2009-12-31

Joy in the Meantime- How to Really Wait

When we pray to God to ask for something and the thing seems to take sometime to come, what is our common reaction? Here are some possibilities:
  1. we get angry at God
  2. we complained to God
  3. we grudgingly wait and wait; not doing anything useful
  4. we pray again to God thinking either God did not hear or we did not pray correctly at first.
  5. we pray again thinking we should have more faith
  6. we pray again thinking by our earnest desire, God will have to answer our request. We learned from Jesus' parable of the "Dishonest Judge" and "Demanding Neighbor" that persistent bring forth result (Actually, such concept is a misunderstanding of the Parable. Jesus reminded that His Father is much more loving than the Judge")
  7. we have a debate with God, trying to convince God that if He answer according to our requests it will bring Him glory.
  8. ....
If we truly believe that God will answer our request, the above practices just show everyone that we really don't have the faith and the trust that God will answer. What should be the right attitudes in this time of waiting? What should one do in this time? Essentially, what does one do in waiting?

Interestingly, the answer was found when I was studying the Chinese Classics I-Ching and I make a posting Learning from I-Ching Part 10 5需 Needs – Wait for the Right Time. It teaches us to wait with work of preparation and with joy. With the heart of expectancy and gladness, we get ourselves ready, as the bride prepares herself for the wedding day. This is exactly what the Bible teaches and it is the true meaning of patience. Some how, we have the strange concept that waiting is hard, painful and frustrating that we need to quickly get it over.

If our faith is true, we should value this time of preparation while we await answers to our prayers and the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We work with gladness and joy, and look forward to the great day. No complains please. There is no need to concentrate our efforts on praying and arm-twisting God to answer. Rest from our complaints and work happily and diligently for the great day.

When my wife reads the I-Ching post on waiting,  she said that the waiting time was not quiet at all. There were complains, robberies and attacks from the enemy resulting in a real bloody mess. Waiting is not peaceful and quiet as we thought. It is a very busy, noisy and messy time. So, don't be discouraged when you find your waiting time rather challenging. The closer you get to the opportune time, the more challenges you will face. Be encouraged by the presence of greater resistances, it shows that you are very near! Cheer up and continue to move forward. Your break-through is at the door.

Please also read  Joy of Waiting - improving the process in the meantime.

2009-12-30

Making a Judgement and Being Judgemental

We are not very sharp in our thinking and use of words. This problem is especially pronounced in the Christian community because we try to spiritualize things too much. So when we try to point out someone error for his awareness and correction we are told that Bible tell us not judge. My previous posts Judge Not yet Correcting, Judging Rightly hopefully shed some light on this. 

A better way of explaining the issue could be summarized as "we are to make correct judgement and not to be judgemental".  We are to make a judgement on the issues and actions and not on the person. We must finally conclude whether the action is biblically right or wrong. But we cannot condemn the person evil and unchangeable. Forever evil or evil forever is reserved for the devil.

This is best illustrated with the story of the woman caught in adultery (used in last posting on acceptance). Jesus made the judgement that it is sin (Go and sin no more) but withheld his condemnation on her, giving her a future and trusting her to change for the better. 1Co 13:7  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

We have no record whether the woman in fact did change for the better and sin no more. We believe at least the inner-man was changed and that started the ball rolling for the new life. However, some people may need additional help in the process of breaking free from bad habits as taught in the AA 12-steps. Love requires us to help, endure the process, as Paul did in "Gal 4:19  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you".

Hence, we are to make a right judgement but be not judgemental. We may be required, in some cases, to be involve in the correction process as labor of love. If we have love, perhaps we will be less judgemental after making a correct judgement.

2009-12-26

What is the meaning of Yielding to the Spirit?

There are a few concepts that are related, such as follows:
  1. yield to the Spirit, led by the Spirit, Gal 5:18, live by the Spirit, Gal 5:25
  2. be filled with the Spirit, Eph 5:18
  3. abide in Christ, John 8:31
  4. put on the new self, Col 3:10
  5. Christ in us Col 1:27
The Christ in us enables us to be led by the Spirit within us and as we yield to the Spirit, putting on the New Self, this abiding and following His leading will bring forth fruit of the Spirit in Gal 5:22-23.

The key in this abiding or yielding or following is that it is a process of discipline over a period of time and not once off. Abiding is built up over time; a seeking and the decision to follow, one at a time and over and over again over time. 

This process will enable us to break bad habit, forgiving the 'jerks', and so forth.

But most of us blame God for not saving us at the time of need or temptation. The fact is that we actually have not been abiding in Him to build up the strength we need at the time of need. Chinese has a saying that "developing the army for a thousand days to be use at an hour".

If we think we are a failure, the problem is not with God. God has provided all the needs for us to be successful and victorious. We just need to put on trust and put His words into practice over time and not just once off or for only a few times.

Abiding and yielding is a process and is a building up over time. This is also call growth. See Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model ...

2009-12-25

Acceptance - The Best Christmas Gift

Worldly wisdom is about performance for acceptance. Show me your performance first then I will accept you. This is so in grained in our thinking that even after we are accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement for us, we still frequently regress to work for acceptance. This is easily seen in the Galatians as they were rebuked by Paul in the Book of Galatians. After salvation, they wanted to go back to the work of the Law for justification again.

Biblical wisdom called for the acceptance of the person first, though not the deeds of the person. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus love us even when we were rebellious against Him. If we can be freed of sins, then we don't need Jesus at all. So we must be clear of the meaning of acceptance.


