Posts Tagged ‘God’

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19

This verse alone connects the beginning of my Christian journey to the end. The realisation that I, a sinner bent at demolishing and perverting everything that is of God, am loved with the love of Christ is one that transforms me continually. Yet, it is more than a realisation, more than knowledge, more than emotions, it is only and absolutely the work of God.

To say that love is the most important part of a Christian life is a gross understatement. There is nothing else that can bring the entirety of God into our lives, and not just the entirety. The words used are “filled to… all the fullness of God”. The following verse (Eph 3:20) makes it clear that when we think of entirety and fullness, our limited human imaginations have not even begun to grasp what that means. According to my imagination, it goes beyond a life lived in victory and holiness, having the Fruit of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit and the character of the kingdom of Christ. To even know what that means, is what only He is able to know.

Truth is, there was never a choice for a different life; there is no other way to live (Luke 10:27-28).

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

– Fred­er­ick M. Leh­man

All things

I have been reading the works of John Piper. His views are absolutely astounding. Unlike us, he doesn’t limit the Word of God. We often unknowingly frame things to our convenience when we apply the bible to our context. But just read again when the bible says “all things” and receive a whole new picture of life and God.

For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:36

See Ecclesiastes 1:8 and Jeremiah 17:9. Just in two short verses, we see the problem with this life. Everything drags us down, not just 8 hour work days, sticky family situations, unfortunate events or boring sermons! The greatest liar in this world lives inside of us. Anyone can lie to us, but we will believe what we want to because we are so much more capable to lie to ourselves than others. Such an eye opener!

Just when we imagine that even God is sovereign and superior over everything, the bible brings a new dimension to this fact. Read Psalm 119:91, 1 Chronicles 29:12, Ecclesiastes 11:5, Isaiah 44:24, Ezekiel 7:14, Mark 10:27. And about Jesus, whom is given all things! Read Matthew 19:28, John 1:3, John 13:3. The work that the Holy Spirit does in our lives have a whole new meaning in John 14:26. Our lack totally disappears in His generosity and ability in Romans 8:32.

If only we would stop framing God when He really means ALL THINGS.

“The hardest passages of the bible are the easiest to understand.”
– Anonymous

שָׁאוּל

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Reflections from a lively discourse with my muse, Sara, about the meaning of sacrifice (the act or the idea) in 1 Samuel 15:22-23. It was brought up by Brendan during worship practice devotions.

By which God is propitious

But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23

This was the last straw for God and now he has rejected Saul as king. The monarchy failed even before it’s first king passed on. What happened?

On which the problem is great

The real underlying problem with this whole situation is that Israel was never meant to have a human king (1 Samuel 8:7, 19-21). Their only king is to be Yahweh, but they chose to reject Him. In God’s mercy, He allowed Israel to have a king (1 Samuel 12:19-25). However, his intention was never that the king (or monarchy) would overshadow God’s rule (1 Samuel 12:12-15).

If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.
1 Samuel 12:14-15

The problem was not that God set Saul up for failure, but the nation set themselves up for failure. Firstly, although God was merciful and allowed Israel their king. Israel would not be entirely satisfied with any king. In the same way that they have treated God, they now treat Saul (1 Samuel 10:27). Secondly, a human king was prone to change. Saul was outstanding physically and the Spirit of God rested on him (1 Samuel 9:2, 10:6 & 9, 11:6-8). But under man’s pressure, the good king backflips quickly (1 Samuel 13:11, 15:24).

In contrast, Yahweh is unchanging. Samuel describes God as “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” (1 Samuel 15:29)

To which the future is cautioned

These are perhaps Samuel’s most famous words, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). He states categorically that God desires obedience more than sacrifice. The religious act of sacrifice is meaningless without the moral motive of obedience. Verse 23 mentions rebellion and arrogance as the state of moral motive when religious acts are carried out without obedience. He wasn’t discrediting acts of sacrifice, instead he was saying that obedience is more important.

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Mark 12:33

This was also a warning for the future. The law was a reflection of the holy and righteous character of God. Its sacrifical rituals was the mercy of God for a sinful people – to atone for the huge gap in holiness, and a form of worship. The moral laws reflected God’s justice for the poor, hungry, widows and fatherless. The importance of the law, sacrifical rituals and moral code in reflecting the holiness, righteousness and justice of God will not change, but it’s weakness will be revealed in God’s people.

In the future, the kingdom of Israel and Judah would religiously meet the requirements of the sacrifical rituals without the moral code (Isaiah 1:8-17, Jeremiah 7:22-24, Matthew 12:7). It will deepen the habit of atoning for sin without any change of behaviour and heart (Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8). This pattern will increase in intensity until the law and traditions become so twisted that religious observance becomes the form of “righteousness” (Matt 5:20, Luke 8:9-13).

