An Imperfect Man Writing the Perfect Message of God

08 JULY 2017, 10:06 PM

How can a finite and imperfect man write the timeless and perfect message of God? How is a weak human soul deliver God’s holy message?

These are the hardships and the reality that preachers face every week in the preparation of their sermons. Preparing and delivering a sermon is a lot more than ordinary public speaking. When a preacher prepares a sermon, he is basically trying to write what God desires to tell His people; when a preacher delivers a sermon he is basically becomes God’s mouthpiece of encouragement, hope, chastening, and correction. Thus, preaching connects the people of God to the heart and mind of God through the hearing of an hour-or-so public speech called preaching.

A preacher is never perfect. He often falls short if being strong in the faith and godly conduct. But it is his duty to deliver God’s message – weekly. That is the great responsibility of every called preacher. Even the Apostle Paul recognized his own sufficiency in such a great task:

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (KJV) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.

Despite of our insufficiency, we can rest assure that God is with us as we prepare and deliver His message, as long as we completely put our trust in Him.

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (KJV) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

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Overnight Prayer – A moment of God’s Revival

07 JULY 2017, 11:51 PM
A week of utter weakness; a single hour of healing.

All that it needs is a single moment of praise and worship, and suddenly the shattered soul is healed.

As we sung our praises to God, what could I possibly offer to Him? I had no righteousness for the past week, virtually no prayers and Bible meditation. All that I offered to God was my broken heart – broken in true sorrowful repentance.

Psalms 51:17 (KJV) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

That offering was what God was looking to receive from me – no hypocrisy, no hiding, but complete honesty and surrender. And through that humble submission, God was able to do His wondrous work of reviving my once-wounded heart, ready again for service.

Psalms 51:12-14 (KJV) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

Let’s Get Up Again

07 JULY 2017, 05:09 PM

In my life of constant weakness amd struggles, against hardships, temptations and the test of character, may God again help me to endure.

I may not completely know the plans of the Lord, but I am resting on Him.

Will I teach again?

Will I pursue my teaching career? Only God knows.

Isaiah 55:8 (KJV) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

The ways of the Lord, His plans and wisdom, are hard to comprehend. Much more, waiting proves to be a real challenge. Waiting tests our endurance, the depth of our character, and maybe the most of all, our faithfulness. Often when we do not understand God, or cannot anymore wait on Him, we start to choose our own ways and thinking. Often, this results in sinning.

It is always best to wait upon the Lord, fit wisdom and strength.

Psalms 27:14 (KJV) Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Love, Courtship, and Marriage

Regarding man-woman relationships, God has ordained that commitments be lifetime and not temporary. Therefore, a man should court a woman not because he sees her as material girlfriend, but rather as a prospect wife; and the same goes for the woman, a “yes” means she accepts that he is the ideal husband.

This in turn calls for God’s Perfect Will. It could be determined by three factors: the right person, the right time, and the right ways.

1) The Right Person. 

MAN

Ephesians 5:1, 23-30 (KJV)  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

A man in courtship should possess these two basic qualities:

A) Spiritual Maturity to lead the wife and the children spiritually; and the

B) Capacity to provide for the physical needs of the family.

In order for a man to lead a family to God, he should know a great deal about the Bible and practice a life of obedience. He should also have a good testimony and years of Christian ministry. Furthermore, the man should draw the woman to holiness, and his love for the woman is shown to draw the woman closer to God first, then to himself. The love of the man too is sacrificial, and looks upon the needs of the woman as much as he looks upon his own needs.

WOMAN

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Basically, the woman should have meekness and the heart of submission. Yet the woman should also be spiritually wise, and knows how to deal with wrong decisions coming from the man. She must not submit in wrong decisions, yet be meek to tell her opinion to the man in a way that will not disrespect his authority over her.

Proverbs 31:13, 15, 30 (KJV)  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

The woman should also have a sense of responsibility and care for the family. She must be family-oriented. Furthermore, she knows how to work with her hands, that is, earning extra money for the family. Above all, she should be God-fearing.

2) The Right Time

The view of the lifetime commitment and the qualities of both the man and woman will determine the right time of entering this kind of relationship.

Strictly speaking, for the man, he is discouraged to enter courtship if he is still spiritually immature. This includes​ being jealous, possessive, short-tempered, disrespectful, etc. The man should mature first in his area of weaknesses. A good guideline to follow is possessing these qualities, which are the mark of a true spiritually mature person (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23):

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Moreover, a man that has not yet finished his studies and has no work is definitely discouraged to enter courtship.

