How the Good Things Cause us to Lose the Great Thing - Luke 14:16-24

We are always busy for the legitimate and good things of life such as career and family. So busy that we easily lose sight of the most important thing of life - our eternal destination. We are so busy about this life that we neglect to prepare for the next life that is eternal. This Christmas Season is a good time to reflect on life and find the not just good but the greatest thing in life.
Bible Reference: Luke 14:16-33

The Invitations are Sent Out - You are invited

The Excuses - I'm too busy now - no time for you.
  1. I'm Building My Business or Career - Luke 14:18
  2. I'm Getting Married and Bring-up Family - Luke 14:20
  3. Am I invited? Is there space left? Luke 14:20-23
    The invitation is not by your work by purely by the love of God.
    Jesus said he came for sinners, not the righteous Luke 5:32; for the sick and not the healthy Mark 2:17. There are no pre-qualifications. Everyone qualifies. You are invited.
    Heaven can contain everyone.
Evaluate and See: Luke 14:28-32

Jesus tells us to evaluate, count the costs.  Are we able to complete a building before we start? Are we able to win before we start a war? He is teaching what I learned from Sun Zi's Art of War too.

The Art of War 4:15 是故胜兵先胜而后求战,败兵先战而后求胜。
Hence, winners plan first to win and then start a war. The Losers start a war first and then hope to win. 

Decide for Jesus: Luke 14:33
What is the outcome of the comparison?

Mat 16:26  KJ21 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 9:24 NIV For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Welcome to the banquet. 
What is your decision after the evaluation?
Sun Zi will calculate and compare and made his decision for Christ.
What about you?

Revelation 19:9 (ESV) And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

May I meet you there.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Dec 2017


Healing On a Sabbath - The Purpose of Rituals

Rituals that supposedly help us may at times cause us to overlook the real needs of the people. We have to be reminded often with a key quote from Jesus, "Sabbath is for man and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27). Confucius also reminds us exactly the same teaching - rules are for people.
Bible Reference: Luke 13:10-17 Healing of a Woman bound

  • 10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
    Jesus taught in the synagogues. He was accepted as a Rabbi. 
  • 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.
    Despite her sickness and the difficulty, she came to worship God. Most people would just stay at home. Her long period of suffering, 18 years, is specifically mentioned. The people there must have been aware of her long-suffering too.
  • 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.”
    She did not ask for her healing. Jesus took the initiative. Jesus has compassion for her. Jesus has compassion for you too. What is your difficulty? Know that Jesus cares for you. 
  • 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
    Jesus pronounced her healing first, for her and for all others to know and then did the laying of hands. Hence, there is no question as to who did the healing. She was healed immediately and she praised God to confirm her healing. Her healing was obvious to all too. A bent back straightened. This drew the attention of all even more.
  • 14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
    The ruler of the synagogue felt he must make a stand and condemn Jesus for breaking the Sabbath Law of rest.
    Rituals are for People not People for Rituals?

    Why not another day? Why not now? If you encounter someone you are able to help, then you must help immediately rather than delay it.
  • 15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?

    A public rebuke must be answered publicly too.
    Jesus pointed out the key error - hypocrites.
    They themselves are breaking the Sabbath Law of rest to work to feed their healthy flocks in the Sabbath but now they are condemning a healing of a sick lady of their own people. Is she less valuable than ox or donkey?
  • 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?”
    Watch the argument. She is one of you and yet you are not kind to your own!
  • 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
    The crowd were not fooled, showing the evil of the leaders.
    Will the church people be discerning enough not to be fooled by false and manipulative preaching?
  • A similar incidence is recorded in Luke 14:1-6
Confucius' Teaching 


Confucius is known among the Chinese as the one promoting the Codes of Conduct or Rituals 礼 the most. Even him, correctly pointed out that rituals without love is useless. External harmony, like music, without the true inner love, also has no meaning.

Take Away:

Have we committed the same sin, of putting rules and regulations, above the true needs of the people? Yes, every organization must have rules and policies to work well. But we need to do them with love and consideration for the people. Because the very rules and policies are for the benefits of the staff working in the organization.

Lim Liat (c) 22 Dec 2017


True Giving is Without Rewards - The Way of God

Are your gifts truly gifts for this Christmas? Know the giving of God. The Ancient Chinese also tell us that true giving is without any acknowledgment and without returns.
Bible Reference: Matthew 6:1-4
  • Mat 6:1  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 
  • Mat 6:2  “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
    Mat 6:3  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
    Mat 6:4  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.   
The Season of Giving:

Christmas is a time of giving. Most of us give for the pleasures of blessing others. But we also give as a form of returning others' gifts, a forced-to kind of giving. If we give to gain recognition or seek other forms of returns then we are not really giving at all. It is but a business transactions and we may be burden by it. How many of us are dreaded by the number of gifts we "have to" buy because it will be impolite not to give back? So, are we really giving? The way of God is giving to benefit the recipient without expecting any return. Even better still, the recipient does not know who the giver is.

Your giving may be in secret

Here are some quotes from the Ancient Chinese Classics that show how the Way of God or the Dao.

中庸 12v1 君子之道,费而隐。  
The Book of Centrality 12:1  The way of the wise gentleman is board and precise at the same time. 

That is the interpretation in the context of the chapter. However, if we go by the specific meaning of the words, we find a specific example of what board and precise means. 

费 is spending or giving things/money generously or widely
隐 is hidden or secret that could not be seen or known.

