The Armor Of God

The Christian life is no longer a bondage to sin, but it is still a constant struggle against sin.  Even after believing in Christ, the Christian will still face 3 enemies till our Lord returns – the world, the flesh and the enemy.  Sadly today with rampant false teaching, we tend to underestimate these enemies of our souls.  It will make no sense for Scripture to warn us incessantly of these dangers and the necessity to ward off such dangers if we cannot fall away.

The Christian is exhorted not to love the world, the outer foe, for loving the world is putting one at enmity with God.  James 4:4.   The principles of the world are power, greed, selfishness, ambition and pleasure and they appeal to 3 vulnerable spots of the old man in us  – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.   1 John 2:15-17.

The lust of the flesh is sensualism.  It is the obsessive craving and gratification of our senses such as gluttony or sex.

The lust of the eyes is materialism.  It is the covetous desire to own what we see, though not necessarily needful.

The pride of life is egotism.  It is desire to be better than others and the vain elevation and display of one’s reputation over another.

The Christian also has to contend against his own flesh, the inner foe, as well.  It is our fallen human nature with the propensity to sin.  We are born with this sinful nature.  The deeds of the flesh are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.  Gal 5:19-21.

Lastly we have to contend against the devil, the cunning enemy, who will tempt us in all possible ways to succumb to our outer and inner foes through moral failure.  And his stratagems also include causing us discouragement, frustration, confusion and doctrinal error.

Scripture exhorts us to put on the WHOLE armor of God so that we can withstand the schemes of the devil.   We need to be disciplined to put on ALL elements of the armor and not be complacent by doing without one or more elements of it.

Eph 6:11-18

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints

The armor of God consists of :

  1. The belt of truth.
  2. The breastplate of righteousness.
  3. The shoes of the gospel of peace.
  4. The shield of faith.
  5. The helmet of salvation.
  6. The sword of the Spirit.

By using the imagery of armor, Scripture wants us to know we are constantly in a war, albeit a spiritual war, and we are actually soldiers fighting every day of our lives for our souls.  We need the whole armor and not just one or two of the elements as we are contending against demonic forces who wield tremendous power.

The first element is the belt of truth.  The belt also carries the sword which is the Word of God.  We must equip ourselves with the truth in the Word of God for the enemy is the father of all lies and we should expect deceptive lies at every turn.  The sword is an offensive weapon unlike all the other defensive elements of the armor.  Each time, we face doubt or deception concerning truth, we must quote Scripture to repulse them.

The breastplate protects our bodies.  We must put on the righteousness of Christ imputed when we believe to ward off the accusations of the enemy that we are not worthy.  We must rest in the finished work of Christ without feeling depressed by the lie of the enemy that we must work for our salvation.  And we have to clothe ourselves with practical righteousness in our lives  through the training by the Spirit of our Lord as well, so that the devil really has nothing to shoot at.

The combat shoes have spikes to help the soldier stand firm in the fighting.  We must be assured by the gospel of peace of our position in Christ that is not based on our worthiness but on the faithfulness of God.  God also expect us to move in the combat shoes and go on the offensive taking the gospel into enemy territory to as many people as possible.

The shield protects the soldier from flaming arrows of doubt from the enemy. The enemy will sow doubt of the faithfulness of God and His promises when the going gets tough.  Let the Lord strengthen and perfect our faith as we follow His example of patient endurance.  Heb 12:1-2.

The helmet protects the head, the seat of our mind.  By holding onto the plain gospel truth for salvation, our minds are protected from false gospels and false Christology.  And knowing our ultimate victory of salvation is sure (Rom 8:28-35),  our minds are prevented from being crushed by trials knowing no suffering can compare to the coming glory.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Early Christian medical tradition owed much to Hippocratic medicine, even though it was based on Greek philosophy. Early Christians saw the physical aspect of Hippocratic medicine as relevant and useful.

The early Christians such as Basil the Great established one of the earliest hospitals.  Together with Augustine, they both acknowledged that medicine benefits the body while instruction benefits the soul, and the underlying source of the physician’s healing power comes from Jesus Christ.  Both presented medicine as symbolic of Christian benevolence.

