Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stressful troubles, how?

Preamble: Recently, my distant friend, Ps Prentis put up 2 articles, back to back, touching on Psalm 91:14-15, and 1 Pet 5:6-7, on his blog, “Created to give Glory”.  As these talked about troubles, stresses, and worrying, and about God’s presence with us, and His protection and deliverance, I want to put up the 2 comments (combined, with some rearrangements) I put up on Ps Prentis’ blog, on the subject. Ps 91 is a very significant psalm, and it has the very beautiful promises commonly on the lips of believers all over. I have previously put up an entry on the entire Ps 91; you can read it here: Ps 91 – Secret to our well-being.

Speak it, preach it
Yes, speak about this one; preach it, Ps 91 verses 14-15.

Ps 91 is a very beautiful psalm, also commonly known as the Protection Psalm. Readers should go read it; you will see the promises frequently on the lips of believers found there.

How do we get there – dwelling in the shelter of the Most High?
The Psalm opens with "Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." After that, the beautiful promises of God are given.

But what many of us fail to tell people, or maybe we ourselves, do NOT know, is how one gets to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

Is that a physical place? Where is the shelter of the Most High? How do we get there?

It doesn’t work?
In fact, many believers are disappointed, for often what they read in Scripture, like the beautiful promises of protection in this Psalm 91, they do NOT seem to come through for them. After a while, they give up, and conclude we cannot take the Word at its face value! Part of the blame lies with us, we don't properly tell people that many of these promises have conditions attached to them.

I am NOT saying if we do NOT fulfill the conditions attached, we will NEVER be able to receive the promises; I am NOT saying that. What I am saying is that if God puts condition(s) to His promise, it is NOT unreasonable of Him to expect you and I, to fulfill it/them.

Verses 14-15 – the key
The key to Ps 91's promises is in verses 14-15. Where is the shelter of the Most High? How do you get there? Is it a physical place? No, it is NOT a physical place. You and I get there by loving God.

When we get into trouble, it is NOT that God does NOT want to come and get us out of our trouble; He can easily do that. It is He can always do that, but the question is, do we know what is the point/lesson that can be learned from our scenario.

Getting into troubles
How do we commonly get into trouble? We disobey God or some commands of God. For example, God's Word said NOT to steal, but you did it. Or God's Word said that we are to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, and then what we need, they would be added to us, but you don't want to follow that, instead you decided to put all your time and attention to your career, even if it would take a toll on your health or family. God can come and help you out, but will you learn the lesson therein?

Some people when they are in trouble, all they want and care about, is how are you, God, going to get me out of this? God can get them out, but they would get into trouble again and again. "But God is patient-what!" Hello, it is you have to grow; it is NOT God has to grow in patience! God's desire is for all of us to grow.

Back to square one if you don’t know how to love God
So, I have said, you got to love God; that is the key to availing yourselves to the protection promises of God, there, in Ps 91. But if you don't know how to love God, you are back to square one - where you don't know how to dwell in the shelter of the Most High?

Is it that obvious, how we are to love God? No, I don't think so. Make a guess, now. No, don't say, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength! That still does NOT say how?

What Jesus said
Jesus did say how - Obey His commands. Short and sharp, but pastors are NOT preaching it, no wonder people are NOT knowing it. It is repeated many times in the writings of the Apostle John. Two verses that I like, on this, are John 14:15 and John 14:21a.

How can you get to dwell in the shelter of the Most High? Love Him. How to love Him? Obey His commands. How do we say, people commonly get into trouble? They did NOT obey God's commands. See, God can get you out of your trouble, but if you continue NOT to obey His commands, you are just NOT loving Him, and you continue to get into trouble.

Hello, NOT God does, and then you give Him some love!
Then, there are those who would like to have God's protection all the time. Anything wrong with that? No, I like that too. But then, how do we love God? Some people do this, "This Sunday, I will go to church, and sing a few thanksgiving songs to God, since I have had relief from my trouble. God has indeed helped me," But then, the week following that, they don't go anymore. You know, how bad this attitude is. I tell you what you are in effect, doing: You are holding out that God is the one needing teaching or growing; in fact, you are saying in His face, "God, if and when you help me, I will give you praise! God, you do first, then I give you love!” What audacity is that!

We need to love God for who He is and we are to worship Him in the like of the 3 friends of Daniel who were thrown in the furnace by the King Nebu. You can read the full story in Daniel 3. This is what the threesome said:

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ” (Daniel 3:17-18)

That is loving God; NOT you (God) do, and then I reciprocate.

Two other ingredients
Ps Prentis mentioned 2 other ingredients for getting help from God in your time of trouble. They are that you are to identify with God, and you are to call out to God. They are mentioned in verses 14 & 15 of Ps 91. They can be regarded as being part and parcel of loving God, but we can take it out and explicitly point it out to people; and I will elaborate on them a little bit more.

NOT one-time, but continual acknowledgment
Actually, when you gave your life over to Jesus, when you entered into salvation, you are identified with Jesus, or to use the words in verse 14, you have acknowledged Jesus. But the problem with many of us, is that we soon “go on to do our own things”, and so, in the process we have failed to follow through with our commitment to be in continual acknowledgment of Him. Now, if you think you only need to do that, once, at the point of your entry into salvation, and can then just do what you like, without change in your life or lifestyle, you have been taught under erroneous core theology of the Christian faith (to me, that is being legalistic/legalism). Don’t let false teachers fool you, how you live shows if you are acknowledging Him; you go legalism or legalistic with God, you cannot win your case.

