2019-12-16

The Christmas that Lao Zi Knows

In his book "Dao De Jing", Lao Zi shows us why God needs to send His Son into this world. He describes the behavior of the Dao, the Way, or the Word. The greatest and the most powerful is love, which is exhibited by God in giving His only Son to man. Let us receive and be like Him. Let's discover the details... 
The Undescribable Dao/Way/Word - Why God must come down to Man

Chapter 1 verse 1 of Lao Zi's Dao De Jing is:

道可道 非常道

The Dao/Word/Way that can be described is not the eternal Dao/Word/Way.

  • John 1:1-3, In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (2)  He was in the beginning with God.  (3)  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

How is that so? Someone said that if we can describe and fully understand god then either we are the god or that is not god. Our mind is limited. Our language is limited. The unlimited God could not be fully described and understood by the limited man else God cannot be unlimited. In that case, how could our limited man understand the way and the behavior of the unlimited God? That is only possible if God Himself comes down in the form of man and then tell and show us Who he is
  • Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

His Son Came


Chapter 4 The Way is the Son said Lao Zi (DaoDeJing 4).

It begins with The Way (Dao) is ...
  • vast and wide and provides for every usage without any limit.
  • the root of all creations.
  • describes its sharpness, intricacies, light, traces/paths of it work, ... yet so quietly and almost invisible. (Jesus came in such lowly state, born in a manger ...)
Lao Zi humbly says, "I don't know whose Son is it? Like before our ancestors". 

What does Lao Zi want us to do with His Son? Receive Him & Be Like Him

挫其锐、解其纷、和其光、同其尘,湛兮似或存。
Blunt its sharpness, resolve the tangles,  follow its light.  Join its traces/footprints. 
It is so transparent/clear/pure as if not there.

We are not to refuse the penetrating power of His light that reveals our sins and confusion. We are just to follow His light that we may see and be freed from our bondage. We are to follow His footprints. Let's be so transparent and pure of our own that we make be like Him.

His Love conquers All - Live in His Grace

Chapter 67 夫慈以战则胜,以守则固,天将救之,以慈卫之
Love conquers all. It is strong in defense. Heaven will save it and grace will protect it.
Chapter 63 大小多少 报怨以德

[No matter] big or small, many or few, [always] repay hates/evils with love/virtues.
Summary:

The meaning of Christmas is about God coming down to us as man, to communicate and show us what He is like. He is love that He has given us His Son Jesus Christ to die for us and thereby bringing peace with God and with men. We are to receive His grace of love and simply live out the love He has given us.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Dec 2019

2019-08-08

How do you define Righteousness? Psalm 15 tells us

Psalm 15 shows us that if you choose God over money, you will be with God forever.
The consequence of righteous living is standing forever in the sanctuary of God. The progression of Psalm 15 shows us what is right and wrong and are all related to money. The righteous keeps promise at his cost and charges zero interests on loans whereas the sinful takes bribes to lie, gossip and harms others implying doing anything just to get money.

Here is the mind-map:

The biblical text is the NLV version.



Verse 2 tells us the blameless qualifies to be in God's sanctuary. Who can be blameless? Only those who accept Jesus Christ's redemption. But what does it look like? The 2nd part of the verse shows us, doing what is right and speaking the truth from the heart without manipulative intent.

Verse 3 shows us the opposite of speaking the truth, which is gossip and speaking evil of others and doing harm to them.

Verse 4 shows the principle of righteousness --- hating evil and honoring righteous and points us yet another aspect of doing the right thing, namely, to keep promises made even when it hurts, a typical case will be at one's expense or costs.

Verse 5 makes the clear the intent, it is all about money such as charging zero interests (a good case) and taking bribes (a negative case).

The green color part of the mind-map is the lesson we learned from the study of this psalm. Never make $money$ your God. Never use $money$ as the standard of right and wrong and do all things just to get more $money.

Righteous is defined by God and we should faithfully follow it (verse 4) and the outcome will be an eternal presence with the Lord. The psalm is not teaching about salvation by work but the characteristics of those saved by grace.

