2013-12-24

Similiar Proverbs in Ancient Chinese and the Bible - Man Proposes and God Disposes

'Man proposes and God disposes' is a common saying in English. It can be inferred from Proverbs such as 16:9 and 19:21. Ancient Chinese has an equivalent saying as in 谋事在人,成事在天”.
'Man proposes and God disposes' is a common saying in English. It can be inferred from Proverbs 16:9 and 19:21.
  • Pro 16:9  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. 
  • Pro 19:21  Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. 
  • Pro 16:1  The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
Ancient Chinese has an equivalent saying as in “谋事在人,成事在天”, Planning belongs to the man, but God determines its success. If you use Google translator, it gives you exactly, 'Man proposes, God disposes'.  The source of the Chinese statement comes from the book "History of the Three Kingdoms".(明·罗贯中《三国演义》第一百三回). The source is actually longer, "谋事在人,成事在天”,不可强也。It has an additional phrase of 'one cannot force it'. 

What can we learn from it? 
  1. God's way and plan overrides man's plans.
    • Pro 21:30  No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD. 
  2. It is better at the very start to consult God as to His will and plan. 
    • 1Pe_2:15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 
    • 1Jn_3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 
    • Pro 3:5-8  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  (6)  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
  3. The very least is to stay in the path of righteousness and turn away from evil.
    • Prov 3: (7)  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.  (8)  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
  4. It does not teach us to just do nothing and not to plan at all. No planning and doing are laziness that will lead to poverty. We are created for good work, to be the salt and light.
    • Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
    • Mat 5:16  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    • Augustine has a quote, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you". 
We can perhaps change it to , God will it and man follows it counting also on the grace of God that enables me to Php 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me

Joh 15:16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.



Lim Liat (c) 24 Dec 2013




2013-12-16

Bible Study Methods

The basic method of Bible Study is the Inductive Bible Method of ODA making up of Observation, Discovery and Application.

  1. Observation: Look for the facts recorded. Try to find the answers for the 5W1H questions. 
  2. Discovery of Meaning or Interpretation: What do the observed facts say. 
  3. Applications: How do I apply what I learned in my life. Why are the promises to hold on to, the commandments to obey, and the specific actions to take in my present situation? 
  • There is one caveat, that is not to over generalized nor over spiritualize on the text. Please follow the hermeneutic principles.
Here is the list of blog posts that cover Bible Study Method.
  1. Effective Bible Study with Mind Mapping Method using Ps 48
  2. Meditating on God's Words using Mind-mapping
  3. Meditation on the Bible by Reduction
  4. Understanding a Passage in its Context - Illustrat...
  5. How to Meditate on God's Word
  6. The True Gospels of Blessings including Prosperity using 5WH2
  7. Bringing the Words from the Mind into the Heart

5 Keys for A Happy & Good Life

The 5 keys for a happy and good life as prescribed in the Bible are not speaking evils, not telling lies, not doing evil, doing good and striving for peace. The prescription is stated the Old Testament Psalm and quoted again in the New Testament by Peter showing its importance and applicability. Most importantly, God will ensure that it happens as promised.
Here is the mind-map showing the 2 bible references and the assurance that God will make sure it happens as prescribed:

 Here are the take away:
  1. The Objectives
    1. Enjoyable, Pleasurable, Vitality in Living.... loving life.
    2. Long Healthy Life
    3. Good, Happy, Blessings.
  2. The Methods - 5 Keys:
    1. Speech
      1. Not speaking evil.
        1. speaking evil of and about people and against God
        2. speaking words of discouragement and not of faith
      2. Not telling lies.
        1. Not telling lies include not telling so called white-lies.
        2. We need to know that we have the right and the obligation to keep quiet. There is the right time and situation and the right way to disclose the truth to the right person.
    2. Acts
      1. Not doing evil work. 
        1. By what standards do we use to judge evil or good? By God standards according to the Bible. 
        2. By motivation and not superficial actions too.
        3. Work of disobedience, work that causes others to sin are evil.
        4. We have to be careful of the impact of our behavior on others. 1Co 10:23  "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. 
      2. Do Good
        1. This is the opposite of 'not doing evil'
        2. Being neutral, not doing evil is not good enough. Doing good work, set the examples, for others to follow is lot more powerful and useful.
      3. Strive for Peace with all your heart 
        1. Peace does not come easily. It takes striving for ... hard work and sacrifices and much wisdom in resolving conflicts, communicating clearly, and coming out with win-win solutions, persuasion and changing of expectations etc.
        2. It should comes from our heart and not just the mind. Peace takes lots of will and love. The peace between God and man is achieved at the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ.
        3. Peace within our heart comes from freedom from accusations of sins. Peace with others comes from good relationships with them. We are also often called to be the peace-maker for others, essentially bring peace within the family, work place and even the world.
  3. The Assurance
    1. How can we be sure the prescriptions work? Who is able to guarantee it? God said He will fulfill what He said. 
  4. Not just long but a meaningful and fulfilling life.
    1. When Peter quoted from Psalm 34, he dropped the long or many days and shortened it to a good time. A long life deprived of meaning and fulfillment could be a wasteful life.
Please reflect on these five keys and see what specific actions you can take to have a more fulfilling life. Are you suffering from the guilt and consequences for the past evil you have said about others, situations and even yourself? Are there the needs for telling lies to get something? Are you careful in disclosing the truth? What evil acts should you stop doing and make remedial work? What good work and examples have you done recently? Are you fighting for your rights or pride rather than making peace? Can you be more understanding and patience towards others especially your spouse and children? Have you been listening to them?

May God bless you and empower you to enjoy life in the midst of this challenging times. Let your light shine forth in this difficult times.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Dec 2013

2013-12-09

Life is about Living to Die Well -Ecclesiastes 6

A study on Ecclesiastes 6 shows us that life is about how to live so as to die well. It is being able to have no regrets, die in peace and be ready to meet our Creator. This is also the essence of the message of the book of Ecclesiastes even though it starts with 'Vanity and Meaingless'.  Do we have a plan now to die well?
I have two private Bible Study Groups meeting regularly at my home, one in English and one in Mandarin. They used to cover different topics in the past. But few months ago, both groups decided to study on this seldom studied book, the book of Ecclesiastes. I usually prepared the study months before and blogged in FBSG Friday Bible Study Group. Then we will have the discussion, and I will update the blog with the new discoveries from our discussion. It is interesting and beneficial as we continue to learn more everytime go through the same chapter. Last week, the Chinese group had a discussion on this chapter 6. The Bible Study on this chapter can be found in The Ironies of Life and the Search.

