On Trials And Suffering In Life

Deut 8: 2-7.

2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands…5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you…7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing..

This is the exact type of the last days. Before God will usher us into His divine Heavenly homeland, He will test us to know what is in our hearts. He will discipline us as a Good Father. It is a life time of “40 years” of training. We are continually being trained. Heb 12:5-7.

It is not pleasant training but painful throughout our lives. But it will yield us the fruit of righteousness in Christ. Heb 12: 11

I am afraid many will fail to see the necessity of trials and suffering and make themselves into illegitimate children. Heb 12: 8.

How sad for many who believe only in the good things in this life in the land and “settle” down like the Israelites and forget God gradually.  Deut 8:12-14

My brothers and sisters, how necessary is the attitude to live as exiles or pilgrims during these “40 years” of wilderness training !   Heb 11:13-16.

Parable Of The Talents

Matt 25: 14-30 NLT.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip… “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

It is clear that the Master is our Lord Jesus. He is entrusting us to represent His interests when He is away. And He has also given us responsibility commensurate with our abilities and expects us to be diligent in discharging our responsibilities. There is no place for laziness as our Lord rebuked the third servant being given one bag of silver and He called him wicked. If only this servant had earned just one bag of silver, he would have been given the same commendation.

This servant was only concerned about his own profit and not that of his Master. He saw little motivation to work as the profit would go to the Master but if he failed, he would earn the wrath of Him.

That is the stance of the hyper grace believer who is only concerned with his salvation and he masks his reluctance or refusal to do good works by craftily denouncing doing good works as legalism which transgress the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

(It is without the slightest doubt that salvation is only possible through faith in Christ Jesus alone but the genuine believer is God’s workmanship created for good works. Good works will come naturally out of love and gratitude for the Master. Eph 2:8-10.)

Such irresponsible attitude betrays their loyalty and love for their Master.  How dreadful is the punishment by the Master who said thus of those who do nothing but indulge in dissipation thinking it is unmerited favor to enjoy and not work :   “But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Divine Guidance

Acts 16:6-10

Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia,but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.

We see how Paul was guided by the Holy Spirit not to preach the Good News to Asia but to move on to Macedonia instead. It would be logical for Paul to travel and preach around Asia, but logic is not the basis for calling. Though the Holy Spirit forbade Paul and Silas to preach in the province of Asia, Paul still attempted to go to the province of Bithynia in Asia. Yet again, the Holy Spirit stopped them.  We are not told how the Holy Spirit prevented them.  The Holy Spirit did not leave Paul clueless as to the next destination since He had forbidden him to preach in Asia. He was given a vision to go to Macedonia.

In the above passage and other passages of Acts, we saw the active guidance of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Paul and other Christians in the following ways :

  1. Through the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 16:6. How the Spirit exactly prevented Paul from preaching the word, the Scripture did not reveal.)
  2. Through vision. (Acts 16:9).
  3. Through prophets. (Agabus predicted a famine. Acts 11:28)
  4. Through angels. (Philip was guided to the Ethopian eunuch. Acts 8:26-39)

Before I go on, I must stress that Scripture is the primary way of God’s guidance.  All other ways have to be tested against it.  But sadly,  many dismiss all other ways of guidance and miss the joy of the close walk with the Spirit of God as we surrender to His guidance.

The Holy Spirit may prompt us through an inner voice (John 16:13) or our conscience (Rom 9:1).   How do we discern that it is really His prompting and not our own thoughts or from other sources ?  We have to test it against the Word of God because the Holy Spirit will not prod us to do something against the Word of God, and our conscience is suspect at times.  On the other hand, do not over-ride the prompting of the Spirit by our own logic or our own preference at times.  (Do not get me wrong that we do not exercise prudence for prudence is also a cardinal virtue of a Christian. We are exhorted to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  I am only exhorting not to trust ONLY logic ALL the time and dismiss His prompting unknowingly.)  God must have the best interests of Paul in disallowing him to go to Asia but to send him to Macedonia.  Many Christians suffer for making the wrong decisions in life by quenching the Spirit through insensitivity and disobedience to His prompting.  I have seen missionaries, who claimed that God had sent them to a certain place but it was really their own preference, came back with fruit-less ministry for several years while being there.

Many believers do not believe in visions and so why will God give them one ?  As long as the visions are not extra biblical revelation and do not contradict the whole counsel of the Word of God, why should we dismiss them as not one of the ways in which God may prod us to do something ?

