Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I too must testify to the goodness of God

Some previous articles did not make it
It has been some time since I last I put up an entry on myself. Actually, I think I have written an article or two, but they were “curfewed” because certain things, on second thought were best not publicly made known as yet. So this is a fresh new article. As I write I hope this will get onto the blog and it will not suffer the same fate as the other one or two previous articles.

It is still on
Am I still doing the little “ministry” thing? The answer is yes. In fact, ministry time after the praise and worship in my church services has become a more or less permanent feature. That is good, and I hope it stays that way. There are 2 reasons for it. Firstly, this is where I “work”. If this “working place” is gone, where would I go to work, without working what will happen to the spiritual gifts endowed. Ministry gifts are for ministry to others. If not ministering, why would there be a need for the gifts. If I still want the privilege and honor to exercise His gifts, I better want to minister. Secondly, there are many needs simply because there are many members; who have no problem? In fact, often I kind of wish I was more “powerful” so that people were helped more, more instantaneous reliefs could come to people for their problems; but I am not the God, He is; I am not the Doctor, He is; I am not the Deliverer, He is. What about the weekly Full Gospel Businessmen Meetings? Yes, that is still on-going. How much do I do there? Nothing much, but I thank the Lord for the occasions He used me there to minister in word of knowledge/prophesy, and in praying for people.

Tiny testimonies of others
Before I go blah-blah-blah again, let’s get to testimonies. As to other people’s testimonies as a result of my little “ministry”, no big testimonies to share, not even 1 big one, Lord. Maybe it is telling something! The only noticeable sign of late, was that more people voluntarily said that their conditions got better – shoulder pain/discomfort gone, leg got better and gave visiting the doctor a miss, backache from fall left over time, foot pain relieved, knee problem got better. I want to say they were all small ailments yet I also think it is not right to say that. Some of these physical ailments could really be quite a nuisance if not a torture, to the sufferers. Yes, I still witnessed people being slain under the power of God when I prayed (Of course, not very often). Some others, though did not fall, could be seen to experience touches of the Lord. I mean you could see one swerving under power of God, another, trembling, others staggering backwards (no deliberate pushing, of course); still others broke down (crying), ministered of their emotional hurts, etc. There are those who fell to the ground the moment I stretched out my hand (usually right hand) over their temples. There was one occasion, I ministered to a man who did not want to tell me his prayer need, I just held up both his hands, after a while he still got slain by the Spirit and fell like a tree to the ground.

Dream and believe
How about myself? Have I ever experienced healing from the Lord since my little “ministry” tended to be in the healing area. Foremost, I want to thank God for keeping me healthy. Except for occasional food poisoning, I was rarely sick. Well, I “cheated”, sometimes I would ask the Lord to let his healing anointing healed me first, preventively. Elijah had a cloak that carried an anointing (In 2 Kings 2:8, he parted the Jordan with it). Elisha caught hold of Elijah’s cloak and received a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. Well, between the Lord and I, I asked for the “cloak of Jehovah Rapha” (Remember, Jesus had a cloak on, when the woman with the blood issue touched Him). From time to time I would ask the Lord to charge this invisible cloak with the healing anointing. Of course, sometimes I would ask that the anointing from the cloak to heal me first-lah. No, I am not crazy. I only dream with Lord, there is no cloak on my back? It is invisible, you cannot see, can you? I say there is a spiritual healing pool at the front of the sanctuary of my church, people cannot imagine it; I can. I often prayed for angels to surround me. You cannot see my angels but that does not mean they are not there. I have seen one of them, many years ago, in a dream, an incredible creature, logic defying. So, recently when I prayed for a brother, he said he sensed angels around, perhaps one huge one at the back of me, I just looked at him, but I believed him. I did (and still do), from time to time, feel “heat” on my back, sometimes a very strong one, maybe the huge angel was pressing too closely!

