2015-06-27

Heaven on Earth - Meditation on Isa 45:8

 Isa 45:8  Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
Isaiah 45 is an interesting chapter that reveals how the Lord uses the world events, the people, to achieve His purpose. It shows us that no matter what, whether be good or bad in our eyes, the Lord is in charge. We may not like it that we are just one of the dots that when connected fulfill the purpose of God. But when we know the love of God for us, perhaps we are willing to accept the unique purpose and role that God has created us for though this role may be minor in our own eyes.

The key verse in Isa 45 is verse 8,
Isa 45:8  Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

It is the fulfillment of the Lord's prayer Mat 6:10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

When the righteousness from heaven meet up with earth receptive heart, it will bring forth the fruit of salvation and righteousness.

This is exactly what Jesus, the Son of God, did for us. He came from heaven. But His work is only completed when we open our heart to receive Him, the righteousness of God, so that we are transformed and rebirth again in salvation and righteousness.

God has created that we should all be saved and bear fruit of righteousness on earth. We are his righteousness bearing good fruit on this earth. The time will come that the earth will be transformed into heaven-like.

May we be willing to give ourselves in to this transforming process of bring heaven on earth or making the earth heaven-like with His righteousness.


Lim Liat (c) 27 June 2015.

We Have Right and Wrong Built Into our Body!

I find it interesting that our body tells us what is right or wrong without us learning it. Babies without hugging get sick and die. See for example http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/infant-touch/.

Dr Caroline Leaf said that we are wired for love.

Positive words, thoughts and emotions bring health.
Negative words, thoughts and emotions bring sickness and death.

Positive things are love, peace, joy, kindness, patience....
Negative things are fear, worry, anxiety, bitterness, hatred, guilts, condemnation, etc.

How come our body knows what is positive or negative?
Right and wrong are built into us.

To be healthy and to help make the people around us better,
know and do, love, joy, peace.... Forgiveness is a great healer of sickness.

Learn to forgive God, yourself and others.

Not that God needs our forgiveness, but rather our anger with God needs to be released through forgiveness. We need to know the love of God and trust his wisdom for the disappointments that we think God fail us. We think God can and should and yet He did nothing.

Learn to forgive yourself, as God has already forgiven you. You can be demanding of yourself, but never condemn yourself for the failures. Learn from failures. Failures are the ways to greater strength and maturity that God often needs to bring us through.

Lastly, forgive others. Forgiveness is a choice that we can and should take independent of the people who we feel has hurt us. Very often, they are not even aware that they have hurt you or done any wrong. They are happily going on with their lives. You need to forgive and let go of the bitterness and hatred and be freed to live and go on with your life without such burdens and pains.

Smile, you have done well. You are loved deeply by Jesus.

Lim Liat (c) 25 June 2015

2015-06-17

Why need repentance when one is saved and forgiven for all future sins? Ps 32

On a superficial level, Christian belief can be very confusing and contradictory. We are told that Jesus died and paid for all our sins - our past, present, and future sins. Now that we are forgiven, why is there a need to confess and repent of our sins? That is because such truth is incomplete and lack depth. I am reminded of the words of Einstein, in the Citation made by Zukofsky:
  • There is also the other side of the coin minted by Einstein: “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler” – a scientist’s defense of art and knowledge – of lightness, completeness, and accuracy.
The purpose of Jesus' death is more than just paying for the judgment for our sins, it is also to rebirth us into God's children by His resurrection through the Holy Spirit. Jesus' great commission to us is:

Matthew 20:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 

The purpose is to be make disciples that exhibit God's behavior through observing all that Jesus commanded. Paul makes it very clear in Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, ... His children must exhibit their heavenly Father's character.
Salvation is the beginning step for achieving His image in us, His children. Immediately after Eph 2:8 that says we are saved by grace, not of works, verse 10 tells us that we are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. In the simplest form, we are not just saved for salvation purpose, we are saved for good works designed by God; not any simpler, else the meaning is lost.

How do we have the good works designed in each of us by God? 
It is simple, as cited above in Matthew 20:20, to observe all that Jesus has commanded us.
In the process of following, we may err from His ways. It could be our lack of knowledge of His ways as we fail to read the Bible or lack in communion with Him. Or it may be we lack the wisdom to apply His words in our situation rightly. Or it may a deliberate violation of His ways due to our giving it to the temptations of the evil one exploiting our own weaknesses. 

