Category Archives: Wisdom & Knowledge

A Marathon with the Lord

jogging

Our walk with the Lord can be like a marathon. Some start strong and some start slowly. A marathon is not about how well or poorly we run, but rather that we are able to finish the race. We are to have a similar mindset in our walk with the Lord. We must remain steadfast in our faith, devotion and to have our heart continually affixed on Jesus Christ. There will be obstacles in the way in attempts to derail or distract us from reaching the true goal which is to keep our faith in God’s promise of everlasting life in Christ.

What good is if a person starts really strong and had done many impressive deeds in Christ but only to end up departing from the faith (as in not believing in God anymore). That person wasn’t able to finish the race. I’ve read different accounts about how pastors and devoted Christians decided to stop believing and speak critically of God (or against religion). These accounts leave me scratching my head and makes me wonder what caused them to lose faith. It is very disheartening when I read accounts like these. It reminds me of a parable about sower and the seed.

Luke 8:4-15 (ESV)
The Parable of the Sower
4 And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables
9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

We must be vigilant since the evil one is extremely determined to cut us from God.

Let us make an important commitment to remain faithful to the very end, to be able to finish the race. God will always be with us, guiding us and encouraging us. Remember we still have free will, we can either choose to align our will with God’s will or choose our path apart from God’s will. It takes courage and huge commitment to remain faithful to the end!

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Serving God or Mammon?

Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Someone once told me about the money-making scheme. As he was telling me about the scheme, I could sense where his heart lies so I gently told him not to get too attached to money.

“But I like money,” he replied. “Doesn’t God want to prosper us and grow wealth?”

Money by itself is neither good nor bad. But what matters is our attitude toward money. Are we putting money first before everything else? Or do we put God and relationships first before money. Where do we place our faith in? God or money?

Money buys us food, material goods, house, medicine, etc… It’s not much of a leap for a person to start viewing money as something that gives them security and rest from troubles. And it’s not difficult for people to start loving money for they see that it gives them many things in life. But money only offers us false security and satisfaction. It’s easy to forget who the TRUE PROVIDER is especially when money buys us shelter, food and our basic needs. Remember God gave a habitable planet for us to live, not too far nor too close to the sun. He also created animals and plants for us to eat. God created the materials that allowed us to build shelter!

God has provided many things in our lives, many things we might not realize right away. Remember how God provided heavenly manna and water for the wandering Israelites in the desert wilderness? Fed Elijah in time of famine? Forewarned Joseph to store up grains for seven years of famine? The Bible lists so many examples of how God supernaturally provided for His children in time of need! The scripture mentioned below tells us not to worry too much about our life –

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Sadly, love of money and greed pervades almost everywhere in our society (at least here in America). Mammon reign as a powerful stronghold in many lives in this country. Here are few examples how it pervades everyday lives –

There are people playing lottery or gambling in hope of striking it rich, falling for money-related scams, trampling others in order to advance their own career, stealing, and engaging in fraud. Corrupt politicians accepting bribes or contributions in exchange for granting favors to their benefactors. Criminals blackmailing others’ dark secret for financial gain. Wealthy financiers exploiting cheap labors, ‘starving’ their workers while fattening themselves up. Monetary interest and usury everywhere we go. Pastors favoring the more generous contributors than those who don’t contribute. The list goes on and on.

Greed and the love of the money tie all of these together. The scripture says that love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. How those people are deceived into thinking that they are masters over money while the money is truly a merciless master over them!

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (ESV)
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

These people place their hope in money to provide them security and to be free from worries. The thinking is, “Only if I had a million dollars, then I wouldn’t have to worry about paying bills, medicine, etc..” or “Finally, I can buy some fancy houses, car, etc..” or “Money would solve our problems.”

But that kind of thinking reveals their faith is placed in money. They are attempting to seek satisfaction and security from money.

Our faith should be placed in God instead! Christ can only offer us true satisfaction and peace. He alone can satisfy our soul even as we face trials and tribulations on earth. God is the Creator of the heaven and earth. He provided everything for us to enjoy. God wants us to have faith in HIM, not in money to provide for us. There is no way we can have faith in both money and God. We will either pick one over the other. Where will our faith lies? God or money?