For the woman, she should also possess first the traits enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians 5:22-23.

For both the man and woman, they should have a deep sense of maturity and responsibility because courtship is the first step towards marriage and entering this first step means that they are ready to leave behind the life of being single.

3) The Right Ways

The man entering Courtship should have a deep sense of respect both to the woman and her family. He should formally ask for the permission of her parents. He should acknowledge the fact that an unmarried woman belongs first to God, then to her parents.

Courtship should be done most of the time in the home of the woman, with her parents present. Respect for the woman should be regarded highly, and there should not be a single hint of lust involved, even after obtaining the woman’s “yes”. Touching, kissing, and petting are strictly forbidden.

Dating outside the woman’s home is subject to the approval of the woman’s parents. No dating should be done without the approval of the woman’s parents. Dating should also not be during the night, and certainly not in dark and private places. A group date involving many Christian friends and couples is much more desirable.

Selfless Love

Matthew 16:24 (KJV)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

That was the Scripture God gave me when I had a motorcycle accident in 2015, teaching me to offer my life for His service. A year later, God reminded me of the same thing – if I wanted to show love to God and to others, it must be selfless.

I had the motorcycle accident when we were traveling for our Bible Study in Naujan. I suffered a large cut on my head and the people said it was by God’s miracle that I did not suffer internal head injuries. That time, God was testing me if I would still serve Him despite what happened – it was the test of willingness to offer to God my physical life. After a year, I was not the patient anymore – it was my father. He suffered from a pulmonary disease and a mild heart attack. And still, God was teaching me to serve Him by loving others selflessly.

How did God teach me to love selflessly so I could serve Him with a fresh start?

Firstly, God taught me to deny my comfort for the comfort of others. My father suffered from a mild heart attack because of strenuous physical labors. Partly I was blaming myself because I should be the one doing those heavy labors – I knew the doctors warned my father against heavy tasks after he suffered his first heart attack in 2007.  Worse, in the hospital, God revealed my selfish heart – it was so self-centered – I hated the discomforts of staying in the hospital. I was not thinking of the discomforts of my father who was in the ICU, I was only sympathizing with my own hard feelings. I felt ashamed. How could I be that selfish!

As days went by, God was pushing me more to realize my selfishness. As I was seeing the patients and their families, my heart was aching to see them broken and hopeless. I always wanted to comfort them with the love of Jesus from the Bible – but one thing was hindering me – too much thinking of the self! I argued in my mind that I needed more sleep, that I needed more time for myself, and some other reasons. There was a clear battle between thinking of myself against my desire to serve others. I saw clearly that prioritizing my wants hindered me from loving and serving others.

Secondly, God taught me to be sensitive for the needs of others. I found it true that as you deny your own comforts to give comfort to others, you will naturally be sensitive to their needs. The hospital was full of patients and people from all walks of life – from the rural and urban places, the rich and the poor, the believers and the unbelievers – but they all shared a common trait – they were all in need.

Being sensitive to the needs of others did not call for a reactive thinking, but for a proactive one. The former was telling me to respond to the emerging needs I saw in them; the latter was instructing me to think what I could possibly do before things might actually happen. Being proactive in thinking trained me to adjust my whole life and time management. I had to wake up earlier to pray for strength and guidance. Then I would talk to some people and pray for them. I also had to think always of different ways to give strength and comfort to my father and to the others – some ways work for certain people, but not to the others. I was the one adjusting for them and not the other way around.

Lastly, God taught me to exalt Him and not the self. This was the lesson I found to be the hardest to learn. As I was ministering in the Emergency Room, the different Medical ICU Rooms, and the semi-private wards – doctors, nurses, and people began to notice me as a religious and spiritual person. Soon, I earned their respect. With their high respect and regard, I felt that my ego was being fed! The natural self-centered I was coming to life! Grant me Lord the Grace to exalt You and not the self (Psalm 115: 1)!

The test of character was even stronger when I gained friendships with the opposite sex who were attractive. Soon, I felt that I had to make my physical appearance and gestures better to maintain and develop those friendships. I really saw myself taking decisive actions to draw people to myself and not to God – but of course with the ministry as the outside covering. But God was gracious in convicting me of my sin of self-glorification, and soon I was praying for a new heart with the right motives (Psalm 51: 10). After that prayer, every time I would go out to minister to the people, I would pray first for true humility and selflessness.