In this week discussion, we found the following 5 regrets of life:
  1. A Rich and famous life that is short. Don't waste our health in pursuit of wealth and fame. Learn to have a balance life. Wealth and Fame without health to enjoy life is a waste. 
  2. Many Children and Long Life without peace and a tragic death. We learn that material wealth and long life (regret of point 1) has no meaning too. Life is much more than material wealth and fame. Just having many children without them being good and having good relationships are actually the cause of much headaches and heartaches. Good and peaceful relationships, especially within the family are important too. There are the materials needs and also the mental and social needs. Dying in peace, without regrets, without worries, and be ready to meet our Creator is a good life. 
  3. An uncontended life. Just working for money and trusting money to provide for satisfaction and meaning is actually a foolish and regretable act! We have the parable of the rich fool Luke 12:13-21. Wisdom is about how to live rightly and well and it better than being foolish and waste one life. Chinese Classics teaches us to know how to live rightly first before we pursue technical knowledge and skills. So we see knowledge is of two kinds - moral and technical knowledge. Right moral behavior is more important than material wealth.  Proverbs 28:6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse. We learn to be contented with one has than to be frustrated with one desires.
  4. Striving with the Unchangeables. Not knowing one's own limit and ability and think too highly of oneself and wanting even to challenge the natural order, and even the Creator will lead to frustrations and sorrows. Lots of bombastic talks with very little execution is waste.
  5. Not knowing the future especially the afterlife. The greatest worry that a man has is not knowing the future. He has no answer but believe not the gospel Jn 3:16?
The Take-away:

Life is about preparing how to die well. Dying well needs us to know the truth, to know and receive Jesus Christ as the Son of God into our life, and then to live out this Christ within us, then we may confidently depart this world at the time of death in peace.

For a practical plan to prepare for death when one is near death, see http://www.ted.com/talks/judy_macdonald_johnston_prepare_for_a_good_end_of_life.html

Related Issues on Death:



Dr. Anthony Campolo asked fifty people over the age of 95: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?”
The top three answers he received:
1. “I would reflect more.”
2. “I would risk more.”
3. “I would do more things that would live on after I am dead.”

Also read the details, not just the title of, Regrets of the Dying http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html

Here is the list, I added some comments to highlight the meaning given in the details (if you don't have the time to read the full passage)...

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Live out my dream - my calling.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard - Should have spent time with family.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. Resolve ill feelings for Better Relationships.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Lim Liat (c) 9 Dec 2013

2013-12-03

Understanding a Passage in its Context - Illustration with Judge Not

A popular phase nowadays is "Judge not, that you be not judged."(Mat 7:1). To understand it fully, we will need to use the context of the verse. Our understanding of it will be improved if we also look up similar passages in the Bible and follow the hermeneutic principle of "letting the Bible interprets the Bible".

Last Sunday (1 Dec 2013) Mandarin Service Sermon by Pastor Jack Ng has the title "可以判断,不可论断'. Using Google translate, we get 'You can judge, can not judge'! The correct translation is "Can judge but not prejudge or condemn". Or 'Don't jump to conclusions without investigation". But how can we tell if it is the correct translation or interpretation? We need to apply the hermeneutic principle of context.

It is interesting that Ps Ng started with James 4:11-12 instead of the usual Mat 7:1.


Jas 4:11-12  Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  (12)  There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

How does 'speaking evil' tie up with 'judging the law'? Whose standards are you judging with?
It is about us using our own standards rather than the Biblical standards and then conclude and say that a person is evil (breaking our standards). When our judgment is based on standards that disagree with the biblical standards we are actually saying that the biblical standards are not good enough or even wrong, and our standards are better. We become the laws giver instead of God! But actually our power and wisdom are limited. We are not God the life giver and creator of all. Does that me that we cannot judge? No. It does mean that we must judge by using the standards of God, God's laws. We must also be able to see clearly, have a clear understanding of the 5W1H of the events and people. This point is pointed by Jesus in the Matthew or Luke discourse:

See clearly without Biases, Prejudices. Don't be blind. Discovery of 5W1H
Mat 7:1-5  "Judge not, that you be not judged. (2)  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (3)  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (4)  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? (5)  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Luk 6:37-39  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:  (38)  Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.  (39)  And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

Some person said that a judgment is making an assertion of the 'why', the motivation, the reasons for the action. The motivation is hidden, and we can never be sure. Even if we ask the person involved, we cannot be sure that he is telling the truth! We can only make the most carefully considered inference as to the motive behind the action. A judge is supposedly the wise person trained for doing this job. The punishment given by the judge depends must on his interpretation of the motive of the person concerned. For example, pre-mediated murder and impulse trigger manslaughter have different degrees of punishment.

So, these two passages show us that we can judge well but seeing clearly (find out and examine all the facts, and make careful inferences as to the motives) and to use Biblical Laws or standards. We are not to prejudge and then speak evil of another. Speaking evils can usually be found in gossiping. 

In some cases, the breaking of God's laws can be quite clear to see. Such as stealing or committing adultery. But again, please find the supporting evidences first before the accusation. The devil is the great accuser. See 1 Cor 5:1-5

We can draw the following picture to help us understand this judging issue:

Prejudging is the short-cut process of jumping to conclusions without careful and objective finding out of facts and analysis and often too without following God's standards but one own inconsistent or even double standards.

For more on how to judge wisely, please see :

Lim Liat (c) 3 Dec 2013

2013-11-29

A Believer's Explanation for Evil & Suffering

Our faith is not blind faith. It must be based on evidences and logically coherent and is able to explain the realities of life. Un-believers or pre-believers will not accept those explanation of course, else they will be believers. Most arguments against the existence of God is 2 dimensional, and they can be easily resolved by going a higher level dimension. Here is my explanation for the existence of evil and suffering even though we have a loving and powerful God. 
Here is the mind-map that capture the essence of my explanation:

For a deeper understanding for this topic, please read the writings of C S Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Tim Keller etc.

Lim Liat (c) 29 Nov 2013


2013-11-04

How to Live a Meaningful, Beautiful and Good Life - Ecclesiastes 5

You may find it strange that the book Ecclesiastes, which begins with "Vanity (or Meaningless), vanity, everything is vanity" provides answers for living a meaningful, beautiful and good life. A simple answer can be found in Ecclesiastes 5. It is respect God, trust not wealth but share it, and be appreciative of God enabling us to enjoy the fruit the work that we like. 
In a Chinese Bible Study on this chapter 5, I gave a title to this chapter, namely, "The Beautiful and Good Life". Such a meaningful and beautiful life begins with relating to God and acknowledging God as God, giving Him our respect by listening and obeying Him and thereby living out His image in our lives. A key part of our testimony is "keeping promises" which is also living a life of integrity.

We trust God and not our wealth. Seeking wealth alone is manifestation of our greed. Greed is a sin that is very deceptive. Most people will never admit to being greedy. It is revealed through feeling of never having enough. Wealth promises much but never satisfy us fully. With much wealth accumulated, the greed in us wanted more. The only way to counter greed to give and share out our wealth.

