Monday, April 27, 2009

God also exercises faith!

Whilst writing on another topic, I sensed that the Lord is giving me the revelation that God also exercises faith in us, even as He asks faith from us.

God expects faith from us
Firstly, we must accept that God does expect faith from us. The word of God is very clear that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Abraham was justified by faith. "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." (Rom 4:3).

Abraham’s exercise of faith: By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him[God] faithful who had made the promise (Heb 11:11). By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." (Heb 11:17-18) Abraham believed that God knew what He was doing, and that if God so desired, He could provide His own sacrificial animal, in place of Isaac; but even if he indeed had to sacrifice Isaac, he was willing.

David - the man after God's heart
Why do I say God also exercises faith?

King David is so well known to many of us because of these verses in the Bible:
1 Sam 13:13-14 "You acted foolishly," Samuel said [of King Saul]. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command." (NIV)
Acts 13:22b 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (NIV) or 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' (NKJ)

There are 2 interesting points to note:

1. It is quite obvious that God implied obeying His commands as one of the reasons David was a man after His own heart, especially if we look at the circumstances (1 Sam 13:13-14) in which God first said David was a man after His own heart.

2. If you look at the timing of the declaration, God did not say David was a man after His heart at the end of his life. I do not think the declaration was an after the fact statement. i.e God did not say this, after witnessing the entire life of David. I think it is likely to be along the following lines:
God had watched David from young, even as a shepherd boy, as a young man and then "by faith" He said David is a man after His heart and would do everything He would want him to do (NIV) or would do all His will (NKJ).

We will return to King David’s story a little later. Now let us look at another character in the Bible.

Job - the man who refused to curse God
If we look at the case of Job, who suffered greatly at the hand of Satan with the consent of God, we will find God’s expression of faith in another man at a stage in the man’s life and not at the end of his life. This is what is written of Job before Satan started testing him:
Job 1:1-2 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

You can read the entire story of Job in the Book of Job but it suffices here to say that progressively Job lost almost everything – he lost his flock, his riches, all his children, finally his health. His friends accused him of wrongdoings, his wife told him to curse God and die. Job hung on and refused to curse God, and eventually God more than restored him (except for the children, doubled the rest).

The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years. (Job 42:12-17).

The interesting thing here is that either Satan was stupid or there was a real challenge/wager. Satan surely would be stupid to challenge God if he knew for a fact that God would influence Job (his volition) in his reactions to the tests that he(Satan) threw at Job. Satan would be equally stupid to challenge if he knew God already knew the outcome. I believe that God trusted Job for the outcome; it was NOT the outcome was already fixed, and so, correctly, God did NOT know. If God had known the outcome, I believe Satan would have known. If you believe Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18 refer to Satan, you would agree that Satan was not stupid. I believe God exercised faith in Job – God believed in Job. Satan challenged God’s faith in Job. God took the risk.

Had Job caved in and cursed God, God would have been shamed. But God’s faith was not misplaced.

Satan still challenging God's faith in men
I believe Satan did not stop challenging God’s faith in men. Take King David, for example, God said David was a man after His own heart before David was made the King after King Saul. David did face many tests and challenges in his life, subsequently, and in some of which, he did falter. Indeed, it was an expression of God’s faith in David (and NOT an after the fact statement) when God told Samuel that David was a man after His own heart and would be made the next King, replacing King Saul, because we know from the Bible, King David did falter a number of times in his life when he was tempted.

King David was a man after God’s heart yet he broke NOT one or two but 3 of the 10 commandments of God at "one go" when he (1) coveted another man’s wife, (2) slept with her and (3) planned the death of the woman’s husband (You can read the full story in 2 Sam 11:1-26). This is just one of the occasions that King David had faltered. There are others. Although there was no direct wager between God and Satan in this instance (unlike the case with Job), I believe God was “shamed”, and rightly, the Bible recorded in 2 Sam 11:26 that what David did, did displease God.

Interestingly, God still allowed the inclusion of “David, a man after His own heart”, in the New Testament, in the Books of Acts. We need to study more into the life of David to see what David did right that God still held him in honours. One thing we can conclude here is that God does not necessarily write off a person just because he faltered. We should all take heart in this.

