Wednesday 26 February 2014


Does God’s wisdom merely guide us along the correct moral path? Has it no relevance to us when we make mundane decisions in life—like buying a home?

Whether we intend to purchase a house from a developer or a homeowner or plan to build our own house, we have to be sure we’re able to afford it. There are many hidden costs as well as pitfalls for the unwary, which we would do well to take heed.

Luke’s Gospel reminds us to count the cost before we think of constructing anything—be it a tower or house:

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (Luke 14:28-30).


Truly, we need much wisdom when we contemplate buying a home as it is—for most people—the largest single investment we will ever make in life. By the way, have you come across anyone who has bought a yacht that costs more than his home?

By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
    with all precious and pleasant riches.
 A wise man is full of strength,
    and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
(Proverbs 24:3-6)

Some of the factors to consider when purchasing a home include location, price, timing of purchase, track record of developer, freehold or leasehold status, whether it is guarded and gated, its proximity to amenities as well as any negative factors such as traffic jams, tolls and the noise level. Future developments may impact the value of one’s property. For example, if it is near to an upcoming MRT station or international school, then it would have greater potential for capital appreciation.

Those homes with favourable factors naturally cost more. So while we may have such homes on our radar, we must also be realistic. Can we really afford it?

Of course, it is generally safer to buy a ready-made house where one can view the finished product and assess the neighbourhood before making a decision—rather than try to picture how it would be like from a brochure or model of the house.

A property under construction carries the inherent risk that the developer may not be able to complete the project due to various reasons. Once that happens, one may be hit by a double whammy—as if being saddled with a bank loan isn’t bad enough, one is forced to rent as one’s dream house is still adrift in the clouds. Thus, if one is eyeing new property launches, it is wise to buy from an established developer with a good track record of keeping their promise to buyers.

Money has to be allocated too for renovation and moving-in costs such as buying furniture and appliances. As for renovation cost, the longer one waits, the more one has to pay for less work done; cost of labour and building materials continue to escalate. So there we go again; we need to count the cost.

We really need to pray for wisdom, seek counsel from trustworthy property agents and friends as well as do our own research as to what constitutes a good buy.

While we seek help from others, we must also play our part such as attending property fairs and new property launches, and browsing through property magazines. We need to be reminded of God’s rebuke: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

Nehemiah, the cupbearer, prayed hard before he went back to his homeland to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem. But he also worked hard. On arrival in Jerusalem, he first surveyed the extent of the ruins and ascertained the scope and nature of the work before he rallied a team together to implement the task of reconstruction (Nehemiah 2: 11-17).

God specifically told the prophet Jeremiah to buy his uncle’s field. And true enough, this uncle approached him, asking Jeremiah to buy his field. How we wish that God would speak to us with such a clear rhema word that we need not doubt whether our decision is aligned to His will (Jeremiah 32: 6-8).

Have we earnestly sought God for His rhema word before committing ourselves to a property deal (Proverbs 3:5-6)?

Next, we must build our house on a solid foundation.  Jesus exhorts us to be wise by building our house on the rock (Matthew 7:24-27). That rock we must build on is the truth of God’s word.  At the physical level, it means we must not build our home on soft soil such as former mining land or at a location where there is an underground stream. Regarding the need of a solid foundation, nothing drives home the point better than the shocking Highland Towers tragedy.

Finally, we need to remind ourselves that though we may have freehold property in our name, we are all “leasehold”. We have been given an average lease of three score and ten years (Psalm 90:10). So let’s not get carried away by the thought of building and staying in a lavish home on earth—that we quickly forget we will have to vacate it one day and live in our eternal dwelling place.

Jesus’ words of comfort remind us that God the Father is preparing a place for us in the hereafter:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

Truly, we need to stay humble and set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-3).

And not forget the goodness and faithfulness of God who has blessed us materially:

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them” (Deuteronomy 8: 11-12).

“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’  You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8: 17-18).

Is it any surprise to you that scripture provides guidance on earthly decisions such as buying a home?

God is interested in every aspect of our lives. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). And that includes the mundane aspects of life—like buying a home.


Is there anything wrong with getting rich? What does the Bible say about abundance and riches?

Two men share about their supernatural experiences in heaven and hell. The choice is ours—whether we would like to stay in a cubicle, apartment, community home or mansion in the hereafter.