The correct way ….vs the wrong way
When you are already a believer, acknowledgment of Him means you live according to His prescription (how you live), and when you are off, you have to acknowledge that, you are off, and you need to turn back, and resume the way of life prescribed by God (no lie, no steal, and so on…). Yes, that means you confess you have strayed; you repent, and you turn to God for forgiveness. Yes, acknowledge Him again, with a humble and contrite heart. Don’t listen to teaching that tells you the only thing you need to do, is to tell the Devil off, by telling the Devil that you are still righteous. Who do you need to acknowledge, the Devil or God? Look, who is going to see you to Heaven, the Devil or God? What we need to address foremost, is our issue with God, NOT you don’t have to come before God, just tell the Devil off. I am NOT saying there is anything wrong with telling the Devil off, per se, but it is that we have to foremost, address our issue with God.

Taking God for granted
The common sense that we have to call out to God, to some people, it turns out to be NOT that common! Please, you cannot insist this, “He is God-what, He knows everything-what, He knows even before I ask, then I don’t need to tell Him-what!” You will be surprised that many believers do this to God. Yes, God, as well as the angels He assigned, watch over you, and without you knowing, help you a lot; but you cannot take Him for granted. Yah, you are taking Him for granted; you don’t even be bothered to talk to Him about your problem. You don’t want to dialogue with your loved ones, like your spouse, and then you expect him/her to anticipate, and act just in the nick of time to take care of things. Oh! You don’t do that to your loved ones, your spouse, but you will do that to God! Isn’t He your most loved one, ahead of your spouse!

“He doesn’t hear me!”
If you have been loving your God, and say, you strayed or did a wrong or sin, and then you acknowledged Him again, and you called out to Him, would He NOT answer you? Verse 15 said He would. Some people have this attitude: “I don’t think He hears me, please pray for me to God.” I will pray for people who need prayer. I don’t credit myself as a righteous man, that my prayer avails much, but if you trust that my prayer can help, I will help. But people do need to examine themselves. Do I ask others to pray for me? Sure I do. But I also pray myself. If I ask people to pray for me for a matter, I must have or be prepared to pray to God myself concerning the matter. You have to ask yourself, why you won’t call out to God on the matter.

He always hears, but may NOT listen to you!
God hears it when a believer prays, like He hears it, when a doorbell rings! That is the minimum; in other words, God always hears. The Hebrew word is “Shama”, which can mean “hear”, like hear a doorbell ringing, on the one end, or “listen” or listen to give efficacy, tending on the other end. Does God hear you? God hears you, alright; but He may NOT listen to you.

Stubbornly wicked believers, sorry, you cannot expect God to listen to you, as in, do as you want! Of course, NOT; in fact, in the extreme scenario, He may NOT hear you, but that, I believe, is NOT before He already warned you (exception to God always hearing you).

How you look at it, and how God looks at it
What some people want to do, is that they don’t want to re-acknowledge God, but they want God to listen. If you don’t want to re-acknowledge (from the heart, like what has been explained above), God hears, but He may NOT listen, meaning He may NOT give efficacy to your request. For God, what is more important is you get back right with Him. To us, God looks always tarrying, but to God, He is eager to pounce on the moment of change He wants to see.

Sometimes, He does NOT give you what you want, but answers you differently, for He knows best how to mould you or direct you, for our own good (old fashion, but true!).

No, it is NOT you won’t have any trouble
When you love Him, including obeying His commands, when you acknowledge Him (NOT just at the time of your salvation, but continually acknowledging Him, and if you stumble, you re-acknowledge Him), and you call on Him, in humility and with a contrite heart, He will answer you. In verse 15, it clearly said there, that IN YOUR TROUBLE, He will be with you (See, God never say, you will have NO trouble in your Christian life or when you are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High or when you are loving your God). In other words, in your journey on earth, God journeys with you. And He will rescue/deliver you, protect you and even honor you. Herein, are the keys to a good Christian life. What more do you ask – God walks with you (think Enoch), rescues/delivers you, protects you and even honors you. Yes, some trouble; what to do, you and I, are still in the world; but they ought NOT be stressFULL, when you are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High.

The 2nd text – it ought NOT be stressful
1 Pet 5:6-7 – 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Although different texts (Ps 91:14-15 and 1 Pet 5:6-7) were being referred to, all the same, the theme was that, our obedience from our love is absolutely essential.

Ok, some of us can be in trouble, but NOT stressed (or NOT much). This is because you trust that God is with you in your trouble - yes, as said in Psalm 91:14-15. For all others, trouble means stress; because you worry, and you worry because you have no confidence that God is going to help you through.

And yes, one can be stressed even before he gets into trouble. This is because he already started to worry even before trouble hits.

Either you have NOT obeyed or you lack godly wisdom
In either case, it (trouble/stress/worry) is usually, as correctly pointed out, because you have NOT obeyed God or His Word. Or at times, you just do NOT know what to do, or you lack godly wisdom to handle the situation.

Why do you NOT want to obey?
Why do you NOT want to obey God or His word, which would account for the much worrying, stresses or troubles? To me, no matter how you look at it, it always come back to, either you refuse to be holy as God is holy, or you refuse to love God (Of course, I will NOT argue with you, if you only state it as solely because you refuse to be holy as God is holy, because the two are related, too).

These links you must know and understand
The laws or commands of God, His righteousness and justice are the demands of His holiness. They are the outworking from the holiness and wisdom of God. When we refuse to obey, we are refusing to acknowledge the demands of holiness, or we can say, we are refusing to be holy as God is holy.

When we refuse to obey, we can also be said as NOT loving God, for Jesus said those who love Him, obey His commands (John 14:15) and those who obey His commands are those who love Him (John 14:21a).

What about lack of godly wisdom?
If we say, "But we do NOT know what to do, we lack wisdom-what; that is why we did this or did NOT do that", Scripture indicated to us, that is also NOT excusable! Scripture said, "He who lacks wisdom, let him ask, and God will give to all without undeserved reproach, generously." (James 1:5).

But I don’t get!
Some might protest, "But I ask-what; I don't get! James 1:5 cannot be relied upon!" No, there is the "without undeserved reproach" in James 1:5. What is that? Think, how does Scripture say, concerning how wisdom is to come.