Lim Liat (c) 8 Aug 2019

2019-07-30

Who are we and how should we live? Peter tells us

We often heard that Christians are sinners saved by grace. Is that correct? Do you focus on sinners or on grace more? Let Peter gives you the correct truth about who Christians are and what they should do. Have the right perspectives of who you are and then know what you should do that you may live this life meaningfully and productively.

1Peter 2:1-10 tells us who the believers are and how should we live. The mind-map below captures the essence:



First and foremost is that believers are called, chosen, and separated by God through Jesus Christ. So believers are:
  • 1 a living stone of a Spiritual House in Jesus who is the cornerstone, the headstone, from which all other stones are defined and aligned.

  • 2 priesthood that is royal and holy with the purpose of to offer spiritual sacrifices

    Holy is separated out for God. It is distinguished and different from the world.
    The role of a priest is to present people to God to be acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. It includes prayers and intercessors for the people and to care for their spiritual developments.

  • 3 a chosen race who is precious in the sight of God

  • 4 a holy nation - a distinction to bring glory to God.

  • 5 God's own people 
    • We were once not a people, and have not received mercy and in darkness.
    • But now we are called out of darkness into His marvelous light to received mercy.

      For the purpose to proclaim the excellencies of Him.
      i.e. To preach & share the Good News of the Great & Loving God
All the 5 attributes show us how blessed and beloved we are in the eyes of God. So we are to the Beloved, sojourners & exiles in this world.

So, how should live in this world?
We have two main roles as sojourners and exiles in this world to play:

a. As Priest to pray, intercede, and care for God's people. To worship God in our mind, heart, and work.

b. As Preachers to proclaim, as witnesses to share, the good news of how great and how much God loves them. To tell about Jesus and what Jesus had done for them. To bring them out of darkness into His marvelous light and to become God's people.

Don't focus on the past, but focus on your present status and calling and work for the eternal future and rewards. 

Lim Liat (c) 30 Jul 2019

2019-07-28

How do you know your thinking is right? James 3:17 shows us

How do you know your thinking is right?
How do you know it is from God or from Satan or from yourself?

MATTHEW 16:23 | [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.

(Rom 8:7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

The Answer:

(Jas 3:17) But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

Compare with (Phil 4:8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The intention, the reasoning, and the desired outcome must follow from the above list of characteristics.

Check it first:

1. Pure?
There is no evil, bias, or bad intention.
Only truth, clean, clarity, and faithful.
Stick to the pure Word of God - the Bible.

2. Peaceable?
  • Does it arise out of a heart at peace? Not in the moment of anger, fear, bitterness, hatred, stress.
  • Does it lead to bringing peace or to stir up more troubles?

3.  Gentle?
  • The way we are going to express it, is it gentle?
  • Shouting, scolding, sarcasm do not work.
4. Open to reason?
  • Can you stand up to challenges? 
  • Are you open to other suggestions, opinions, and reasonings? 
  • Are you so worry of being wrong that you shut up your ears? 
  • You don't have to agree to them but at least consider your thinking from more perspectives. The feedback you get may even strengthen your initial thinking.

5. Full of mercy & good fruits?
  • Is it out of love and is to bring benefits as good fruit.
  • What are the outcomes of your thinking and decisions? Where are the benefits and for whom?
6.  Impartial?
  • Do you give preference to a certain group, such as the wealthy one, or especially yourself and your gang at the expense of others?
7.  Sincere?
  • Do you really mean what you say? 
  • Are you trying to manipulate others? or to 
  • Show a good image only?
If your thought satisfies the above criteria, you can be sure your wisdom is from above. You don't need to hear an audible voice from God to know it is from above.

Lim Liat (c) 26 July 2019

Managing our Thoughts & Emotions according to Psalm 4

For our busy and stress-out friends in this challenging world...

Psa 4:4 Don't sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.
  • Don't react in anger immediately.
  • Wait till the evening to think about it.
  • It may be not as bad as you first thought.
  • Even for the injustice and betrayal did to you.
  • The Lord is in charge...so...

Psa 4:5 Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and [trust] the LORD.
  • Trust the Lord to get justice done for you. Don't take it into your own hand.
Psa 4:7 You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. 
  • So what if you don't have the riches .... you have the greater value of joy ...
  • After all, why do you pursue wealth and fame? Aren't you going after joy, happiness, satisfaction?