God - not poor judge of characters
When we look at King David, and we have looked at a bit of his life above, what are we to say; God has a poor judgement of character? God can be wrong? No, to me I believe it only goes to show 2 things:

1. God did not create us as robots, preprogrammed us to act in a particular and exact manner. Instead God created us with a free will (volition), a will to obey him, to resist temptations, etc

2. God does not control every of our moves, even though He can control them. In this regard, I cannot agree with people who said that since God already know what they would do in the future and yet He still allowed them to be saved by accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they would surely enter the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns, no matter what sin(s) they had committed (since accepting Jesus) and are unrepentant of it/them. The fact is that a Christian can still choose to sin. I think it goes against the very basic reason for Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, if we say that sins after accepting Jesus do not lead to eternal death (which is living in Hell). The word of God is very clear that the wages of sin is [eternal] death (Rom 6:23). That is why Paul emphasized that we [after accepting Christ] cannot let sin reigns in our mortal body so that we obey its evil desires. (Rom 6:12). Nowhere in the Bible is it said that sin committed after accepting Jesus as the Lord and Saviour is any different from the same sin committed before accepting Jesus, nor is the consequence of sin said to be different.

No auto-wipe
Some believed that the blood of Jesus is so powerful that it auto-wipes all sins, the moment they were committed. So according to this school of thought, you would never be caught on the “wrong side”, whenever you die, you die righteous. According to the advocates, to look at the power of the blood of Jesus any differently is to belittle the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. To me, if this were the case, why would there be any need to talk about so many other things in the New Testament Bible; and that would include Jesus himself, who talked about so many other things. If this were the case, the New Testament Bible should only need to tell about the death and resurrection of Jesus (3 pages would be more than enough!), and then Jesus would be a license to sin – just accept Jesus and then do whatever you want.

But God is faithful to forgive
I believe it should rather be, accepting Jesus will clear you of the Original Sin (of and from Adam and Eve) and all your sins committed up to the point of accepting Jesus, and then thereafter, you have to do your utmost, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live a righteous life. When you falter, and sin, you repent and ask for forgiveness (no auto-clean but God is faithful to forgive [1 John 1:9]), and you resume (your walk with the Lord). If you falter again, you repent again and ask for forgiveness and try harder to walk straight. In this journey, God is expressing faith in you. So if you are faithful in the things that God has laid upon your heart to do, God’s faith in you is NOT profaned. He trusts that you will be dependable when He has a task for you to complete (but you can still choose not to do it). Or if you have been consistently careful to obey God’s commands, His faith in you that you will not sin, when tempted, is NOT profaned (but you can still disappoint Him if you choose to sin by giving in to the temptation).

It's a journey
The journey is a moulding process, and when taken correctly by us, will purify us, make us spotless and refined. 1 Pet 1:6b – 7 - though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

In conclusion, I want to say God is prepared to have faith in us or trust us, prepared to lose “fights” here and there (because we faltered, not Him), faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9), and He will destroy Satan, ultimately. I hope this writing will remain in the heart of readers so that the next time, he/she is about do something he/she knows is a sin or against God’s will, he/she will recall that God is trusting him/her to do the right thing. Does this article strike a chord in your heart? Is this a revelation to you, that God is exercising faith in you - one who may falter? Are you doing likewise, exercising faith in God who never falter? Are you not trusting God enough? Pray and tell God, you now understand and thank Him for exercising faith in you or trusting you. Tell Him that you want to trust Him more, and continue the race to win the prize (Phil 3:14).

Run to win,
Anthony Chia, high.expressions  – Eternality is more important

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Monday, April 13, 2009

A special Resurrection Sunday indeed

Readers, I trust that you have had a blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Indeed this 2009's Resurrection Sunday had been a special one for me.

I serve as an altar minister in my church, a good spirit-filled church. For some months now, I have been moving in the gift of words of knowledge and prophesy. I also regularly prayed for the sick in altar ministry. I believe that last Sunday, at a 10.30am service, the Lord had broken new ground with me in using me in these areas of ministry.

I believe this was the first time the Lord gave a word of knowledge to me upon "contact" with people. Previously, only under “instructed scenario” in group setting, did I ever receive words of knowledge in close contact with one another. I had been receiving regularly words of knowledge for people without "close contact". For example, I would receive words for members of church congregation before services, during services and between services, always with me referencing the congregation as a whole. Of course, the words would apply to particular people in the congregation. What happened in this particular instance was that when I re-entered the sanctuary after an earlier service which I had also attended, I stopped to talk with a lady - the mother of a little girl whom, on a previous occasion I have had the chance to minister to. There was still follow-up ministry to be done in relation to the little girl. During the short conversation about the status of appointment fixing through the church, I suddenly felt an unmistakable pain sensation on my back. It came for a brief moment, and when I acknowledged in my heart that it was a word of knowledge from the Lord, it left. The praise and worship had started during the conversation, so we stopped and I walked to my usual seat in the front of the sanctuary. I started to sing and then a thought just came into me that the word was for the lady I talked to, in addition to it being applicable for other people in the congregation. I walked back over to the lady, who was at an aisle seat, and asked her if she had a backache. She answered immediately that she had the backache for several years now. I then told her that she should go out to the altar area for prayer later, in the service's usual time allotted for ministry time after the release of words of knowledge by those used by God in this area.