Hence, the true giving of God is giving without knowing one is giving nor threcipientnt know the person who is giving. 

In Lao Zi's Dao De Jing, you will find many verses about the Way of God:


  • C02 生而不有,为而不恃,功成而弗居;
    Giving birth and yet not possessing. Serving and yet not demanding. Accomplished and yet not claiming credit.
  • C10 生之蓄之,生而不有,为而不恃,长而不宰,是谓玄德。
    Giving birth and naturing it. Giving birth and not possessing. Serving and yet not demanding. Growing and yet not forcing. Such is the Way of the Great Virtue.
  • C51 生而弗有,为而弗恃,长而弗宰,是谓玄德。」
    Giving birth and not possessing. Serving and yet not demanding. Growing and yet not forcing. Such is the Way of the Great Virtue.
  • C08 上善弱水,水善利万物而不争
    The best goodness is like water. Water benefits all things and fights with them not.

The Chinese Masters agree that such high standard is not attainable even by the Saints.

  • 12v2 夫妇之愚,可以与知焉,及其至也,虽圣人亦有所不知焉。夫妇之不肖,可以能行焉,及其至也,虽圣人亦有所不能焉。天地之大也,人犹有所憾。故君子语大,天下莫能载焉,语小,天下莫能破焉。

    The common man and woman in their simple mind can understand some part of the Way. However, for the thorough knowledge of the Way, even the saints still have much that they know not. The common man and woman, even sinful, is able to do what the Way teaches. However, to do completely what the Way demands, even the saints could not. The greatness of the heaven and earth cause people some regrets and disappointments. Hence, when the wise man speaks of the greatness of the Way, the whole world could not contain it. When the wise man speaks about the smallness. the details, the specifics of the Way, the whole world is not able to divide or split it.
We can see that anyone can follow part of the requirements of the Laws but we will fail the high standards of the Laws. Consider what Jesus said in 
  • Mat 5:27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 
  • Mat 5:28  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 
So we can see that the Ancient Chinese Masters agree with Paul's Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

What the Saints Could Not - Jesus did it for us.
  • Rom 7:24  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 
  • Rom 7:25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin. 
The greatest gift of Christmas is Jesus, the Son of God, Himself giving His very own life for us. Completing what man could never have done. His purpose is simply the salvation of our souls. 

Will you receive Him now?

Lim Liat (c) 21 Dec 2017


All Will Be Revealed - So How Shall We Live?

Jesus in Luke 12:2 tell us that all things will be revealed. And further in Luke 12:40 He warns that Christ will come at the hour we do not expect. How then shall we live such that we can be ready anytime and all the time? The Ancient Chinese teaching of "慎独" "Be Careful when Alone" gives us additional light.
Bible Reference: Luke 12:2-3; Luke 12:35-48

All Will Be Revealed:

When we want to do bad things we will go to some secret places that no one knows thinking that we would not be found out. We may also put up a false front to cover our evil intention inside. But Jesus tells us that all things will be revealed.
  • Luk 12:2  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 
  • Luk 12:3  Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
How then shall we live?

Be Ready All the time so that He can come anytime:

In Luke 12:35-48, Jesus gives the parable of a wise steward. He is ready all the time so that the Master can come anytime and he would be found to be faithful. Sun Zi's Art of War tells us that the best defense is not counting on the enemy not attacking but in having the confidence that we have already prepared for him to attack anytime. (The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. 故用兵之法,无恃其不来,恃吾有以待之;无恃其不攻,恃吾有所不可攻也。). That is precisely the attitude we must have in waiting for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Luk 12:43  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing (awake, dressed, lamp burning, ready to serve) when he comes.
  • Luk 12:40  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Ancient Chinese Wisdom - 君子慎独 The Wise Gentleman is Prudent even when alone.

Confucianism has a teaching on 慎独 Preduence when Alone gives us additional understanding.

Book of Centrality: Hence, the wise gentleman is careful even when no one is watching and he is fearful even when no one is hearing. Because the hidden may be revealed and the little may be enlarged and seen. Therefore the gentleman is careful even when he is all alone.

The gentleman is careful not to do any bad thing, even if little, because however little, it will reveal to himself even if others don't know. A gentleman must be true to himself irrespective of whether others know about it or not.


The Book of Great Learning Chapter 7: What is integrity? Not to deceive oneself. If one hates the bad smell or if one love the lovely, that is just being humble (humility is about being true to oneself). Hence a gentleman must be prudent when all alone. The villain does all kinds of bad things when free. When they see gentlemen then they are shocked and so try to cover their bad deeds and to show off their good deeds. However, others can see into internal of lungs and liver, there are no advantages. The inner integrity is revealed in the external behavior. Hence, a gentleman must be prudent even when all alone.

We may be able to hide from people but we can't hide from God and neither from our own conscience.

The lesson for Today:

Count not on won't be discovered but be ready all the time, such that we may found as"the good and faithful servant" when Christ comes again.

Please see also:

Lim Liat (c) 20 Dec 2017


Let Your Light Shine & How with the Doctrine of Centrality

True believers are lights. They are to let their light shine out to make the world a better place by setting the examples. Luke 11-34-36 reveals the secrets. It resonances with the Ancient Chinese Doctrine of Centrality 中庸 which gives us additional guides. See how you can be the light of the world.
Bible Reference:  Luke 11:33-36 (KJV)
  • 33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light
  • 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
  • 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
  • 36 If thy whole body, therefore, be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
Let Your Light Shine:

Jesus begins with a common sense understanding that we put a light, in this case, a candle, at a prominent place, the candlestick, to light out the whole place. 