Knowing our Tripartite Nature gives us better understanding
We may understand better when we know that we are a tripartite being made up of spirit, soul (mind, will, emotions) and a body. Someone say we are a spirit with a soul living in a physical body. When we are saved, our spirit is born anew with a connection to God. Our mind changes not except with a new sensitive conscience. Our body also remains the same after the salvation. Rom 12:1-2 tell us to present our body as a living, not dead, sacrifice (ie let Jesus be our Lord and not I), and our mind be renewed with His Words. 

How do all these work out?
Psalm 32:1-5 gives us a good illustration.
  1. A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 
  2. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 
  3. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 
  4. For day and night, thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 
  5. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and my iniquity has I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Verse 1-2 describes our salvation, where are sins and transgression are forgiven. But notice in v2, it is in the spirit that there is no guile (deceit, treachery). Our spirit is fine.

But verse 3 and 4 tell us our body, in particular, our bones, are not doing well. Our bones are drying up. We are suffering very badly due to sickness. We groan with pains all day long! We felt it was God punishing us but it was actually our transgressions. Our sins cause our sickness. Our body becomes dehydrated, skinny and weak.  The inside of our bone is the bone marrow, which is the production center of our blood, the red and white blood cells. A typical terminal sickness is a leukemia that requires bone marrow transplant for healing. Besides, white blood cells are part of the immune system. If our immune system is damaged, there can be many other kinds of sicknesses too.

So we can see that a common cause of our sickness is our transgression of His ways, either in thoughts of the mind(e.g. worry, fear, stress) or in the body (e.g. excessive eating and drinking).

The good news comes in verse 5 when we acknowledge and confess our transgressions. The original Hebrew for the word confess is H3034 yâdâh contains the meaning of to throw, shoot, cast down. Hence, the meaning is more than just admitting but rather to know, admit, and to cast away or in short, to change. To change our wrong thinking and bad behavior that bring us the sickness.  When we do our repentance, the Lord is sure to forgive our iniquity of our sin that causes the sickness. Verse 6,7 shows the deliverance of the Lord and verse 8 shows that we have learned the lessons to teach others to follow the Lord. Verse 11 declares our righteousness and our rejoicing.

Salvation is the Start of the Sanctification Process of our Growth into His Likeness.
The best teacher for our growth is the real life experience. We tasted the evil of our disobedience or our bad thoughts that we gain a better understanding and of the value of the need to follow His Ways. Of course, the best is for us to follow His Ways and live in victory and health. Nevertheless, some terrible experience may be good teachers for us. Always remember though, to come back to God, for His forgiveness is always available to us. But if we continue in sins, while our spirit may be saved, our mind and our body will suffer. Go back to God for restoration. 

Read and be encouraged by:

Heb 4:15  For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:16  Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 

Psa 103:2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 
Psa 103:3  Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 
Psa 103:4  Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 
Psa 103:5  Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. 

Lim Liat (c) 17 June 2015



2015-06-08

The Right Way to Pray Effectively from the Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer was Jesus' answer to His disciples request (Luke 11:1). Hence, it is the model for our prayer. It provides answers for the 5W1H of prayer. If we want to have effective prayer, we need to follow the model.
This post is a summary and reflection of our group study of the longer post An In-depth View of The Lord's Prayer - Learning from Tim Keller. To help us to understand something better, we can use the
The Basic Thinking Framework 5W1H. The order is Who-Why, What, How, Where and When. So let's follow the order to discover the treasures hidden in the Lord's Prayer.

Who-Why - From Relationship to Purpose - We do out of the Overwhelming Love within.

Prayer is between God and us. But Jesus told us more about this relationship. It is a Father and Child family relationship. It is not a business transactional contractual relationship. A business relationship is performance base such as you work to earn your salary from your boss; you pay to get the goods. When you pay, your goods cannot be denied. If you don't, you get nothing. In a family relationship, you don't do to get accepted. You get accepted first and you perform as a response to the love you received. You don't perform to earn your love. Sadly, in many family, the parents tend to use love as a mechanism to get obedience and performance from their children. They make a secured and wonderful relationship into an insecure one and creates fear, anxiety and stress. It degrades the purpose and identity of a member of family. Family members has privileges. It takes priority over business relationships. Your child can call you anytime and can interrupt your business meeting to talk to you.