Psa 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, will keep me safe. 
  • It is the Lord who gives security and peace.
  • Wealth and fame do not keep you safe at all.

2019-06-09

The Four Secrets of an Overcoming Life - Isa 30:15

Suffering and pains come from bondage to bad habits or circumstances. We need to know how to break free and stay free. Isaiah 30:15
Isaiah 30:15 New International Version (NIV)

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
    “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
        in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.

The four secrets of breaking free and staying free are given above. And the only thing that holds us in bondage is given in the last part of the verse.

The Four Secrets:

Salvation begins with:

1.   Repentance

Repentance is about making a change, a U-turn. It begins with a realization that I am in bondage and wanting to break free. It is like the Prodigal Son coming to his senses and going back to his father house despite possible shaming that he may get (which he did not get at all because of his father's love).  However, repentance is just the first step, we need help from someone who is able to help us. If we could, we could have broken free long ago. So, get up and find the right person, the right source, for help. The Gospel, the good news, is that someone is all ready to help you at your bidding. Go and ask Jesus for help. He had paid the price for our deliverance.
2.   Rest

Rest is not just not doing anything. It is about putting your weight on something solid such as resting on the chair or on the bed. Let the chair support you rather than just standing on your tired feet. So, put your full weight on Jesus and follow what He tells us to do. 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Our rest is to take the medicine that the Doctor prescribed for our sickness; to do what Jesus tells us to do.

Strength comes from:

3.   Quietness

A person in panic mode could not think and could not sit still. He needs to calm down first so that we can observe the situations clearly and then figure the way out. So we know Paul gives us the key to gaining the composure in Phil 4:6-8 6 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.  8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

As we begin our lives with Jesus, the devil will try all sorts of ways to steal away our joy and peace. He will create troubles to cause us to panic and doubts our salvation, the love of Jesus for us and His willingness or ability to help us. He will try to make us feel that Jesus does not love us anymore especially when we return to our past sins. Then, we need to back to fundamental, of trusting God's Words and His promises for us. Ask Jesus to get peace and read His promises to stir up our confidence in Him as in Phil 4:8 above and then Trust His abilities to work out all things for us.
4.   Trust

Trusting someone enables us to gain our peace and to follow his instructions. Hebrew 11 gives us many testimonies of how faith, or trust, enables them to do the seemingly impossible. Any startup begins with the founders' trust that they could succeed and bring value to the world. We have the love and the promise of God and hence we can trust God to venture out. We can tithe our income trusting God to provide for us. We can share the gospels trusting that people will be saved through it. We can boldly go because we can trust God at His words.

Takeaway:

Living in bondage and pains? 

Awake and see the light. Begin a change by asking Jesus to help. Follow Him to gain peace and trust Him to receive the strengths to break free for a new life in Him. Let's not make the mistake stated in the last part of the verse "but you would have none of it." That was the very reason that causes all the troubles for us. So make a change now.


Lim Liat (c) 9 Jun 2019

2019-06-07

Bible Study Method: Fill in the Blank- Matthew 25:29

A good way to study the Bible is to fill the blank. 

Let's take an example:

"For to everyone who has _____, more ____ will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away." - Matthew 25:29
The blanks are not in the original text. But without knowing them, we don't really understand the verse. Jesus used it as a summary and a principle for us to learn.

We can figure out what the blanks are by studying the context. It is the parable of the talents.  

Why were the first two servants rewarded? They make good use of the talents that their master had given to them. They are faithful and good stewards of the entrusted resources. The rewards from the master are:
  • His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ - Matthew 25:21
So we can fill in the blanks as:

"For to everyone who has [faithfulness/stewardship], more [money/power/rulership + joy of Lord/relationship] will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away." - Matthew 25:29

Luke 19:11-27 has a similar parable, the parable of the pound, where rulership over cities is given.

The most shocking part is this:
    Mat 25:28  Therefore take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.

The shock was expressed by the servant in the parable of the pound,

   Luk 19:25  And they said to him, Lord, he has ten minas. 

Is it fair, you may ask?

If you want to invest your money, which investment will you choose?
You will invest in the one that guarantees to give you the most returns.

