God is in control and therefore in EVERYTHING, I can give thanks, not because of the situation but because of the One who directs and rules over it. – Kay Arthur
“Following Christ requires us to reorient and recalibrate the way we live.”
Before receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we used to do things our own way and follow our own selfish desires. But now that we are following Him, our direction should be towards what pleases Him. Even the way we live should reflect His glory, not ours nor the world’s.
Watch the full video from last Sunday’s message at:
“Great faith does not exempt us from suffering.”
Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior does not promise a storm-free life. The Bible did say that in this life we’ll have trouble and pain. Some prayers may also not be answered the way we expect it to. But the Bible declares that the Lord has overcome the world. And He is with us always. And so we can take heart in the midst of trouble, pain, and the waiting.
Watch the full video here.
The Niagara Falls is one of the wonders of the world. The Niagara river plummets 180 feet at the American and Horseshoe Falls which pours 681,750 gallons per second. But before the falls, you can still take a boat ride in the Welland River. Near it, there is a sign that is posted saying, “Do you have an anchor? Do you know how to use it?”
When rough waters come and the hurricane of life hits, that’s the question we all face – do you have an anchor and do you know how to use it?
We are told that we walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) The anchor we have is Christ and we connect to our anchor by our faith in Him.
How do we grow in this faith that’s been given to us by the Author and Finisher of our faith?
1. LOOK BACK
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. (Hebrews 10:32)
The Hebrew believers were going through severe persecution at that time. Christians were being thrown into prison, fed to lions during Gladiator events and burned at the stake to light up the roads.
The author of Hebrews admonishes the believers to “recall the former days.” The New Living Translation puts it as “Don’t forget those early days when you first learned about Christ.”
Looking back means remembering His faithfulness.
If God has been faithful in the past, He certainly has the ability to be faithful in the future.
APPLICATION: List down 3 things every day and look back every so often and praise God for His faithfulness.
2. LOOK FORWARD.
For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. (Hebrews 10:34)
The Hebrew author was admonishing the believers to look forward to what God has in store for those who endure.
Eternity is a game changer. The way we look at the future will influence the way we live today.
Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, was an Austrian psychiatrist who spent time in the Nazi prison camps. As he spoke with the inmates, he observed that many have died not because of lack of food or medicine but due to a lack of hope. In his book, Frankl said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
APPLICATION: What is the hope that you hold on to? Knowing that this life isn’t all that there is will inspire us to persevere to keep our eyes on Christ.
3. LOOK WITHIN.
My righteous shall live by faith. (Hebrews 10:38)
We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:39)
To look within is to understand who God called us to be. We have been made righteous not by our own merit but by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Knowing who God called us to be and do will propel us to keep enduring even in the toughest of times.
First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Because we have been redeemed, our life is no longer our own. Thus, we now, in this life, glorify God in our body, no matter how difficult our circumstances become.
APPLICATION: Do you know who you are? Is your identity hinged on Christ? Where do you get value, significance and security?
Why do we need faith? Is it possible to live life without it?
There can be an immeasurable gap between our current realities and God’s promises. For us to receive all that He has for us, we need faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Do you have people in your life that are easy to love – that you enjoy being with and have no problems helping if they need assistance? We all do.
But do you also have people in your life that you are not so excited to be with and if we are going to be very honest, you had wished you would never bump into?
In John 13, we are told that Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet. Verse 1 tells us that Jesus had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now “he loved them to the very end.”
It was mind boggling how Jesus was consistent in his love for people particularly his disciples. He loved them whether they were doing well or whether they would mess up. Peter would waver in unbelief, James and John would be arrogant enough to want to sit at the right hand and left of Jesus in his kingdom, while others would bicker who’s the greatest in the kingdom.
Moreover, Jesus knew what the future held – that his disciples would desert him at the very last and darkest moments of his life on earth. All these he knew and yet he loved them to the very end. Jesus loved them consistently, unconditionally and completely.
Consistently – no matter what the day looked like for him and how his disciples acted that day.
Unconditionally – whether they were obedient or not, faithful or not, serving or selfish.
Completely – In all this, Jesus did not withhold his love for his disciples unlike me sometimes. There is a tendency to withhold love from those who don’t reciprocate or those who don’t love you the way you’ve expressed it.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the example of Jesus. He served, helped, healed, taught and gave. He loved consistently, unconditionally and completely. Give me grace to do the same as I encounter various kinds of people this week – those I enjoy being with and those I am not so excited to even bump into. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
There are lots of things we can be thankful for this 2018.
There’s always something to thank God for. Always.
But the moment I say that, I know that there will be those who will say, “What about this failure? How about the unanswered prayer? My mom has cancer! How can I be thankful when my parents are not together?”
Here is something I’ve realized:
“Gratefulness is a posture of the heart more than the result of our circumstances.”
Reason? If my gratefulness is based on circumstances, then it will change from day to day because not every situation is the same. I have good days and I have bad days.
In Luke 17, Jesus healed the 10 lepers. They were considered outcasts because they had leprosy. The moment they had it, they were instructed to go out the city gates so that they don’t contaminate the rest of the community. And every time they would be near people, they have to shout, “Unclean! unclean!” to warn people that they are there.
They cried out for mercy and asked Jesus to heal them. And Jesus did. They were told to go and show themselves to the priests for they would be the ones who could certify if they had been cleared.
As they were on their way to the priests, they were healed. It was an act of faith on their part. Obedience actually is exactly that – an act of faith. Obedience is difficult. It goes against the grain of our nature. If it was easy, then everyone would do it.
But when one of the ten realized he was healed, he went back to give thanks to Jesus.
As we end this 2018, allow me to suggest three points of application.
1. Cultivate a lifestyle of gratefulness.
There is always something to thank God for. Always.
We can always think of something to grumble about. But a grateful heart is the antidote to a grumbling heart.
Recently, I started going back to writing on a paper journal as compared to journaling on my Evernote. I would endeavor to write at least 3 things to thank God for each morning. It helps me to reflect the events the past 24 hours and helps me cultivate a grateful heart. I’ve observed that though I just target writing 3, I end up writing much more than that.
Try it out.
2. Articulate your gratefulness every opportunity you get.
Look for at least one person each day to say thank you to. You’ll see that it does your soul well when you articulate thanksgiving.
You can articulate it by telling them face to face or you can even do it by sending a message via SMS or an online platform.
3. Worship God no matter what.
There will always be things that you wish happened that didn’t. There are events that you wish that didn’t happen but they did. Paul encourages us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. We are not to give thanks FOR all circumstances but to give thanks IN all circumstances.
Happy New Year everyone!
What is most valuable comes to surface when going through an ordeal.
Last week, I had a bout with intestinal flu that I caught somewhere. In a season when it’s very busy and commitments were all in place, not being able to fulfill the things I said yes to was a tough one. I had to speak at events, officiate a Golden Wedding Anniversary renewal of vows, visit people, send gifts, lead meetings, and a few others.
But being stuck in bed made me realize what’s most important.
1. Relationship with God.
When you feel you are on your own and no one can really be there 24/7, you can have the assurance that Someone is present no matter what. He who comforts, helps, consoles and relieve.
2. Connection with family.
There are lots of people you can spend tons of hours with but there’s no greater investment than devoting it with the ones that are most valuable.
When you’re sick, you appreciate your health better. The things you used to be able to do are highlighted because you’re stuck in bed. It causes one to make the necessary changes once you’re up and about.
Having a crummy one doesn’t really help. A lot of life is atitude and perspective. Keep looking up because there is always something to thank God for.