The fear of the Lord – the special meaning
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom or godly wisdom. The "fear of the Lord" was given a special meaning in the Word. The fear of the Lord, in the Book of Proverbs, is said to be to hate what God hates, evil. What is the opposite of evil or wickedness? Holy or holiness. So what does it mean? It means if you don't embrace holiness, you don't get wisdom. If you want godly wisdom, embrace holiness wholeheartedly.

The given provisio of James 1:5
Now, we come back to the "without undeserved reproach" in the giving of wisdom by God, as said in James 1:5. The interpretation for James 1:5 becomes, "If you lack wisdom, and you ask, God will give it generously to you (all of you) provided you are embracing holiness wholeheartedly. If you are impure, you are NOT without undeserved reproach. Actually, it is very true that it is NOT that one does NOT know what to do; it is that he is of impure heart or intent, and so, he chooses NOT, according to that, which the godly wisdom of God would prescribe. (Additionally, in vv6-8 of James 1, the one who asks must believe and NOT doubt).

Humility is embracing God is holy and awesome
Concerning the humility in the text, 1 Pet 5:6-7, it is a good word to open up to such subjects as obedience, which Ps Prentis did, and such other subjects as pride of Man, and holiness and awesomeness of God. To humble ourselves before God means we are acknowledging we are low (humilis – Latin word) and God is high, meaning we are NOT better than God. When God is better, we are NOT, what does it mean? It simply calls for us to listen to the better one, God; and when you are listening to God, what are you doing, you are obeying Him. To humble before God necessarily mean you have to obey Him; Ps Prentis said it rightly.

One can look from the angle of goodness. Jesus said, when the young rich man called Him good teacher, “Why you call me good (teacher)! Only God is good. There you have it – we are low in good, God is absolute good, or holy. To be humble before God is to acknowledge that God is good, absolute good or holy, and we are NOT. That which comes from absolute good or holy can only be wisdom; and so, to humble before God necessarily mean you have to obey Him, for He has the all wisdom. When we recognize the holiness and wisdom of God, we realize the awesomeness of God (of course, the might of God comes in, too); and we should have no room for self-pride before God.

When we embrace God is holy and awesome, and thus humbled, we cannot, but love Him, and we obey Him.

Want less stress or stressful troubles?
You want to have less stress or worry NOT, catch it - catch that God is holy, that God is wisdom, that God is awesome, and God is righteous, and God loves you unto righteousness. When you are obeying Him, you are loving Him (John 14:21a), and when you humble yourself before Him, you are acknowledging Him, and when you ask, including wisdom for your scenario, Psalm 91:14-15 tell us that you will NOT be disappointed; for there, God promises rescue, deliverance, protection, presence, and even honor. Yes, honor; 1 Pet 5:6 put it as ‘He may lift you up in due time’.

God loves you
I just said Psalm 91:14-15 tell us that we will NOT be disappointed, but what is the overall picture painted by the 2 verses? God loves and cares for you. That is what 1 Pet 5:7 said, God cares for you, and so, you can cast your anxiety to Him.

You need to remain in His love, but how?
By now, you should have known that the main key to Psalm 91 is loving God. Remember now, all of these, “so good promises of God”, they are requiring you to love God - love Him back, that He has first loved you.

Jesus said, in John 15:9-10, 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.


Please REJECT the teaching that tells you, you have just to bask in grace, chuck the laws (commands), and don’t have to do anything, or can do anything with just the need to tell the devil off!

The secret to our well-being is love God; and one key way to love God is to obey His commands. Do it, and you will have lesser (NOT nil) troubles, and possibly nil stressful trouble.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, this is a recipe for the well-being of your children. May you bless the above reading, for it is your desire that your children be well. May they receive your prescriptions for their lives. Amen.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Run with perseverance the RACE

Preamble: This is an almost duplicate of a comment I placed on Ps Prentis' blog (Created to Give God Glory).  I have been extensively writing comments for this US pastor's blog, so much so, I have left so little time for my own blog, but all the same, such writings, are beneficial for all, and so, from time to time, I will reproduce more of my writings placed there, here.  I have followed Ps Prentis' blog for many months now, and so far, I have NOT had major core theological disagreements with his blog entries, and I am comfortable to recommend your following of his blog entries.

Picture of a RACE
Indeed the Apostle Paul was the one, in Scripture, who painted to us, our journey here, on earth, as a believer, is like that of a race. The author of the Book of Hebrews also pictured it that way to us.

Heb 12:1 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the RACE {capitalisation, mine} marked out for us."

Paul gave us these: Acts 20:24; 1 Cor 9:24-27; Gal 5:7; 2 Tim 4:7.

Only I may finish the RACE and complete the task
Acts 20:24 – “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the RACE and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

The tasks are part and parcel of the race. It is simple yet, many people refuse to embrace it: you move along, you do the task before you, and you move along, and you do some more tasks, and eventually, you come to the finishing line; and so, when you complete all the tasks, you arrive at the finishing line, and you can say, “It is finished”. No, Paul did NOT paint us a race where there is nothing to do, like you just bask in the sun, and then you are being moved to the finishing line and you are moved across it!

Don't run aimlessly!
1 Cor 9:24 – 27 “24 Do you not know that in a RACE all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

How do you interpret this? Only one believer gets to Heaven? Of course, NOT; Paul was saying we have to run according to the “rules of the game” so that we don’t get disqualified, so that we can cross the finishing line and win the prize God has intended for us. If I may say so, isn’t it weird that some people can think that they are citizens of the Kingdom of God, but they do NOT need to abide by the laws of the Kingdom? It is plain naïve to think of a Kingdom without a King or a kingdom with a King but without rules. Scripture is very clear that the foundation of the God’s throne or Kingdom is His righteousness and justice (Ps 89:14 & Ps 97:2). So, please live by the ways prescribed by your King.