Are we good stewards of the talents and pounds that the Lord has given to us?

What are we doing with the time, talents, money, relationships, spouse, children, etc that we have now?

What are we pursuing with such resources?

Are we investing in the treasures in Heaven?

Lim Liat (c) 7 Jun 2019


2019-05-22

Feeling Depressed? Discover Your're Loved Always

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.

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.

Everlasting also does not mean unchanging. That is called death or nothingness. It means ever changing with an unchanging pattern of purpose. 

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.

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.


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 in Christ Jesus.

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. It is similar to Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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. Also, Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

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

Lim Liat (c) 22 May 2019

2019-05-13

Set Free from Self-Destruction - Learning from Rick Warren

‘We are our own greatest enemy' shows us the secret to living victoriously. We lie to ourselves most of the time. We blame others for our own lack and problems. It is important to face up with reality and see the self-destructive thoughts and feelings that we have.
Rick Warren's sermon on "Set Free from Self-Destruction" not only gives the list but also provides the answer. It is very useful that I summarized it in the mind-map below:


7 weapons of self-destruction and solution.

1. Shame…it robs you of all happiness
    ...Remind myself daily what Jesus did for me. - Rom 8:1-4

2. Uncontrolled thoughts…they will ruin your life
   ...Ask the Holy Spirit to give me better thoughts - Rom 8:5-6

3. Compulsion: inner desires made you do it even though it was wrong - Rom 8:12
   ...Realize I have a new ability to say “no” through the Holy Spirit
   ...Maturity is when you do the right thing, not what you feel like doing
   ...Jesus gives us the grace power thru the Holy Spirit to live rightly.

4. Fear…enormous destroyer
   ...Turn my thoughts to God whenever I’m afraid - Romans 8:14-16
   ...(2Tim 1:7) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

5. Hopelessness..keeps you from keeping on
   ...Focus on the long-term, not on the short term!

6. Bitterness…you hurt YOU the most…get better or bitter
   ...Remind myself that God is good and in control. - Rom 8:19-25

7. Insecurity…poser…you will do or say anything.
   ...Security - nothing can separate us from His love. - Rom 8:38-39
   ...Trust that God will never stop loving me!

Conclusion:
  • When you are feeling blue, and when you are feeling bitter you need to remind yourself that God is good and in control.
  • His Spirit is praying for me.
  • He’s using everything for good in my life.
  • He wants me to succeed and He’s going to give me what I need.
As you go through the list and the solutions, hope you find the answer you need.

2019-03-12

The Right Balance for the Great Commission - Mat 28:19-20

While the great commission is one, there are three parts to it.  Not getting the right balance will result in an unfruitful church.
The Great Commission:

[ESV] Mat 28:19  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

There are 3 parts to the commission:
  1. Go & Make Disciples & Baptise them - all nations
  2. Teach them to follow what Jesus taught
  3. Jesus is with us when we are doing 1&2 - all the time even till the end.
The Balance:

Neglecting anyone one of three will result in imbalance and sickness.

Doing just 1 without 2 will result in many baby believers who are unstable and easily misled and/or always needing people to care for them.
Doing just 2 without 1 will be stagnation. It is too inward looking and the church could be a social club for members only.
Not knowing 3 will make all work difficult and unproductive.

Having all 3 will make a lively, growing church with joyful pre-believers(BEST of Taiwan's Happiness Group) and believers with miracles testifying the presence of Jesus and the truthfulness of His Words.

The 3 parts applying to Church will we find the five-fold ministries of Eph 4:11-12, and operational ministries of Rom 12:6-13, and the exercising of spiritual gifts of 1 Cor 12:28, with all working together to build up and grow the Church.

The 3 parts will apply to every believer's personal life too.  While we may excel in certain gifts and the corresponding ministry, we need to do all to live a meaningful and satisfying life.