During my ten days of staying in the hospital, did I really learn those three truths of selfless love? To a small degree, maybe – but I know that learning is a lifetime process. I know that in the future, in everyday life, I will find myself again being entangled so much in the self that will hinder me in loving Jesus and serving others. But my prayer is that God will always give me the Grace to fight this sin of self-indulgence, and be a more selfless person.

Whether it is the offering of life like in the motorcycle accident that I had or the denying of personal comforts and glory like in my ten days of staying in the hospital, they both call for a selfless love as my service to Jesus. For Jesus Himself, the great God (Hebrews 1: 8; John 1: 1), also denied Himself greatly of heavenly glories and humbled Himself as the Father’s Servant (Philippians 2: 6-7; Isaiah 53).

 

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be all the Glory!

This Wonderful Gift

I praise God for creating the universe
And everything that is in it
I praise God for the meet-up of my parents
And for their marriage

I praise God that through my parents
He raised me
I praise God that He let me see
The wonders of this world

I praise God that He made me weak
So in Him I find strength
I praise God that I am not wise
So He is my wisdom

I praise God that despite my shortcomings
He allowed me to pass this LET Board Exam
I praise God for it is His work
The Glory belongs to Him

It takes more than that

26 OCTOBER 2016, 02:09 PM

I really thought I would be successful that time. But I was wrong. My efforts were not good enough.

For some weeks already I was planning to have a fasting in a place far from home – an ideal haven where I could have a full hold on God. Though my determination still falters on the last few hours, I still believed I would finally have it.

It made me think then and have a deeper introspection. What contributed to my failure? Or more blatantly, am I that far from God already that I could not fast?

Maybe it would help more if I say first my reasons for fasting.

My first reason is the feeling of utter helplessness. I have become so desperate in my situation that I needed something powerful just to meet my spiritual needs. I was actively pastoring a Church for the past few months, and the time has come that I would like to be the sheep now and not the shepherd. I would like to be fed and led, and be strengthened. I need the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to heal my dying soul. I was like a deer panting for water (Psalms 42:1). The whole Psalm Chapter really says my condition.

Secondly, the ministry demands it. The last time I fasted about two months ago the gift of healing flowed powerfully everytime we prayed together. I do not mean that I receive more of God’s power when I fast; His miracles and healing are released by His grace and not by our good works. But, by fasting God is more able to prepare me first for His great works. Still I could not say that fasting is my little contribution, because I became successful in some of my fastings only because of His Grace. In God’s mysterious design, I fast and pray, and He moves more — yet I have no part in that. Maybe it is because God exalts the humble (James 4:10), and that fasting is basically the humbling of the soul before God (Psalm 35:13).

The third reason is that I really miss my intimate moments with the Lord. Since the advent of the wi-fi connection at home, my habit of long time spent in praying died with its coming. Much worse happened when I bought this Android cellphone. I am inclined into technology and it consumes my time heavily. I have to fast to break these addictions. I have to separate from the world and be silent to once again hear the voice of the Lord.

Lastly, I need guidance and answers. Does the Lord really want me to pursue my teaching profession while pastoring? My logical mind says no, for teaching will take much time from me — some quality time that I should spend with God and with the members of the Church.

Now let us return to the first question, why did my efforts to fast fail?

One reason is that I lacked all the necessary preparations. Before you fast, you have to prepare yourself spiritually and physically. I lacked both. I rarely prayed for it, and for some weeks already I was staying late at night then woke up late in the morning. Fasting demands that I saturate myself first in fervent praying, and that my physical body is prepared for it.

The second reason for my failures is that I have to make some things right first. Of course I know I will fast to ask for God’s help me to fix the wrongs in my life, but I do sense that I have to fix some of them now before I meet the Lord in prayer. Fasting is a sacred time with the Lord and for sure it has the spirit of repentance, but we will be able to show that our repentance is truly true if we start making amendments in our life now before the time of fasting comes. After all, my shortcomings in the family and Church really take the issues right back at the heart of self-denial and obedience. If I would really deny myself now and choose to obey, more than half of my shortcomings would be resolved now even before I fast. I hate to approach God in fasting with fake repentance, and much worse, to fast with no real intent of changing my ways, just like what God saw in Israel when they fasted in Isaiah 58. They fasted hypocritically with no repentance in their hearts.

To fast before God with a right heart is not a complicated thing, but not an easy one either. It takes more than sheer determination. It takes more than a simple sacrifice. It takes more than the usual planning. It will demand your everything — because you will meet your Holy God.