An illustration: Those who saw the serial movie on Camelot, on the rise of King Arthur the Great, there was a part when King Arthur stopped at a village and he intervened in a case whereby one of the ways of the village was that every woman was the first-fruit for the village-head, meaning the village head got to sleep with every woman before the woman is married to a man. One among the villagers went against that law of the village and killed the village head in a fight, and the brother of the village head had wanted to hang the murderer, but King Arthur and his men arrived at the nick of time, and King Arthur convened a proceeding and found out about the reason behind the fight and murder - the village-head was about to take (to bed) the murderer’s daughter who was fathered by the village-head in the first place, when the latter slept with the wife of the murderer just before their marriage many years back! When the brother of the deceased village-head insisted that the village had its own laws, King Arthur said, “No, as from today, that no longer apply, as your king, my laws shall apply.” Now that brother of the village-head was NOT accepting the decision of the council chaired by King Arthur; the council decided that the murderer shall NOT be put to death, and was allowed to leave with her daughter. That brother still wanted to take the laws into his hand and gathered villagers to attack the man and the daughter. Again, King Arthur and his men acted, and this time that brother of the ex-village head was threatened punishment if he adhered NOT to the laws of the king, and King Arthur stuck a flag of Camelot, and declared that village was under the covering of the King. Think about it this way: if you want NOT to follow after the ways of God, what business do you have to go and live in the Heaven where the King is dwelling?

Concerning verse 27, of course, Paul did NOT mean he would beat up his body, literally; he meant that he would NOT let the carnal desires of the flesh rule his life, for he was determined to follow after the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Be careful of the cutting in
Gal 5:7 – “You were running a good RACE. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?”

Here Paul was rebuking the Galatians who wavered, and had wanted to go back to the Old Covenant, by getting circumcised, on the instigations and teachings of some Jews. (Individual laws of God, unless done away by the works of Christ, still apply, even if they are found in the OT, but all believers subsequent to the first coming of Christ should NOT view themselves as still bound under the Old Covenant. No, as far as covenant is concerned, we are under the New Covenant).

In the last days, there would be more and more false teachings coming on, said the Word.  Be careful NOT to be "dragged off" your good race.  In my opinion, currently, the more insidious false teachings are found in those of the overly-grace believers.

What is meant by "It is finished"?
2 Tim 4:7 – “I {Paul} have fought the good fight, I have finished the RACE, I have kept the faith.

Towards, the end of Paul’s life, in the 2nd epistle to his protégé, Timothy, Paul expressed the above. He was echoing after Jesus, who said, “It is finished”. Read it with Acts 20:24 (also of Paul, given above), when it was said, “It is finished”, by Jesus /Paul, it was referring to Jesus/Paul saying that the tasks assigned to him were completed; NOT anything about we have no nothing left to do, as Christians!

We have all, each to run with perseverance the race marked out for each of us, NOT somebody else’s race, but the race marked out for you; NOT we have no part to play (purportedly implying that Jesus said that, with His exclamation that “It is finished”), but that we are all having our part to play in the race marked out for each of us (Eph 2:10).

You and I are to run the RACE, NOT God!
It is so funny how some people pervert common sense – who is to run the race? You, and I; NOT the organizer or the persons who founded the race or sport. If there is NOT, a part for us to play, why should be author of Hebrews, in the verse above (Heb 12:1) told us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”? A race is NOT a race, if you are only required to sit there and do nothing, and it is left for God to bring you to the end of finishing line. A race is NOT a race if you do NOT need to work on anything, and there is NOT, anything to overcome or nothing hinders! If you can eat all you like, no need to care about what you take in, without affecting your run, it is NOT a race. If sins would NOT entangle you in your race, it is NOT a race; or why would the author said that we need to throw off sins? Overly grace believers who abusively used the name of the Apostle Paul and said he preached a version of the gospel called the Final Gospel which spelt as “In your Christian life, you don’t have to do anything, it is all God’s part”, they are WRONG; Paul did NOT preach any of such thing. Paul said YOU have to run a race, not God run the race for you. Paul said you have to run in such a MANNER as to win the race, not you anyhow run.

Perseverance means it is NOT easy
The author of Hebrew said in the above verse (Heb 12:1) that we have to PERSEVERE. What does that mean to you? The race must be very easy? No, it means it is NOT easy; it means there are obstacles to overcome. Paul’s own race showed that; for example, Paul was warned twice, through prophecies of others, NOT to go to Jerusalem, but he had to persevere by still going, and he did face being beaten up, and bounded, and put into jail.

Trials expected, said Apostle Peter
Now, even the Apostle Peter did say, trials could be expected; 1 Pet 1:6-7 - "6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 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 fact, Peter said it would be strange if you don’t encounter them at all! 1 Pet 4:12 reads as follows:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.”

Perseverance was written all over the place
Perseverance is the major aspect of a believer’s life. Don’t go after easy-believism; it runs contrary to the main-stream teachings of Scripture.

Peter added in his 2nd epistle, this (2 Pet 1:5-7): “5 ...., make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, PERSEVERANCE; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

The Apostle James also exhorted we develop perseverance - James 1:2-4 – “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops PERSEVERANCE. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

We are to note that verse 4 said that perseverance must finish its work, and when it has finished its work the end product is that we become mature and complete, lacking nothing. In the Book of Romans, by the Apostle Paul, Paul, in Romans 5:4, put the product of perseverance as (tried) character with hope; we will look at this in a little more depth in a while.

It should also be noted that James also said to us, in James 5, that to persevere we need to be patient. A character with hope is a patient character. In other words, in perseverance, we develop patience. If you have no patience, you will be restless in hoping. In James 5:10-11, James gave us the example of Job who persevered, and was patient in the face of suffering; in the end, the Lord doubled all (except children) he lost.