The weakness of the law is this: it’s inability to change people because it works from the outside in.

For whom Christ came for

Today, we are told to read our bibles and pray everyday, join a church and give our tithe (amongst a million other things). Our stories are often the same. The pattern of religiously doing traditions without a change of heart. Unless these acts flow out of His love and grace (1 Corinthians 15:10) that compels us to bring our faith to action (James 2:17-18, John 14:15), they are absolutely meaningless.

Only one God-man could right this wrong. Jesus Christ made good by rectifying the problem from the root (Psalm 40:6-8, Hebrews 10:6-9). He is the King, who is God (Mark 15:2, John 18:36, 2 Peter 1:11). He does only what is obedient to the Father and that is His only goal (John 4:34). The heart of God in the law is summarised in Christ (Mark 12:33). He was obedient even to the sacrifice of Himself (Philippians 2:8). He sent forth the Holy Spirit who works to God’s will from the inside out (John 16:13, 2 Corinthians 4:16). It has all been done for us!

Never before has it been easier to be obedient to a loving God.

At least be as smart as a bush

In the debates over evolution, be sure you do not become less intelligent than the beasts, the birds, the bushes, and the fish. They know something the brilliant godless do not know.

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7–10

Blogged by John Piper at desiringgod.org. Source here.

Context schmontext

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:23-25

Kudos to my younger brother (Darius) who blogged about verse, giving me fresh revelation.

Up until now, I have read verse 23 without looking beyond. Just reading verse 23-24, Paul’s exhortation to be doers sound almost like a command without a clue. It reads like, “If you listen and don’t do, you’re an idiot.”

But the true gems of this passage is found in the verses following.

“Whoever looks intently… not forgetting what they have heard… continues in it”
As Darius pointed out, the key is to be a hearer. A very persistent hearer. In a similar principle to Luke 6:45 (and Proverbs 4:23), our doing is an overflow of what we put in. The more we put in and keep putting in, more is stored inside and more will overflow! Our actions are no more than the spillover!

“into the perfect law that gives freedom”
The perfect law that gives freedom is none other than the law of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1). As my father says, “Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice make perfect”, by this he means that practicing the right thing is as important as practicing itself. In context, we need to be looking intently at the right thing – the freedom in Christ. We do what we hear not out of fear or obligation but out of freedom – because we can.

“they will be blessed in what they do”
Another way of saying it in the KJV is “shall be blessed in his deed”. Our doing is blessed when (because) it stems from an outflow of persistently soaking in his freedom.

It’s hard to do, but it certainly is not hard to persistently enjoy the freedom that is in Christ!

Choose where you live

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

An interesting note about the 2 passages that I have been looking at:
Luke 10:38-42
Psalm 27:4-6, see also Psalm 91:1

Although Jesus did not say what the “one thing” is, in Psalm 27, David, the greatest worshipper of all time seems to have found it years ago (Psalm 27:4). That is the core difference between Mary and Martha.

To Martha, Jesus had come into her home and she was being a good host ensuring his comfort and provision. But Mary had come into Jesus’ home and he was being a good host ensuring her comfort and provision. In the words of David, she dwelled in the house of the Lord. When Christ came in, it became his house. He is master. Interesting point to note: Martha’s name means “mistress” in Judeo-Aramaic, the feminine form of master (מרה).

It looks like a picture of what happens when Christ comes into our hearts. Some try to balance him around their home (read: hearts), rearranging things in their lives to ensure God is entertained and his needs are provided for. But others go into His home, and everything they do is a outworking of gratitude (Psalm 27:6) – he is the master. When we dwell in the wrong place, we’re bound to end up like Martha.

Jesus doesn’t need our entertainment or provision. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need to do the washing, cleaning or make the bed. It means that our service is done out of gratitude, rest and joy. Not because he demands it, but because we enjoy him.

He also says that it is a choice (Luke 10:42)! Mary had chosen what is better – not right or wrong, but better. We can live like Martha as well, but it will cause frustration and worry. But when we choose to live as Mary does, it “will not be taken away” from us, it is a choice for “all the days of my life”.

When we choose to dwell in the right place, we will find provision and protection (Psalm 91:1, Psalm 27:5), and praise (Psalm 27:6) will follow.

Woody shooting

Back to the start

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. ~Seneca

“What you invest in is what you will have. What you don’t invest in, is what you will not have.”

