Wednesday, September 24, 2014
At a point when I've become stagnant in faith and felt so sick about it, I began praying for the Holy Spirit to break through and revive me. And He graciously did, leading me from one step to another.
He inspired me to read the Bible systematically (have finished reading the entire Bible for the first time and rereading it). He led me to read a book called "The Normal Christian Life" by Watchman Nee that thoroughly explained Romans 1-8, which led me to finally understand the true Gospel of Christ, giving my heart the assurance that I am really saved!
From Nee's book, I've began reading Christian classics like the works of CH Spurgeon, AW Tozer, DL Moody, and L.Ravenhill and listening to preachers like P. Washer, D. Platt, M. Chandler,and T. Conway -- all of whom teach/preach/write purely what is Biblical.
And it has been so amazing, to begin to know God and be awestruck by who He is and what He has done. How can I not love Him back now that I've begun to understand the extent of His love?
God is so good and He is gracious. And I pray right now that your hearts would also have the same desire to truly know Him. My friends, God said "you will seek Me and FIND ME when you seek Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13). The invitation stands now, but it won't be forever. May the Lord give you the desire you seek Him now.
Isaiah 55:6 "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near."
Just a thought (and I feel I’ll start having haters soon… hahaha): As I go through the Old Testament I took note of one particular theme: GOD’s Holiness. God is holy and because we are His children, we ought to be holy too (Lev. 19:2), to be set apart for Him. God detests idolatry, in fact, it’s what stirs His wrath and judgment. A holy God cannot and will not stand the sight of unholiness. Not then, not now, not ever.
It’ll be too long to sum up everything here, but here’s something I deem to be very important: When Israel was about to go and conquer the land God had promised them, the first command was to DESTROY ALL THEIR IDOLS, destroy all the places where they worship their gods, completely erase the name of their gods and “Do NOT worship the LORD YOUR GOD in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods” (Deut. 12:2-4). 2 Kings 17:24-41 particularly caught my attention. It was when Assyria captured Samaria, and brought in foreigners to replace the people of Israel, “(v.25) But since these foreign settlers did not worship the Lord… the Lord…(v.26) has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped him CORRECTLY… (v.28-29) So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord. But these various groups of foreigners also continued to worship their own gods…” In other words – this led to MIXED/ADULTERATED WORSHIP.
With this in mind, I am truly baffled as to why some “Christian” churches are adapting/incorporating eastern religious practices (e.g. yoga), new age mysticism and other pagan practices in their worship....
I've known people, believers and unbelievers alike, who have questioned or doubted the sufficiency of the Bible. They would commonly say something like: "well you know, it's old, it could be outdated, there are many manuscripts being discovered out there that could be part of the Bible..." I've read articles and watched debates about this topic. But I get to know God more, as I get to know more about His attributes, as I meditate more on His Word, I ended up with this thought:
If GOD is powerful enough to inspire godly people to write the books in the Bible, (for them to be written in such a way that, even though they were hundreds of years apart, all are connected, from Genesis to Revelation) wouldn't God be powerful and sovereign enough to preserve it exactly the way we have the Bible now? Wouldn't God be wise enough to preserve only these 66 books (even after years of bloody persecutions of Christians throughout history and in spite of the manuscripts that people claim should be included) simply because the Bible IS already perfect and complete, and that in it we have all we need to know about God, and with the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit, we have all we need to know on how to live lives that is pleasing to our Holy King?
With everything I am, I believe in the sufficiency of the Bible simply because God says it so in His Word, and the Holy Spirit confirms it in my heart to be true.
I marvel at Queen Esther's relationship with the great King Xerxes. Even though Xerxes crowned her his queen, that they knew each other intimately as husband and wife, and that she had the king's favor, with the privilege to boldly come to him, Esther would still approach her king in reverence and ask, "If it please the king..." And then I'm reminded at how characters in the Bible commune with our Almighty God. Like how Abraham, even though God had considered him "a friend" and had been given the opportunity to bid with God with regards to Sodom and Gomorrah, humbly and reverently said, "Lord, please don't be angry with me if I speak one more time..." It made me ask, "How should I talk to God?" Although I know, through Christ Jesus, I have become a child of God by adoption, and that I can come boldly to God with my praises, prayers and petitions, should I come to Him callously and irreverently?
Oh, that I would come running to the throne of the Lord, with confidence, delight and love. But that I do with highest and most careful regard for my God IS the King of kings and Lord of lords and He is holy, holy, holy!
In my spiritual stagnation I cried out to God to help me, for Him to reveal Himself to me, to know Him more so that I could love and worship Him as He ought to be loved and worshipped. I was so sick of my spiritual condition that I really wanted Him to change me.