Wealth is not trustworthy as well as it could disappeared suddenly like in the 2008-2009 global financial crisis when the trustworthy banks of hundred of years old were bankrupted and wealthy men committed suicides when their wealth were lost in the crisis. Naked come and naked go need not be applicable in our lives when we know how to invest into the treasury of heaven by investing in relationship buildings, the sharing of the gospels, the lives of people, the teaching and giving that benefits the future generations. Leaving a meaningful legacy enables us to beat this 'nuked come nuked go' meaninglessness of life.

The beautiful and good life is not in the length of our life on earth, but in appreciation of God, giving us a healthy life to enjoy this life to the full, to enjoy the rewards of our work and to work with joy, besides the abundance that God has given us and share this abundance to benefit others. Abundance is not just in material wealth also in the spiritual dimension of love, joy, peace and relationships.

May you have this beautiful and good life.

Lim Liat (c) 4 Nov 2013

2013-11-01

How to Meditate on God's Word

Using a verse Prov 24:4, we show how to meditate God's Words in the steps of  1 Word by Word, 2 Relations of space (And, Or), Time (sequence) and Cause and Effect, 3 the missing, 4 the opposites and more. The final step is the summarize with a tagline and asks how can we practice it in our decision making today.
Most people today are very busy to with work and children to have much time to do daily Bible Study. However, to study the bible properly, we need to spend time. Nevertheless, if our time is limited, then there is still a good way to study bible. That is to just read a verse and meditate on its meaning. Just a verse alone, we can read it and memorize it and then meditate on it throughout the day, like when driving, taking breaks, waiting for meeting to start, etc.

Proverb 24:4 is the verse for today according to the Bible App DailyBible that I had on my LG Android phone.

It is "The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honour and life".

As a precaution, and as someone who believes in the importance of context for the interpretation of the verse, we will need to check the surrounding verses to ensure correct understanding. Prov 24 is a chapter of a list of wisdom principles and so looking at verse 4 alone is ok.

Step 1 Word by Word.
  1. Reward: the consequence or the outcome of an earlier action. The earlier action is humility and fear of the Lord. Reward is explained at the end of the verse: 3 types of riches, honour and life.
  2. Humility: what exactly is humility? We know the typical opposite - proud. Humility is having and yet not showing or boasting of what one has and claiming one rights or credit for one work. It is respecting others. When the needs arises, the humble will move forward to serve. After serving, he quietly withdraws. Humility is "Power within Gentleness without". More on humility can be found in Kingdom Discussion 12 Law of Humility ... and KP#11 Law of Humility.
  3. Fear of the Lord: Fear in the Chinese version is Respect & Fear. It is not just fear alone but the utmost respect for God. We are fearful that we bring shame to our God. We are created in the image of God. We are therefore reminded of the righteous practices. To think and do as God's desire.
  4. Riches: not just in material wealth but abundance in good things and relationships.
  5. Honor: While we respect and honor God, when we respect and honor others, we gain the honor and respect that others give to us.
  6. Life: materials wealth alone does not truly satisfy. What is the use of wealth without the health to enjoy them? We have the life, the energy, the vitality, the joy.
Step 2 Relations.
  1. Of space. Humility AND fear of the Lord. The best way to keep us humble is to that there is a greater power and wisdom, God. Humility does not standalone. Knowing and respecting God gives us the meaning and the power for us to stay humble.
  2. Of time. Humility AND fear of God comes first, before the rewards of riches, honor and life. It takes time for the external consequences to show. A seed is planted in the earth. It takes time for it to sprout and then be seen on the earth. We work on the internal character first before the result is shown externally.
  3. Causal Effect: Rewards do not dropped from the sky but from our performance of serving others wisely that we developed through humility of learning of God and others.
Step 3 The Missing.
  1. What are not stated also helps us understand more. Humility is sometimes said to be egoless or less of our ego. As stated above, Humility does not standalone. It is related to others and of God. 
Step 4 The Opposites and many others.
  1. We can consider the opposite of the Words listed in Step 1 or any of the above.  Humility+Fear of God brings riches, honor and life. What is the opposite of the formula? Pride comes before the fall is a frequently heard advice. 
  2. The world seeks 3G of God, Glory and Girls/Guys (Pleasures) as the final objectives. Here the priority is God and Humility. Riches (Gold), Honor(Glory) and Life (real lasting joy and pleasures) come as by-products. Proverbs say if we just chase ofter money, money takes on wings and fly away! (Prov 23:4-5).
  3. BVITS innovation methods give ten operators of Less, Divide, Combine, Multiply, Outsource, Acquire, Irregularize, Extremitify, Invert, Learn. We consider the less/missing, the combination of Humility and Fear of God, Invert/Opposite above. What about multiplying humility? How do we get humility to double, triple? What does it look like? Outsource - How can we get others and of God to help us to stay humble? Acquire - taking up challenges help us to stay humble and to serve. What does extreme humility look like? Jesus, gave up his God status to come to born as a man and to suffer and die for us. See BVITS Overview for the innovation methods.
Final Step The Tagline and Applications
We can go wild meditating alone. It is important to recap all the thoughts back together.

 Humility and Fear of God bring riches, honor and life.

And the application of the above mediations. How are those expressed in our life today?

In the decisions that I am making today, how do act with humility and with respect for God? 

Instead of scolding people nastily for the errors they have made, what is the better approach to help them? Can we do with greater gentleness and yet as firm as before. 

Can we see the things from their perspectives? 

Is that the way that will please God? What will Jesus do in this situation? 

What shall you be doing or changing today?

Lim Liat(c) 1 Nov 2013

2013-09-21

Breaking the Univeral "Naked Came Naked Go" Law

"Naked came, and Naked shall we go" is the universal law for everyone irrespective of their races or cultures. However, there is a way to break this law! That is to invest into heaven now and collect it when we are in heaven according to Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21
Naked Came & Naked Go
This saying can be found everywhere. In the Bible OT, Ecclesiastes 5:15 Just as he came naked from his mother's womb, he will leave as naked as he came; he will receive no profit from his efforts--he cannot carry away even a handful.  

However, when Jesus came on the scene, he taught us a way to break this law.

Matthew 6:19-21 Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

The wise command is obvious. Don't spend your life in creating earthly wealth. Earthy wealth is not secured. Consider the financial crisis of 2008-9, how much wealth was vaporized in a short period of time. The so-called big banks were shut-down or else have to be saved by the government. Instead, the best policy of life, is to create wealth in heaven where you have collect it after this life in heaven. You have the assurance from Jesus, your Savior and God, Himself. 

Consider the following verses from other parts of the Bible ....

1 Cor 3:12 So, whether someone builds on top of the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, or hay, 13 each one's work will be clearly shown. The day will make it clear, because it will be revealed with fire—the fire will test the quality of each one's work. 14 If anyone's work survives, they'll get a reward.

How to Store into Heaven? 
The key question is then how to we store into the heaven's treasury? What are gold, silver, precious stones that we should put there? What are the woods, grass and hays that we should avoid?