We have to learn patience; the parable of Prodigal Son, is NOT commonly expounded with this lesson to be learnt, but indeed this parable also showed up the impatience of the younger son, he wanted his portion of his inheritance which obviously he was NOT ready to handle. It also showed that it is possible that, at times, that you pester God so much about wanting things your way, including how you cannot wait anymore, God may let you have what you want, and in the process, use that scenario of life to mold you – you asked for it, and God relented but He is still of good intention - to mold you. So, it is NOT simply, you go pester God; yes, there is a parable that talked about “pestering God”, but you need know whether the subject of your “pestering” is in line with God’s righteousness and justice, or His ways. Of course, there are no short-cuts to this (to be in line), you have to know His written Word, and you have to learn to hark to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is NOT the norm that God would give you the food, and eat it for you! Please you have to put the food (Word) into mouth, and chew it and swallow it, and digest it, and make it a part of you. Forget about those teachings that portray such (you eating, doing your part) as works that is opposed to the grace of God. 

If you just leave the Bible on the shelf, it will just gather dust, it is NOT going to crawl into you, and transform or change you.  If you ignore the prompting of the Spirit (who say you are to ignore the pricking of your conscience; kick his butt!), and tell NOT the voice of the carnal flesh to shut up (and that, needs effort!), you will just cruise according to the carnal desires of the flesh.  You need to persevere in doing the right things, including feeding on the written Word and harking to voice of Holy Spirit, and resisting the same of the carnal flesh.

Labor with perseverance
Too many people dismiss the need to labor with perseverance, to be apostles of Christ. Are you an apostle of Christ? Where are the signs? What are some of the signs? Signs and wonders and miracles are one sign; do you have them? You wonder why you do NOT have them! What is your attitude towards laboring with perseverance? You don’t believe in laboring? Or you don’t believe in laboring with perseverance? I give you the verse of Paul’s attitude in this regard. In an epistle to the Corinthians, this was what Paul wrote:

“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” 2 Cor 12:12 (KJV) or “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles —were done among you with great perseverance.” (NIV).

Signs, and wonders and miracles can be done by God for various reasons; yet one of the reasons for consistency of such, via a person, I believe, is that it can serve to authenticate that servant of God. Consistency signifies a stamp of approval. One of the qualities God looks at, I believe, in such a servant, is that he labors with perseverance. Labor with perseverance implies labor with sacrifice, against much odds, threats, and even persecutions. Some, by the grace of God, do NOT need to touch the far-end, persecutions, but minimally, sacrifice and battling against odds are NOT uncommon.

So that our hope becomes strong
I said earlier that I will talk a little more on Romans 5, on this issue. The relevant text is this, Romans 5:1-5:

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Vv 1-2: We, who have been born again, have gained access into God’ grace. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, meaning we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God (future glory referred, glory after we passed on). It is not cliché, we rejoice in the hope of glory; the basis of rejoicing is that we know we are no longer destined for Hell. We actually have a hope to come into, and share in, the glory of God in Heaven, in the future.

Not only do we have peace with God (through justification), gained access into the grace of God (by faith), rejoice in the hope of sharing God’s glory in the future (because we are no longer destined for Hell), we also rejoice in our sufferings. This is because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, (tried) character (G1382); and (tried) character, hope.

V5: This hope is the hope of going to Heaven. One may ask, “Is there not already a hope at born again?” Sure, but just as faith, perseverance, and character, this hope need to be strengthened.

Yes, this hope is dependent on God, and it is no longer a hope when it reaches its fullness of time, i.e. at the time of reckoning. But right now, we need this hope to press on in this life, and even accomplish any or much things for God in this life. What was it that kept Paul going, for the Lord? It was this hope.

It is said here, that this hope does not disappoint because God has poured out his love into our hearts, and this is represented by the Holy Spirit that God put into us to adopt our spirits as sons of God. Even so, we must remain steadfast in this hope because if we give up on this hope, we may be back on the Hell-bound track.

Through suffering, which produces perseverance, and through perseverance, (tried) character, and through (tried) character, a strong hope takes root in us, one that we will not easily give up or renounce, and this is the most important thing for a Christian, for if he gives up his hope or renounces it, he forfeits his place in Heaven.

This hope or expectation of going to Heaven, it does not disappoint, because we know God loves us.

God loving us is one thing, our choice to hold onto the hope, is another
There is no tension between verses 3-4 and verse 5, contrary to what some might think, for God loving us is one thing, our choice of wanting to hold on to the hope (expectation that we will go to Heaven) is entirely ours to made and hold onto.

God had already committed His part in His love for us, by His Son, Jesus dying for us, and the Holy Spirit being put into us, on us entering into salvation. Because we do not expire yet (die right-away), we must continuously by choice, hold onto the hope. Your hope grows stronger (meaning you will not give it up easily) after each negotiation of a trial or suffering, because the suffering works on your perseverance, and your character.

What is that which is important in defining one’s character? It is his belief system. A tried character is one with tried belief system. The more your character is tried, the more your belief system is tried, and the more your belief system is tried, the stronger they get, and they will not be changed. For a believer, in his belief system, is that hope, and that is made stronger with each suffering or trial when the trial or suffering is handled correctly.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions -Working through tough times, comes with the territory, so to speak. Lord, I pray more of your children will realize that, and embrace that, and NOT be misled by false preachers who teach cruising as the norm, for a believer’s life. Amen.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

At cross-road, then suddenly, I am encouraged

For some people, they, once in a while, have seen me, or dropped by, at my meetings, or to this blog-site; for some others, we merely see (just see) each other frequently, and then, there are those who watched me over the last couple of years, especially, from the dramatic start of my “little ministry” some 4 years ago. Many actually took notice of me, from that time on. People took notice NOT so much that, there were really earth-shaking miracles happening; and I am NOT aware of any earth-shaking miracles directly via my hands, so to speak; maybe there was one dead-came-back to life testimony from the church, but that had no direct connection to me, unless it can be argued that my obedience and perseverance helped in the fostering of the corporate atmosphere of church and the corporate eagerness of members thereof to push to limit, the grace from God, for our afflictions.