He then proceeds to show us that how we can have light in our body and ends with our body full of light just like the candle he started with.  We are to let our light shine out.

This also tells us that we never live alone. Neither can we separate ourselves from the world. Living the life of a hermit is not biblical. We are to engage the society and more importantly shine our light and make a good testimony.

How to Have the Light?

It starts with our eyes. The input to our body, or more accurately to our mind and heart. 

It must be single. Focus on the right thing in contrast with the evil eye in the second half of verse 34. Not double minded wanting this right thing but also not willing to forgo the evil thing. Confucius teaches us 子曰:非礼勿视,非礼勿听,非礼勿言,非礼勿动。意思说,See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil (do no evil)。

Titus 1:15 reveals more light to us.

 ◄ Titus 1:15 ► To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.

We must guard our input - What have we been watching and reading?

We are to take heed,  to develop our character, such that it contains no evil and no darkness.

It also reveals to us that we can tell the inside, the character of a person, by what he reads and how he interprets events. 

This also applies to us. We must reflect on the types of books, tv, movies, videos that we watch.

Shining the Light

We shine our light by our behavior. The words we speak and write and the things we do. Are our words edifying? Are they encouraging? Or are we gossiping and bad-mouthing others? Do we act according to what we preach? Do we deliver our promises? Are we helpful? Are we generous? Are we forgiving? Do we point out the right and wrong and make our stands or we just hide away and let the evil propagates?

The Teaching of the Doctrine of Centrality

As I was meditating on the verses, I was reminded of the words that I read earlier in the Book of the Doctrine of Centrality.

《中庸》13v1  子曰:「道不远人,人之为道而远人,不可以为道。」
The Way of Dao is not far from men. Men who pursue the Dao and yet distance themselves from others are not following the Dao.

Here we find Confucius supporting Jesus' let your light shine and not keep it in a secret place.

   《中庸》13v3 “忠恕,违道不远,施诸己而不愿,亦勿施于人”,

Confucius explains what the Way of Dao looks like. It is about "what you don't like what others do to you, then you don't do it to others." It is empathy. It is about considering the interests of others. Whatever we do, we must have consideration for others. This is one form of the Dao. Confucius in Analects gives a positive version of this Way of Dao 己欲立而立人,己欲达而达人 We must first build up ourselves and then help build others. We must be successful and then help others to be successful too.

Or in the Bible, we must love others as ourselves. Loving God is seen in loving others. 
◄ 1 John 4:20 ►If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Be Single-minded for God and Shine your light in this Christmas Seasons.

Lim Liat (c) 19 Dec 2017


From the Peace of Christmas to Success in Life

There are two kinds of peace and one will lead to other. It is the foundation of a meaningful and satisfying life.
The Relational Peace of Christmas

The Christmas brings us the relational kind of peace. The peace that reconciles men back to God through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we receive Jesus into our heart, we enjoy the peace with God, and we also have His peace within us.
  • Luk 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  
  • Luk 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
  • Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Personal Peace within Us from Jesus
  • Joh 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
His peace given to us is the one that surpasses our understanding, that enables us to remain calm, without anxieties, in face of all challenges. It is very unlike the peace of the world, which is very fragile and depends on all things running smoothly. When there is trouble or problem, we tend to lose our peace. We need to guard and let this peace of Jesus rules in our heart so that we can discern and make the right judgments and follow up with the right action.

The Peace Needed for Making Wise Decisions
This relates well to the calmness that Sun Zi tells us in his Art of War book. While we should consider the emotion of people affected in any project, we should never be emotional in our decision making. We must be calm and objective so that we can think and decide well. Never make any decision when we are not at peace. Sun Zi reminds us that the enemy trick, the devil, is to get us to be emotional, either angry and therefore make impulsive decisions to cause our failures, or fear that we fail to do anything to move us out of our trap. He will also exploit our desires to get us to sin willingly.

This is the great and good news of Christmas.
The relational Peace from Jesus enables His peace to be in us, to be our peace and our ruler, that we may live well in peace, with good judgment to make all the right decisions and achieve the good success for our lives and loved ones and extending those in need.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Dec 2017


Learning from What is Said & Not Said - The Magi in Jesus Birth & the Message

When reading an article, we not only have the get the facts right but also getting the right interpretation to really benefit from it. We take an example from the birth of Christ about the magi from the East to illustrate.

An article like this one Christmas Timeline of the Biblical Account shows us how poorly our reading of the Bible is. It clarified many misunderstandings we have of the Christmas story such as:

  1. How many magi/wise men/kings from the East came to worship Jesus?
    Not three. But at least two and maybe more than 3. It was not stated in the Bible.
  2. How old was Jesus when they saw him? Not a baby. But around 1 year old. 
  3. Was Jesus born in a stable? etc.
Let's go deeper into the interpretation.

Matthew 2:11 
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

The Facts:
  1. They - so there should be at least 2 and likely more but the exact number is not stated.
  2. the 'Child' - Jesus was not a baby at this time.
  3. the 'Gifts' - gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Interpretations:

Since the number of the wise men was not stated but the specific of the gifts were. It shows that the author wanted his readers to pay more attention to the different types of gifts rather than be curious about the number of wise men. Our understanding of the gifts is more important than the number of people, or, the attributes are more important that number. The wise men and their gifts are important to our understanding.