Let's see what the Bible teaches:

Mat 10:42  And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."
Mar_9:41  For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

Luk 6:35  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Luk 6:22  "Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Luk 6:23  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Mat 5:11-12)

Heb 6:10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 

Mat_6:4  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Mat_6:6  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Col_3:24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 

Heb 11:26  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 

Conclusion:
Storing treasures into heaven is just about living out the Christ within us. It is about knowing Jesus' will for our live and following His will. It could mean suffering for His cause, or be blessed with much and to give out as much as we receive in His name and not for our own reputation. It is about doing the most difficult thing like loving your enemy! Whatever you do or suffer in Jesus' Name as He leads you is investing into your heaven treasury account.

Lim Liat (c) 20 Sep 2013

2013-08-16

Just ONE Advice for Success - Psalm 1 Live Righteously

There are many advice for you to be successful. Some of them are even conflicting. There is one that will ensure your success, and you must always stick to it no matter what. It is 'Live Righteously' and there is an Almighty God that will make sure you have the blessings in due seasons. 
The book of Psalms begins with 'live rightly and be blessed' in Ps 1and ends with 'praise the Lord' in Ps 150. There are many voices in the world that teach you to do or that to be successful in life. There is only one that you should listen and stick to no matter what. This is explained in Psalm 1 with the promised blessings for the righteous and the warning against the wicked. Here is the min-map:

1. Begins with Knowing and Internalising the Laws of Lord 
Only when our mind and heart are filled with the Laws of the Lord that we could stay away from evil and obey the leading of the Lord. It requires us to read the Bible and to meditate on it throughout our day and night. When there are choices to be made, we will need to check with the Lord. Someone suggested asking "What will Jesus do in this situation?".

2. Avoid and Stay Away from Evil Company
No one will tell you that he is up to doing evil or nasty thing. They will give you good reasons for doing such and such. It is usually how much benefits you will be getting or how much you will loose if you don't . You will be so silly to miss such great opportunity. Others are doing it and enjoying the 'blessing' so it is OK. Furthermore, you will be caught if ever. Under such tempting pressures and lures, how would you decide unless you have the mindset of Christ internalised. Remember to stick to the Bible teaching even though it sounds like you would be missing 'great' things.
.
3. Repent if Yielded to Sin
Even when we fall for it, remember to repent and get out of it quickly. Don't get stuck in sin. The arms of God is like the Prodigal Son's Father, forever opened to welcome back repentant sinners.

4. Fruits in Due Seasons
The blessings for doing the right things will come in due seasons. Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. The key word is season. The tree does not bear fruit all the time, but according to the seasons. There is a right time for the right thing. Be not worry or panicky, stay  on the righteous course and the good blessings will surely come. Note the assurance of 'he prospers in everything that he does!".

5. You are Healthy and Strong in the mean time.
While waiting for the fruit, the tree is blossoming with green leaves of vitality and life. The secret for such vitality is in the roots that draw water from the streams, the Word and the Holy Spirit. The greatest danger is to sneer at the Words or God. Always revere God and abide in His words and the blessings are ensured. May the grace of God keeps you in Him and be His wonderful testimonies to all.

As a bonus, here is Psalm 91 Protection for those who abide in Him:



Lim Liat (c) 16 Aug 2013

2013-08-12

The Sequel to the Banquet Parable - Romans 11 The Last becomes First

In Romans 11, Paul emphasized that God has never forgotten nor rejected his fellow Jews. Salvation is based solely on faith and not on work, no matter Jews or Gentiles. The salvation of the Gentiles will awake the Jews. Christ will come again and will unit all people unto Him. In the Parable of the Banquet, the original invited guests did not come, and the invitations went to the others. In this sequel, the original guests was given another invitation, and they show up. The first becomes last and the last become first. It is not by work but by faith in the grace of God. 
Many successful and famous people have said that success is a poor teacher. It does not teach us much. It even leads us to have a distorted view of reality causing us to think so highly of ourselves and wrong attributed the gifts and contributions of others as our own ability. In the Bible record, God first revealed Himself to Abraham and later to Moses, God gave his Laws. The Jews were the first choice of God to show His love to others and to attract the Gentiles to come to know Him through them. But given so much revelations, they, as typical of all man, of Adam, think that they could achieve justification by themselves. They said to Moses, "Just tell us God's laws and we will obey them". Such confidence has led them reject God's grace. On the other hand, to those, the Gentiles, that have not heard of God Laws, gladly received the grace of salvation of Jesus Christ. It is so ironical that the first became last and the last become first. This was illustrated with the Parable of the Banquet and the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 20:16 and 19:30.

In the final analysis, it is not whether first or last, but rather, just be saved. God will not forget his covenant with the Jews but His basis of salvation changes not, by faith, no matter what races. Paul has addressed this at the start of Romans 2:29  "But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. " and in Col 2:11 to the Gentiles: " In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, "

Here is the summary of Romans 11 in mind-map form:

Lim Liat (c) 12 Aug 2013

2013-08-06

Salvation is by Faith not Performance - Romans 10 Call Upon Jesus

Paul highlighted that his fellow Jews missed the mark by wanting to justify themselves through the performance of good work by Moses' Laws. The Laws were meant to lead them the need for a Savior through knowing that they were unable to fulfill the requirement of the Laws. Paul repeated three times in verses 9 to 11 that 'whosoever calls upon Jesus shall be saved".  There is the need to preach the Gospel and the encouragement put down our pride to receive Jesus when we hear it.
Chapters 9 to 11 of Romans relate to the salvation of the Jews or more precisely the lack of because they, being given the Laws through Moses, want to attain it by observing the them. Such a desire to perform and to achieve justification, though impossible in actual practice, is just the work of pride and self-confidence. Refusal to admit one's lack and rejection of help are just pride. Self-determination of right and wrong is precisely the sin of Adam.  See Knowledge Tree of Good and Evil,

Another key teaching of this chapter 10 is "whoever calls upon Jesus shall be saved". It was emphasized many times in 10:8-11.

Since salvation is so important and yet so simple, Paul encouraged all to preach it.