Out of the blue pain and discomfort, finally gone!
There was an occasion I believed the Lord healed me. Not too long ago, for some 2 weeks I had, out of the blue, discomfort and pain in my thigh and side of my knee, on my right leg. In case, someone from the church tries to link this to one of the words of knowledge I gave in church, I want to say I had not given the “false” word of knowledge. It was “out of the blue” because it could not be due to any food I had taken; I was fasting when it came on. I was attending a 2 ½ days weekend International Disciple Making Conference. I fasted over the conference, and the discomfort and pain set in during the conference. I also did not do any strenuous exercises that could have caused it; I was at the conference (full 2 ½ day). It continued after the conference. Because I had it almost continuous throughout the days, of course when it came to weekend church services, I would not give any word of knowledge on pain/discomfort at the thigh or knee. On the 3rd weekend while in church, in my usual waiting upon the Lord for words of knowledge, I felt the pain and discomfort had left my right leg. Instead, on my left knee I felt a “pain” sensation. The latter was a sensation for a word of knowledge indicating that the Lord was desiring to minister to people with knee problems, and my right leg problem was healed by the Lord. The Lord was marvelous wasn’t he? Sometimes, this was how things worked, in one church service, I would have the sensation on one side, say, on the leg or the arm, then, at a subsequent service, the sensation jumped from the earlier one side to the other. In this way, I knew the Lord wanted also to minister to some people with the same conditions as the ones in the earlier service. Some might have thought that I merely repeated the word of knowledge for another service, but it was not like that, there was a sensing, at the least.

Lost and found
Another testimony that I want to share has nothing to do with healing. I want to thank the Lord for enabling me to get back my wallet with all the content intact. On 10/10/09 weekend, between the church and the nearby supermarket (NTUC), I lost my wallet. I was at church for the Saturday evening service. The supermarket was only a short walking distance away, next to the multi-storey car-park where I parked my car. Almost in all services, I would normally sit in the first row, but that day I sat at the 2nd row, just behind my usual seat. A slightly autistic youth was seated next to me, at the 2nd seat from the central aisle. I was at the 3rd seat. On that day the church service ended early but with an altar call that had many people going forward to the front of the sanctuary for prayer. As a voluntary lay Altar Minister, I readily went forward to minister to people. I was very hard-working that evening, I ministered to several people. Even when it was done, I did not go off immediately. The next service was the church’s youth service, and the youths had begun to stream in. I saw a youth in a wheelchair being pushed in by his mother. I had previously seen this youth before, and had on an earlier occasion prayed for him for his “condition”. This youth, I had learnt from the previous occasion, had his brain affected because of a drowning incident. In fact, the first time my anointing oil was used, it was used on this youth, not by me though, but by an overseas lady speaker who ministered to this youth, and had asked for anointing oil. I asked the mother whether I could pray for the wheel-chaired boy. The mother gladly consented. I squatted to pray for the boy, and after that the mother said she wanted prayer. She started to break down and cried as she shared of her desperations. I listened and prayed for her. After this, I went over to my seat where my belongings were, took the belongings and left the sanctuary. I walked to the supermarket to pick up some stuffs, I did squat to get some biscuit from a low shelf, and proceeded to the cashier to pay. The moment I reached for my wallet in my back trousers pocket, I got a shock, my wallet was missing. I first re-traced my steps in the supermarket but I could not find my wallet. I thought if I did not get pick-pocketed in the supermarket, I must have either dropped my wallet or got pick-pocketed in church. I doubled-back to the church. I went into the sanctuary which by now was having the youth service on. The youths were having praise and worship with free movements – for our youth service’s praise and worship, many youths would gathered at the front for worship. I went to 2nd row, to the seat that I sat earlier, spoke to a few youths at the seat and seats nearby. I looked, the youths looked; at least two youths went down to floor to see if the wallet was on the floor. I remember seeing some bags on the seats, and I counted to the correct seat that I previously sat, it was upright (the chairs were of the kind that were joined together, with common arm rests, and would flip up when no one was sitting on a seat, like those you commonly find in some cinemas). I flipped that seat just in case the wallet was sandwiched between the seat and the back of the seat, since nobody was seated down on this seat. No one could see any wallet.