The wise men --- from afar, took them many months to find Jesus, showing they came from far away. Then they were wise - people who seek and have an understanding of the coming events and then prepare for them. A wise person will try to understand and plan for the future but be not worry. In Matthew 6, Jesus told us not to worry but did not tell us not to plan. Because in Luke 14:28 Jesus told us to count the cost to see if we have enough money to complete the building first. It was re-emphasized again in Luke 14:31 to estimate whether we could win a war against a larger enemy. 

The good news of Jesus birth is to be shared far and wide. People from all over the world will want to receive this good news of Jesus birth. There is a reference to Isaiah 60:6  A multitude of camels shall cover you,  the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.

The gifts:

A quick check across some commentaries will give us the following interpretations:
  1. Gold - represent King. Jesus as King of Jews that the wise men came to seek.
  2. Frankincense - the ingredient for incense to give out the fragrance, showing Jesus as Priest and Jesus himself even as the sacrifice, the frankincense itself, to be offered and burnt up for us to God.
  3. Myrrh - the ingredient to preserve a dead body. It has a meaning of bitterness. It represents the suffering Son of Man.
So we can see that the gifts are a foretelling of the mission of Jesus, as King to be a fragrance sacrifice to God for the atonement of men sins that men may be recounciled with God through Jesus. The gospel of salvation is about making dead men alive to be children of God through Jesus.

So, the number of wise men is not the issue. The meaning of the gifts is the main theme. It is the story of the life of Jesus - as King but offered as the incense to make dead men alive in Him.

Lim Liat (c) 3 Dec 2017


What is faith? How is faith related to hope?

Faith never gives up in face of obstacle but find ways to fulfill its hope.
What is faith? How is faith related to hope?
I have been troubled by this:
Mat 15:26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.”
Mat 15:27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 
Mat 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
Most of us will think that Jesus was being nasty to the woman. But it is a story to show the meaning of faith.
Faith never gives up in face of obstacle but find ways to fulfill its hope.
Jesus was leading and triggering the woman's faith to break the normal norms of blessings to the Jews first.
Have you given up lately because of some objections or obstacles? 
Keep the goal but find new ways to achieve it.
Now can we see the meaning of this famous quote of Hebrew 11:1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Faith insists that the Hope is realized!
Lim Liat (c) 30 Nov 17


Word Alone is Insufficient - The Process of Faith

Believers today had the Word of God, but many are just like the Old Testament people, they are not fruitful. How come? Because they believe not and obey not the Word. So having the Word alone is insufficient. There need complete it with the process of faith.
The Old Testament gave us some very sad stories of unbelief, disobedience, idolatry, rebellion, and destructions. They had the Law of God. They even had God's prophets. But the outcomes were not pleasing to God. They clearly show that God's Word alone is insufficient. They are other important things that must be tied in with the Word of God. What are these?

Let take one successful example of Joshua and his people that entered, conquered, and inherited the promised land. The instructions for victory and success are clearly given by God at the very start. The key verses are:
  • Joshua 1:8-9 (NKJV)
    8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The key words are:
  1. The Word - this Book of Law
  2. Read and Speak the Word.
  3. Meditate on it all the time.
  4. Obey - do according to the Word.
  5. Outcome - Success over a period of obeying in action.
  6. A reminder - to courageous to do and obey the Word.
A mind-map incorporate the parable of the Sower are shown below:
The key to success and victory is to complete the Word with the act of faith. The hearing of the Word is just received in the mind. It must be meditated on day and night for it to enter into our heart as faith. The desire of the heart, enriched by the Word, will cause to want to act on it. Acting on the received Word is called obedience. It is the expression of our faith. Acted faith will bring forth the good success of increase and abundance and our own growth in faith.

Lim Liat (c) 12 Nov 2017


How do you know which Religions or Worldviews is the right one?

Which one is right is only possible when we have a set of tests to discover and validate them. We look at the worldview test proposed by Ravi Zacharias.
People may ask you, "With so many religions in the world, how do you know yours is the right one?",  "How do you know there is a God?" etc. The famous Christian Apologist Ravi Zacharias asked us to define our worldview and gave us some tests to validate them. Here is a mind-map that captures his various posts on this worldview topic.

The mind-map on Worldview and its validation:

The references:

  1. ASK Group Leader Introduction | RZIM
  2. Think Again – Deep Questions | RZIM
  3. How Should We Analyze a Worldview?

Now is your turn to fill in the answers and validate them to find out.

Lim Liat (c) 5 Nov 2017


The Secret of Effective Prayers and How God Answer Prayer

The Lord's prayer gives us the guidelines and the sequence for praying effective prayers. A key point not usually highlighted is God answers our prayer according to the decisions of the spiritual court of heaven where the devil, the accuser, is blocking and attacking our prayers. Knowing the promises and the work done by Christ for us becomes our foundations and faith for our prayers in the Courts of Heaven.
Bible Reference: Matthew 6:5-15

The Template for Our Prayers - The Lord's Prayer
For a detailed discussion on the Lord's Prayer, please read The Right Way to Pray Effectively from the Lord's Prayer and An In-depth View of The Lord's Prayer - Learning from Tim Keller.  The template is summarized as follows:

  1.  Pray to our Heavenly Father based on father-child relationship.
  2.  Worship and Praise the Father first.
  3.  Discover the Will of God - read the Bible and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit for this specific moment and issue.
  4.  Present Our Requests - Our daily needs and the empower of authority and resources to accomplish His will for us and through us.
  5.  Intercession for others. Empathize and take on the positions of the people we are praying for. Confessions of their sins if applicable as if we are the sinners. See Daniel example.
  6.  Spiritual Warfare - Yield not to temptations, delivered from evil and overcoming evil with love. Know the operation of the Courts of Heaven.
  7.  Giving Thanks and Praise to God for His power and glory that all will be answered to glorify God.