To the hearer of the gospel, Paul pleaded with them that they should response immediately. This is an echo of

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." Heb 3:15, 4:7.    
Here is the mind-map that summarizes the chapter:
Lim Liat (c) 6 Aug 2013

2013-07-21

So Close and so Privileged yet Miss It - Romans 9 Paul's Lamentations

Paul lamented for his fellow Israelite in Romans 9. They were the privileged bunch with so much revelation from God and yet they miss the salvation of Christ. While many people are upset about God favoring some people, they miss the most important message of God. That is, with God, there is no difference and no favor, irrespective of races, honor or dishonor (in man's eyes). God loves and Christ died for all. The diversities are created by God and He has the right to put people into different groups.  But God is no respecter of persons, he chooses to accept the rejects of men. The Israelite may have so much revelation of God but yet they fail to know God and His Son Jesus Christ. Salvation is a grace of God offered to all and it to be accepted by faith and not according to any social background or standing or even works of the laws. Get the correct understanding of God's love and think not God is unfair in creating diversities.
There are many races in the world. Some people are born into the rich families whereas some are born into poor families. Unfairness is normally claimed by the ones in the 'unfortunate' states of poverty or sickness or rejected. Yet, we know that many that were born of the rich did not do well in life. Many just spent their lives away in wild livings, in drugs, in alcohol, in wild parities and suffer painful death in overdose or accidents. On the other hand, there are many successful, happy and rich people that started life as poor. So, is a good inheritance a blessings or a curse? The answer is obvious, it depends entirely on you. God has made sure of that. Everyone can, no one is excluded, from knowing and coming to receive God. Such is the message of Romans 9. The privileges of one race or status does not ensure one's salvation. The Israelite is a good example. They were so close to God and yet many miss His salvation through Jesus Christ.

While God has the right in Rom 9:18 to show mercy or harden, we need to see His character of love in Rom 9:22 patience for those deserving wrath, 9:25-26 calling those outcast His people.

How does God harden Pharaoh's heart? Not by creating Pharaoh's that way (because everyone is created in the Image of God and give free will) but by going against Pharaoh's selfish desire to keep his slaves.

Chapter 9 is in fact, a reinforcement of Chapter 8 God's love for you is much much more than any adversity or restrictions. We cannot use our race or culture or wealth or whatever as excuse to reject His love for us.

The full details are given in the mind-map below and I hope your mind may be enlightened and be willing to receive His love  for you:




Lim Liat (c) 21 July 2013

2013-07-11

Living the New Christian Life - Romans 16 Real Lives Testimonies

The book of Romans ends with a fairly long list of real people and their work. Their testimonies are for our encouragement and examples. We are to 'salute' one another with 'a holy kiss' of respect and love. The one key message is the salvation through Jesus Christ by faith, the secret of life and of the universe now revealed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Living out this new Christian life together in a community requires us to watch out for three things. Firstly, the people who come in Jesus' name but are divisive, offensive and deceptive. We need to know the Bible well and abide in the Spirit to discern them and keep them out. Secondly, we are to be wise in doing the good things and be naive in doing the evil (but know their deceptive tricks as in the first point). Thirdly, we need to be obedient by putting what we learned into practice. Finally, we are assured of certain victory because Satan was defeated and shall be totally bruised under feet shortly --- the 2nd coming of Christ.
The Brothers and Sisters that are examples to Follow:
We have a long list of names and their work. May be we can't remember their names, but at least remember their works as our examples. We see the servant leaders, those who risked their necks for Paul, those who were fellow prisoners with Paul, those who open their houses for gatherings, the helpers, the approved, the beloved, the chosen, the saints all in the Lord. The key verse here for community living is Romans 16:16 " Salute one another with a holy kiss. Churches of Christ salute you." Respect and love are the key ingredients for intimate fellowship that glorify God.

Watch-Out for the Wolves in Sheep Clothing who Come to Destroy our Fellowship
Paul warn us to watch out for three things. 

Firstly, the people who come in Jesus' name but are divisive, offensive and deceptive. We need to know the Bible well and abide in the Spirit to discern them and keep them out. Even so, Revelation 2:2-4 reminded us not loose our first love for Christ and love for one another. We need to have a good balance of truth and grace. Yet, we cannot be kinder than God. Avoiding and keeping the real wolves out from out of our community are the right and loving things to do. 

Secondly, we are to be wise in doing the good things and be naive in doing the evil (but know their deceptive tricks as in the first point). We have Mat 10:16 wise as serpents and harmless as doves to remind us. May be we can see here that Paul added ''unto good' to be wise. Doing good is great, but make sure that our 'good' does not cause our brothers to stumble as mentioned in Chapter 14 and to make sure that there be no fault can be found too (2 Cor 6:3). We can only do that when we acted wisely. Charitable work does not allow us to be wasteful nor be lacking in quality. 

Thirdly, we need to be obedient by putting what we learned into practice. Talking is easy. Telling and correcting others are easy. Some of us only hear good sermons for others to follow (Oh! I wish so and so could be here to hear it!). Our we obedient to the message that the Holy Spirit has revealed to us? Do we put them into action?

Finally, we are assured of certain victory because Satan was defeated and shall be totally bruised under feet shortly --- the 2nd coming of Christ.

The Final & Only One Key Message.
Paul ended the whole book of Romans with the final one key message ... Glory and Praise to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who is the source and the power for our salvation by faith in Him. It was a long long mystery of the world but now revealed first through the OT Bible but now in the Person of Jesus Christ - His death and resurrection. Believe in Him and be saved!

Here is the mind-map for Romans 16:

Lim Liat (c) 11 Jul 2013

2013-07-10

Living the New Christian Life By Glorifying God in Harmony - Roman 15 Buildup One Another

Roman 15 is about glorifying God through our harmonious living and building up of one another. It is best summarized by  John 13:35  ► By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. 
Roman History recorded that the growth of the Christian community was due to their love one for another and also for those outside their community. Have we placed so much emphasis on preaching the gospel and not living out the gospel especially among our brothers and sisters? The ways we treat our fellow brothers and sisters, are they so attractive to cause them to want to join us?
We are to be united in the same purpose of glorifying God and share the same biblical values. We are to execute the mission by living in harmony with one another, starting with receiving one another first. We can do that by the power of Holy Spirit within us and studying and following of the Bible.

Here is the mind-map that captures the essence of Roman 15:

God's plan was to reach-out to the world through His blessings for the Jews. Christ had sat the example for us by coming in the form of servant to die for us to fulfill the covenant with the Jews.

Our joy, peace and hope comes from putting our faith in God and by the Holy Spirit.

Paul shared with us his calling to bring the gospel to the gentiles world. His purpose is to break new ground and not build on others' work. That was Paul's calling. It does not exclude that for most of us, we are called to reach out to those around us in our family, relatives, friends and colleagues that may or may not have the gospels shared with them. Paul's dedication to the calling and his accomplishments are examples for us to follow. We can also see the testimonies of the Christians in areas of Achaia and Macedonia, their generosity for brothers in Jerusalem.

Even Paul requested prayers for his work. There are 3 key areas mentioned for our united prayer:
1. deliverance from persecutions.
2. excellence in their service
3. opportunities for fellowships

Here is the mind-map that give the details:
Hope you are blessed in the reading of this sharing. Do you like the mind-map better than the usual paragraph format?

Lim Liat (c) 10 July 2013

2013-07-01

Living the New Christian Life with Weaker Brothers - Rom 14 Liberty vs Rules


Perhaps "Familiarity breeds contempt" also happens in Christian community that brothers or sisters in Christ are most critical of one another. There is the tendency to compare and despise one another. Such work of pride and insecurity happen most in the grey areas where right and wrong are not clearly stated in the commandments. There will be much quarrels about who is right or wrong. Such one-up-man-ship behavior is discussed in this Roman Chapter 14 resulting in guidelines for us to follow. Key points are: Firstly, to make a correct judgement, one must discover the inner intention and conviction. Secondly, I will restrict my freedom so that I may not stumble others.