Such fostering of corporate atmosphere and attitudes are really important, though. I am quite sure I helped in that generally, but I dare NOT say I helped in any of the specific flow of grace received by people, apart from those I directly have ministered to. Even for these direct ministry cases, it is still NEVER really I, but the Lord, who had ministered; I only give of my time, energy and attention to the Lord, and acted as instruments (ok, a part, God wanted [me] played).

It was dramatic at the early days
It was dramatic for me, and for some others, of the church, looking on or watching when it all started; it was due NOT to the earth-shaking miracles, but to the fact, that the Lord would use one from the congregation quite consistently, and NOT a pastor, to spark off a move in the church. The move was indeed a supernatural move of the Spirit of God, of signs and wonders and miracles, even though they were NOT of earth-shaking proportions. To be fair to the Spirit, I should NOT belittle all that the Spirit had done in my little ministry, and for the church, in this move.

There were healings of all sorts
I mean there were healings of many sorts. Not under my hand, but one that actually happened, was a case of a visiting preacher to the church, who had a minimally working heart, and having been prayed for, in a session in the church service, received complete healing – his subsequent visit to his same doctor confirmed full recovery of his heart.

Leg growing before my very eyes
The more dramatic instant healings under my hand were the 2 cases of seeing a leg growing before my eyes to level up legs of unequal lengths. Cases of people got slain, were common enough; one saw vision of waterfall, when I prayed for her; many were ministered to, for their emotional pains from broken and strained relationships.

Hurting people ministered to
The last type (above) clearly was a deliberate putting of me, by the Spirit, to minister, despite my own dealing of my then, divorce-affliction. It was truly by the grace of God that I could minister, and you know-what, I ministered with them NOT knowing I myself, was in similar affliction as them, and I ministered unencumbered by my own affliction, but rather because I could relate to their situations, the Spirit of God moved for them, the afflicted ones (Note: this is NOT suggestion that generally, people with relationship problems are to minister to people with similar problems, without the approval and supervision of the higher authority. I ministered with approval and knowledge of Senior Pastor, and after his discernment of my fitness, including my having voluntarily gone through deliverance clearance).

Started from the painful affliction
The general congregation does NOT know of my divorce affliction; and I state here, that it was my ex., from more than 18 years of marriage, who then wanted the divorce, and the church and I tried hard, to save the marriage but was to no avail. A long-drawn legal divorce battle then started and it lasted about 4 years, and it went all the way to the High Court. One can imagine the drains on me, from the various perspectives, financial, emotional, and time, etc (Church was updated and monitored the case). This is the 2nd article with this revealed (only lately), and if you are from the church, and you do NOT know, now you know, that I entered into that move of the Spirit of God for the church specifically, and more generally, into my ministry, from my most difficult period of life, in the deep end of my most painful affliction. If you wondered why some church pastors were warmed to the prominence the Lord had given me, it was because for those who knew of my affliction, it awed them as much as it awed me that the Lord would use me from that position.

Not merely a coping mechanics!
I have believed and I still want to believe, that what I have been doing, has NOT been a mere coping mechanics for my affliction. It was no doubt I was weak then, but it was NOT apparent to those looking on, from the outside. In fact, I sometimes, marveled at the boldness that I displayed from time to time, but it was really boldness, bolstered by the Spirit of God for those situations. Scripture said when we are weak, He is strong; I have experienced that.

God’s use, helped me to focus
It is no doubt that God’s use of me, helped me to focus on the right things. I mean I can now understand what is possibly going on, in the mind of people who are depressed. When you are emotional shattered, your focus can go all over places or to no place; such directionless is the worst place to be in, for you are very vulnerable; all kind of thoughts can enter you, including suicidal thought; and you can be drained out from “nothingness”!

We can be taught from it all
Of course, all of us need to cope, and we cope with the various circumstances we find ourselves in; but at times, we are at loss as to how to cope. It is therefore, NOT strange to observe that, at times, when one loses his/her long-time mate to death, the person dies soon after, too. One reason I believe, is that the person has NOT been able to cope. I tell you I could NOT cope on my own; I survived on the Lord. I survived by hugging the Bible to sleep! I had something that many people did NOT have, I had the Lord; for, for many years, I never really took my focus off the Lord, although I, like many others, did look at multiple things all the time, and were NOT particularly focused on the Lord all the time. Still there was a focus, and so, my case was a “to focus better”; in other words, a dimming off, further, of other peripheral visions – those things you see at the side of eyes, so to speak. The already dimmed things, like chasing after money, prestige and status, and things of the world, got dimmer, and the Lord got brighter, because of concentration of focus.

We are made to be a doer
Trust me, God made us to be a doer; we are NOT made inanimate, just to sit there, for show; we are NOT created to be idle. In other words, the soul does NOT idle. Why does Scripture prescribe against idleness if the soul does NOT idle? It is God’s prescription for the soul NOT to idle. It is the soul is NOT made to idle, and when it idles, it is against the prescription of God, and it opens itself up to danger.

Fire metaphor
The soul is like a fire. And like a fire, it is meant to be burning; and so, things for burning (or fuel) needs to be given to it, or else it either (a) dies out, or (b) it will try to latch on to whatever that could burn. When a fire is out of things to burn, it is going to cease, so is the soul with nothing to work on. So, just like the dying fire will try to latch on whatever that could burn, the soul may go for anything thrown to it, like the lies of the Devil.

Is there anything wrong for God to come, lest the soul idles? Of course, NOT. God has the right to give the soul whatever He pleases, for our souls are His; my soul is His. And so, God gave my soul something to work on, instead of leaving it to the Devil to dish lies into it. The rest, like they say, is history.

