Saturday, January 24, 2009

Holding Myself in Readiness…

The disciples of Jesus once asked Him a question saying, Master, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?”  Jesus replied them saying, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many.  And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”

Then Jesus went ahead and told them the following interesting story, “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

As I read the two Bible passages above (Matthew 24:3-14 and Matthew 25:1-13 NLT) they served as fresh reminders to me of God’s desire for His people to be constantly prepared and ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ (Revelation 22:12, Revelation 3:11). I realized afresh how God desires for His people to be rooted and grounded in Christ (Ephesians 3:17-19), so that they are not shaken by any unpleasant experiences they might encounter in the world due to their affiliation with Him (Luke 21:12). How He seeks for a people who have broken out of religious mentalities and are no longer bound by the traditions of men (Matthew 15:3-6); and realize that worship is no longer tied to a place but is a condition of the heart (John 4:21-24), as such we must pray always and not faint so as to maintain a steady flow of fresh oil and power from Him (Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

I realize today that being a Christian goes beyond going to church and attending numerous church programmes, but rather its more about seeking to do God’s will as His kingdom is being established here on earth (Matthew 6:33).
Today going to church should no longer be an end to itself because  ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:9 NKJV, 1 Corinthians 3:16). He wants His people to realize that they have become the habitation of God (1 Corinthians 3:16), therefore they are to stay alert and carry Him wherever they go. The Master wants His people to hold themselves in readiness for Him.



Friday, January 9, 2009

Pressing On With Positive Change...

There’s an old story I once heard about two men that went to fish. One of them in addition to his fishing gears also carried along a ruler. Now both men stayed side by side of each other as they fished.  Unfortunately, one of the two men only caught fish that were of very little sizes, while the other man seemed to be more fortunate as he caught very big sized fish. But strangely he measured every of the big fish he caught with his ruler, and the ones that were greater than his ruler, he would angrily throw back into the river, while the ones that were of the size of his ruler or even smaller, he would gladly place in his basket. After fishing for a long time in frustration, the one who caught only small fish, turned to his friend with a mixture of envy and bewilderment on his face, and asked him if this was a new fishing technique. If not, why would he catch the desirable big fish and throw them all back into the river except the ones that measured with his ruler or even smaller. The one who caught all the big fish quickly replied him saying, “my friend I’m only catching fish that measures the same size as my frying pan” and he continued fishing (he could have simply bought a bigger sized frying pan instead).

This story reminds me of a passage in the Bible, where it says, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskin will perish. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved together. Also no one having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, the old is better” (Luke 5:37-39). The story told above is an illustration of the last portion of that passage of scripture - Also no one having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, the old is better. Why do people naturally tend to resist a change to something new? Have you heard such statements as, “Oh, the good old days!”? I believe that it’s only a reflection of the fear of the uncertainty of the new. Fear of the experience of a tomorrow which you can’t predict. Fear of the experience of trying out a new idea which no one else has ever tried and proved before, therefore you are not even sure if it will work; and what would people think of me if I fail in this venture? 

Of course the fear of the unknown is as old as man. That’s why it usually takes great courage to face up to new challenges or pioneer a new field of thought or duty. A reminder of Noah who went ahead and built an ark when people of his time had never seen or known what was rain. They must have wondered what he was building that ark for; they must have laughed at him and may have even considered him as a crazy fellow. And probably when he told them that rain was going to fall not too long from then, they must have written him off as gone bananas. They had never seen rain before; it was a new phenomenon to them in their time. But God had revealed to Noah about the rain which was to come. It was the fact that it was a revelation from God that gave him all the courage that he needed. It was a new idea. With the Almighty God lies every new thing. The Bible says that his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Therefore when we stay connected to God, He shows us new things ahead of our time! That’s why I believe it’s very important to enter the New Year with God, and even more importantly, to stay connected to God all through the year. 