Difference between the Weak and Mature
Paul covered the differences between the weaker and more mature brothers. The weak in faith still goes but external behavior to differentiate right or wrong. The mature in faith goes by the principles and the truth. They enjoy greater liberty. All food is clean and every day is a good day given by God and we shall all rejoice in them. However, the weak is stained by his past experience of certain foods and days are separated out as good or bad and hence are restricted. Nevertheless, their intention to honor God is right and good even though they are restricted by erroneous thinking. Their abstinence is honorable.

Key is Despise Not One Another and Build One another Up
The key for behavior is then not to despise one another because of their practices (to eat or not to eat) but rather try to build one another up. Don't waste time in quarreling.

Judgement is According Christ and According to One's Conviction
Correct judgement is not about external behavior but the internal intention of the heart and the conviction of faith. What is the internal motivation or intention of not eating or observing certain day? Such internal intention is not easily observable from the external. One has to ask and probe to find out.

Cannot be Forced to Do or Not to Do
Even when one know the intention, we cannot insist that weaker adopt the conviction of the mature. If they are not fully convinced and then act on it, his conscience will pricked and it is a sin. Paul said that whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Let the weaker in faith grow up in time.

Let Not the Freedom of the Mature become the stumbling block for the Weaker
Everything is clean but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean. So, let not the Freedom of the mature (everything is clean) cause the weak (some thing is unclean) to eat the thing that he thinks is unclean and thereby falls into sin. The mature must always watch out that their 'good' and 'ok' behavior may in fact stumbles others. Consider drinking alcohol. Drinking is not forbidden in the Bible but drunkenness is sin. If we have a friend that was a former alcoholic, it is very important that we don't drink in front of him. By drinking in front of him is actually a temptation for him to start drinking, a problem that he may not be able to handle, the very problem that he became an alcoholic before. So, because the need of our brother, we will forgo the right to drink.

The above and other points are covered in the mind-map below:

The Principles to Follow :
The conclusions: 

It is best summed up in by Paul in his other letters:

1 Cor 10:23 Everything is permitted but everything isn't beneficial and does not build one another up. Let the mature not used their freedom to cause the weaker brothers to fall.


1Cor 10:23 CEB   Everything is permitted, but everything isn't beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn't build others up.

Lim Liat (c) 1 July 2013

2013-06-29

Living the New Christian Life in the Society - Mind map on Rom 13

Romans 12 covers living the New life within the Christian community. This Roman 13 covers living the new life in the secular world. We are to obey the authorities that God had appointed for our benefits  for good behavior and good testimonies. For those people in the society, we are to love them as loving others fulfills the commandments. Lastly, we are let the light of Christ that is in us to shine out through our conduct by being different from them, staying away from wild parties, sexual immorality, quarreling and jealousy. We are to seize this time while we still have the day light because the night shall come soon.
 The mind-map that captures the essence of Romans Chapter 13 is:


How do we let our light shine out in this world? 
It is seen in the ways we handle

  1. those in authorities and 
  2. those that are of equal or lower standing that us in the society. 
  3. how we behave in general.

Worldly wisdom encouraged people to take advantages of the systems and exploits the loopholes in the systems. The smart people are those who exploit the systems to the maximum without being caught. R.ich people are encouraged to hire tax consultants to minimize paying taxes to the government. They have registered business in tax havens to by pass paying taxes to their own nations. That's not the teaching of Paul here. We are to obey the authorities and pay whatever is dues to them. There are four things we should pay to those in authorities, taxes, revenues(fair prices or wages for goods and services rendered to us rather than using our strengths or connections to exploit them), respect and honor. Paul is talking more than money when he mentioned respect and honor. Do we treat our boss with respect and honor at all time. Some people said bad things and gossip behind their bosses. Such gossips about our bosses with our colleagues only show our bad testimonies. Even when our bosses make mistakes, we are still to give honor and respect, not because of anything else but because they are our bosses that God has put them over us for our good. We should not disrespect our bosses because we are smarter or older than them. We just trust and obey God's commandments.

For those that are our equal or lower than us, we are just to love them as God as love us and commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Loving them are expressed not just in words but also in deeds. Are we concern about them? What have we done for them? We must do these things just because God say so. We don't do those things with ulterior motive, even the motive to get them to come to church.  We even overheard them saying that when Christians invite you for lunch or dinner, they actually 'cheated' you because the lunch or dinner comes with a preaching session as the motive. We destroy their trust when do things with hidden ulterior motive.

While the people go for wild parties of drinking and sexual misconduct, we stay away from them. When people fight for promotion, gossip, or sabotage one another out of jealousy, we don't. We even help others to perform better than us when we can. We rejoice with those that get promoted, even promoted to be our boss. How can do such very different from them kinds of things? Because we have Christ in us and we know finally that it is God who promotes and take care of us.

Lim Liat (c) 30-6-13

2013-06-26

Living the New Christian Life - A Mind-Map for Romans 12

How to live the New Christian Life? Romans 12-16 tell and show us how. The overview is first given in Romans 12. It begins with our commitment to worship God with our present life as a living sacrifice,  followed by a transformed mind, and acknowledgement of our roles in the community of Christ's body, discovering and using our gifts to serve the community, and a set 'best practices' for living harmoniously with others. These are all captured in a mind-map for ease of understanding and remembrance.
Living the New Christian Life - Starting from Self and extending to the Community of Christ:

The Five-Steps:
  1. Commit to Worship God with our Life as a Living (not dead) Sacrifice.
  2. Transformed Mindset to Know God's Will and His Standards (not the world's standards).
  3. Knowing the we are all members of the Same Body of Christ. So we need to find out your role and God's calling of our lives. Our calling is related to our gifts.
  4. Discover and Use our God's given gifts/talents to serve the community. Serve with passion and consistency.
  5. Living well with others in the community - Overcome Evil with Good. 
    1. The Objective is Harmony and Peace with all.
    2. By Love, Goodness, Respect, Generosity, Hospitality, Sharing & Being with them in joy or in sorrow.
    3. The Principle of Overcoming Evil with Good. Converting enemy into friend with goodness and love towards them.
Lim Liat(c) 26-6-13

2013-06-13

The Ten Greatest Things in Life

I went to buy lunch from a Chicken Rice Shop today. The following calligraphy was displayed on the wall. It was about the ten greatest in life. Here are details with translation into English.