What now?
The question is, “What now?” In those days, and earlier, the Lord had given me dreams (literally, dreams as in dreams in sleep), and visions and pictures (these were more after the beginning of assignment by the Lord). Pictures or visions, and dreams, especially those with recurring themes, can have meanings, and they can be from the Spiritual dimension, meaning from the Lord, or for some people, from the “dark side”. I must say that, these are a way of God (in my case), to reveal his ways for me and for the body/church and for people. Some of the revelations of the deeper understanding of the matters of the faith-life come from these communications of the Lord - dreams and visions (in my writings too, the Lord, gives revelation). If you like, go to this article, and you can catch what I mean – “The Lord as Papa Eagle - a vision of love and faithfulness".

Having believed and said, what I have been doing has been a “move” or assignment from the Spirit of God, and it was given so that my soul did NOT idle and became vulnerable to destruction from the Devil, and so that, it did NOT cease from “burning”; after more than 4 years operating on the “move” God gave, I have come to the place of “What now?” If you read the “Papa eagle” article, link given in preceding para., you will realize that the Father God or Papa eagle unstealth-modes Himself to comfort, nurse and restore us (believers) so that, we once again, can fly.

Be self-reflective
I have been highly reflective on my life these several years, journaling like this, helps me in that. There is exhortation in Scripture, by the Apostle Paul, to self-examine ourselves lest we gotten out of the boundary of our faith (2 Cor 13:5). So, please do that, for yourselves, from time to time.

I have tasted, and cannot let go
The psalmist in Scripture called us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is he who takes refuge in Him” (Ps 34:8). Indeed, as I tasted the goodness of the Lord, I do NOT want to let go of Him. My soul wanted and continues to want to feed on that which He had thrown to my soul to keep it burning. My soul can burn on other things, but it stills want to feed on more of the same; in other words, it does want to continue to be a doer of the works of the Lord, and NOT simply go on, to fly again, to the east or to the west, in search of familiar fuels of the world. Of course, the flesh in me still rears its head and says, “Now you are strong enough, go take the world; haven’t you held onto the motto of ‘to be above average or average as that which is good enough’, you are already below average by the standard of the world, and you are NOT going to stay there but to sink lower, if you don’t do anything about it!”.

My contemplation before the Lord
Lord, I think of flexing my wings again, yet, if my doing that, would cause me to leave the kind of co-labouring I had or still have with you, I am reluctant.

Lord, you know that I have chosen, since very early on, to stay with the assignment, asking for growth in depth, breadth and height of the assignment.

Lord, you know I do push at the boundaries, but there is only so much I can do, lest it becomes fleshy effort, and would be of no meaning to you; but you do understand how I feel in the wake of the diminished corporate atmosphere for my ministry, as well as the minimal growth of the ministry, generally. It has been 4 years now, Lord; it was fine for one to two years, even, three; but it has now gone beyond 4 years, and increasingly, the fallouts from the divorce affliction are coming to an end, at least I hope the tail-end bits (important, very important), would come to their satisfactory conclusion. But this has been accompanied with “not much of actions”, so to speak, at the ministry-front.

What do you want me to do, Lord? I am still NOT thinking the whole thing was just a mere coping mechanics you do on me, though even if it were so, I cannot complain, but would still be as thankful as before, for your grace poured out to me, in my time of affliction. Even if it was intended such, by you, as a way out for me to cope, with my pains and to recover thereof, surely Lord, now I can still choose to stay, and I have to stay-right?

What about those “fishes dreams”, aren’t you going to re-route me back to those, or is it that I have missed those? Lord, aren’t fishes metaphorical, and every time and season has such fishes, and I can still be assigned to them, in the appropriate time and season-right? In any case, Lord, you have taught me that no believer can abdicate himself from practising your righteousness and justice, for such are the foundation of your throne, and therefore, Kingdom (Ps 89:14a, Ps 97:2).

Lord, you know that I clearly recognize that it is NOT all your part, and none my part, and at the same time, it is also NOT that we are to do by the strength of our flesh; and so, I am waiting to move. I picture myself, in these later days, like the eagle ever circling the sky, watching to see if there is an “intrusion” into my space-span, in which I have to act. It has been, lately, NOT much actions called for; but you should have noted I have been faithful with little, some calls of actions, here and there - I attended to them. Lord, others have stopped circling already, but I am still at it. Now what?!

I am only human
Is it NOT true, I am only human, to want to be kind of be meaningful with how my time passes by me, especially that I am NOT that young anymore? I do have my constraints and responsibilities too; I work for a living, and I have 2 teenage children to provide and care for (a aged mother, too); I am NOT working for the church, though I serve voluntarily there, and I run a monthly Divine Healing Meeting attended by few; there is NOT career-like kind of thing with these services in church or my marketplace ministry; and for these things, my boss is unlike any other, whom I could see and have a meal with, like I have a meal with my children; He is also unlike any other, whom I could sit down and ask, “How am I doing?”, and I get back regularly, a reply, “Here, here is my tally of you.” No, NOT nearly like that, although I really, really hope my God would talk to me more, about me and my stuff. He listens alright; I believe that, maybe more than, like I listen to the afflicted ones He brought to me, over these years; but Lord, I prayed for them, even hugged them, at times. Lord, how I wish you can be physical, be physically present before me; but you are spirit, and I am still very much bodily or in the flesh. Lord, you are God, and I cannot tell you what to do, and so, I still tell myself to just trust you; that you are able to sustain me, in my earthly life, to keep my soul burning.

I need encouragement from the Lord
Call the above musing, reflection, or whatever you will, I am only human, and I also need the encouragement from the Lord. And God did NOT fail to once again, inject me with a dose of fuel that I may burn on, for what He has started.

From the above writing, you can know, of late, I was NOT able to accomplish much, for the Lord, despite my giving of my time and energy (much, I should say), to avail myself where I have been - the church, attending both Saturday and Sunday services (3 services each weekend), and I spend time at the marketplace, in the Full Gospel Weekly Meetings, and my once a month Divine Healing Meetings. On top of that, there are the attendances at various church meetings and some other brethrens fellowship meetings to support them. I do have a choice to cut, but I have more or less, continued with what I have been doing from the beginnings of some 4 years ago. And, yes, before I forget, I have slackened on my blogging on my own blog-site, meaning I have released fewer articles (perhaps, too few, now), and this was for the reason of my putting of my writings as comments for Ps Prentis’ blog ( The thing is that, I don’t get much feedback, NOT even frequent enough, from the church front, through the church leadership, or directly from members; and so, I really need the Lord to press a button or two, so to speak, to let me have a feedback or two, to encourage me along.