Do not despise prophecy but to test each and every one.   If the Antioch church did not believe Agabus on his prophecy of a coming global famine and take definitive preparatory action,  the Judea church might suffer terribly without the relief aid from them through the hands of Paul and Barnabas.

Heb 13:2 exhorts us to show hospitality to all strangers in case angels are sent to minister or to guide us.

Parable Of The Two Debtors

Luke 7: 36-47

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been FORGIVEN – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

The sinful woman was so overwhelmed by the enormity of her debts that she wept, unlike Simon. That broken penitent spirit led her to love Jesus much. Her great love for Jesus effected a lavished action upon Him. That is the “forgiven much, love much” heart of the sinful woman.

Without this heartfelt contrition of the tremendous enormity of our debts and feeling godly sorrow for our miserable and helpless state, and the tremendous gratitude for the forgiveness in spite of our sin, we have not fully appreciated the grace of God.

Today, the hyper grace false teachers are teaching exactly the opposite to have the “forgiven little, love little” heart of Simon. They taught that repentance is merely a change of mind and downplay the enormity of sin and rubbish any godly sorrow for the enormity of sin.   The hyper grace believers can never have genuine love for our Lord if they really have this “forgiven little love little” heart because our Lord had said that whoever love Him will obey His teachings and whoever does not obey His teachings does not love Him.  John 14:23-24.   The genuine believers will obey out of gratitude and love.  Their genuine love will effect outpouring of good works like what the sinful woman had done.

Our Lord said that it was possible to honor Him with our lips but our hearts could be far away. Matt 15:8. The hyper grace teachers and their believers may praise Jesus all the time,  but they deliberately ignore His exemplary prayer exhorting us to seek God’s forgiveness of our debts as we forgive others because they do not believe in feeling godly sorrow for sins,  subsequent confession of sins and seeking the Lord’s forgiveness. Matt 6:12.

The sinful woman was JUSTIFIED for her repentant response to the grace of Christ.

 

A Letter To A Brother Suffering From Cancer

Dear Brother,

Grace and peace to you from Jesus our Lord.

It is our greatest blessing that we have received Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. It is only a matter of time before we leave our fallen physical bodies and receive indestructible bodies when Jesus comes again. During this time in our physical bodies which will be subjected to pain and wasting away due to its fallen nature, God wants to prepare us to be more like Christ loving Him and loving fellow brothers and sisters, especially the least of them. That is the Revealed Will of God.

Allow me to journey with you in trusting God for His mercy and goodness. We are all expected to have a life expectancy of around 80 years, so it is imperative that our immune system will naturally weaken with age anyway.  In God’s Word, we find detailed instruction on the food we can or cannot take so as not to compromise the immune system.  Now even if we do everything right concerning diet, eating well and taking extreme good care of our bodies,  it is still a very short sojourn on earth as compared to eternity.

The Bible says in Prov 17:22 that a joyful heart is good medicine. So let’s start by casting all our cares and worries onto our Lord Jesus. 1 Pet 5:7.

Secondly, let’s pray and petition God for your pathway of healing.

Thirdly, be sensitive to the Spirit of God allowing Him to help you select the right option of healing.

Meanwhile, let’s look at some simple ways of strengthening your immune system.
It is to my knowledge that traditional Chinese medicine is effective because they do contain some chemicals that improve the immune system and it is helpful to use at times. But at this stage of your medical condition, it is a war against the cancer and not prevention. During prevention stage when our immune system is strong, small dosage of chemicals helps to strengthen it. But during the war stage, when the immune system is compromised, very much higher dosage of the chemicals and vitamins are necessary to fight the cancer. Here is a list of vitamins and chemicals that the medical doctor will recommend.

1. Vitamin E <= 1000 mg twice daily.
2. Multiple vitamins including zinc and B Complex 100.
3. Vitamin C 1000 mg twice daily.
4. Chromium picolinate 200 mg daily.
5. Yogurt 1 or 2 cups daily.
6. Coenzyme Q-10 (Co Q-10) 30 to 90 mg daily.
7. Garlic. One clove equivalent. Take tablets daily.
8. Selenium. It is toxic so use not more than 100 mg daily.
9. Echinacea. Can stimulate immune system but tolerance can develop. Use 2 to 3 teaspoons tincture daily. Use for 4 to 8 weeks and stop for 2 weeks.
10. Glutathione. 100 mg daily.

