What plan?

(From Proverbs 19:21, 23)

There are instances in life where this couple of proverbs prove right. Sometimes, even if you know you’ve worked hard, invested a lot of your time and resources in things that matter so much in your life, some things would not just go as planned, and/or you’d be taken to a completely different direction, not the one that you would’ve anticipated or even imagined.

Even after a long, tedious period of seeking the Lord, praying and fasting about it, it just doesn’t seem to go your way for some reason. And you’re pretty much left disappointed, tired, sometimes, even angry with God and everyone around you! You knew you deserved better, and whatever you ended up with was not what you’ve asked and worked hard for.

Yet the Bible says that we can do all the planning and toiling but the Lord’s purpose, whatever it is that He’s already pre-destined, pre-designed and pre-planned, will always prevail (v21). And we can be sure that He has good reasons as to why certain plans won’t come into fruition, or outcomes are not in the shape you’ve expected or calculated. He said in verse 11 of Jeremiah 29:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

This is His promise. Remember that God always has your best interest in mind, and only He knows what’s best for you and I. Be encouraged that He’s already worked it all out for you (Proverbs 16:4). You just got to walk in it. But this part takes trust, and a lot of patience, because it’s not stated in the promise that it’s going to be easy and problem-free.

Along the way, yes, He will allow us to experience disappointments, failures, difficulties; only to realise (again and again) that we can’t handle it on our own. But those who know how to fear (revere) Him, wait on His timing, and trust Him will always renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). They are the ones who truly succeed because they encounter God in the process; they learn how to hope in the God who holds the universe; they learn how it is to persevere, and develop strength of character (Romans 5:3-4); they learn that the God who is powerful and kind and wise is on their side amidst the struggles; and they can trust that if Plan A doesn’t work out, God has already placed a Plan B that is surely bigger and better. They can always believe that. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Verse 23 of Proverbs 19 indicates that because they honour God, praise Him, and worship Him in the middle of difficult circumstances, they are given life and energy anyway; they can feel safe and secure anyway; and they are protected from harm anyway, which is probably why the plan didn’t succeed in the first place. They can keep walking under God’s protection until they reach the destination God has prepared skilfully for them.

Let’s choose to be thankful to God when things don’t go as planned; and trust that wherever He redirects us, greener pastures await. His ways are always perfect. His timing is never too late, never too early. You can continue walking by faith, and be sure that He’s got you covered.

#Hispurposeprevails
#dirtybibles

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Beyond the pages

Read Hebrews 4:12-13

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We must realise that the Word of God is more than printed pages in a book. The Word of God is the person of Jesus Christ.

John‬ ‭1:1-3, 14 say:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Word of God is living and active. The Word of God is Jesus Christ speaking to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who empowers us and transforms us to become more like Jesus.

We read the Word to know and understand Jesus, to seek His face and His truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, so we can have a relationship with the Lord, be renewed, and carry His divine truth and love in our world.

Reading the Bible is beyond a religious activity or routine, but it is a life-changing, heart-transforming journey of getting to know the person of our Saviour and King.

We must seek Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to make the living and active Word of God to be made flesh, to be alive in our own lives.

#JesusTheLivingWord
#dirtybibles

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Special thanks to Pastor Ken Brown of Spirit & Life International Ministries.

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fear (verb)

fear (verb)
Meaning: to regard (God) with reverence and awe.
Synonyms: stand in awe of, regard with awe, revere, reverence, venerate, respect

Used in a Biblical sentence:

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From Proverbs 14:26-27

God blesses those who revere Him, those who acknowledge His power, greatness and authority.

Psalm 115:13 says that Yahweh will bless those who fear Him, both the great and the lowly.

Fear of the Lord brings:

  • abundance/ prosperity – “How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table.” (Psalm 128:1-4)
  • protection – “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.” (Psalm 34:7)
  • longevity – “The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.” (Proverbs 10:27)
  • deliverance – “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalm 33:18-19)
  • riches and honour and life – “The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches, honour and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)

#feartheLord
#dirtybibles

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Jesus can

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This one’s from a little story in Mark 9 where a dad approached Jesus and asked Him to free his son from a demonic spirit. Read Mark 9:14-29.

Let this be your prayer for today.

Jesus simply can. Jesus can turn any situation around. He can heal your sickness. He can take away the pain. He can bring you peace. He can bring breakthroughs. He can perform astounding miracles. You just got to believe and not doubt His matchless power. Pray even that you learn to not doubt the Lord’s power and authority, just like what the dad did in this passage. Believe and give your battles to God, from the smallest ones to what seem to be insurmountable. He got you covered! You just have to place your faith in Him and not doubt His sovereignty!

#DoubtNot
#Heispowerful
#NothingisimpossiblewithGod
#dirtybibles

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Where He favours (Pt. 3)

(Part 3 of 3)

Read: Psalm 84:8-12

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The Lord shows favour to those who seek Him, honour Him, and trust Him.