My wallet had in it, my identity card, driving licence, credit cards, ATM cards, quite a bit of cash (much of it did not belong to me) and 2 important cheques; it was an “out of shape” bulky wallet. The money that did not belong to me, and the 2 cheques, they belonged to the Full Gospel Businessmen Chapter I was involved in. The cheques, one of it for an amount of $5,000/=, were for contributions for an Israel fund. Was I in deep trouble!? I checked with the church’s lost and found, it was not there. I had no choice but to call up the institutions from my sister’s house (nearby) to cancel my cards, and made a police report at the nearby Queenstown police station.

Prior to this, when I was at the supermarket picking up the stuffs that I wanted to buy, I was thinking to myself, I was very hard-working, I prayed for so many people, even for the boy on the wheel-chair and his mother when they were not even part of the adult service that I attended. Compassion moved me to pray for them. This loss of wallet shock was really a nasty one, especially I had extra money and cheques that were not my own. When I called my sister who was living nearby, she told me that “so and so” was saying there were pick-pocketers operating in the area, and could had even mingled into the church. It was upsetting, to say the least. I wondered whether or not I was pick-pocketed at the supermarket while squatting and choosing the biscuit I wanted to buy. I also wondered whether or not I was pick-pocketed at church when I was squatted and praying for the wheel-chaired boy.

At the police station, a Christian police officer attended to me. He was from the same church where I attended the Disciple Making conference mentioned above, and he too had previously functioned as Altar Minister! He kept repeating that he thought I would get my wallet back; he repeatedly said also the money and the cheques were the Lord. I told him that judging from my previous experiences of these sorts (not that I had previous case of missing wallet, but about occasions where “bad” events unexpectedly happened), the Lord was going to do something more powerful, if I kept my spirit up.

When I got home that night, I told myself not to be affected by the loss. I still had the next day to contend with. You see, weekends are serious business for me. Why? Because it is the time when I will work for the Lord. In case, there are others who had not been following this blog, I do not work in the church, I have a secular job; I go to church on the weekends for all the adult services, serving as a voluntary lay Altar Minister, giving words of knowledge and prophesy and praying for people. I watched a little TV show and then prayed and went to bed.

The next morning, as usual, I was at church early, about an hour before first service started. I saw a pastor and related my loss to him, went to the lost and found section again to see if anyone had found and surrendered the wallet there. No, no wallet was found. I went into the sanctuary. As usual, the praise and worship team was already on stage for the practice before the morning service. I looked at the 2nd row from the central aisle. The seat in question was only the 3rd seat from the aisle. All the seats were flipped up, very clearly nothing was seen except the chairs. Nevertheless, just in case the wallet got stuck at the legs of the chairs, I bent down to the floor to make very sure no wallet was there. I still remember when I did that, the papers in my shirt pockets fell out on the carpeted floor. I then moved to 1st row, to my usual seat, also 3rd one from the aisle, directly in front of the seat I sat the previous day.

I told the Lord I had to do all the things that I normally do. The hour before the first service is the time I would spend doing prayer-walk around the front of the sanctuary, around the spiritual healing pool I talked about above, interceding for the services (for the praise and worship, inclusive of the team on stage, the speaker for the day, the ministers who would be ministering at the front, etc), as I walked. I would also pray for my own little “ministry”, and intercede for some people after the prayer walk. These things I must do and I must keep my spirit up, I told myself. In fact, that morning before leaving home, I told my son that I thought of staying until the end of 2nd service because the speaker looked like he would be doing altar calls at the end of services (he did the previous day). I normally stayed until the end of the ministry time after the second services’ praise and worship; I would not stay to listen to the same sermon for a 3rd time (I would have heard the same sermon on the Sat evening service and Sunday’s 1st service), so staying until the end of the 2nd service on Sunday was not normal practice for me. Of course, I could also use the loss of my wallet as an excuse and leave after the 1st service that Sunday since my son also normally finished his service in the Sunday School Ministry at the end of the 1st service. Also, since no time was allotted for word of knowledge/prophesy and ministry, after the praise and worship on that Saturday service, I could just assume that it would be so also that Sunday morning, with the same speaker on (I go for multiple repeated weekend services for the purpose of working for the Lord in these time slots – no time allotted, means no need to work.). But in my heart I was telling myself that it was not right that I was extra hard-working the previous day and was initially glad that I did so (before my discovery of my loss of wallet), and now would think of skipping the same when the only thing that had changed was that I had lost my wallet. I decided, wallet or no wallet, I would do the same, stay for the 2nd service, and stay until the end, to minister at the end of sermon altar call, if any.