Fourthly, stand firm and believe God will give you the best option. Spend your time in thinking of helping others around you. Help your family to cope with their anxieties over you. It is better to bring joy to others than to worry.

Lastly, think of what you will do if God extends your life another 5 to 10 years, and do it right away.

We are all appointed to die once no matter what and to die is gain because we will be ushered into the presence of our Lord. Sometimes He takes us away because He may not want us to see the coming judgment.

Isaiah 57: 1-2. NLT.
Good people pass away;
the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
2 For those who follow godly paths
will rest in peace when they die.

In His love,
Your Brother in Christ

Postscript :
There is an URGENT need for all of us to grasp the biblical revelation of the living God who works primarily in nature not in supernature, in history not in miracle. …Once we begin to see the living God ceaselessly at work through the processes of history and nature, we shall begin (for example) to recognize that ALL healing is divine healing, whether without the use of means or through the use of physical, psychological or surgical means. The former should properly be termed ‘miraculous healing’ while the latter is non-miraculous, but both are equally ‘divine healing’. – Dr John Stott, Baptism and Fullness.

Facebook Group – End Time Bereans

Sometime early last year, I got the prompting from God that I must not keep the message of the coming economic flood within the circles that He had opened doors for me. I tried to see if there were churches or individuals in Malaysia that would be interested to know this message and perhaps to help me write the book as a ghost writer. I read about Dr Lim Poh Ann, a general practitioner, writing regularly on Christian issues, especially the expose on error of false teaching. Knowing God had wanted me to write the message in a book, I approached Dr Lim. Eventually God’s Spirit guided me to write the book in a few days in May last year.

I continued to follow the Facebook discussion on Dr Lim’s groups and I saw the challenge from Pastor Samuel Wong of SOS Assembly church to do something concerning the error of false teaching. Without hesitation, I suggested that we meet up with likeminded brothers and sisters in Kuala Lumpur for a brainstorming session which came to be known as “Teh Tarik” session or tea or coffee fellowship.

It was divine appointment that God also sent a brother Cameron Russell from Australia to join us just for this meeting and a few more invaluable brothers from Kuala Lumpur who are involved in ministry in one way or another.

The result was the birth of the Facebook group End Time Bereans.

I see it as an important ministry of clearly showing the error of very subtle false teaching which our Lord warned us foremost to guard against the spiritual apostasy in the last days.  Luke 21: 8-9.  The spiritual deception will be so subtle and persuasive as to appeal to the itching ears. 2 Tim 4:3-4.11107368_1453585851599249_1641348523057816528_n

Street Preaching

Some years ago, I went to attend the worship service of another church just to have fellowship with a friend I did not keep in touch for many years since we graduated from Singapore Polytechnic.

After the service, an Indian man came over with smile all over his face and he hugged me. I was surprised as I did not have any Indian friend then.

He told me that I gave him a gospel tract many years ago when we were teenagers.  He could even remember my name after all these years.

Wow ! Hallelujah ! Praise the Lord.

Even giving out tracts is good without pausing to share the gospel.

Last week, I witnessed again the impromptu street preaching done by my fellow ministry co-workers either giving out tracts or pausing to share the gospel. It gave us great joy to minister and pray for those who were oppressed and to lead a few unsaved to believe in Jesus our Lord as their personal Savior and Lord.

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Testimony (7)

My dad had a heart attack in mid of 2001. After being warded in the hospital, tests revealed 80% of his arteries and veins were blocked. The consultant surgeon briefed me on 2 options. One was to do nothing at all and the other was to opt for triple bypass heart surgery. The risks were high as my dad was diabetic and advanced in age at 70.

When my wife and I prayed for him, we knew in our spirit that God would heal him this time to hear the gospel and make the decision to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.

My wife shared with him the Good News and assured him that God would heal him. But she added that whatever was the outcome of the surgery, which he had decided to go for it, it was a wise decision to make peace with the one true God who is the Creator of this Universe. He readily agreed to receive Jesus into his life. And I sought the help of a pastor then to baptize him immediately.

The triple bypass surgery was not exactly smooth sailing. The surgeon told me later that he could not find a good vein at all. As he had to take a vein at the back of his rib cage, another surgical procedure had to be done. And he could only do the bypass for 2 of the arteries.

The surgeon was very experienced as he had done over 300 bypass surgeries.  He told me that my dad’s case was among the most challenging.