  • 人生最大財富是健康. Greatest wealth is health
  • 人生最大罪惡是不孝. Greatest sin is dishonoring parents
  • 人生最大禮物是寬恕. Greatest Gift is Forgiveness
  •  人生最大快樂是助人. Greatest Joy is helping others
  •  人生最大錯誤是賭博. Greatest Error is Gambling
  •  人生最大破產是絕望. Greatest Bankrupt is Hopelessness
  •  人生最大失敗是自大. Greatest Failure is Boastfulness/Pride
  •  人生最大佩服是上進. Greatest Respect is Progressiveness
  •  人生最大卑劣是欺人. Greatest depictable thing is Cheating
  •  人生最大笨蛋是吸毒. Greatest Stupidity is be a Drug Addicted

I was thinking that if those are the ten most important things in life, then there must be Bible verses that reflect that. So I also included the Bible verses and they are shown below in the mind map:

Hope you like it.

2013-05-30

The True Gospels of Blessings including Prosperity using 5WH2

The Prosperity Gospels is distortion of a partial truth of the Gospels. Taking a more comprehensive view of the Gospels with the help of the 5W2H thinking framework will give a clearer picture. Proverbs 3 speaks much on prosperity and long life. It can be a Biblical reference for our understanding. We conclude that blessings is much more than money and good health. More importantly, it is harmony and peace with God and men. The blessing also includes a discipline from our Father God who loves us much to train us up so that we can enjoy and handle more blessings that He has in store for us. Prosperity Gospels  preachers just claim the blessings without the needed wisdom and maturity. They are treating God like the Chinese Prosperity God or the Genie to answer to our wishes.
The Prosperity Gospels message has come to much attention with the Court Case of Kong Hee and leaders from City Harvest Church for alleged criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts.  See
Prosperity Gospel - Learning from GLCC Dr Paul Choo's Sermon and Reflections from CHC Kong Hee Alleged Misuse of Funds.

A foreigner friend shared that she found it strange that the church messages she encountered in Singapore spoke much about prosperity and not about virtues and charities. It is not strange for us as Chinese because Chinese customs and festivals are filled with worship of the Prosperity God. The most common Chinese New Year Wish is that you may 发财 - make lots and lots of money.

The Bible indeed has much to say about wealth. It talks about how to get wealth and how to use wealth. Warning us not to be enslaved by money but be master over money. Using money to create impact for good and invest in the eternal Kingdom of God. Money is a terrible master but a very good servant.

Nevertheless, the real and true Gospel is much much more than money or wealth. There are more important issue than money which is our relationship with God and then with men. Jesus came to die for our sin and was resurrected to give us new life in Him. We are rebirth in Jesus and become children of God, with Jesus' righteousness and all the blessings of the standings as sons of God.

Since God changes not, His teaching in the Old Testament is still valid, though we are in the New Testament time. Proverb 3 cover much about the blessings of God and how to receive the blessings. This is a good passage for us to examine this issue of the blessings of God. Is prosperity the will of God for us? What else are in the blessings of God? How do we get the blessings? Do we get it just like that immediately? Answer can be found by studying Proverb 3.

One of the best way to think about a issue is to use the 5W2H thinking framework. See The Basic Thinking Framework 5W1H. Applying the framework to Proverb 3, I get the following summary shown in a mind-map form:

 How do I reach the above summary, here are the additional mind-maps showing the 5W2H clearly:

The Details of the How's:

Does knowing the How's and doing the How's means that we are getting the blessings by our own effort? The answer is No and Yes.  It is by God's grace that He adopted us and laid the foundation, the energy source behind the working of His Laws, so that when we listen and obey, we can get the outcomes of His promises. It one way, it looks like we are working to gain it, but the actual fact is that we are only responding to what God has already done and prepared for us.  If we are lazy and are disobedience, then we shall receive not His good blessings but His curses. We can of course be lazy and live off from those who have received the blessings. But that was because of the love that others extend to us. God's love and their love for us is that we may be changed to live rightly that we may be truly joyful and mature, a contributor rather than a parasite.

The key error of the Prosperity Gospel preacher is making giving to God as the only means (even lazy means) of getting rich and making God as our slave to make us rich. In many cases, the giving went into the pocket of the preachers and closed community to benefit their luxury livings. Whereas, prosperity should be the by products of living a righteous and Godly life with and before God.

Conclusion:
The summary is given earlier in the summary map. But just to stress point 3 "The Blessings come from Us Knowing and Living Out God's Wisdom". We are to Love and Obey God. It is not our achievement but the actualization of His grace from inside to external visibility.

Lim Liat (c) 30 May 2013

2013-05-25

Prayer is about Changing God or Us?

Many people think that prayer is to get God to do things for us. It is not. It is about changing us to trust and do God's good will for us, especially in times that we don't fully understand.
In Matthew 7, Jesus assured us that our Heavenly Father is a loving Father that will give good things to those who ask of Him. If we ask for bread, He will not give us a stone instead. However, if we ask for cigarettes to smoke, will He give to us? Will you as a father? So in reality, God will not give you things that are not good for you. Or God will only give you things that is within His will for you and within His character.

So, prayer then is not about changing God but about changing us, our mindset and will towards God's way of thinking. Prayer changes our perception of things. It gets us to see things God's way. Prayer actually changes us.... giving us greater clarity of God's will and the peace and will to do His will.
So, sometimes, God gives us the strength to go through the challenges rather than removing the challenges that we may grow up to greater maturity.

In Rom 8:29, we are to conform to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. If we don't think and live like Jesus, we are not His disciples and we are not God's son. It is through prayer, the communication and communion with God, through His words, through His Holy Spirit, and through His grace of empowerment, that we can think and live out the lives that reflect Jesus.

What about our worries and anxieties? It comes from either we don't see God's will or we don't trust His will. The solution is simple as in Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It is just to talk to God about it. Thanksgiving is show the trust that we have in God. Let's God guide and assure us of His good will for us. Even Jesus in Gethsemane did that, a night of aggravating pains and the peace to suffer it all through the cross.

Through prayer, we get to be fully convinced of God's good will for our lives. Through this time with God, we also receive the peace and confidence to face the world, no matter what, knowing that we are in good hands. We shall leave with a thankful heart.

Lim Liat (c) 25 May 2013

2013-05-21

Meditation on Everlasting - Without Purpose Everlasting is Meaningfess

Everlasting itself is without Meaning.
Everlasting, Forever, Eternal has no meaning unless there is a purpose. 

That was what the Author of Ecclesiastes concluded after observing the endless cycles of life and death. See The Meaning of Life from the Wisest, Richest and Most Powerful King
 

Purpose is the Key
What then is the purpose ? Why do we exist? Where are we going? The answer lies not in the created beings but with the creator. 

How can we judge something as good or evil? It is also with Purpose. Does it uphold or deviate from the original purpose.
Everlasting Contains Change - Making Life Interesting and Engaging.
Everlasting also does not mean unchanging. That is called death or nothingness. It means ever changing with an unchanging pattern of purpose. 

