearses the play-by-play of what led to that horrific breakup or missing a deadline at work.


Friday 17 January 2014


Whether it is a decision related to a business venture, career or mission, it is imperative to seek God’s will on the matter. We should not deem spiritual areas as important and the secular as unimportant as both are significant in God’s eyes. There is no place for compartmentalisation in our lives.

As children of God, we are to walk by faith. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

To assume that God is with us as we contemplate embarking on a certain venture—when His will is still unclear—is to walk in presumption. Perhaps the potential rewards are so tempting that it’s almost irresistible. But going ahead without a clear “signal from above” may be costly in terms of time, energy and financial resources.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25).

It is not enough just to depend on the logos to justify a particular course of action. We have to seek God so that we can hear His rhema word for usHis will for a specific time and situation in our lives.

Christian entrepreneurs can readily identify with the fact that God’s will has to be sought before we plunge headlong into a business venture. This is clear from the following passage:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
(James 4:13-15).

The crux of the matter is this: Has God showed us that we should take a particular course of action

Victory comes when we place our faith in God’s leading. That’s because wherever God leads, He honours it with His presence, provision and blessing.

Let us now consider three examples from the Old Testament which illustrate the danger of presumption and, in contrast, the importance of seeking God’s leading and walking by faith.

Battle of Ai

After initial victory in the battle of Jericho, God’s people continued their push towards claiming the rest of the Promised Land. They attacked Ai with only a few thousand men for they figured the enemy had few men and could be routed easily. But they were badly defeated.

Though the primary cause of the defeat at Ai was Achan’s sin of covetousness, a secondary cause was presumption—underestimating the enemy and overconfidence after initial victory at Jericho (Joshua 7:3-4).

King David’s military exploits

The above attitude clearly contrasts with that of King David, ‘a man after God’s own heart’.

David did not dare presume God was behind him each time he went into battle. After his initial victory at Baalperazim (2 Samuel 5:20), 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).

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 then followed whatever God instructed him to do.

Moses and God’s presence

Similarly, Moses knew that he should move only when God directs. Before leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Moses sought God’s presence. If God’s presence did not go with him, he would not think of advancing into the land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 33:15).

Thus it’s apparent that Moses knew the ways of God. When it comes to entering the Promised Land, he cherished God’s leading and presence—more than blessing. He made sure he did not run ahead of God’s schedule.

Presumption may be old as the hills but it is still happening today. Some ministers who move in signs and wonders (miracles, healing and deliverance) presume that since they have great power, God must be pleased with their lives. They probably congratulate themselves: How can God not be pleased with me when He is using me in such a mighty way? I must be His blue-eyed boy.

However, Jesus’ admonition against such presumption makes it clear that moving in dramatic spiritual gifts is not to be automatically equated to enjoying special God’s favour and blessing. Other factors such as character and the fruit of the spirit are also important in God’s sight.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
(Matthew 7:21-23).

Are we familiar with the ways of God? Do we seek out His will? Apart from knowing His will, do we know when we should execute His plan?


How do we distinguish between faith and foolhardiness?

When God calls, He also provides. But we should not expect God to provide if we presumptuously choose a particular vocation or venture without His guidance and blessing

How can we know God’s will for our lives?

Friday 10 January 2014



A successful professor bought a BMW for his son. But calamity struck. His son met with an accident while driving the car and perished. The professor’s wife, who was in the car when it crashed, also died.

Distraught, the professor felt life was meaningless since he had lost those closest to him. After coming to terms with his sorrow, he decided to use his expertise in organic farming to help poor farmers improve their livelihood. The grief he experienced helped him to empathise with the sufferings of the marginalised.

Trials and tribulations can teach us a lot, especially in the areas of character and personal growth.

Clearly, God has a purpose when He puts us through painful experiences. 

God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 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 (Hebrews 12: 10b-11).

God gave Joseph a dream that he would be great—that his family members would come and bow down to him. But far from travelling down easy street towards his objective, he landed himself in hot soup. He was thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers and later sold off to slave traders.

Then he was imprisoned, being falsely accused for trying to sleep with Potiphar’s wife (whereas it was the latter who tried to seduce him). While in prison, God was with him and caused everything he did to succeed (Genesis 39:23)

Joseph maintained a positive attitude through thick and thin—that God was with him through it all. And, because of his faith, the man of God moved from pit to prison to the pinnacle of power in Egypt. He finally rose to the position of governor of Egypt, second in rank to Pharaoh.