For this particular service, I also received other words of knowledge for healing conditions. I had words on hip pain, knee pain as well as "pain" in the thigh (on the "inside"). Just that you might know, for my case, often the words of knowledge come in the form of sensations on my body, sometimes in the form of pain, sometimes in other forms of sensations. For example, I received the distinct hip pain sensation after the earlier service (8.30am service), just after I left the sanctuary to get a hot drink at the church's hospitality corner. I received it while walking to the hospitality corner, and when I acknowledged it, it was gone by the time I reached the coffee table. I thought in my heart I must release these words and expected God to move. I was excited. Whenever, the Lord did a new thing I would be excited. Perhaps, in another entry, I would talk a little about the attitude of a servant in moving in the Spirit.

In this spirit-filled church where the Senior Pastor endeavours not to quench the moves of the Holy Spirit, we typically would have praise and worship followed by a time for release of words of knowledge and prophesy under the discernment of the church leadership, and then as the members of the congregation respond to the words and come down to the altar area, pastors and altar ministers would minister to those who come forward. However, for this particular service, to my great disappointment, no time was given for the release of words of knowledge (The reason was our invited speaker had asked for more time and that in this particular service, a team was going out for a short-term mission trip and the church would like the congregation to pray for the team). I felt "stranded". Of course, such situations where I received words of knowledge but without the chance to release them, happened before, and at times, I would let the words went unreleased after talking with the Lord (Maybe, in another entry I will talk about this a bit more). But this time I just felt I could not let it be.

But I could not disrupt the service, you should know I was not a pastor or a staff of the church. I was just a member, used by the Lord regularly in these particular works. I was and is still very thankful for the church leadership, especially the Senior Pastor of the church, for believing in me and "risked it" with me, especially in the initial weeks that the Lord had used me in these areas. I had 2 choices, one was to just let it go, the other was to stay until the end of the service and wait for an altar ministry time, hopefully, at the end of service, which was reasonable to expect since it happened in the other two services that I attended for this particular invited speaker.

What do you know! This particular Resurrection Sunday was also my birthday; yes, this year my birthday coincided with Resurrection Sunday. My elder sister had earlier confirmed with me that she had arranged to celebrate my birthday with a lunch at a restaurant. This lunch would have my mother and my siblings and their families attending, also my children too. I told her I would be done by 11.30 am in the morning as I expected words of knowledge and ministry time after praise and worship which typically would end by that time. My children were already waiting outside since 11.00am (they finished serving in Sunday School of the church). So, if I wanted to stay behind and wait for the end of service altar ministry, I would have to firstly get my children to wait for another 1 1/2 hours, secondly tell my sister that I could not meet her at 11.30am to go to the restaurant (without meeting her, I would not know where the restaurant was. I only knew it was at Joo Chiat, on the east, far away from the church), and thirdly I would have to sit through the same Resurrection "testimony sermon" for a third time (Mind you, sometimes, even pastors did not want to do that). On top of that my cell-phone had gone flat on me, which meant I would have problem communicating with my siblings after service. The other alternative was to choose the first option, i.e. to let it be and leave for my birthday lunch. But that would mean I would not get to see to the conclusion, the new thing I believed that the Lord was doing. In addition, I had already suggested to the lady I talked to, earlier, to go out for prayer.

By now I have already learnt that, at times, when the Lord wants to use us for some tasks, it would not necessarily be the most convenient time for us, or that we would be in the best of mood to serve (Maybe, more of this, in another entry, in future). I chose to stay. I went out of the sanctuary for a brief moment, just to tell my children who were waiting outside the sanctuary and made a final phone call before the phone battery went flat on me, to my sister to tell her that I could only leave after the service, probably after 12.30pm. She was protesting, but I told her I could not talk, and went back into the sanctuary.

At about 12.00 noon, when I felt the speaker was about to end her message with an altar call, I approached my Senior Pastor and told him that I have had words of knowledge that I had to release.

I did get the chance to release the words to the congregation. As soon as I finished releasing the words, people started queueing in front of me for prayers. At the corner of my eyes, I could see many people have come forward on my left side for prayer, and there were ministers praying for them. I prayed for the people in front of me, one after another. After praying for 2 or 3 people, I realised there were more still waiting for me to pray for them. I was thinking then that I must pray for the lady I talked to, earlier but she was too far on the left and when I looked to the left, I could see so many people (people who came forward for prayer) blocking my view; I could not see her; and there were still people in front of me waiting for me to pray for them. I reached into my pocket for my bottle of anointing oil.