But not Random Changes but Change that befits a Purpose of Love
Life is full of changes, of struggles, of disappointments, of successes, of sadness, of whatever. But if you are anchored on everlasting love of God, then you can have peace and even joy in the midst of all these challenges and no matter what.  

Creation of man is result of the Love of God. Men are created out of the love of God and to enjoy the love God forever.

Everlasting Love Produces Peace and Joy. There is No Fear in Love.

So we can resonance with Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Depressed and Miserable with Your Present?
Taking the verses in reverse, if I can't rejoice in this present circumstances, perhaps I have forgotten it is God's will for me. What does in Christ Jesus mean here? It is through Christ's death that we are redeemed. It is a reminder of how much is the Love of God for me - more than the cost of a His son. 

If we still can't get it, we should 'pray', or talk to God one on one. Speak to him of your worry, of anger, of don't get it ... He can take all we can throw at Him for He loves us.

After our verbose and emotional screams or plead, be careful to wait and listen for His answer and comforting touch. Heb 4:16 may helps ... in time of need, boldly comes to His throne of mercy to find the grace and power that we need.

Leave with the Peace of God

Don't leave the conversation with God until we get our peace. 

Lim Liat (c) 22 May 2013

2013-05-18

To Judge or Not to Judge people? That's Irrelevant.

Life is about making choices, making friends and working with and through people. It is irrelevant to discuss about whether we should or should not judge people, but rather it is how we can judge rightly and how we should respond to the judgments of others. We are even further encouraged to discipline with love and rightly(hard or soft according to their attitudes) those that God has put under our charge. 1 Corinthians 4 gives us the teaching.
I was surprised to hear from one of Don Carson's sermons that the most famous verse now of the Bible is not John 3:16 but rather Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged". The present day view is "Everything is relative. Right or wrong depends on the situations. What is good and right to you may not be for others. Hence, judge not." There is some partial truth in it and that is why it is a powerful thing as of all misleading ideas. The church has been deceived in the misunderstanding of this verse that everyone should not judge and everyone should just live happily and peacefully with one another. That leads to many unresolved animosity within the church, spreading of sins, and at times leading to misuses and abuses that may incur the wrath of the Government. (e.g. Reflections from CHC Kong Hee Alleged Misuse of Funds)

Life is about making choices, and making choices is about making judgments, especially of people. Do I want to befriend this person? Can I trust my colleagues to hand him the important task? How can I help others without making judgment? So the question is not about to judge or not, but rather how to judge rightly. 1 Corinthians 4 gives many good guidance on how to judge rightly and to implement the evaluation and corrective actions. Here are the mind-maps that summarize the details:

Judging Rightly and the Process
The Corinth Church as Case Study
The Summary:
Understanding how to judge rightly and the process enables us to hold one another accountable to our unique callings from God, for those under and above our charge, that the body of Christ will be united under Christ to show forth His glory. Here the summary map:
See also:

Lim Liat (c) 18 May 2013

2013-05-16

The Theology of Work - The Blessing of Stress Free & Meaningful Hard Work

A good understanding of work and our salvation will enables to work with great joy, energy and creativity to produce excellent work to show forth God's glory through the empowering of the new inner in Christ. This is how you can enjoy the working in the process and the fruits of your work.

Not sure when our Singapore society has become "we work for money" rather than "we work for meaning and fun". The "敬业乐业" Professionalism and the Joy of Work philosophy that I learned in my high school days were somehow lost in this great pursue of money and high salary policy. “They don't work because they were not paid” was believe hold by many.

Even in the Christians circle that should at the very least, be some conscience of the society, has the ultra-grace and prosperity gospel people singing "Because we are deeply loved, highly blessed, greatly favored, hence we don't have to work. Some even said that work is for the flesh! It is better to let go and let God!".

Actually we all want to hear what we want to hear ... just give me the blessings without the hard work; the shortcut to riches without the efforts and challenges.

It may be a good time to look at the theology of work and the blessings of hard but joyful work.

1. The Theology of Work:
  • Work is Fun. Hard work is even greater fun.
    We need to differentiate 
    1. the use of energy in working, 
    2. from the emotion work stress and worry in work, and 
    3. the output and outcome of the work.
    4. the environment where in the work take place (the 6M).

      I used to share that I am so blessed that my company pay me a lot to enjoy myself. It is in fact that I enjoy my work that I am able to work hard and long and produces productive and good work that I was rewarded for.
  • Work is Worship.
    In Hebrew, work and worship comes from the same root word - Avodah meaning to work or to serve.. Our good work reflects and show forth the glory of God. God is gloried in our good work. 
  • Work is Meaningful
    Our unique calling as in Eph 2:10 gives us meaning to work (Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.) See  You are a Masterpiece Created in Christ
  • Work comes before Adam's sin.
    God asked Adam in Gen 1:28 to manage the world, to tend the garden(Gen 2:15 ...put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it) , name the animals(Gen 2:19)  before Adam sinned in Gen 3 and the curse on the ground that follows (Gen 3:17b the ground shall be cursed because of you; you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.). It is sinning that brings the curse of stress into work. Salvation brings the stress out of work but does not eliminate the work. Eph 2:10, we are saved for good work.
2. Matthew 6 Does not teach us not to work but Not to Worry.
It does not teach us not to plan (Jesus told us to count the costs) but not to worry. While the birds don't plant, they have to hunt for food. There are hunters and farmers in the ancient world. Now we have farmers, manufacturers, business and other kinds of services providers.

Many people are thankful for the contracts won and consider those as blessings of God. But we must watch out and not any good start of blessings to turn into curses. Winning big contracts are good start. But we do know of many companies, big and small, make big losses on big contracts won. It takes hard work and smartness to deliver the big contracts won to make big profits. Only then, can we be confident that they are blessings. Otherwise, it could just as well be devil's traps to sink us!

3. Biblical teaching is about the blessings of diligence and curses of laziness. 
Paul has a strong teaching on this as in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.". 
Proverbs has many verses on diligence and laziness. See the mind-map below:





4. It is all about Stress-Free & Meaningful Hard Work to Glorify God through Us
In Gen 3:17b cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life
There are two parts: 
  1. curse on the ground and 
  2. the pain to get food from the ground.
In Romans 8:19-21  "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  (20)  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  (21)  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.", we see that the curse on the ground is still on.

So what is remove must then be the pain of working the ground.
We must clearly see that our salvation from God has not be completed until the 2nd Coming of Christ and the creation of New Heaven and New Earth. Nevertheless, we are re-born as New Creation (2Cor5;17) from the inside, the inner man. The new inner man needs to grow up and overcome the old man as in Romans 12:1-2  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  (2)  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So the stress, the worry, and the pains of hard work are removed by the Grace of God that we may find great joy, fun and the energy to work hard and long, the wisdom to work productively, producing excellent work for the glory of God through the inner man in Christ.

Hope to clarify and prevent misunderstanding ....

Lim Liat (c) 16 May 2013