Are you living a balanced life?
  • Time with Jesus?
  • Time in sharing the gospels with others? 
  • Time in fellowship with Jesus and His Words? 
  • Time is caring and developing others?
  • Time in prayers for His will to be done on earth through us.
Lim Liat (C) 12 Mar 2019

2019-03-10

The Attributes of the Leader who God Selects

The three attributes of a leader who God select can be found in Psalm 78:70-72. They are the heart of a mother, the uprightness and the skills put into action. 
The Bible Reference:

Psalm 78:70-72 English Standard Version (ESV)

70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from following the nursing ewes
     he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance.
72 With upright heart, he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

The above passage reveals the attributes that God want to see in a leader.
  1. from following the nursing ewes - The model and motive.
  2. With upright heart - The Character.
  3. with his skillful hand - The Abilities and Execution - Action with Wisdom.
David had been shepherding his sheep. He could see how the mother sheep nurse the lambs. He grew up with a loving heart like the mother sheep.

The next attributes, because of the translation difficulties, have other words used. It is important to read many translations to get the true meaning. Here are the various translations:

upright heart ESV:

The original Hebrew is H8537  and according to BDB Definition:
   1) integrity, completeness
     1a) completeness, fullness
    1b) innocence, simplicity
   1c) integrity
  • integrity of heart NIV, ASV, CEB, JB2000, KJV
  • upright heart, BBE, NRV, RSV
  • a pure heart HCSB
  • unselfish devotion GNT, GWT
  • an innocent heart NCV, DRC
  • a faithful and honest heart. NIRV
  • a true heart NLV
  • (integrity, guilelessness) OJB
 skillful hand ESV:
  • skillful hands NIV, CEB, HCSB, NCV, NIrV
  • skillfulness of his hands ASV, KJV, OJB
  • wisdom of his hands BBE
  • intelligence of his hands JB2000

Skillful is H8394 with BDB Definition:
  1) understanding, intelligence
     1a) the act of understanding
          1a1) skill
    1b) the faculty of understanding
         1b1) intelligence, understanding, insight
   1c) the object of knowledge
  1d) teacher (personification)

The phase with skillfulness of his hands shows that David put his skill into action. He personally got involved with the people and led them with his examples.

The Consolidation:

The qualities of a God selected leader begins with:

  1.  The motive of a Mother to bring up her children into mature man and women.
  2.  The character of integrity, uprightness, a pure heart, guilelessness, and unselfish devotion. He has no ulterior motive of using people for achieving his own glory. His devotion is to the upbringing of the people under his charge. The shared goal is growing up into the real experiential knowledge of God and be like Jesus.
  3. The wisdom and skillfulness of leading his people with personal involvement in their lives and his exemplifying behaviors where they can copy and promote.
Our reflection:

Are we such a leader that God wants us to be?
Do we care for our members like a mother?
Do we have a pure motive, openness, and integrity dedicated to their upbringing?
Do we acquire wisdom and skills to lead them to higher ground with our personal testimonies? Can they copy us just as Paul dare to say "Follow me as I follow after Christ"(1 Corinthians 11:1 )?

Leadership is about the discovery and development of its members to achieve a shared goal.

"The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." --Ronald Reagan

"The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been." --Henry Kissinger

 "Leadership Is About Enabling The Full Potential In Others" --Glenn Llopis

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” — Sheryl Sanberg, COO of Facebook

“Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.”— Mwai Kibaki, Kenyan politician

"True leadership lies in guiding others to success--in ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well." --Bill Owens

“A leader is someone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding the potential in people and processes.”— Brené Brown, research professor, and best-selling author

Lim Liat 10 March 2019

See also:



2019-03-04

The Parable of the Sower - An Interpretation from Chinese Viewpoint

The Parable of the Sower (sometimes called the Parable of the Soils) is a parable of Jesus found in the three Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15.  There are many comments and interpretations of the parable and on Jesus' explanation of the parable. Essentially, while the seed, the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven is the same, there are four types of hearers represented by the different types of soils, giving four kinds of results which only the last one, the good soil, producing fruits of 100, 60 and 30. 

Type of Soils
Growth Process
Result
1 Paths
Heard but Stolen
Nothing
2 Rocky
Receive with joy but easily fall away because of trouble & pressures
Short growth & die.
3 Among Thorns
Choked by worry and lured away by wealth
Growth but no fruit.
4 Good Soils
Hears & Understands by doing the Words.
Fruits, some 100, some 60, and some 30. Different degree of practicing the Words.