Yes. Why not? His wisdom, guidance and blessings apply to every area of our lives. 


John had great plans for his retirement. Having made his pile in the Malaysian real estate business, he dreamed of spending his twilight years with his wife in his own retirement cottage.

A couple who had just returned home after spending many years overseas wanted to sell their house in Petaling Jaya, the modern satellite city near to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They reckoned they would sell the house by themselves as they did not want to pay any commission on the sale to a real estate agent. 



Monday 24 February 2014


If we are unaware of our enemy, how can we fight and defend ourselves? If we are unclear about our areas of weakness, how can we be victorious?

Greed and sexual immorality are perhaps the two most common reasons why prominent leaders fall from grace.  

To put it simply, the two important factors which account for their downfall are lust for money and lust of the flesh (1 John 2:15-17).

If only they had taken heed of the warnings in Proverbs 30 and 31, the last two books of Proverbs, things might have turned out differently.

But then again, knowing the truth is one thing. Having the strength to overcome evil is another matter.

The reason for highlighting the above is not that we might pride ourselves in our superiority (1 Corinthians 10:12) but that we might be forewarned, take heed and learn to be wise.

Let us not rejoice in their misfortune but pray for them. And, of course, learn from their mistakes so that we can finish well.



Make me absolutely honest
and don’t let me be too poor
    or too rich.
    Give me just what I need.
If I have too much to eat,
    I might forget about you;
if I don’t have enough,
    I might steal
    and disgrace your name.

Proverbs 30:8-9

Let’s pause and consider the wisdom behind Proverbs 30:8-9. He asks God to supply his needs; he will be contented with his lot in life. Abundant riches may lead him to become complacent and forget God. Or riches may open the door to new temptations previously unknown to him. The danger of poverty is obvious; he might be tempted to cheat or steal to survive. So he pleads that God spares him from these two extreme situations.

It's not that God is niggardly. He wants to abundantly bless His children, and often materially as well (Psalms 103:1-5). “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).

But wealth is like a two-edged sword. How many people can truly handle great wealth? Many get mesmerised by the gifts rather than the Giver.

Joseph, who became the Prime Minister of Egypt, could handle great wealth for he did not succumb to greed or pride. But how many modern-day Josephs are there?


Don’t waste your life
chasing after women!
This has ruined many kings.

Proverbs 31:3 (CEV)

This was a mother’s advice to his son, a king. She pleaded with him not to sow wild oats as in Proverbs 5:16-17. *

He won’t be able to fulfill his responsibility as a king if he pursues a promiscuous lifestyle. Failure to gain victory in this vital area of his life will drain him of his vigour and vitality. “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

Like kings, leaders are people in high office. So this caution against immorality is applicable to leaders as well.

* Footnotes:
And don’t be like a stream
    from which just any woman
    may take a drink.
Save yourself for your wife
    and don’t have sex
    with other women.
Proverbs 5:16-17 (CEV)


When a prominent Christian leader falls from grace, there are significant lessons to be learnt. What are they?

What does it take to be a winner in the most important race of all?

In which areas did David fail?


Obedience to God results in blessings, both tangible and intangible. These blessings enable the righteous to enjoy a certain measure of comfort. However, there is a fine line separating comfort and complacency.

We have heard of dolphins or turtles getting entangled in fishermen’s nets. As these poor creatures can no longer roam in search for food, some may eventually die.
Somewhere along the way believers too get entangled in various pursuits which either impede progress or lead them off the intended spiritual path.



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

Saturday 22 February 2014


When a prominent Christian leader falls from grace, there are significant lessons to be learnt. What are they?

  • No one is perfect. Like all men, leaders too are weak and fallible.
  • Character is more important than charisma.
  • The performance of a leader or church should NOT be the most important yardstick to measure success.
  • It is much easier to walk the straight, narrow and difficult way when we have not attained success, fame, power and influence.
  • A prominent leader should be made accountable to a group of mature and responsible church council members. The financial affairs of a church should be subject to proper audit. Personal interests that conflict with the welfare of the church at large must come under objective scrutiny. Hopefully, with a proper system of checks and balances, we can prevent such tragic moral failures.
  • Before we judge a leader who falls, we must remind ourselves that we too are weak and fallible (1 Corinthians 10:12). Let’s not gloat over their fall. When the dust settles, the delicate issue of loving, forgiving and restoring the leader has to be approached with much grace and wisdom. Let’s pray for our church leaders that they be preserved from major moral failures. 