The Courts of Heaven

Consider the 2 verses following the Lord's prayer that Jesus specifically pointed out for our attention:

Matthew 5:14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

For those of us who are in the healing ministry, we encountered many cases of healing happening when the sick person chose to forgive those that hurt them. If they could not, we asked them to ask Jesus to enable them to forgive. Healing comes after the forgiveness. We can then understand this two verses better. Even though forgiveness is given to us when we accept Christ as our Savior, the spiritual blessings could be withheld if we don't follow the teachings of the Bible, the rules of the heaven courts. God is the righteous Judge and God cannot violate his own rules. We need to act on the Word of God to receive the blessings and promises from His Word.

These two verses also link us back to 6:13 "deliver us from the evil one". The best protection is to stay and act within the boundary of God's Word.

In the book of Job, we can see such a Court in operation when the devil must have the approval of God to harm Job.

To know more about the Courts of Heaven, please see The Courts of Heaven | Cornerstone Community Church and Principles for the Courtroom of Heaven.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Oct 2017


Does Grace free us from the consequences of sins? Jeremiah 7 in Modern Times

Grace is given to us freely through Jesus on our request to empower us to live the life we should. But some have mistakenly considered grace as forgiveness of our sins and abuse it as the license to sin, sinning without the penalty.  That could not be so as we can see how God would treat His people in the time of Jeremiah where they have the His Temple with them. God changes not and in the New Testament, we have Hebrew 12:6 "the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son".
In the time of Jeremiah, there was the Temple of God, showing God's acceptance of the people.

The people proudly proclaimed the power of their God (Jer 7:4)
  • Jer 7:4  Don't trust deceptive words like these, and say, 'The Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD,' 
and made sacrifices there too (Jer 7:21-23).
  • Jer 7:21-23  This is what the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of Israel, says: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat the meat. Indeed, when I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I didn't speak or command them about burnt offering and sacrifice, 23  but I did give them this command: Obey me and I'll be your God, and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you so it will go well for you. 
But at the same time, they continued to do evil in the sight of God, trusting their temple and their sacrifices to save them(7v9-10).
  • Jer 7:9  Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear by false gods, burn incense to Baal, follow other gods that you don't know, 10  and then come to stand before me in this house that is called by my name and say, 'We're delivered' so we can continue to do all these things that are repugnant to God? 
But God through Jeremiah warned them to change or else He would destroy them including His Temple(7v14).
  • Jer 7:14  Just as I did to Shiloh, I'll go to the house in which you trust and which is called by my name, the place that I gave to you and your ancestors. 

But if they only repent, He would let them stay (7v3,5).
  • Jer 7:3  This is what the LORD of the Heavenly Armies, the God of Israel, says: "Change your ways and your deeds, and I'll let you live in this place. 
  • Jer 7:5  but rather, truly change your ways and your deeds. If you truly practice justice between each person and his neighbor, 
Even so, God will be merciful and give us many chances to repent (7v13).
  • Jer 7:13  Now, because you have done all these things," declares the LORD, "I spoke to you over and over again, but you didn't listen. I called to you, but you didn't answer. 
However, there will be a time where it would be too late. Hence, wake up and change our way now.

Replace the word "temple" with "grace" and read Jeremiah 7 again. As they trusted in the Temple as we do with Grace today, we are to heed the warning of God. The consequences of our sins, the discipline of our Lord, are to awaken us to the evilness and the harms, to ourselves and to those related to us, of our sins.  If God just removes the consequences of our sins, we will have a distorted view of life, of right and wrong, and we would not be able to live rightly and realistically. We are not loved but spoiled, to become like a devil!

Repent and seek the Lord for the true grace that empowers us to live the life that we should.

See also:

Lim Liat (c) 16-9-17


The Greatest Sin of Present Generation - Ungratefulness - Isaiah 28

A popular Chinese saying is "饮水思源", "Remember the source when we drink.". It is a reminder that no one is a self-made person. "I did it myself" or "I did it my way" are but pride and ungratefulness working in us and it will be our eventual downfall. God condemned the people of Israel in Isaiah 28 precisely of their pride and subsequent disobedience and illusion, ignoring the fertile land that God had provided for them to be rich. God established the Law of Sowing and Reaping and hence we reap what we sow. Sow in pride and ignoring God will reap in sins and destructions. Remember our Source and live well.
Isaiah 28 Mind-map:
Please note some verses were re-ordered and shortened to reflect the message clearer.

Isaiah 28 The Ungrateful Proud Drunkards & Their Destruction

The Lord Will Judge Samaria - The Northern Nation
  • Samaria/Ephraim was a rich land given by God

  • The Blessings
    • 1c its beautiful splendor,
      • situated at the head of a rich valley,
      • the crown of those overcome with wine.
    • 4b its beautiful splendor,
      • situated at the head of a rich valley,
    • others want it
      • will be like an early fig before harvest –
      • as soon as someone notices it,
      • he grabs it and swallows it.