In the saying of the Ancient Chinese Sages, the following is attributed to 鬼谷子 (The Sage of the Ghost Valley, the Father of the School of Diplomacy. For his teaching see Gui Gu Zi - Art of Strategic Alliances & Persuasions )

悟道可有四重境界: Enlightenment of Dao(The Way) can have four realms:
  1. 初为闻道 - First is Hearing the Dao - Sound good. But so what? So forgotten.
  2. 次为知道 - Second is Knowing the Dao - Good to know. But so what? Did not put into practice and hence really do not know. It is knowing the theory of swimming but never really jump into the water to swim.
  3. 再为见道 - Third is Seeing the Dao i.e. put the Dao into behavior that can be seen. It is a good understanding of the Dao. It is experiencing the Dao. But it could be a one-off effort.
  4. 终为得道 - The final, fourth stage, is Obtain the Dao i.e. internalize the Dao so that the behavior is automatic and self-motivated and self-directed action.
Confucius says, “At 15 I set my heart on learning, at 30 I achieve success & independence, at 40 I have no more doubts and confusions, at 50 I knew the will of Heaven (life’s purpose), at 60 my ears were attuned to right and wrong and not emotionally affected by what others say, and at 70 I followed my heart’s desire without violating the laws.

So we know that Confucius spent 70 years to internalize the Dao so that his actions automatically follow from the Dao and will not violate it.

So for us believers, what have we done with His Words? 

Do we know His Words? 
Do we understand His Words? 
Do we follow His Words? 
Have we internalized His Words so that we automatically think and act like Jesus?
Do we have the mind of Christ? 
What is the Mind of Christ?

Psalm 119:11 (NIV) I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

Philippians 2:5–8
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Lim Liat (c) 4 Mar 2019

2019-02-28

How to Get the Benefits From Sermons

Listening to Sermons:
Two potential errors that we commonly made when listening to Sundays Sermons.
  • One is to listen for another person. If only so and so is here, this message is great for him or her. So we ordered the message CDs to give that person in mind,
  • The other is to just appreciate the enlightenment and new understanding from the message and forget to apply it into our lives.

Whether we just listen for another person or just for our mind, we fail the reap the true benefits of the message because we fail to apply them for our own lives.
We recall the parable of building on sands and rocks that Jesus preached (Luke 6:46–49).
May we be careful to listen well (throw away the rubbish if any) and to apply what we learned and get healthy growth for ourselves.

Then when the other person sees our ourselves, they may be drawn to ask us for the secrets. 
Changing others begins with changing ourselves first.

Lim Liat (c) 28 Feb 2019

2019-02-17

Discovery Bible Study with Multi-views Method - Be Enlightened More

By shifting our point view we can discover more from the passage we are studying. This is especially applicable to the study of parables. Let's work with some examples:
1.  The Parable of the Pearl of great price.
  • Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV) 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The teaching is clear - what is of most value will be worth higher than all the rest. We are to give all that we have just to gain this most valuable thing.

The tradition interpretation: 

The pearl, and the treasure in verse 44 represent Jesus Christ.
We are the merchant searching for treasure and we found it (Recall the "I've Found It" of the Billy Graham Crusades in the '70s).
So, we have Paul's life as our example in:
  • Philippians 3:8 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 
Another Possible Interpretation:

By switching the roles: the pearl is us(sinners) and the merchant is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave of His all more, to suffer for us,  just to gain us. We are worth as much as all of God!
  • Php 2:5-8  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  (6)  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  (7)  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  (8)  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The 2nd interpretation gives us the example and the empowerment to accomplish the 1st. It is Christ who enables us to give our all to gain Him, who has given Himself to gain us. So we have:
  • Galatians 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2. A better understanding of "Robbing God" of Malachi 3:8
  • Mal 3:8  Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.
The traditional interpretation is obvious as stated in the verse. We are robbing God because our tithes belong to God. 

A deeper understanding is to ask, does God need our tithes? Where did the tithes go? Why does God demand our tithes? The answer is obvious, it is for our benefits. Whatever God commands is always for our benefits. This is revealed in verse 
  • Mal 3:11  I will rebuke the devourer for you so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts
So our tithes give God the rights to protect the rest and the long term growth of our wealth! So, what how are we robbing God if we don't give our tithes?