And so, in the 1st service, I kept my head up and did my usual things. There was even an unexpected twist, there was a time for words of knowledge/prophesy and ministry thereof, before the sermon, different from the previous day’s proceeding. I was prepared. I had words of knowledge, gave them and ministered. I was happy I did not fail the Lord. I had long understood it was my job to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit for words of knowledge in a service, whether or not, I would have the opportunity to release the words. The service also had another twist compared to the service of the day before – the speaker did not ask that the people who needed prayers to come forward to the front of the sanctuary, at the end of his sermon, instead he asked people to lift up their hands, and asked that people seated around those with raised hands to pray for them. This struck me as there was no pattern here. One, of course, can reason this way: since it was probable that the original intention was not to have a word of knowledge/prophesy cum ministry time (but somehow we had it in this 1st service) for this weekend services (sometimes it could be due to the speaker wanting to do a ministry time at the end of a sermon), and since it was also probable that the speaker had abandoned his original intention of getting people to come to the front of the sanctuary for ministry, there was not a need for me to stay for the second service (these situations do happen, ending up with me sitting through a 2nd Sunday service with no “actions”). Did this thought cross my mind? It did but I brushed it aside because I wanted to be there if actions were needed, consistent with the decision I made in the morning while still at home.

At the direction of the speaker to look around to pray for people with raised hands, I looked back and I saw behind me, all the seats in the second row, as far as my eyes could see, were filled, including the seat (3rd seat from the central aisle) that I had sat on, the previous day at the Saturday 4 pm service.

After the Sunday’s 1st service, I walked over to a pastor and told him of my loss. He suggested that I ask the speaker to pray for me. The speaker was right there in front of me, having a conversation with a member of the congregation. When the speaker was available, I told him of my loss. The speaker, for the weekend, spoke on the topic that God can do the seemingly impossible things. He shared on Jesus feeding the 4000 men with 7 loaves and a few fishes. The speaker said he understood how I felt; he said it happened to him several months ago, also. This speaker had spoken about embarrassment in his sermon – that he would not be surprised that one of the disciples of Jesus had been embarrassed by the sight of nothing happening when Jesus prayed and gave thanks for the food, before passing the food around (it was only later, as the food was being passed round, that it became more than sufficient for the crowd to eat and be satisfied). The thing was that he did not hesitate to ask the Lord to get the wallet back for me the very same day with ALL the content intact. In my mind, I thought this man prayed his talk. Did I pray such a prayer too? Of course; it was my wallet what! - that same morning I asked the Lord to have my wallet returned to me with content intact, but I must confess that I deliberately did not say “today”, and I did not use the word, “all”. I thought I had to expect cash to be gone, maybe it served me right to have been not “more careful”.