God answered. And no, there wasn't any psychedelic frenzy or a shining-shimmering-splendid, lightbulb moment where I'd hear God's booming voice calling out my name. Instead the Holy Spirit began changing my heart and leading me back to Word of God. I grew up
in a Christian setting but it wasn't until last year that I've read the entire Bible. Then I've come across preachings and books that teach sound doctrine, preachers who focus on Biblical truths (not those who teach a cocktail of various religions). Prayer started to become a delight to my heart. Reading the Bible has started to become more enjoyable than watching tv. I found the Holy Spirit helping me to train for godliness, encouraging me to wake up early in the morning to pray and read the Word (even though I really, really love sleep). I've started to know the attributes of God, how He demands to be worshipped by His children, and how to live a life that glorifies Him.
God has began to radically change my heart and mind (and continues to do so). Things that used to be pleasurable have become bland to my taste. Christ Jesus has broken the chains of sin that once had a firm grip in my life, chains that I've once lost hope of being delivered from. My anxious heart has learned to rest upon God's love, goodness and sovereignty and revere in His holiness. His discipline has become a comfort rather than hardship because I know it is done out of love, sanctifying me, making me holy for He is holy! My heart is satisfied, for in everything, my heart knows Jesus is better.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Imagine being required in class to watch an awesome 3-hour epic movie, like the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) for example. Yet by some circumstance – laziness perhaps, or you’ve been so distracted with other stuff like Facebook or Instagram, etc., you didn’t have enough time to really, really watch it, I mean to truly appreciate the movie and absorb its message. Instead, you ended up fast forwarding the movie (might have rewinded on some parts), probably choosing the highlights and skipping the other parts, just so you could say you’ve watched it.
And then the next day you were suddenly called to share LOTR to a group of indigenous teenagers, with eyes expectantly looking at you, glimmering with excitement and hunger for the story you’d be sharing (a group of youth who probably haven’t seen a flat screen in their entire lives)! What would you do? Tell your little summary, probably add your own bits and pieces to cover up the parts that you didn’t watch? Without thinking that these youth would go home to their own families and most likely excitedly share your “summary” to their parents and little siblings.
I know it was a silly comparison, but just imagine if we do the same thing with our Bibles. What kind of message would we be imparting to people when we go out to share the Word of God?
This scenario came to my mind while I was thanking the Lord for inspiring me to read the Bible systematically. I remember as a young Christian, I barely opened my Bible. Those little Scripture portions featured in devotionals would be my “daily bread.” Guess how spiritually malnourished I was? I was like the LOTR person who would choose books that are action-packed, encouraging or easy-to-read and skipping the kinda-make-my-nose-bleed books like parts of Leviticus and Numbers.
But it was when, by God’s grace, I forced myself to really read the Scriptures that I begin to have a broader understanding of God’s attributes. It was then that I was awestruck by God’s massive love and that I was mind-blown by His plan of redemption for His children through Christ Jesus and how we are being made holy by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
It was when I finally read the whole Bible that I’ve cried over my sin and spiritual depravity and ran to God in repentance. But it was also the time when I finally found my assurance that I am saved and justified through Christ and I am a truly a child of God! It was through reading and reading (or hearing and hearing, as the Scripture says) the Word of God that my faith is strengthened and have known what His promises are. It was through His Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that I am now learning how to pray and intercede, to walk in His ways, and to love God more!
Brothers and sisters, let me encourage you, join me in reading and studying the entire Bible! 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “ALL SCRIPTURE ("All," not “some”) is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God (that would be us!) may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” It may be hard at first and may require a lot of discipline on your part, but it will be such a delight as you push through with it. Use whatever strategy you deem best so long as you read the whole Bible!
Let’s know the Lord our God. Let’s know the God whom we are preaching or ministering about. Let’s read the Bible with a purpose. He is worthy!
“You will seek Me and find Me when you see Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
I love trees! They're so relaxing to look at. I love the varying colors of leaves and how they dance with the breeze and how some branches look so sturdy and others are so awesomely twisted (not to mention their mind-boggling anatomy).
I think I remember drawing a tree to describe life when I was in grade school -- focusing more on growth. But right now I'm reminded of a more important lesson about trees: what you see on the outside - the sturdiness of the branches, the deep shade of green leaves, the colorful flowers, and succulence of the fruits -- these are results of what's going on deep down under -- where it is planted and what the roots are absorbing.
I could say that as a Christian, back then I was a pitiful little plant struggling to grow, easily swayed by a gush of wind or barely withstanding the scorching summer heat (e.g. trials and afflictions). But as my roots grew wider and deeper into the ground (through the help of the Holy Spirit) - digging more into Word of God, in prayer, in Christian discipline, in fellowship, asking the Lord for more of His grace, mercy and love in my life -- I began to grow sturdier in faith -- (worshipping God in humility) for the fruit of the Spirit that has started to manifest in my life - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23).
Christians, to whom are you deeply rooted? What are your roots absorbing?