For years, I have been skeptical of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) due to its underlying spiritual Tao belief.  Yet there are enough testimonies that TCM is effective in treatment.  A notable example is the treatment of eczema.  There is presently no cure at the moment but only relief management of this ailment at the hospital.  But there are so many documented testimonies of people being cured of it going through TCM treatment.  The TCM practice in using herbs and physical therapy like acupuncture might have certain scientific basis that might had been lost in centuries past.  Perhaps during the reign of Shi Huang Ti, the first emperor of China,  such medical knowledge were lost when he ordered the burning of all books.

Properly understood, the secular aspect of TCM is not incompatible with our Christian faith just like Hippocratic medicine.  Since I believe all healing is divine healing so TCM can be part of God’s healing too.   (In my gospel tract written for the Chinese, I mentioned that Dao De Jing,  the Taoist Scripture, contained much amazing knowledge of our Christian faith. http://www.jcmanifesto.org/gospel-tract-for-the-chinese-final-print-in-english-version/)

Presently there is much official opposition to missionary effort in China but at the same time, enterprises are encouraged to help the poor masses to cope with rising cost of living.  I believe TCM can be such a bridge to bringing much needed help and subsequently the gospel to the poor masses in China.

 

Testimony (20)

I usually do not pray to God and ask for help concerning trivial things or inconveniences I face, though I am well aware that God encourages us to bring all our anxieties to Him.

That is because I often share that we should not come to a relationship with our Lord for all the wrong reasons.  And our spirituality should not be reduced to just finding a parking lot.

3 weeks ago,  I misplaced my sunglasses in a hawker centre after coffee fellowship with a brother.  I went back the next day to find out whether the stall-holders and the cleaners would have noticed it and kept it for safekeeping.  The cleaning supervisor said she saw it but did not keep it.

Feeling vexed in my spirit, I prayed quietly for God’s help in recovering this pair of sunglasses.  For it took me much pain to find this suitable pair of sunglasses that finally fit my slightly large head and this particular design is no longer in production.

I made an online police report for the misappropriation of property.  And surprisingly, the case was assigned an investigating officer (IO) the following week and he took the trouble to bring the report to my office for my signature.

Hallelujah !  Bless the Lord !  It took the IO just one week to find my sunglasses. Too grateful to him to return it to my office, I went down to his office instead.  It was excellent police work. The police had gone out of the way above reasonable community service just to help me to find a pair of sunglasses.

All thanks and glory to our Lord Jesus !

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

The idiom refers to an attitude that is very careful and mean with small amount of money but very extravagant or wasteful with large sums.

You will think that one, who is careful and mean with small amount of money, is acting so because of his or her obsession in hoarding his or her money.  So it will not make sense for him or her to waste on large sums.

Yet it is a common fact because many are predictably irrational as I have shown in previous articles.

Here are some examples :

  1. Driving to a fairly remote petrol station to top up the gas because it is the cheapest.  Perhaps saving one or two dollars on the petrol but consuming 2 liters of petrol driving to and fro the station which cost 4 to 5 dollars.
  2. Always worry about spending money on petrol and yet own and hardly drive an expensive high capacity car which will depreciate to little in 10 years and will guzzle a lot of more petrol than a lower capacity car for the same mileage.
  3. Buying a lot of stuff in bulk with near expiry date. Trying to save 20% of the purchases but end up throwing away the excess when expired.
  4. Holidays are usually not planned earlier so as to enjoy very good discounted airfare prices. The savings are so substantial that it can mean enjoying a bit more on better class hotels and eating in better restaurants.

Sometimes it hurt relationship as such a “penny wise pound foolish” person may sting on paying for drinks with friends or relatives in a local coffee shop, but has no qualm in paying high  monthly mortgage interest running in the thousands of dollars.

Believers are not to live such a miserable existence as miserly persons.  Otherwise the miserliness reveals the condition and preoccupation of their heart in worshipping money rather than God.

I have seen many believers shooing away the poor elderly or invalids selling tissue paper in the train stations or local coffee shops but have no problem in paying for exorbitant car parking charges for the sake of a little convenience.  They may be unwittingly shooing away a brother or sister in Christ.  One day, when the Lord separate the sheep and the goats during the judgment of the sheep and goats, will we be flashed such scene of shooing away the least of the brothers ?  Matt 25:31-46.