1)  In verses 8 and 9, the Psalmist pleads to God for favour. Believe it or not, God invites us to seek His favour. Psalm 119: 58 says, “I seek Your favour with all my heart. Have mercy on me as You promised!” Yahweh wants us to seek Him in humility, and go after His righteousness so we may have His divine protection (Zephaniah 2:3). Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” We must humble our hearts before Him, and actually verbalise our need of Him like the psalmist in verses 8 and 9, “Hear our prayer”, “Look (on us) with favour”.

2)  The Lord favours those who gives honour to Him. The Psalmist says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (verse 10). I believe He’s talking about spending time with God in a place of worship in His presence (this may be referring to heaven, or simply a worship house or the temple). We honour God when we treat Him with high regard, and value Him by giving Him our time and availability. We honour God when we value the time we spend with Him in prayer (See Matthew 6:6; 1 Chronicles 16:11); and when we get to know Him in His Word (Psalm 1:2). The psalmist loves His presence so much that he has disregarded all his other fun and valuable memories, and counted them as nothing compared to the joy of being in Yahweh’s incomparable presence. He says he’d rather assume the lowest position in the Lord’s tabernacles as a doorkeeper, than be comfortable in the wicked’s hub. And by principle, the Scriptures is telling us that when we delight in Him, He delights in us (Psalm 37:4).

3)  God favours those who trust in Him. As reflected in verse 11, in our personal journey, He becomes the “sun” that gives us light and warmth in the darkness, the “shield” that protects us in danger. Psalm 5:12 supports this by saying that Yahweh “blesses the righteous” and “surround them with His favour as with a shield.” We can also be confident in His promise that “no good thing does He withhold” from those who strive to live with integrity (verse 11b), all who trust in Him are blessed (verse 12). When we live right, we can trust God to give us every thing that is good for us. Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.”

There is no absolute formula or ritual for God to bestow His favour and grace on us. He is not a machine that reads codes and responds to calculations.

God is not some genie that gets moved by spoken or choreographed rituals. He is the Lord that sees the heart and knows its secrets (Psalm 44:21). He searches our hearts, and tests our minds (Jeremiah 17:10). And only He can weigh our motives (Proverbs 16:2).

The bottomline is that He will favour those He knows who seek Him in humility, live in obedience and integrity, honour Him and trust Him with their lives.

#Hefavours
#dirtybibles

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See Part 1 here: Where He dwells
See Part 2 here: Where He strengthens

 

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Where He dwells (Pt. 1)

(Part 1 of 3)

Read: Psalm 84:1-4Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

For a true believer, God’s presence is everything. Spending time alone with the Lord enables us to feel His peace, joy, comfort and pure love. You feel complete in His presence; you feel security, satisfaction, and calmness you can’t get anywhere else. You don’t feel the passage of time when you’re with Him. His presence is like no other.

The Psalmist praises the goodness of where the Lord resides. This may refer to heaven, of course; but wherever the presence of God dwells, becomes like heaven. His manifested presence in our lives becomes our heaven on earth, and it’s only a tiny glimpse of the real thing!

The Psalmist hungers to enter His presence–he yearns for a communion with Him (v2), to stay in a place blanketed by His security and protection (v3).

And anyone who dwells in His presence worships Him and gives Him joyful praises inexorably because of His uncontainable beauty and grace (v4). It’s kinda like a sneak peek of our lifestyle in heaven, where we’d just speak and breathe worship all day long!

Have you ever been in His presence? Have you experienced the love and comfort God’s manifested presence brings?

Find some time alone with God daily. Just sit down and call upon His name, Jesus. Come before His presence with praise and thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2). You can even play some worship music, and sing praises to Him. Read the Word, and His in-dwelling Spirit will reveal His truth and glory to you. He promised that if we seek Him wholeheartedly, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

His presence makes us whole and vivifies our spirits. In His presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Welcome Him in your room, in your household, in your workplaces, wherever you are. Believe that His presence goes with you everywhere you go.

#Hispresenceiseverything
#dirtybibles

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Why Trust God?

Let this be an encouragement for you today. I believe that the Bible has already stressed this enough, and the message is really simple: TRUST IN THE LORD.

Why? Because:

  • He is able (Ephesians 3:20)
  • He is sovereign (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
  • He is wise (Job 9:4)
  • He is loving (Ephesians 2:4-5)
  • He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • He knows you better (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • He always has, always does and always will provide (Philippians 4:19)
  • He is consistent (2 Timothy 2:13)
  • He makes it possible (Matthew 19:26)
  • He is true to His promise (Psalm 18:30)

If God has already taken care of you all this time, what makes you think that He won’t and can’t for tomorrow and the coming days?

It may look complicated and confusing, but that’s exactly the reason why we must trust a God that’s sovereign and loving. I’d rather cling to that Someone who I know cares for me and knows me, than rely on my own strength where I am sure to fail. And what’s the promise? A straight and sure path.

Pray that you learn how trust God in the middle of difficulties and trials, and of good and hopeful times.

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When Jesus Called Matthew

First, let’s read this passage from Matthew 9:9-13:

As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow Me and be My disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

Later, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ (From Hosea 6:6) For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Jesus met Matthew, a known tax collector of the time. And I mean, we know the track record of these tax collectors, right? But Jesus, surprisingly wanted to involve this man of questionable reputation in His ministry anyway.