This is the part you are waiting to read, but I tell you, then I still did not know how I lost my wallet, whether I dropped it or I got pick-pocketed. After that 1st service which ended at 10.30am, and after the prayer by the speaker, I went out of the sanctuary for a coffee break at the hospitality corner (with the intention to return to the sanctuary for the next service). I had wanted to see if I could see the man who wrote the $5,000/= cheque that I referred to, above. This gentleman worshipped in the same church. I had wanted to confirm that the cheque was a crossed cheque. I did find him and told him if, after some days the wallet was not returned, he might have to re-write the cheque. I also saw and spoke to the drawer of the other cheque (there were 2 cheques in the wallet; this other cheque was for $1,500/=). With that I went back into the sanctuary, to my 1st row seat. And I saw the slightly autistic youth who sat next to me in the previous day service. He was at the same 2nd row, 4th seat. I asked him if he had seen a wallet the previous day. He did not seem to understand what I said. I only noticed he repeated his swinging of head to the back. Remember now, I was at my 1st row, 3rd seat from the aisle; I looked towards the back, at the 3rd row, 3rd seat position, a young lady was standing there, we were all standing because praise and worship had started, the 2nd row, 3rd seat (in seat in question) was empty, and flipped up, and was between me and the lady standing in the 3rd row. She just pointed her finger to the wallet underneath the common arm rest between the 3rd seat and the 4th seat (the flipped up seat of the slightly autistic youth) in the 2nd row. The arm rest was hollow and narrow, yet my wallet was right there, in the hallow, sandwiched by the 2 flipped up seats. The young lady reached for it and handed it over to me before I could reach for it. Everything in the wallet was there, intact. How elated I felt!

How could it be that the wallet was there all those time, and did not fall out over the several services, had I dropped it while sitting down at the previous day 4pm evening service! Afterwards, some people said it was possible, wallets getting caught between the common arm rests. I say the Lord was at work. You see, I checked the evening before, a few youths of the youth service checked, there was no wallet. In a typical service in this church, a person sits down when he enters the sanctuary, gets up to do praise and worship, then sits down, and then only to get up again when the offering bag gets passed round, accompanied by singing, before finally he gets up to leave the sanctuary at the end of the service. In the youth service, they may do more, they do leave their seats to move around or gather at the sanctuary front. Even if we ignore the 4pm service in which I sat, there was the youth service that evening, and the 1st service of the following day; remember, I saw at the 1st Sunday service, the seats on that 2nd row were all taken. The repeated sitting down and getting up at the 2 relevant seats would have dislodged the wallet even if indeed the wallet was somehow caught there when it dropped out of my back trousers pocket. Remember, quite a few people checked and rechecked the seats, although I did not specifically looked at the particular spot where the wallet was later found to be at; you see, it was an “one eye, see it all” kind of scenario. You remember, I even flipped that particular seat on the evening of the wallet loss when I came back to look for it. It was an over-stuffed, out of shape wallet, if I put it on a flat surface, it would not even stand. How could it have stayed in the hollow of that thin arm rest, and not dropped out to the sides of either seats, or onto the floor, I really cannot comprehend. On top of that, no one saw the wallet the whole time, and this young lady at the 3rd row, at the start of this 2nd Sunday service could just see it. To me, this was unbelievable, yet true!

Are there lessons here about the wallet? If it were not a case of my wallet simply dropped out of my back trousers pocket while I was seated at the chair, it would be an even more incredible miracle - from where did the Lord bring the wallet back from? And how did he do it? But if I assumed it was simply the case of my wallet dropping out whilst I was seated there, why was I not allowed to see the wallet by the Lord until it was pointed out by the young lady? Why did the Lord block even me from seeing the wallet? I could have saved myself some trouble – the cards cancelling, and the reporting at the police station! Perhaps, the Lord wanted me to be more careful, the hassle involved would make such a “wake up” call stick. Perhaps, the Lord wanted to see I would still keep my head up, and continue to serve Him. I have had these testing before, though, and yet the Lord was still testing. I suppose the Lord will keep pruning.

Anthony Chia –Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)

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Judges series - Judges 3

The way to read this article is that the orange underlined texts are the verses of the Bible (NIV, unless otherwise stated). The black texts following the Bible verses (and enclosed by square brackets) are my commentaries. At the end of these Bible texts and commentaries, I have inserted a section on "Points to take note".
{For full listing of all articles in this series, click here}