The answer is "You are robbing God of the opportunity to bless you!" which is essentially robbing yourself if you don't give your tithes.

3. The Mustard Seed Parable of Matthew 13:31-32

  • “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 

The principle taught is the principle of amplification and multiplication:

  • just one smallest of all plant seeds (don't judge by outward appearance nor of size)
  • sowed in a field.
  • give time to grow
  • become the largest of all plants 
  • to be a tree to give homes to birds
What does the seed stand for?
Jesus did not tell us specifically and hence Jesus is telling us that is a Kingdom Principle and is applicable to many things.

What things?

Many use the seed as faith. A small seed of faith as a start to accomplish great things for God.

Many also use the seed as money. Money is given away like a seed being sowed and whereby bring forth a great harvest of profitable returns.

The seed could also be an idea. When sowed, meaning, being realized as an innovation or an invention, that brings many benefits to all and great wealth to the inventor or entrepreneur.

In summary, at times, we can to learn more and understand better when we extend our viewpoints. There is only one caution - never overextending to conflict with the original meanings of the text within the context. Always find verses to support your interpretations.

  • Matthew 13:52-54  (CEV) 52 So he told them, “Every student of the Scriptures who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like someone who brings out new and old treasures from the storeroom.”


Lim Liat (c) 17 Feb 2019

For more on Kingdom Laws see Kingdom Laws & Principles

Breakthrough Prayer with the Format like a Court Case

An effective prayer could take the format of a court proceeding as an advocate presenting his case before a judge.
A pastor and a friend shared about the following three ways of praying:

  1.  Father-Son Relationship: We pray to our Father to present our needs to Him.
  2.  Friendship: We pray for our friend needs as a stand-in. This is intercessory.
  3.  Judge-Plaintiff Relationship: We present our case before the Judge as an advocate.
Is there any basis for type 3 format of prayer?

We have the Old Testament verses:

  • “Come now and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow …” (Isaiah 1:18)
  • “Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.” (Isaiah 43:25)
We find God encouraging us to reason with Him and give Him reasons for Him to forgive us.  Abraham did that when he pleaded for Sodom(Genesis 18:16-33). Moses did that for his people (Numbers 14:11-20).

However, we also find:
  • Pro 26:2  Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. 
So firstly, we have the good news that we are protected from any curse that does not have any valid reason to catch hold of us. We can live safely and are protected.

Secondly, we have the danger part implied in the inverse of the verse. The curse can stay if there is any valid cause.  Peter warned us that the devil is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is hunting for any cause to attack us.

While God is love, excessively by man standard. God is also just. God will have to extend that justice to the devil too. So if the devil can find any legitimate reason such as our sin, he can attack us and block our prayers from being answered. This is also the reason why Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, has to become a man to die on the cross to pay for our sins and to arise to give us new lives. 

In prayers for healing, unforgiveness is often a cause that blocks the healing from taking place.  In the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our sins as we have forgiven others" (Matthew 6:9-13) and Paul in Eph 4:32 "forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you".  Healing usually takes place after the person concerned had forgiven some particular others.

Thirdly, no matter what was the cause, as we discover it, we can plead the blood of Jesus to cover and remove it as Jesus had paid the price for our deliverance. The Lord's Prayer Petition#7 is "But deliver us from evil."

Fourthly, the difficulty lies in the cause, may not be due to us but due to our relatives or people around us and also to our forefathers who we did not even know at all. Such are known as the generational curses which could transfer 3 to 4 generations (Exodus 20:4-6). In such cases, our elders may know, and we can also rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal to us.

Whatever, we can count on God. 

  • Heb 4:16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
Jesus has enabled us to confidently go to the throne of grace to receive mercy, not even plead, and to get the grace empowerment, to get our needs fulfilled.

How does such prayer look like? Below are two posts that give us the details:
Finally, after reading this, please do not be alarmed so that you spend time digging into your past to find any curses or sins. You should only do the digging when you are led to or when you are finding you are not getting your answers after some long period of praying.