On that same night, Matthew organised a dinner for Jesus and His mates, along with his own friends who were also tax collectors; and guess what, a bunch of other notorious folks! Like, what kind of party would you imagine this to be?

And so the “holy and clean” Pharisees, upon seeing this horrendous view were like, “What the heck is this Jesus, the self-proclaimed Jesus, the “son of God Jesus”, the radical nomad Jesus, doing with this bunch of societal riff-raffs? Is it not enough that He’s been blaspheming in the streets, now He just had to party with this pack of criminals?”

And Jesus had one thing to say to them: “The sick people need a physician. They need Me.”

This story reveals what Christ came to this earth for: to show mercy to sinners; to show mercy to people who know their lives are a mess and are in need of fixing. He came to show mercy to the ones who can actually be brave enough to admit they are a wretch, they’re miserable, and they’re lost.

Interestingly, Matthew had the desire for his friends, the people he belonged to, to meet this new friend, who, regardless of His political/societal status, chose him and trusted him enough to make him a disciple of His. 

You could not meet Jesus and not be moved and compelled to get others to Him, especially the ones that matter to you, and the ones you know need His help. Matthew wanted to share the hope that he received firsthand from Jesus, and tell his friends about it.

You can’t receive mercy if you think you’re good enough. You can’t receive Christ if you’re too full of yourself, and think you’re OK on your own.

Christ came for the sinners. He came to bring them hope and a new life. If there were no sinners, the Son of God wouldn’t have come.

Everyone is a sinner. You, who’s reading this, is not an exception. You and I need Jesus as much as these notorious people do. And He calls us to repent from sin, and submit our lives to Him and follow Him.

Let’s take some time to examine our hearts, our perspectives, our motives. Let’s check how “sick” we actually are, and ask the Lord for His help, for His mercy, for His deliverance from our sins. Let’s ask Him how we can follow Him and live for Him.

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Dirty Bibles

I got something special to share. There has been something (or Someone rather) burning in my heart for the past few months, and it has finally bursted out of me. Not a great use of figurative language.

I’ve been praying about it after God has put in my heart the desire to study the Word more frequently and persistently, to seek His Holy Spirit, and to share my learnings with others, as I gradually learn how to abide effectively in His Word, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (I believe that it was Him who somehow inspired the name as well during one of our sessions together, because it literally just came into my mind while I’m conversing with Him!)

And so, recently I have activated a Facebook page called “Dirty Bibles”, a page where I share Biblical reflections, citations and insights from my personal study time with the Lord, which is persistent and ongoing. I call it the overflow of my “quiet time”, or “secret place” time with the Lord.

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The aim is to encourage the people within my spheres, and as many people as possible to to open up their Bibles and spend time to understand and meditate on the living and active Word of God–His precepts, promises, wisdom, teachings, stories. Bible says to keep His Word on our lips, and meditate on it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Just before I started, I had to check if someone already took that name anywhere online. And then I encountered a couple of other people coining the term, but none have actually taken it as an identifying label anywhere. And so I thought I’d take it upon myself to grab it and start off the project!

Then I heard a Christian minister saying that “the more you read the Bible, the dirtier it will get!”, which I just absolutely nodded exhilaratingly to. And then I thought, well the word “dirty” may have negative connotations. So in the About section of the page, I made sure I state that the adjective does not intend to mean filthy, immoral or dishonourable. But “dirty”, as in dirtied with fingerprints and tears; wrinkled, sometimes dishevelled, because of frequent use. The pages become dirtied with notes of revelation, of wisdom, of aha moments, of divine encounters. Every page marks and highlights the very Word of God for you and me. (Quoted from my About page)

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I believe that the Bible is our only authority, and the Gospel is our only hope. And I believe that a dirty Bible is a mere reflection of a tedious and persistent search for God’s truth and wisdom in the pages of the Scriptures. Notice that I use the word “persistent” repeatedly, only because that’s literally the attitude I’m going for–being persistent.

A dirty Bible produces a clean heart, and helps you live a clean life. An open Bible keeps us close to God.

The Lord said that if we seek Him wholeheartedly, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). I believe that. I stand firmly on that promise. And He never fails on this one, because now I’ve realised that the more I seek Jesus, the more I learn about Him and understand Him. The more I know Him, the more I hear His voice, and the more Jesus becomes personal and real to me.

“Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4)

And so, make sure you Like this page, and I invite you to read the Scriptures together, and feel the presence of Jesus where you are reading and seeking Him.

Get them Bibles dirty!

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Be still

Someone needs to be reminded of this right now. God wants to remind you that He is still God.

No matter how bad things look and feel like, He is still the Lord whose name is above every name, whose power is unparalleled.

And you can put your hope in Him.

You can rest in His presence; and in His presence there is peace, there is fullness of joy, which you’ve tried your best to find everywhere else, but failed.

He has the answers; in His Word lies the solution.

In Jesus you are complete and made whole.

You are loved.

You are justified.

You are restored.

You are renewed.

(Photo from YouVersion)