The encouragement
These are what I consider as encouragement for me to continue on, despite setbacks (which I will NOT be specific about, here):

The last 2 weekend church services had been a surprise for me, in this respect.

Prophecies NOT falling on deaf ears
Firstly, and very generally, I like to believe that the new Pastor in Charge has heeded the call to pay attention to prophecies given for the church, some of them given through me, and has begun to facilitate what the Lord would like done. The messages I hear are encouraging.

Back-pain of many years healed
Specific to what I do, as a voluntary (and lay) Altar Minister, praying for those with needs, and giving of words of knowledge and prophecies, I received this feedback 2 Sundays’ ago: A lady came forward for prayer, and before I began, she related that several months ago, I had prayed for her concerning her back-pain.

She said that, I said, at times, back-pain could be due to unequal lengths of legs, and then she said, she wanted to tell me that she was completely healed of her back-pain that she had been having for many years.

I cannot remember every situation that I ministered to people, but then, this lady could not be mistaken, for I believe I was about the only one in the church who would have told a ministee, about the unequal leg lengths could be the cause of back-pain. As I recall, I believe she was one of the few cases, which I would sit people upright, on a chair to check for unequal leg lengths. And so, she was the one that I did, a few months ago, and found that her legs were NOT of unequal lengths, but I nevertheless, prayed for her, for her back-pain.

She now said that, at that time she felt a sensation, and she soon found that she was completely healed of the pain of many years – the pain never came back; praise the Lord.

What was so encouraging about this testimony is that, for the several months that covered the period she received the healing, corporate atmosphere for such healing was rather poor, due to church leadership change casting a shadow over the specific ministry’s time allocation, and that all other lay active members had stopped ministering. I was still there, be there for the 3 services, and worst still, unlike before, I had to stay through to the end, all services, because if I had wanted to minister, I had to do it at the end of services; no longer earlier, after the praise and worship, which of course, takes place at the beginning of services. Call me a fool or whatever; wanted or not wanted, I avail myself, and so, I still prayed for people. It is so good to hear that the Lord honored and someone was healed of pain that troubled her for years. I told the lady to send in, a written testimony to the church, but we know how this thing is, people usually do NOT want to take the trouble.

Well, I prayed for her again, this time, for a previously undisclosed problem; she has a growth of 4-5cm in diameter, in her womb, from about 8-9 years back. May the Lord heal that too; and hopefully people would come forward to encourage, by their testimonies.

Salvation for an “Ang Mo”
That same weekend, the Lord also gave me the privilege, to pray for 5 other people. I seized the opportunities the Lord presented. I believe in opportune time, and we should learn to recognize that and seize that. At the end of it, I prayed for the last of the 5, who waited for a long time. The Lord gave me the privilege to lead this huge “Ang Mo” to Christ. The anointing of the Spirit was so strong, that this huge man could NOT stand under it, and he went down to the floor and “curled up”, and he was shivering. I commanded against any (dark) principalities at work, and I asked the man if he wanted to give his life to Jesus, and 3 times, he answered, “Yes”, and I led him to Christ.

By this time all pastors had left the sanctuary of the church, except the Senior Pastor and his daughter, seated at their seats in the front row, and just as they began to leave, I called the Senior Pastor over and told him of the salvation, and asked if he could get someone to take down the particulars of the man for the church’s record and follow-up, for indeed, my sensing was the man still needed follow-up ministry which the church could provide.

Pastor, another salvation!
Now, in last Sunday service, again, the Lord gave me the privilege to lead another foreigner to Christ, in church. After the Sunday 10.30 am service, I led a Burmese lady through the Sinner’s Prayer, and again the Senior Pastor was there, and again I got him over, to congratulate the lady, and the particulars of the new convert were taken down for the church’s follow-up. Isn’t God good! He encourages, and he encouraged me when things seem to be waning. It is nothing to boast about; someone sowed, and I merely was used as the reaper, by the Lord; but nevertheless, it is a marvelous thing to lead people through the Sinner’s Prayer; and Heaven rejoices when a sinner is saved, said the Word.

Write this, too – also a salvation!
Come to think about it, although things are NOT that consistent with my monthly marketplace Divine Healing Meetings (and I have just lost my Praise and Worship Leader, anyone want to volunteer?), the Lord just brought to memory, the recent episode of me, ministering to a woman (from another church) who has an aged mother of over 80 years old and who was at times, somewhat, mentally un-coherent; I prayed for the woman present at the meeting to be given the opportunity to share the gospel with her aged mother, and to conclusively know that, the old lady gives her life to Jesus. A month later, the woman came back, sharing that her aged mother gave her life to Jesus, and had even attended 2 sessions of the baptism class that will lead her to be baptized. The old lady NOT only accepted Christ but had understood baptism, and agreed to be baptized; praise the Lord!

God is good, and He is good all the time.

Anthony Chia, high.expressionsLord, I am shy already, that indeed I am weak that I need to get feedback to feel affirmed. Accept me, and give me time Lord, to grow to be less wanting to see, to feel assured of what I do, is NOT futile, even if it is only making myself available, be parked there, waiting for you to use. And Lord, I ask that I could develop greater spiritual discernment so that I could be ever ready to seize any opportunities you make available for me, to do exploits for you, and to be a blessing to others. Continue to honor me, Lord, even as I honor you, before men. Lord, I still have my frailty and my weaknesses. Help me to be an overcomer, for your Kingdom in Heaven is for overcomers (Rev 2 & 3). Amen.

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