Some important things I have learned from the stories above and would like to share, is that in order to step fully into the new, it is better to step out of the old first (Proverbs 28:13, Luke 5:36-38), otherwise, the old will always hinder the new. I can’t achieve new results by working with old ideas. This means that I must endeavor to make a critical review of my past in all honesty to myself so as to learn the lessons that will propel me into my future. Then I must forget the past (Philipians 3:13), after picking up the lessons therein, and laying hold of God’s grace, press on into the future by living out my best each day. Consequently, the passion with which I deal with my today is the only testimony I have concerning my tomorrow. Therefore, my present must essentially be transformed continually to reflect what I believe that God has said about my future (Romans 12:2)

I believe that this is the call for everyone who has put their trust in God today. That all the stains of yesteryears are wiped clean, and the future is stainless like a clean sheet (2 Corinthians 5:17), because the mercies of God are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). That the guarantee for tomorrow’s glory is Christ in me today (Colossians 1:27)! That my tomorrow has no bearing with my yesterday anymore, if I change today, and Christ in me is able to help make that change (2 Corinthians 3:18, James 1:23-25). Rather than making New Year resolutions that end up not working and only create an uncertain tomorrow for me, it is better to put my trust in Jesus Christ. With Him, every step that I take into the future is with the data that comes from God and victory is assured! 


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Passing Through the Gate…

The New Year is here again, and many like me are still basking in the euphoria of having left the old year behind, and being among those alive to witness this new one. On the last night of the last year, I was in church for the “crossover church service”. While there, I saw the huge crowd of people in attendance unlike a normal Sunday church service, I thought to myself, how wonderful it is - the way people sense the need of entering the New Year in a church (or call it the presence of God if you would). I also realised how important it is for every person to carry the presence of God in the times we are entering. I realised even further that in the place of prayer and worship (presence of God) we can lay hold of God’s supernatural power. In other words we can, by the help of God, and through prayer, do extraordinary things that go beyond normal human understanding (Psalms 18:29). We can outwit every plan of the enemy by receiving supernatural information and power from God in the place of prayer (Ephesians 6:11, 18).


These are some tips that God has downloaded in my heart as I entered into the New Year. Now I understand that God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8), and will not change the times in order to suit my whims. Rather, He has enabled me to change continually, and as necessary until I come into His acceptable and perfect will for my life (Psalms 18:32, Romans 12:2).


It is for this reason that I must now review my conducts, habits and attitudes. Because I expect the multiple blessings of God this year, I must increase my capacity to receive them, and it’s not merely by placing stickers on my car bearing such inscriptions as, “My Year of Double Portion”, or “My Year of Supernatural Increase”. As good as such affirmations are, yet it is very essential that I make the necessary adjustments in my life so as to come into the place of such blessings (Psalms 68:19, 1 Corinthians 2:9) which God in His boundless bounty has prepared for all His children this year and beyond.


I must realise that although there may be tough times ahead, yet they would not necessarily be bad times, because such times will only serve as defining moments (1 Peter 1:7, 2 Corinthians 4:7-9) for those who are truly in tune with the Almighty God.


This is the sound of the season we have entered in.  That even though governments may change for the worse, global and local economic crises may worsen, and even natural disasters may occur (Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:11), yet it is in these times that the ‘Daniels’ and ‘Josephs’ of our time will be manifested (Genesis 41:56, Daniel 2:47-48).


Therefore I need to watch what I do with my body and my time (Ephesians 5:16). God wants His people to be blessed. His plan is to take us out of poverty to the place of abundance (3 John 1: 2). I believe that God is moving His people from places of strife and contention to places of harmony and unity in this season. From places of darkness to places of light (Genesis 1:3, John 1:5, Psalms 18:28). From death and destruction, to life and peace (John 1:4, Ezekiel 37:4-12, John 10:10).


I believe that God wants to rescue His people this year from the place of poverty, shame, sickness, deprivation, and fear to the place of strength, courage, wisdom, wholeness and soundness of mind and body (Isaiah 54:4, 61:3, 7, 2 Timothy 1:7).


Again, I realised that there is really nothing new on this earth except the grace of God (Ecclesiastes 6:10, Lamentations 3:22-23). Therefore, this year I need to be found in that place of His grace (in the place of prayer) because it is in that place that supernatural strength is released. And we all need an empowerment from within to enable us succeed and prosper in His will for us this year and beyond.


Consequently I need to rise up in the knowledge and understanding of my spiritual position in God and walk in that revelation towards my destiny. I must pass through the gates (Luke 13:24) into my land of inheritance (Psalms 16:5, Psalms 47:4). Many of us require strength to push through to the next level. Many of us require wisdom to operate in the next dimension. Many of us need to change the way we think to allow for new ideas. We cannot put new wine in old wineskins any more!


Let it be sufficient to know that God already has our victory planned (1 Corinthians 15:57, 1 John 5:4), therefore we must rise up in faith and in prayer this year. We must lay hold of our inheritance in Christ. Indeed it’s a reflection of His love for us! Happy New Year and Happy New You!