Having said all the above, “prevention is still better than cure”. It is better to walk justly and humbly before our God than to have all the power, glory and success and then pay a heavy price through moral failure.

It’s so difficult to be just and walk humbly when we have attained fame, power and glory.

It was much easier to be just and walk humbly when we were just beginning our journey of faith.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).


If we are unaware of our enemy, how can we fight and defend ourselves? If we are unclear about our areas of weakness, how can we be victorious?

As leaders are the key people who make or break an organisation, they certainly deserve our respect and support.
But we should not “idolise” them to the extent we think they can do no wrong even in the face of glaring evidence to the contrary. Like all men, they too are weak and fallible.

Uncle Ben told Spider-Man: "With great power comes great responsibility." And the masked crusader hung on to it. It was to become his mantra and motto in life. How does this principle apply in the area of faith and church governance?

We hear this often enough: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” However, there are instances when believers are called upon to judge wisely.

Nobody says it’s going to be easy to stay faithful. It’s difficult—especially for those who seemingly have everything in life.

In our eagerness to perform, have we lost out in that which is most essential?

Why it is easy to be mesmerised by power, charisma, beauty, wealth, status and intellect.

Charisma and character are important qualities in an outstanding leader. Which is more important?

Thursday 20 February 2014


If God calls us to do something, He will also provide. 

One of the burdens God placed in the heart of George Mueller was to board, clothe and scripturally educate destitute children who had lost both parents. To accomplish this task, he had child-like faith, trusting that God will supply all his needs (Philippians 4:19). 

Through earnest prayers, he received millions to build orphanages, never asking anyone directly for money. He merely trusted God to move people to send him whatever he needed. He never borrowed. Yet neither he nor the orphans were ever hungry.

Nehemiah, a cupbearer to a foreign king, answered the call of God to go back to his homeland to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem. As a result of his obedience to God’s call, he experienced His blessing and provision.

He enjoyed the favour of the foreign king whom he served. The latter granted to Nehemiah letters guaranteeing safe passage from Persia to Judah. Furthermore, the king provided timber for the reconstruction project. Even a foreign king can be instrumental in the unfolding of God’s plan when there is obedience to His calling.

When there was a long drought in the land, God used ravens and a widow to feed the prophet Elijah. How God met his need can be pretty unconventionalthe ravens were unclean and the widow was extremely poor. But he managed to survive.

If we believe that God has a definite plan for our livesand that He is able to guide us in discovering His calling for our liveswe are on the right track. If we then fulfil this calling, we will experience His provision.

When God gives you a vision, He also grants you His provision.

Do you know why God will meet the needs of His children?

Because He is a loving heavenly Father. If we who are evil know how to give good things to our children, how much more will Abba Father give good gifts to those who are His children (Luke 11:13).

Furthermore, those who are obedient to His calling will be tremendously blessednot necessarily in material terms. They are the apple of our heavenly Father’s eye. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29). 

       To recapitulate:
  • Do we believe God has a unique plan for us—that our destiny was predetermined while we were yet in our mother’s womb, and that each of us has been endowed with distinctive gifts and resources (Jeremiah 1:5)?
  • Do we believe that God is able to guide us concerning His will and calling for our lives (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 32: 8-9)?
  • Do we believe that He will provide? (Philippians 4:19). Hudson Taylor, the missionary who founded China Inland Mission, said, “God’s work done in God’s way will not lack God’s supply.”

Acting on Presumption 

We should not expect God to provide if we presumptuously choose a particular vocation or venture without His guidance and blessing.

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).

When we come to a fork or crossroad in life, we know we need guidance.
How can we know God’s will for our lives?

Identifying some of the characteristics of a divine calling

Once we have resolved some important questions about our identity, we are well on our way to enjoy sound psychological health. We are also well-positioned to live out God’s calling for our lives.

God’s will has to be sought before we plunge headlong into any venture.

Tuesday 11 February 2014


How much faith is needed when we pray? What does Jesus mean when He says, "If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move?"

Jesus was summoned by his disciples to meet the needs of a desperate man. The latter had earlier sought the disciples to heal his son who was demon-possessed. But they could not help him (Mark 9:17-29).