Over the next few days recuperating, the skin graft to close up the gaping hole in my dad’s chest was not healing properly and another skin graft had to be done. Yet again, it failed because of his diabetic condition. The surgeon told us to expect the worst as infection would set in. Meanwhile, there was the constant fear of other organ failure due to his diabetic condition.

The surgeon suddenly suggested trying a revolutionary idea of running antibiotic solution over the wound all the time to see if it would heal by itself. There was hardly any more skin on his arms or legs for further skin graft.

We prayed and we knew God would heal him.

Then the amazing divine act of God’s providence happened. Skin started growing little by little, millimeter by millimeter, from 3 corners as the gaping hole was triangle-like in shape. It took another two or three months in the high dependency ward before the hole was closed up. Hallelujah ! Praise the Lord for answering our prayer then ! My dad had another 2 and a half years of quality life till the next heart attack on Christmas Day of 2004. The church pastor and several brothers and sisters, of the church I was attending then, were able to pray with him one after another before he went to the Lord that very day. He was conscious all the time till his heart just stopped. The next day, the massive earthquake and tsunami happened near Aceh, Indonesia.

My 89 year old father-in-law who witnessed this divine act of God’s providence was also ripe in his heart to accept Jesus into his life. Praise the Lord. The Lord is good.

Debate On Christian Matters

On this fallen earth till Christ comes again to renew it, the enemy will seek every opportunity to distort Truth as the primary thrust of spiritual war. We need discernment from the Spirit of God always.

When two parties argue on certain issues holding opposite views, it is not uncommon to see the debate ending in offence to either party. A meaningful debate with the sole objective to learn from one another should see both parties presenting their case with their best evidence or persuasion. But if any one party starts name calling or uses expletives, I can only imply that such a party is not capable of handling truth. We need to have the basic understanding of a few important points to have a meaningful debate.

1. Whether the motion is about matter of truth or about matter of conscience.

Let us take an example in the debate on whether Jesus is the only way to God. As much as we would like to be seen tolerant on alternative view, we will end up arguing with passion and offending many holding the view that several roads lead to Rome. That is debate on truth. But to debate on whether one should eat food offered to idols; one should dress decently; mum should work or stay at home; one should drink or abstain from wine; we are then debating on matter of conscience. For matter of conscience, we only have to be wary of stumbling a weaker brother even if we have strong evidence. To persist in stumbling a weaker brother riding on uncharitable liberty is sin.

2. Whether the debate is on a particular message or a particular person.

When one party hold a critical view of a particular issue, the other party should afford the benefit of doubt at times that the opponent may also be a pious brother or sister in Christ who sincerely believe in his or her own critical view. To judge the character of the opponent through insinuation and not the message itself will cloud the argument put forward by him or her. For example, I tend to argue harshly against certain deviant truths but I should not be accused of bearing a grudge against the brother or sister adhering to such deviant belief. By heaping such accusation in a polite discussion, the best argument I put forward for discussion will be clouded or lost.

3. Whether the debate is backed by strong statistical evidence or by limited testimony.

I have once entered a debate with my engineering classmates on the harmful effects of Aspartame. My view is that it should not be harmful because the food and drug authorities of more than a hundred countries (with thousand of scientists testing and evaluating) have approved the use while the opponent merely produced a testimony by a Dr X or Dr Y as evidence. Though numbers may not be conclusive at times, common sense is still necessary for meaningful debate.

4. Whether the view put forward by the debater is against the intent or against the act per se.

When our Lord said, ” Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former.”, we can see that our Lord is not against tithing per se but about priority in practising the more important duty without neglecting the first.

For example, if I make the critical comment that the rich church should help the poor church and not spend disproportionately on lavish building and salary, I am not against spending per se but against neglecting the more important duty. I am not against the church spending on lavish building and salaries, but against the disproportionate spending towards other poorer churches.  In other words, the duty has to come before self in my opinion.

The Church And The End Times

It is so exciting to know that David Pawson, a very prominent British Bible teacher, taught the same message as mine about the coming global economic collapse as prophesized in Revelation 18. (From 46 minutes 17 seconds of the video onwards).

He added that God exhorted us to come out of Babylon.  God did not say He would take us out of her.  God’s people will rejoice at the collapse of this system. Rev 18: 20 (Set me thinking what if Christians are not too keen to even hear such a message ?)   He further added  that God revealed the future to us is to allow us to prepare for it now and the right preparation is to prepare as taught by our Lord Jesus in Luke 16.