A week earlier, while waiting upon the Lord in my quiet time with the Lord, I believed the Lord wanted me to minister sometimes with anointing oil. I went into action and search for a suitable bottle for putting the oil in. Subsequently during the week leading to Good Friday, I bought a bottle of olive oil and prepared the anointing oil which I carried in my pocket. I remembered praying to the Lord to anoint the oil for use.

This was the first time I used anointing oil to pray for people. With the anointing oil I prayed on, for more and more people. For some of the people I prayed for, I could feel heat when I laid my hands on their foreheads. For some, I could see them swayed a little back and fro under the power of the Spirit, although none of them were slained. It might as well, because there were no "catchers" for the people I was praying for (Sometimes, this happened, but often we would have catchers). Some of them had tears running down their eyes when the Spirit ministered to them. I prayed for the lady I talked to, earlier, last. She told me that while she was waiting for me, she could feel a weight had left her. And when I was finally with her and talked with her before praying, she said she could feel "an air" between us. I believed that, that was the Spirit's presence. This was after about an hour of ministering/praying for people. I could not believe it, time flew, and later when I tried to recall the number of people that I had prayed for, I could remember at least 7 people. I knew I could not remember a few I prayed for, especially the first few. So all in all, I could have prayed for maybe 10 or so people in that period of time. All the people I prayed for, as far as I could remember, had one or more of the conditions I released words for; and all the conditions released were accounted for. I marvelled at the conviction of the Holy Spirit that came with the release of the words of knowledge. 10 or so people, were only those whom I prayed for, there were many more who were being prayed for on my left and on my right by other ministers. The faith of the people who came forward were strong, imagine, some of them waited for more than half an hour if not more before they got their turns to be prayed by me. 2 ladies I prayed for, actually waited, not for themselves but for someone else, i.e. they stood as proxies for others - one was for her mother, another for a friend - a church member who was not at the service. One person I prayed for, was a lady I prayed for, a couple of months ago at a "Matthew and Friends" party (an outreach party). She was the interpreter for the outreach. She told me before I started praying for her hip pain, that her tearing eye condition which I prayed for her at the outreach party, never came back since that night I prayed for her. There was another lady, she had bad knees. By being able to walk as soon as she got up from a sitting position, which was something she could not do previously, I believe she had been healed. I told her that she must thereafter believe and behave like what she had just done twice, got up and confidently just walked. I look forward to hearing testimonies from the people who have been ministered.

I finished at about 1.00 pm, and right about that time a sister of mine came into the sanctuary and said that she had come to guide me to the restaurant. And so, I drove to the restaurant, following behind her car, and got to the restaurant quickly. Perhaps, a few at the lunch were a little upset but I told them I had no choice, God came first. We had a good meal.

If you are a pastor reading this, please pardon me if you feel what had happened/written here are too minor to talk about; I am no pastor and value the privilege and honour of being used by God in this manner, and believe that if I am faithful to my duty, greater things will He enable me to do for His glory. Perhaps, this write-up would either encourage some brothers and sisters or give some understanding to them regarding how God might choose to minister and that God could use them too. To God be the glory.

In His Service,
Anthony Chia, high.expressions

To hear the actual words of knowledge:
First, click on the player once, to "lock it" in.
Then click on the play button (twice).

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What is high.expressions all about?

Yah, What is high.expressions all about?
What is this blog for?

high.expressions is first of all about expressions.
What is an expression?
The adopted meaning here is the outward manifestation of a disposition.
For example, my tears are an expression of my grief.
It follows then, making music, singing, reciting psalms and hymns, dancing, clapping of hands are expressions.
So are words of encouragement, rebuke, even chastisement.
It will also include words of knowledge and prophesy. Even testimonies glorifying God.

Does it not then, also include vulgarities, condemnation and the likes?
Yes, but these are excluded here because we are interested only in high expressions.

By high I mean, exalted in rank, station, eminence, etc.; of exalted character or quality; pure, praiseworthy; even noble, sacrificial;

This is a Christian blog, so high.expressions is about our high expressions to the Lord and/or His, to us. For example, our sincere praise and worship weekly unto the Lord is one of our high expressions to the Lord; and the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ on the cross is one, if not, the highest expression of God's love for man. Also, God's dealings with man is in itself, God's high.expressions.

Although I might allow anything concerning the Christian faith to be expressed here, I am starting this blog with the hope of having more writings of the high.expressions made here. I am not sure myself how much of what I will write on this blog would fall under high.expressions proper, I will leave it to... (you know who!).

What if "out of topic" issues are written here. Well, I get to decide what will stay on and what will not. You have to accept that, that prerogative is mine.

May this blog be used by God to minister.

Anthony Chia

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