Definition of Acceptance of a Person
Acceptance means that we receive and love the person as he/she is, as a person, and does not necessary mean approval of his/her deeds. We accept him/her first and then help he/she to change for the better. Grace is God acceptance of us first and then enabling us to break free from the bondage of sins to live in freedom.

This concept is clearly seen in the story of the woman caught in adultery. Jesus accepted her first "Neither do I condemn thee" and also "Go and sin no more". The consequence of our sin is death and there is not more hope and no more desire to change. In fact, sin leads to more sin since there is no future. However, if someone can accept and believe for the better, then there arise a desire to break free.

So true acceptance is receiving a person and believing him/her for the better in his/her of sins. This applies to our 'enemies' - people who hurt us, who gossips and spread lies about us and who betray us. Could we ignore the hurts they caused us and accept them as a person ( very often, they are the very Christian brother and sister that you trusted in the first place!) and believing in them that they are and can be better. The hurts they caused us; they probably think that they are doing the right thing and in the name of God. Could we believe that they are deceived by the devils or believed in the wrong rumor about us, had a great misunderstanding. Could we start treating them not as enemy but as brothers in Christ. Not to shunt them but to be able to face up to them with no anger and bitterness.
Can we trust God to settle the misunderstanding, wrongly accusations and attacks and give us the justice? Could we understand that hurting people hurts people? Insecured people manipulate, lies, blame and attack to try to control things. Can we see the stress and struggles inside? May God gives us the grace to accept them.

Acceptance does not mean approval or endorsement of the evil deeds. At the appropriate time and in the right way, we must, or may God send others to tell them, show them that their deeds are evil and that they may repent. However, such will not come, until we can gain their confidence that we accept and believe that they are and can be a better person. How can they hear us if they don't believe we love them and their best interest in mind?
People may think they are saved or may be actually saved, but they lack the growing up phase of maturity into the true image of Christ.

Change begins with Acceptance - By Father and Us (His Channels)
So, if we want another person to change, we must first learn to accept them first, gain their trust, and then we may earn the right to trule communicate the truth to them, and then they may change. The best acceptance is the acceptance by Jesus Christ who gave His life for us. May we be filled with such confidence of acceptance by our Heavenly Father than we may be channel to bring His acceptance through us to help others change for the better. This may be the best present you can give to someone in this Christmas seasons.

2009-12-11

Same Action but Different Result

The Same Initial Action
What do you call the sequence actions of digging a hole in the garden, followed by putting a thing inside and then covering it back with the earth ?

Do you call it burying or planting?
What's the difference?

It depends on your purpose or expectation and the thing you put inside.

We bury things that are death or want them to be dead.
We plant things to have a greater growth and harvest.

The result depends on the thing - a seed or a lifeless thing or body?
All born-again believers has a complete seed of Christ inside.
All it takes is for the seed of Christ to be planted inside the throne of our heart, in place of our own self-will. Let Christ rules in our heart and grows out through our mind and show forth in our behvaiour and lifestyles, bearing much fruit.


The Difference in Time
Burying and Planting while same in the initial action, they differs over time. Burying is a one-off exercise whereas planting takes place over a duration of time.


What are you doing with your efforts ? Burying or Planting?

What are you doing with your 'things'?
Are you planting seeds and burying the decays and hurts?
Or instead, are you planting the hurts and burying the seeds?

Burying is not accumulating. Burying is letting go forever. Accumulating is actually like planting. Taking care and adding ingredients for its growth.

Draw from Christ's love and forgiveness of us to let go, bury, all our bitterness and hurts. The ones that cause us the hurts are the one least able, if not least willing, to put right the hurts. Don't wait for them to say sorry and make good (they can't and won't). Be empowered by Christ who died for us while we yet rebellious sinners and forgive and bless us nonetheless that we might be converted to be His. Forgive the people who hurts us and go the extra-mile of loving our enemy that they may be converted to our friends. Christ has enabled us to do it.

Plant the new life of Christ in us. Follow His heart. Bury and let go of our hurts and bitterness. Be filled with the love of Christ. It is hard for us but already done for us in Christ. We are not doing the forgiving but the Christ in us.

2009-12-07

Secret of Victorious Christian Living

We are studying Ephesians. Ephesian 3:16-20 is a very powerful passage. It gives us the secret for victorious Christian living. For a study on the chapter, see Bible Study on Ephesians - Chapter 3 Mystery Exposed & Abundant Life and for Q&A see Ephesians - Chapter 3 Mystery Exposed & Abundant Life Q&A. Below is a concept map that illustrate the secrets:




The target for any Christian is the "Fullness of God" revealed through them. To me, the "fullness of God" means Christ-likeness as in Rom 8:37. It is also about being "more than Conqueror' of Rom 8:37. It is about the "going the extra mile" of Mat 5:41 and the "joy in adversity" of John 16:33. It is the ability to go beyond worldly expectation of effort and behavior. It is about loving above taking revenge. It is trusting God and following God's ways instead of taking things into our own hands of fleshly reactions. It is about showing the character of God of the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control.

If anyone lack the ability or goodness of God, then he should trace back from the map to discover that he lack inner strength. Inner Strength begins with faith in Christ, to have Christ lives in our heart, and with the faith, acts in obedience to Christ, then we will be able to taste and experience the love of God resulting in greater faith in Christ for us to greater in Him. The key is faith and corresponding actions in the Christ's love within.