God affirms his principle of reaping and sowing in my life. It feels like a strange way to say, “watch what you have been pouring your life into”. He did not say if it was wrong or inadequate, but what he did say is: take stock.

“Of what? Against what?” I ask.

It seems obvious – of where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going.

“This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~Jeremiah 29:4-7

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” ~Jeremiah 29:10-14

The decision to stay in Australia can be sumed up in 2 words: prepare and prosper. That was God’s revelation for us when we decided to stay. He promised to prosper us and we were to prepare for the ministry to come.

We were to sink our roots into this land. We were to live as people of the land. To give to the land and take from it. To be part of a people and live as they live. We were not to live as foreigners or aliens, but to consider ourselves natives.

But we were also to expect a leaving when our time is up. To where, we don’t yet know. What we do know is that we will be called out from where we are to where He wants us to be. It will be a designation of His divine purpose and plan. He promises that it will not be to our harm, but for our good.

Now it is time to ask some difficult questions:

  • Have we prospered? In what ways?
  • Are we rooted? In what areas of our lives are we rooted and in what areas of our lives are we not?
  • Are we prepared? How have we prepared? What parts of our lives are we unprepared?

Auto-tune me life

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

So I’ve put Undercover down. It is now sitting somewhere at the backseat of my car. I just couldn’t finish it, it really doesn’t sit right with me. How can I leave my brains at the door and obey everything that any person in authority tells me (assuming it isn’t against morals/law)? Did Jesus not say many times to listen to His voice and not man’s (it doesn’t mean ignore man/authority, but God first)?

Well, anyway, I just couldn’t finish the book off because John Bevere does not go on to provide a balanced view of what is presented biblically. Maybe he is teaching what troubled pastors itching ears want to hear. No doubt, he is a man who is after God’s heart, but I just don’t agree with his view or the way the book is presented.

Anyway, I’m on to another book. Marriage Takes More Than Love by Jack and Carole Mayhall. I’m halfway through the book and I must say that it is pretty enlightening and engaging. It is sparsely littered with bible verses at the end of (almost) every chapter to substantiate the author’s views, but most of it is practical knowledge applied from biblical principles. Like little beads of wisdom, if you will. Their stories are engaging and their ideas are insightful and their recommendations are do-able. Its amazing that they write so openly. Its as if, after reading half the book, you know them half well as a couple. Anyway, its a pretty good book and an interesting read with basic ideas that are well put across and inspiring.

We’re also doing this devotional book together: Just Us: Finding Intimacy with God and Each Other by David and Jan Stoop. Short devotions with simple topics, talking points for each day and short prayers at the end. We’re finding it very useful to get started talking about very basic ideas which perhaps need to be explored a little further and sometimes are just as shallow and factual. Its a good place to start with devotions as a couple because it is easy to read and non-threatening (not one of those devotions for martyr couples or something). Some of the talking points don’t quite match the point of the devotion, which is a little strange. Still, we’re enjoying the book and looking forward to each new day and topic.

I’ve paused on my decision-making book until I finish the marriage book since Sara wants me to read that one first because she’s already finished it. She likes listening to what I get out of the book and how I feel about what I’ve read.

I realise that what really helps me is the wind down time I have everyday. After work I go home and I get a good 30mins – 1hour of alone time before I shower and go off again to pick Sara up and head to her place for dinner. In that time, I play a game, watch some youtube, catch up with facebook updates and reorganise my life for the next day. Towards the end of the wind down time I always feel sleepy, but it actually energises me. Without that wind down time, I’m grumpier than usual.

Recently, I’ve been playing with I Am T-Pain. It is absolutely awesome. Auto-tune is the bestest thing since… pants were created. It is so much fun! I wanna make a recording with it and write songs and stuff, BUT I haven’t got a laptop. Yes, I am in need of a Macbook Pro. But well, that can wait. I’ve been surfing youtube, watching really interesting videos everyday. My recent favourites are Psycho Girlfriend, Online Gamer and the old Gruen Transfer. Brilliant stuff.

Time for bed. I have 8 hours of sleep before getting up again for a full on day. I haven’t had the time to upload more pictures because the week has been pretty rough (in terms of time). It’ll come about sometime. And I wanna buy film to play with my old Smena Symbol as well. But that can wait. For now, sleep.

God is good!

Here is my new favourite pickup line, it was written from Russell Brand to Katy Perry in the book he gave her. Apparently, the line captured her heart!

“You are a mermaid, and I am drowning”

The scholar’s warm bum

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Yesterday’s sermon was hard hitting and it hit hard.