  • Warning of Coming Judgement
    • 1a The splendid crown of Ephraim’s drunkards is doomed,
    • 1b the withering flower,
      • 4a The withering flower,
    • 2 Look, the sovereign master sends a strong, powerful one.
      • With the force of a hail storm ...
      • ... a driving, torrential rainstorm,
      • he will knock that crown to the ground
    • 3 The splendid crown of Ephraim’s drunkards will be trampled underfoot.

  • Drunkard State - Everyone including the Priests & Prophets - A Fully corrupted Place
    • 7 Even these men stagger because of wine,
      • they stumble around because of beer –
      • priests and prophets stagger because of beer,
      • they are confused because of wine,
      • they stumble around because of beer;
      • they stagger while seeing prophetic visions,
      • they totter while making legal decisions.Drunken Judge vs Wise Judge v6
    • 8 Indeed, all the tables are covered with vomit;
      • no place is untouched.

  • God's Standard & The True Crown - What it should have been in the 1st place
    • 5 At that time the LORD who commands armies will become a beautiful crown ... for the people
    • 6 He will give discernment to the judges.A wise & fair Judge to establish righteousness
    • and strength to those who defend the city from attackers.A powerful Commander to defend the city

  • Refusal for Correction & Their boastings - The Pride & Boastfulness
    • 9 Who is the LORD trying to teach?We can decide for ourselves.
      • To whom is he explaining a message?
      • Those just weaned from milk!
      • Those just taken from their mother’s breast!
    • 10 Indeed, they will hear meaningless gibberish,Don't nag at us.
      • senseless babbling,
      • a syllable here, a syllable there.

  • Using a Foreign Force to teach them since they were not hearing God's words- God used Others to get them to listen since they refuse to listen to God.

    • 11 For with mocking lips and a foreign tongue
      • he will speak to these people.
    • 12 In the past, he said to them,
      • “This is where security can be found.
      • Provide security for the one who is exhausted!
      • This is where rest can be found.”
      • But they refused to listen.
    • 13 So the LORD’s word to them will sound like
      • meaningless gibberish,
      • senseless babbling,
      • a syllable here, a syllable there.
    • As a result, they will fall on their backsides when they try to walk,
    • and be injured, ensnared, and captured.

  • The sin of the Northern Kingdom ... We did it ourselves and we don't need God to teach us where in reality they are blind and drunk in their evil deeds.
The Lord Will Judge Jerusalem - Capital of the Southern Nation
  • The Southern Kingdom is similar too
    • 14 Therefore, listen to the LORD’s word, you who mock, you rulers of these people
      • who reside in Jerusalem!

  • They trusted their own intelligence but was deceived. They Made a Treaty with Evil to Protect Them! It was a deception. It was useless
      • 15 For you say,
        • “We have made a treaty with death,
        • with Sheol, we have made an agreement.
        • When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by
        • it will not reach us.
        • For we have made a lie our refuge,
        • we have hidden ourselves in a deceitful word.”

  • God's Leader & True Protection
    • 16 Therefore, this is what the sovereign master, the LORD, says:
    • “Look, I am laying a stone in Zion, an approved stone,
    • set in place as a precious cornerstone for the foundation.
    • The one who maintains his faith will not panic.
    • 17 I will make justice the measuring line,
      • fairness the plumb line;
      • hail will sweep away the unreliable refuge,
      • the flood waters will overwhelm the hiding place.

  • The Warnings
    • 18 Your treaty with death will be dissolved;
      • your agreement with Sheol will not last.
      • When the overwhelming judgment sweeps by,
      • you will be overrun by it.
    • 19 Whenever it sweeps by, it will overtake you;
      • indeed, every morning it will sweep by,
      • it will come through during the day and the night.”
      • When this announcement is understood,
      • it will cause nothing but terror.
    • Their wisdom is foolishness. It has the deceptive appearance.
      • 20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on,
      • and the blanket is too narrow to wrap around oneself.

  • The Judgement
    • 21 For the LORD will rise up, as he did at Mount Perazim,
      • he will rouse himself, as he did in the Valley of Gibeon,
      • to accomplish his work,
      • his peculiar work,
      • to perform his task,
      • his strange task.
    • 22 So now, do not mock,
      • or your chains will become heavier!
      • For I have heard a message about decreed destruction,
      • from the sovereign master, the LORD who commands armies, against the entire land.
    • 23 Pay attention and listen to my message!....

  • The sin of the Southern Kingdom is that they don't trust God to protect them and make a treaty with evil nations to protect them not knowing such plans were useless.
God teaches the Principle of Agriculture - Sowing & Reaping in Order over Time
  • 26 His God instructs him; he teaches him the principles of agriculture.

  • Plough
    • 24 Does a farmer just keep on plowing at planting time?
    • Does he keep breaking up and harrowing his ground?

  • Level
    • 25 Once he has leveled its surface,

  • Sow Seeds
    • does he not scatter the seed of the caraway plant,
    • sow the seed of the cumin plant,

  • Different Seeds in Allocated Spaces
    • and plant the wheat, barley, and grain in their designated places?

  • Reaping & Crushing with the Right Tools
    • 27 Certainly, caraway seed is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin seed. Certainly, caraway seed is beaten with a stick, and cumin seed with a flail.
    • 28 Grain is crushed, though one certainly does not thresh it forever.
      • The wheel of one’s wagon rolls over it, but his horses do not crush it.