The man was desperate as his son had been seized by recurrent episodes of epilepsy since childhood. Which father wouldn't be? Sometimes the demon would drive the boy to commit self–destructive acts such as casting himself into fire and water.

The father cried out, “Please have pity and help us if you can!”

Jesus replied, “Why do you say ‘if you can’? Anything is possible for someone who has faith!”

Right away the boy’s father shouted, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.”

“I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24).


In God’s scheme of working out the miraculous, the order is this: Believe first and then you will see.

Believe first. See later. Your feelings will catch up later with your faith.

And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could not we cast him out?” And He said unto them, “This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.”
(Mark 9: 28-29).

Notice the parallel passage in Matthew which gives us another perspective:
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17: 19-20).


Juxtaposing the above parallel passages in Mark and Matthew, we can infer the following:

  • We need not fret when we just have a little faith to start with.

  • We need to fast and pray to bolster our faith before we can move mountainssee God work miracles through us.

  • Prayer and fasting show that we mean business with God, that we’re willing to persevere as we raise our petition to God (Parable of the widow and the wicked judge in Luke 18:1-8).

  • We may have little faith but it is still faith. Sometimes we feel our prayers are just bouncing off the ceiling. But, nevertheless, we persist in prayer.

  • Faith is like muscleFaith has to be exercised, just like muscle. We need to trust God for little things and then move on to the next level of faithtrust God for bigger things.

  • Faith is not something that’s nebulous and mystical. As we begin to exercise our faith in God for little things, we will come to understand the meaning of faith.

  • Does God ask for perfection from us before answering our prayers? No. Just remember this desperate father’s cry: “I believe; help my unbelief!” Did Jesus require perfect faith from him?

                                                   We need to work out our faith                                                    

God answers us according to His will and our faith:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24).

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

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).

Finally, when we pray, we need to pray with expectancy. Pray believing that what we’re asking for will materialise.

In Acts 12:5, when Peter was imprisoned, the church earnestly prayed for him. But did they pray with expectancy? No. When Peter was miraculously set free from prison and came knocking at the door, only the maid, Rhoda, believed. The believers, despite having prayed from Peter’s release, could not believe that it was Peter at the door. They told the maid, “You are mad. It is his angel” (Acts 12: 15).

If Jesus heard the heart’s cry of the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28) and that of the centurion (Luke 7:1-10)both of whom were not in the category of the electhow will He not hear the cries of His elect?

 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? (Luke 18:7).



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

Do we have to work out our faith after we have been saved?


Recently, I received an anecdote in my inbox which is really worth sharing.

This beautiful story was written by a doctor who worked in Central Africa.
"Before they call, I will answer" (Isaiah 65:24).

One night I worked hard to help a mother in the labour ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive; as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator). We also had no special feeding facilities.

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climate).
“And it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles. They do not grow on trees and there are no drug stores down forest pathways.

“All right,” I said, “put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.”

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died.

During prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. “Please, God” she prayed, “Send us a hot water bottle today. It'll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.”

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, “And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she'll know You really love her?”
As often with children's prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say “Amen”? I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren't there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. 
Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! 
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses' training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the porch was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly... excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. 

From the top, I lifted out brightly-colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas - that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. 
Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the... could it really be? 
I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. 

Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!”

Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully-dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, “Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she'll know that Jesus really loves her?”

 “Of course!” I replied.

That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child - five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it 'that afternoon'.

"Before they call, I will answer" (Isaiah 65:24).

When you receive this, say the prayer. That's all you have to do. No strings attached. Just send it on to whomever you want
but do send it on. 

Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost, but a lot of rewards. Let's continue praying for one another.

This awesome prayer takes less than a minute.

Heavenly Father, I ask Thee to bless my friends reading this. I ask Thee to minister to their spirit. 
Where there is pain, give them Thy peace and mercy. 

Where there is self-doubting, release a renewed confidence to work through them.. 

Where there is tiredness or exhaustion, I ask Thee to give them understanding, guidance, and strength. 

Where there is fear, reveal Thy love and release to them Thy courage.

Bless their finances, give them greater vision, and raise up leaders and friends to support and encourage them. 

Give each of them discernment to recognise the evil forces around them and reveal to them the power they have in Thee to defeat them.

I ask in Christ's name. Amen.

Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both. Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something Christ would do.

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