Think about this, isn’t it wiser to depend on living God who can provide for everything we need in our life? Let us be content with what God gave us.

Some additional scripture on money –

Proverb 23:5 (NIV)
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Proverbs 22:16 (ESV)
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

James 5:1-6 (ESV)
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

Depending on Each Other

God has showed me big time how His children are interdependent on each other and how our actions have a ripple effect upon others. I want to share a story with you. There were two brothers in Christ and they had a good fellowship for a while. God had been speaking powerfully through this ministering brother and thus helping ministering to the learning brother who was continuously learning. At times, the learning brother would speak something but didn’t realize it came from God. This spoken word also helped the ministering brother!! One day, the ministering brother was in a serious trouble. The landlord was going to evict him and his family. He tried everything to avoid being evicted, and had no one to ask for help. But God finally put the learning brother onto his heart, so the ministering brother hesitantly asked the learning brother to help them make the rent payment. The learning brother, out of compassion and love, decided to help the ministering brother out. I thought this was a good example of how when one member has a lack and those who have enough are able to help. This can work both ways for all of us have different gifting, supplies, personality, etc…

Maybe one person isn’t good at speaking with people for spreading God’s word, but is really good at showing hospitality and helping others. Or maybe someone is really good at praying for others but not skilled with giving. That’s okay! Everyone has a different role to play!! And also there’s always a room for growth/improvement in our weakness. In other word, we could keep on practicing what we’re not good at. The main thing is that we allow Christ’s LOVE to grow within us and to be able allow that to shine for others to see. We are the living witness to Christ’s LOVE and hope to be that light for other people to see. I pray that we are able to bring people to Christ through our actions and varied gifts. If you’re not sure what kind of gift you have, you can always ask God about it =) and you can also ask God to give you spiritual gifts if you desire so!!

I wanted to share this powerful phrase with you –

I believe humility allows you to open up your heart more so you can receive more love from others and God.

Think about what this means in practical sense.

First, let’s look at it from opposite angle.
Pride says, “I don’t need anyone. I am my own man. I don’t need handouts or help from anyone else, if anything I will be the one helping others.” Even the intention is to do good (helping others, etc..), the intention is still infected with prideful thinking. Pride focuses on protecting their own dignity, their own image. By not accepting help from anyone, they are denying others the opportunity to share their love.

Yet when we open up our vulnerability and heart to others, we are allowing others the OPPORTUNITY to pour their love into our hearts. I realize not all will pour love, but at least we open up for those who want to share their love!

Seeing how interdependent we can be, we must also be aware how our actions can have a ripple effect on others, for either better or worse. It does have an impact beyond what we can see! Even the smallest action. Consider the story of two brothers I just mentioned a little bit earlier. The ministering brother was humbled and felt an incredible sense of love/support from the learning brother for the love of Christ was shining through him. It made an impact on both of the brothers for they learned from the whole experience and allowed God’s love to grow more within themselves! I realize being the imperfect being we are, we won’t always succeed in doing good. But remember, what is impossible with man is possible with God. So then, having the love of Christ in our hearts, we hope to allow it shine brightly for others to see and to share His love boldly.

1 Corinthians 12:4-26 (ESV)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Genesis 2:18-24 (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

When God Opens and Closes a Door

doors

All of us go through different seasons and have different purpose in our lives. Certain things comes and goes in our lives because they have a season and purpose for time being. Some things we were meant to have for a season, and some things we weren’t. I’m not sure how to explain this without resorting to figures of speech. So here goes.

I found it from my own experience that when God opens a certain door for you, going through that door is just effortless as swimming downstream. Things just seem to fall in place so easily. I’ll give you an example – this blog. As God was showing me many things, I started journaling things down. I just kept on writing and writing and then eventually I stumbled across a bunch of Christian blogs. I enjoyed learning about what God has shown His children and eventually I was inspired to start a blog sharing God’s love with others. It felt like a very natural and easy transition from journaling for myself to writing for others!