Derek is definitely right when he says we’ve listened to sermon after sermon only for the word to go in and out the other side. Christine’s outburst about our passiveness to apply sermons to our lives is absolutely right. How many sermons have I turned into action or lifestyle? How many have caused transformation in my life? It’s my responsibility to move me – not the preacher’s.

“Between promise and possession is a fight.” – Ps Joel Chelliah

I hang on to the passion to transform lives, the prophesy of fiery preaching and promise of truth bearing. But that is all I’ve ever done, I’ve hang on. I’ve been hanging on for so long that it’s all I know how to do.

I’ve been waiting for transformation to be breathed into me, fiery preaching to appear out of the blue, truth bearing to come from the sky. It’s time to work my faith. Some would say that is strife and there is no strife in God. No no, that is not strife. That is growth. This is growth.

“There are no miracles in the boat”

I think I understand what God has been trying to tell me.

Minus sized models

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

“Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
coneys are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
locusts have no king,
yet they advance together in ranks;
a lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Proverbs 30:24-28 (New International Version)

Nature of the passage

The writer points to 4 creatures on earth, giving reasons as to why they are considered wise yet without an explanation of their characteristic/nature which makes them wise. Interestingly enough, characteristics that are contrary to their wisdom is mentioned. This passage might not be written as an instruction of what can make us wise, but states that we can possess wisdom inspite of circumstances. It is an observation of the nature of wisdom and its presence in nature as appointed by God.

Big Things Come in Small Packages

A distinguishing quality of all of these things is that they are small. Sometimes we imagine small to be insignificant, unimportant and weak. It is often seen as below average and inferior. This is applied across the use of the word in the magnitude, extent, quantity and scale.

The bible defies all understanding of the word small to and uses “extremely wise” to describe these things. God obviously looks beyond what the world sees as big or small, but looks deeper (1 Sam 16:7). People whom the world deems as small have been used mightily by God (Zaccheus, Luke 19 or Samuel, 1 Samuel 3). Being small is not a determinant of being wise or being used of God.

The Ant

Relative to it’s size, the ant is amongst the strongest creatures on the earth. However, looking at things in proportion is only useful when everything else is the same proportion. The ant’s raw strength is so small that my brother’s harmless kitten can squish it for entertainment. Little kids burn them with magnifying glasss in summer. In fact, it is quite a skill to pick up an ant without killing it.

Have we ever had a rainy day when we had no storage of food, money or friends? I’ve had days when I had no money, simply because I did not save. When the money came in, the money went out. When a need arose, my pockets were empty. An ant could only carry small leaves, grains of sugar, bits of lollies around, while we can do so much more. Putting our hands to the plough, we could do so much better and store up much more, yet many of us don’t. Sometimes our excuse for not saving and storing up is that we don’t or can’t earn much. That would have been the ant’s excuse. He would have grumbled that “my job doesn’t pay much” or “I can only carry so little”. Yet, with their little strength, they do. Little by little, the so little adds up to so much. The so little is what enables them to weather through winter.

Did I not have a brain to think that saving and storing was important? My Mum always told me that saving was important. We humans have 10 000 million brain cells while an ant has only 250 000. So I did. When I had money, I would buy packets and packets of maggie mee. When my money ran out, at least I had instant noodles. But that was foolishness! Maggie mee didn’t allow me to travel, make friends, bless others, or go on missions trips. I had maggie mee only because I didn’t want to get scolding from my Mum when I was out of money and hungry. Maggie mee solved the problem of being hungry, but that isn’t the source of the problem. I needed to store things that were of value. Ants store food, and food ensures their survival through winter but not just for survival, it ensures that new eggs can be laid.

What we see of ants is that they carry things around back to their nest. What we don’t realise about this is that they do it on Saturdays and Sundays as well, they do it in the summer heat. With ants, late spring and early summer is their best time. Decomposing animals and fruits are in abundance, the weather is just right. Female queens grow wings and dance around looking for partners. Doesn’t that sound like our summer? Summer is probably the best time to splurge and enjoy. It’s the holidays and you get to go out shopping or to the movies everyday with friends. But if our excuse for not storing up is that it’s not the season to, watch out – winter is coming.

Take the opportunity while things are looking up to store up. Although we might not be able to store much at a time, the little that we store grows. When tough times hit, we’ll be thankful we did.

More to come…

Qoutes

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

“Think like a Calvinist, live like an Armenian.”
– Doc John

Truth about living

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Words in my head

The truth about living is that it doesn’t matter all that much. Everyone takes it too seriously. Life is worth living but living is not worth all that much. Certainly not worth your life.

“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
Luke 17:33

Let go.