  • God's Laws operate. Changes do not happen without randomly and without reasons. Changes follow an order over time. We reap what we sow.
The Lord Instructs & Guides -Always Consult the Lord First
  • 29 This also comes from the LORD who commands armies,
  • who gives supernatural guidance and imparts great wisdom.
  • The Sin - We do not trust God and do our things without God.
    • When we are successful we said we did all by ourselves and hence rot in pleasures to our destruction.
    • When we are in fear, we make our plans, even with evils, ignoring God, but those plans fail to work.

  • The Law of Sowing & Reaping
    • 1 The Blessings
    • 2 The Success & Pride - I Did It Myself
    • 3 The Drunkard State - Decays And Decline Set In
    • 4 The Warning - Pending Doom
    • 5 The Refusal To Repent And Change
    • 6 The Judgement From Foreigners
    • 7 The Repentance
    • 8 The Restoration

    • Ecclesiastes 3:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to reap ...

    • Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
  • Always Consult the Lord First and then Obey His guidance and follow His Words

As adults, we even asked, "Why should we pray and give thanks to God for the meals we are taking? Did not we worked very hard to pay for and cook the meals?" Yes. We did. However, we are but at the last link of the long food chain. It is God who created the ingredients and provided the environment for their growth. It is many others who work to produce the food. The last link of a chain does not make the chain. Never forget the Source. Always be grateful for the contributions of others. That is the reality and enables us to live life better.

Lim Liat (c) 1-9-17


After Discipline Comes Restoration - Isaiah 4

After discipline, there must be a restoration, for assurance of forgiveness and acceptance. The principle of life, established by God, spoken in Matthew 6:33, never change. It is, sins bring forth evil and poverty. Repentance and correction bring forth restoration and abundance. Economic development follows after spiritual revival. Isaiah 4 emphasizes the restoration and acceptance of God after His purification of His people.
A Touching Testimony:

A pastor shared about the discipline given by his earthly father. When he was young, he stealing from a family piggy-bank was discovered by his father. His father gave him a severe caning. However, the next day, his father brought him for lunch at a good restaurant where he could order any food he liked. He was shocked. But his father explained that the special lunch was to assure him of his love despite the caning. The stealing was wrong and the caning was for correction, but the person is always loved. The love for the prodigal son was never lost despite his rebellion and wasteful living. The prodigal son realization and repentance quickly brought back the restoration of his acceptance and restoration. Our Heavenly Father deals with us that way too. When we fail to see our sins, He will use the circumstances and people to discipline us to get our attention. His love for us is never lost but that our sins just block out his love and cause us to suffer. Once we realize and repent, He is ever ready to accept and restore us back. He is ever waiting for us to return to Him. The decision is ours to make. Wake up quickly and return to the Lord.

Isaiah 4 Mindmap:
The Bible text is rephrased and reordered to show the sequence of events.

A Consequence of Discipline
  • verse 1 is a continuation of the last chapter on the punishments by God. Most men were killed in battles.

  • 1 And seven women shall grab hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will provide for ourselves, only let us be your wives to have your name to remove our shame."

  • A typical kind of sin for many, like King Saul of the past, we are more concern about how we look in the eyes of others rather than of God. We go after the symptoms rather than the root cause.
The Restoration & Presence of the Lord
    • The Nation is cleaned with the righteous remain

      • 3 And those left in Zion and in Jerusalem will be called holy ...

      • God protects the righteous fulfilling the promised given in Isa 3:10  Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. 

      • 4 The Lord washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion & Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and of burning.

    • The Restoration after a Spiritual Cleansing and Revival

      • 2 In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel.

      • Economic Developments come after Spiritual Revival --- Matthew 6:33 His Kingdom --> All Added

    • The Protection & Glory - God is with His people.

      • 5 Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion & its people, a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; there will be a cover of glory.

      • This was the same glory of the presence of God in the Exodus time. A reminder that He is the same God that free them from slavery.

      • 6 There will be a shelter for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

      • The protection against the harmful elements of nature.

Summary & Applications
  • The Principle
    • Righteousness brings Blessings and Sins bring forth Destruction and Death - Matthew 6:33

  • After Discipline comes Restoration

    • Punishment is past oriented - for the wrong acts already committed.

    • Discipline is future oriented development using the tools of punishment for correction

    • After punishment, acceptance and restoration must come.

    • Parents who discipline their children must take extra effort to assure them of their love and acceptance. They must be taught the separation of bad actions from the person that is loved.

Lim Liat(c) 28-8-17


The Causes and the Symptoms of A Decaying Nation - Isaiah 3

A nation does not fall overnight. There are causes and there tell tale signs. The basic cause is going against God righteousness and justice and is even proud of doing so. That will leads to the wrong use of resources. Exploiting the poor to serve the waste of the luxurious living of the leaders. In fighting, poverty and death will be the natural consequence. 
Isaiah Chapter 3 The Downfall of A Nation Mind-map:
The order of the verses are re-arranged and grouped together to get the sequence order, from causes to consequences. 