And when God closes a certain door for you and you try to enter through that door. It’s very difficult and is like trying to swim upstream. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and effort. Why go against the stream when God intended for you to downstream? Sometimes God closes a certain door because of hidden danger that lies behind it, sometimes it’s just that we’re not ready for it or others are not ready. Or it can be we’re not meant to go through that door. Or it’s for appointed time later on. Or it’s to put us through testing/trials, etc.. So many possible reasons! Remember that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways higher than our ways.

Sometimes we become so conditioned to having a door closed to us for so long that we might not recognize when God opens a door for us! Or sometimes it seems like God has closed a door on us but He wanted us to go through trials/testing first before entering that door. It’s always good to pray and ask God for wisdom/discernment! Remember what we see in natural is very different from what God sees.

Although, some people will insist on opening doors not meant for them. This refers to people insisting on having their ways and continuously asserting independence from God’s way. Eventually God will let them go and give them over to sin for that is what they wanted. This was not what God wanted in the first place.

What do I mean by doors??? Speaking plainly, specific doors can refer to any of the following: Relationship, finances, job, friendship, house, hobby, activity, anointing, etc…

I had God close doors on me from getting closer to certain people in life (usually in friendships). Some of the doors were closed on me quite swiftly and some gradually. I didn’t understand it at first but I realized in hindsight that God was truly protecting me from people who would’ve taken advantage of me. I love being kind and generous toward others in terms of time and attention. These people wouldn’t have treated me the same and thus would have left me with a feeling of being unloved. I am truly thankful that God is looking out for me and protecting my heart! Over time, I’ve learnt how to guard my heart like a prized treasure and not to throw them away so easily like throwing pearls to pigs.

All this is because of God’s everlasting LOVE for us. It’s not to restrain us but to prune us into a beautiful creation we were meant to be!!

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

What’s your relationship with God like?

Earthly relationships can give us some insights on what kind of relationship we have with God. Allow me to illustrate in a bit. There are different level of intimacy and type of relationship we have with other people. Think about how our earthly relationships compare with our relationship with God. As I mentioned in the previous post, marriage is the most intimate kind of relationship you can have with a person. The marriage points to the intimate relationship between Christ and His bride (church). Jesus Christ loved so much that He was willing to lay down His life for us so that we may live. The love of Christ also compels the bride to give herself completely to Christ. It’s a mutually loving relationship, giving their all for each other. Marriage helps us understand the kind of relationship God wants with His children – to love and be loved!

Take a deep look inside within your soul and ask yourself what kind of relationship you have with God. Please don’t think I am judging you! And also don’t judge yourself! Just think about it. My hope is to encourage you to have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus. And for you to fall in love with Him!

Are we thinking about God constantly, just as spouses think about each other constantly? To yearn for each other whenever they are apart and to delight in each other whenever they are together? Do we have that same kind of passion and love toward God? Thinking of ways to please God? Not out of obligation, but out of love. A sacrificial love.

Or is God a mere acquaintance to us? A mere afterthought? Someone you ask for help but never giving anything back? Or does the relationship consists of mere knowledge of God’s existence – like a lofty theologian studying all his/her life about God but never really having any kind of relationship with God? Or is the relationship like a rebellious son against his loving father, not wanting to do anything with him despite all he has done for son? Or someone who loves the man-made religious structures/doctrines more than God Himself?

So ask yourself what your relationship with God is like. The good news is that you can come to Him anytime and anywhere, despite all our shortcomings and weaknesses. He’s there with His arm stretched open. Come to Him! Talk with Him =) He is inviting you to an intimate relationship with Him, will you accept? Will you lay down your rebellious arm and come back to your loving Father?

See how much God loves his bride and the mankind?

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Song of Solomon 4:9-12 (ESV)
9 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!
11 Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.

Truly, God has bestowed so many good things upon us – He is worthy of our honor, our love, our commitment, and our everything! So let us set our mind to please Our Creator!