Lim Liat (c) 19 Feb 2019


2019-01-13

Getting Your Needs Met God's Way - 2 King 4:1-7

Ask God first. God will start with what you have, instruct you to do with what you can, and bless you with more than what you need (solve the immediate needs and provide for future needs). We just need to trust and obey His given instructions. Our blessings depend on the faith reflected in our action. Ref: 2King 4:1-7
Bible Study the Mind-map Way:

How do I get to the above summary about how we can get our needs met God's way by reading the passage 2King 4:1-7? I will like to show you the mind-map way as shown below:


The steps are as follows:

  1. Copy and Paste the passage text from your favorite translation of the Bible.
  2. Break each verse into meaningful sub-branches.
  3. Put in your comments, shown in brown text.
  4. Find related bible verses, shown in blue text, if needed to emphasize the point.
  5. From your comments, consolidate them, and write a summary, shown in red text.
The mind-map software used is Freeplane. You can create an HTML page directly from the software and it is shown below:

Elisha and the Widow's Oil
  • The Needs
    • 2Ki 4:1  Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets
      • wife of the son of the a prophet
        - one generation away!
      • God's blessing will pass down many generations
        • I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on 
          your descendants. (Is 44:3)
        • I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children
          I will save. (Is 49:25)
        • All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their
          peace. (Is 54:13)
        • My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words 
          that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the 
          lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from 
          this time on and forever, says the Lord. (Is 59:21)
        • The children of Your servants will live in Your presence; their 
          descendants will be established before You. (Ps 102:28)
    • cried to Elisha,
      • go to the man of God
      • She did not waste time seeking help from her relatives or friends.
      • Now we can go to God, our Heavenly Father, directly through Jesus
    • “Your servant
      • why Elisha should help her
    • my husband is dead,
    • and you know that
      • your servant feared the LORD,
        • Her basis for asking for help.
        • Psalm 37:25 ► I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not 
          seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
    • but
      • She know it should not happen this way
      • the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.”
  • The Answer
    • 2Ki 4:2  And Elisha said to her,
    • “What shall I do for you?
      • Our Father will ask us as we go to Him to ask.
        • Luke 18:41 "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to
           see," he replied.
          He could ask for money instead of healing as in this widow's case.
    • Tell me; what have you in the house?”
      • God uses what we have to bless us.
        No need to go or do to get other thing first.
    • And she said,
      • “Your servant has nothing in the house except
      • a jar of oil.”
        • Whatever you have, no matter how little is enough for God
    • 
      
    • 2Ki 4:3  Then he said,
      • “Go outside,
        • from all your neighbors,
          • out of yourself, go to others for help
      • 
        
      • borrow vessels
      • empty vessels
      • and not too few.
        • expect big blessings
      • 
        
      • 2Ki 4:4  Then go in and
      • shut the door behind yourself and your sons &
      • 
        
        • Keep to yourself;
          Do it secretly
          Not time for testimony yet
      • pour into all these vessels.
      • And when one is full,
      • set it aside.”
      • 
        
        • specific, details
    • 
      
      • Very clear instructions from God
  • 
    
  • The Follow-up Actions
    • 2Ki 4:5  So she went from him and
    • shut the door behind herself and her sons.
      • did as instructed
    • And as she poured they brought the vessels to her.
      • fast team work
    • 
      
    • 2Ki 4:6  When the vessels were full,
    • she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.”
    • And he said to her, “There is not another.”
    • 
      
      • flow stopped when there
        was no more vessel
        She could get more if she has borrowed more vessels. The blessings depend on our faith that is put in action. She probably followed Elisha's instructions well, borrowing from ALL her neighbor that was why she had enough to pay the debts and had enough for future needs.
    • Then the oil stopped flowing.
      • according to the capacity you have.
  • 
    
    • Follow instructions exactly
  • Report Back & Ask for Further Instruction
    • 2Ki 4:7  She came and told the man of God, and
      • She did not know what to do with the oil. So she went back to ask. 
        When we don't know, go back and ask
  • Further Guidance
    • he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts,
      • solve the immediate needs
    • and you and your sons can live on the rest.”
      • provide for future needs
  • Summary
    • Have a need?
      • Ask God first.
      • God will
        • start with what you have,
        • instruct you to do with what you can, and
        • bless you with more than what you need.
          • solve the immediate needs
          • provide for future needs

Lim Liat (c) 12-1-19