The Content:

  • The Cause
    • Isa 3:8 For Jerusalem and Judah has fallen,
      • because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence.
      • Isa 3:9 ... they proclaim their sin like Sodom; ... For they have brought evil on themselves.They were even proud of their sins!
    • The Sins
      • Isa 3:14 The Leaders have devoured the vineyard, and took the spoils of the poor
      • Isa 3:15 crushed and grind the face of the poor
      • Isa 3:16 The daughters of Zion are haughty, wearing jewellery, glancing wantonly, going around partying ...Ladies of the Leaders were more concerned about their beauties & pleasures

  • God
    • Judges
      • Isa 3:13 The LORD stands to judge peoples.The Lord stands up for the oppressed
    • Protects the Righteous
      • Isa 3:10  Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. 
    • Punishes the Wicked
      • Isa 3:11  Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. 

  • Destruction of A Nation
    • Remove Resources
      • Isa 3:1 For behold, the Lord is taking away from Jerusalem and Judah support and supply, such as bread, water. 
    • Replace Leaders
      • Isa 3:2-3 the mighty man, soldier, judge, prophet, diviner, elder, captain of fifty, man of rank, counselor, magician etc,
      • Isa 3:4 boys to be their princes, infants shall rule over them.Get the Foolish to be Leaders
      • Bad Leadership
        • Isa 3:12  My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths. 
    • Cause In-Infighting
      • Isa 3:5 The people will oppress one another, his fellow and his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable.

  • Resulting in Poverty
    • Isa 3:6 For a man grabbed hold of a relative, saying: “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”;
    • Isa 3:7 And he will reply, “I will not be a healer; in my house, there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me a leader of the people.”No one knows what to do with the mess of poverty
    • Ladies Lose their covering, beauty, ornaments, spouses, and children.
      • Isa 3:17  therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts. 
      • Isa 3:18 The Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents;
      • Isa 3:19-23 the pendants, bracelets, scarves; headdresses, armlets, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, signet rings, nose rings; festal robes, the mantles, cloaks, and the handbags; mirrors, linen garments, turbans, and the veils.
      • Isa 3:24 Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; instead of well-set hair, baldness; instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.
    • MenLose their lives
      • Isa 3:25  Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. 
      • Isa 3:26  And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground. 
  • Summary
    • Cause - The leaders & their ladies went against God's righteous laws without repentance. In particular, they exploited the poor for their own indulgence in luxurious living.
    • God upholds His Laws of Justice and the bad leaders brought forth their downfall.
    • The symptoms of a decaying nation: wrong use of resources (from needful production to wasteful luxurious living), bad leaderships, exploitation of poor, luxurious living of the elites, internal strife, and fighting. It actually self-destructs!
Lim Liat (c) 25-8-17


The Path to World Peace - Isaiah 2

Many of us believe that men with increasing intelligence and understanding will eventually be able to have world peace. But history tells us otherwise. If we continue to exalt our own abilities we would eventually have a great world war that destroys all if God did not step in earlier. The good news is that God will and will establish His Kingdom on earth providing world peace and abundant living for men. But men need to go through the judgment of the Day of the Lord where God reveals His power and humble men. This is my learning from Isaiah 2.
Isaiah Chapter 2 - The Key Verses Mind-map:

The Path to World Peace:
  • His Kingdom on Earth & World Peace

    • Isa 2:2 In the latter days, the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest, and all the nations shall flow to it,Jerusalem to be political center of the world

    • Isa 2:4 He shall judge between the nations, peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

      No more war but peace prevails. No weapons but productive equipment

  • The Day of the Lord and the Humbling of Man
    • Full of Idols
      • Isa 2:8  Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. 
    • Man is Humbled & God is Exalted
      • Isa 2:11  The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 
    • Trust Man Not
      • Isa 2:22  Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? Man greatest achievements and power could not stand against the power of God.

  • Summary
    • The paths to world peace
      • The painful
        • Men exalted himself, with his technological brilliance to create the smartest and most powerful things, only to destroy himself if God does not step in.
        • God judges men in the Day of the Lord unleashing His power and glory.
      • The better
        • Men acknowledge God as creator and Lord to be worshipped and obey.
    • God establishes His Kingdom on Earth with Jerusalem as the center for governing for world peace.
Lim Liat (c) 23-8-17


Change and Be Blessed - Learning from Isaiah 1

Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. But some men are wiser. Instead of giving up their sins, they want to use substitutes, doing more religious things to cover their sins, hoping they will get away. But God is not fooled. Unless they change and depart from evil, God cannot bless them despite their religious activities. Such is the teaching of Isaiah 1.
The Key Verses of Isaiah 1 
in a mind-map form:

The Content:
  • The nation was in a poor state - depression
    • Isa 1:7  Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. 
  • The people kept the religious ceremonies, praying for God to revive the economyIt did not work at all. Why?
    • Isa 1:13  Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 
  • Repent & Put things right first
    • Isa 1:17  learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. 
  • Then God Will Forgive and Restore
    • Isa 1:19  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 
  • The Unfaithful CityBut they continued in sins!
    • Isa 1:23  Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them. 
  • Summary
    • Their present dire state is due to their evilness where their religious activities could not get God to bless them. They were to change first and then restoration will come.
    • Principle:
      • Fix the guilt by repentance and not cover-up with religious activities
      • Don't give excuses or use substitutes instead of cutting off the root cause or activity.
  • Applications
    • Are you having any problem?
    • Have you found a cause and a solution?
    • Is your solution working?
      • If NOT
        • then You have not found the root cause.... go back to look again, never give excuses but objectively and calmly examine the facts
Lim Liat (c) 22-8-17