Judges 3

1 These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. 4 They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the LORD's commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses. [What is stated here is that there were 2 reasons the Lord did not secure all the territories in the Promised Land under the hands of Joshua who died at the age of 110. The territories not yet secured are listed here, and the reasons for non-securing according to the Lord are, firstly to teach the descendants of Israelites warfare, and secondly to see if the Israelites would obey the Lord’s commands, which He had given to their forefathers, a testing from the Lord. It must be understood that followers of the Lord will be tested and chastised for their good, but at no time was the meditation of the heart of God evil for He is absolute holiness, no evil can be found in Him.]
5 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6 They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. [In the covenant between God and the forefathers of the Israelites, the Israelites, for their part, were commanded not to make treaties with the locals, and to break down all the local altars, i.e. completely destroy the practices of worship of the locals which were detestable and abominations to the Lord. We read here the inter-marrying of the Israelites with the locals, and not only that, they served the gods of the locals. The disobedience of the Israelites caused the break of the covenant the Lord made with the Israelites’ forefathers, this we read in Judges 2:1]

7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. 9 But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died. [We read in Judges 2 that the Lord, nevertheless had compassion on the Israelites and began to raise up judges to deliver the people. Othniel was one such judge. We read here that judges were not appointed by men but were supernaturally raised by God when the Spirit of the Lord came upon the persons. We also read in Judges 2:19 that the Israelites behaved when a judge was alive and with them, but the moment a judge died, the Israelites would return to the evil ways. We read here in the last verse (v11) that peace ended with the death of the judge Othniel.]

12 Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms. 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years. [Once the judge died, the Israelites resumed the practices of worship of the local gods, evil in the eyes of the Lord, the protection the Lord was again off, and we read here that Israelites again became subject to a local king, Eglon king of Moab.]
15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. 18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, "I have a secret message for you, O king."
The king said, "Quiet!" And all his attendants left him.
20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, "I have a message from God for you." As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, "He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house." 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.
28 "Follow me," he ordered, "for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands." So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
[Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord and the Lord gave them a judge, Ehud (v15). Notice that the deliverance of the Lord came when the Lord heard the outcries of the people. Outcries to the Lord, is a manifestation of the condition of our hearts. When the Lord sees that the condition of our hearts is right, He will respond – this we should always remember for our own good.

Here we read of a very detailed account of how judge Ehud killed the king of Moab, and how the Israelites, led by Ehud subjected Moab; and the land following that had peace for 80 years.]

31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel. [After judge Ehud, came Shamgar; all of the judges raised by God did mighty exploits. Shamgar struck down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad. A goad is stick for driving herds, therefore an ox-goad is stick for driving oxens. Just imagine, stricking down 600 people with an ox-goad!]

Points to note:

Testing and chastisement are inevitable for man. Right from the beginning, at creation, man was created with a free-will. We should not deny it or pretend that it was not so. Even when we have become a Christian, we are capable of committing a sin. In whatever way you explain the new creation theology, please do not say or imply that all of a sudden, we somehow became a “goody” man who will not sin. Our free-will is not taken from us when we become a Christian. You and I have a free-will, if we give in to a temptation, we will sin. Something is mystical in the faith, something is not, and we should not make this aspect sound mystical because it stumbles people, confuses people, and costs people to be disheartened. Misled people got disheartened because they thought how come they were struggling not to sin when every other person was seemingly above sin. The truth is that every other person was managing his or her propensity to sin. The process of sanctification is a lifetime affair. When there is sanctification, there is testing and chastisement. God is the examiner, we are the candidates; we do not tell the examiner what to test us on, the examiner decides, and he knows what you must learn. By the time Joshua died, the Lord left some territories untaken because He wanted to test the Israelites whether they would obey his commands (Judges 3:4).

The other point to note here is that God has a big heart of compassion. If you are bent on being wicked, I do not know how to advise you, other than that, if all else failed, you can always cry out to God. I am not saying you can abuse the good nature of God, but I am saying if your heart condition is right, your outcries to God can move his heart. We have already read that even when God was not obligated under covenant to act for the Israelites, when the Israelites cried out to God out of desperation, God still raised up judges, repeatedly, to deliver them.

Anthony Chia - Lord, help me in my managing of my propensity to sin.

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