Being in that position, he had great authority. After interpreting Pharaoh’s dream that seven years of famine would follow seven years of plenty, he moved ahead with plans to build storehouses to stockpile grain. 

When famine struck, his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain. As a mark of respect, they bowed down to him. Thus Joseph’s dream was finally fulfilled against seemingly impossible odds.

As a result of God’s dealings in his life, Joseph was able to say to his brothers: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

From the life of Joseph, we learn that God uses trials to enlarge us—that we might be able to fulfill our potential for His glory.


Why did God allow Jesus to go through such an agonising death at the cross? Because great lessons in life can only be learned through suffering.

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


So when our heart grows faint, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

  • God has put us through trials because He is treating us as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? (Hebrews 12:7).

  • A servant is not greater than his or her master. Even so, believers who are His servants cannot be exempted or shielded from pain.

  • “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
  • See trials as something positive.
  • Ask for wisdom to overcome the trials.
  • Have faith and patience while you wait for fulfillment of God’s promises.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:2-8).

“Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and endurance” (Hebrews 6:12).
  • Crisis creates opportunity – Chinese proverb.
  • The fact is that life is either hard and satisfying or easy and unsatisfying –  Richard Leider.


When believers go through trials and tribulations, it is natural to ask God, “Why? Why does this have to happen to me?” In some instances, God remains silent and fails to grant us relief from our suffering.

God’s vision for our lives often revolves around our gifts—areas in which we shine like a star. Sometimes, this vision is birthed out of a scar, after we have gone through painful struggles.

Why we have to be steadfast in our journey of faith. What are the possible consequences if we fail to persevere?

Does “feel good” teaching prepare believers to face trials?


“When we have times in our lives where we are being treated unfairly or things seem to be continually against us, we can look to Joseph for a great example of how to keep our eyes on God and continue to live in integrity and have confidence that God will come through for us at his perfect timing.”

Wednesday 8 January 2014


Before sharing a word in season to weary souls, we need to set aside time to listen to God

How we sometimes wish that God could download the Word to our “hard drive” so that we no longer need to engage in serious Bible study, which is such a laborious task. But this is just fantasy, a figment of our imagination. In fact, we are told to study it well in order that we have a firm grasp of the truth and not be put to shame (2 Timothy 2:15).


Yet those who are well-versed with scripture and the ways of God are able to receive "divine downloads". Let us delve further into the broad ramifications of the following verse:

The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.
(Isaiah 50:4).

First, we notice that we’re able to speak comforting words to the weary because God empowers us with special wisdom. These words touch and refresh the lives of the weak because no one knows better the needs of people than God.

Before we minister to others, we ourselves have to be ready and well-equipped. Our own needs must first be met. If we are in a mess, spiritually and emotionally, how are we going to reach out to others? (Isaiah 58:11). We have to be refreshed first before we can encourage others.

Second, we notice that the counsel comes from someone who is learned. The latter is instructed not only in man’s wisdom but is filled with godly wisdom and discernment (1 Corinthians 2:10-13).

Probably, he or she would be like Ezra who spent his entire life studying and obeying the Law of the Lord and teaching it to others (Ezra 7:10).

Third, we notice that such "divine downloads" occur in the early morning hours when many would be in slumber, let alone think of communicating with God.

The learned one in Isaiah 50:4 seems to take on the habit of Jesus who got up while it was still dark, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed (Mark 1:35).  

David was hungry for God’s presence. While lying in bed, he meditated on God in the watches of the night (Psalm 63:1, 6). When he awoke, he still had this sense of God’s presence as his mind had been dwelling on godly things (Psalm 139:17-18).

We too must be willing to pay the pricein terms of occasional sleep lossif we want to receive such divine downloads. What is the level of our spiritual hunger? Does this hunger impel us to commune with God in the early morning hours?

Fourth, we must have the ears to hear. Those who have ears to hear can understand what the Spirit is saying. We need to develop this capacity to shut ourselves from incessant “inner chatter” (negative self-talk) and any distracting music that seeks to entertain. As time progresses, despite initial faltering baby steps, we will learn to hear correctly like the child prophet Samuel.


Finally, if God is the source, we need not fear that the supply of wisdom and counsel through this "divine download" will ever run out. Streams of living water will burst forth from our lives if we know how to tap into the Eternal Spring: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them" (John 7:38).

What does Jesus mean when He says, “Whoever believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water?”

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail
(Isaiah 58:11)

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
(Psalm 63: 1)

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
(Psalm 63: 6)

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
(Psalm 139:17-18)

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(1 Corinthians 2:10-13)