On what basis can we be sure that our prayer will be heard and answered? Definitely not by performance because God is self-sufficient and need not anything from us. But as a Father, He has responsibility to care for our needs. As a child, we have responsibility to response to our Father love and teaching. While we do nothing to earn the love that we already have, the love compels us to do something to bring glory back to Him who loves us. We act out of the overwhelming love inside.

The purpose of prayer is then to be with our Father (Our Heavenly Father), worship Him (Hallowed be thy Name), and to know His will (His Kingdom and His Will be on earth).  The leads to the What of prayer.

What - To Worship and to Know His Will
Hallowing His Name is like the first 4 commandments of the Ten Commandments of God .... namely, Only ONE triune God, No other idols, No dishonour God's Name and Keep the Sabbath of rest and worship of God. Putting GOD as first priority from which and upon which we organised our parts of life like spouse, family, career, relationship with people, money, pride, will lead us to a balanced and fruitful life. Disruption of such a priority arrangement will leads to imbalance, stress, sickness and failure in different aspects of our life. To put our lives back in order, get rid of our idols and have God in the central and most important place.

How do we put God in the central place of our lives? Seek His Kingdom and His will and His righteousness (Mat 6:33) first. We worship first and then seek His will. If we don't worship and know His power and love for us, it is very difficult for us to want to know and much less to obey His will.

His will for us, the general and our specific calling, becomes the mission statements for us. His Kingdom's ways of righteousness become the methods and guides for our 'how' to achieve His will.

How to Pray 
We are NOT to pray for others to see how pious we are; i.e. not to seek our glory in prayer.
We are NOT to blindly repeat in many words as if God is hard of hearing or we can earn our answers by our effort.
Yet, we are not to loose hope but to continue in expectant prayer if we fail to see the answers. Luke 11:8-9 knowing for sure that he who seek shall find and who ask shall be given.

The sequence of prayer is:

  1. Know you are praying to your heavenly Father as a son.
  2. Worship & praise for who God is and His love for us.
  3. Intercession for His Kingdom and Will to be done on earth and for us in particular.
  4. Petitions for our needs to fulfil His will for us. We ask for the following 4 things.
    1. Daily Resources - needs for foods, shelter, health, wealth to do His will.
    2. Relationships with People - Forgiveness of our mistakes, and failures and harmonious relationships with others through forgiving one another starting with us and drawing upon the Father's love and grace empowerment for us.
    3. Overcoming Temptations and trials and Separating ourselves from evil.
    4. Protection from Evils and overcoming the evils.
  5. Praise and Thank givings for the answers. God is in charge forever and forever.
Most of our prayer begins with our needs first. But that is wrong. We must know His will for us first that we may know what are really needful and what are not. Of course, we know generally that His Will is for us to be well and Jesus assured us with His words that the Father knows even before we ask. Even so, we need to ask to show our desire and agreement to His will for us. 

Where should we pray?
In secret place where we are not seen and not disturbed. Yes, we can pray as a group. The admonition in Matthew 6 not in public places, is for us not to use prayer to gain self-glory. As long as we come together as a group to pray purposely for His will, it is OK. 

When should we pray?
The request for resources, bread, is daily. We are encouraged by Paul to pray without ceasing as in
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
So, we can pray any time, any where, and every time. At least, do it daily.

Conclusion:
The purpose of our prayer is to communicate with God, to know His will and to be empowered to do His will for His glory reveal through our work in Him. Our needs should be evaluated according to His will for us. A large part of our prayer life should be in organising our lives around Him and His will for us. Since His will is in His Word, a careful studying of His Words, the meditation of His Words, is actually prayer too. When we know Him and His will, our intercessions and petitions will be right and we have the confidence that they will be answered affirmatively.

Remember, the right way to pray is
 Father relationship -> Worship & Praise -> Intercessions -> Petitions -> Affirmation with Praise & Thanks giving.

Lim Liat (c) 8 June 2015