Is it not wise to save on the pounds so that we can give the pennies to the poor, instead of being foolish to save the pennies and waste the pounds away ?

I have this joy of saving the pounds and giving to the least of the brothers and the poor and needy as well.  Is not the kingdom of God about peace and joy in the Holy Spirit ?   Rom 14:17.

The Meaning Of Christmas

I thanked God for giving me an acronym this Christmas Eve to help us always to remember the meaning of Christmas as not to be lost in the midst of all kinds of secular celebration.

Gal 4:4-5

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Taking Care Of The Whole Being Of Spirit, Soul And Body

I learned from the internet blogs that the most popular course in the Harvard University is the Positive Psychology class taught by Dr Tal Ben-Shahar.  It attracts 1400 students per semester and 20% of Harvard graduates take this elective course. According to Ben Shahar, the class – which focuses on happiness, self-esteem and motivation – gives students the tools to succeed and face life with more joy.  According to most of the blogs, this 45-year-old teacher, considered by some to be “the happiness guru”, highlights in his class 14 or 15 key tips for improving the quality of our personal status and contributing to a positive life.  (Some blogs include tip no 15 of developing a sense of humour.  Some may dispute whether his tips mentioned God.  I believe it is possible as religious people are more likely to give thanks for everything they have and are generally more joyful in life.)

I have noticed that all these 14 or 15 key tips are advice to take good care of one’s whole being of spirit, soul and body.  As Ben Shahar is a Jew,  it is not surprising that his tips correlate with the general biblical principles and wisdom of living in the Kingdom of God which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Rom 14:17.   My comments on these tips made reference to the relevant Scriptural verses.

Tips For The Spirit

  1. Thank God for everything you have.  Write down 10 things you have in your life that give you happiness. Focus on the good things!
  2. Fervently believe in God. With him nothing is impossible!

Comments :

The Scripture exhorted us not to be anxious about anything but to bring everything to God in prayer with thanksgiving.   We are to focus and think on things that are true, honourable,  just, pure, lovely, commendable,  excellent and praiseworthy.  Phil 4:6-9.

Surely nothing is impossible with God as He is the Creator of the whole universe.  Luke 1:37.   And He will reward those who fervently believe in Him and seek Him diligently.  Heb 11:6.

Tips For The Body

  1. Practice physical activity.  Experts say exercising helps improve mood.  30 minutes of exercise is the best antidote against sadness and stress.
  2. Breakfast.  Some people miss breakfast for lack of time or not to get fat. Studies show that breakfast gives you energy, helps you think and perform your activities successfully.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes.  If your feet hurt you, you become moody, says Dr. Keinth Wapner, President of the American Orthopedics Association.
  4. Take care of your posture. Walk straight with your shoulders slightly backwards and the front view helps to maintain a good mood.
  5. What you eat has an impact on your mood.  Do not skip meals, eat lightly every 3 to 4 hours and keep glucose levels stable.- Avoid excess white flour and sugar.- Eat everything healthy. Vary your food.
  6. Take care of yourself and feel attractive.  70% of people say they feel happier when they think they look good.

Comments :

The body of a believer is the temple of the Spirit of God and obviously extreme good care of it has to be taken. 1 Cor 6:19-20. 1 Tim 4:8.    So whether we eat or drink, we do it all for the glory of God.   1 Cor 10:31.  When we are in good health so is our soul.  3 John 1:2.

Tips For The Soul

  1. Assertive.  Ask what you want and say what you think. Being assertive helps improve your self-esteem. Being left and remaining silent creates sadness and hopelessness.
  2. Spend your money on experiences.  A study found that 75% of people felt happier when they invested their money in travel, courses and classes; while only the rest said they felt happier when buying things.
  3. Face your challenges. Studies show that the more you postpone something, the more anxiety and tension you generate. Write short weekly lists of tasks and complete them.
  4. Put everywhere nice memories, phrases and photos of your loved ones.  Fill your fridge, your computer, your desk, your room, YOUR LIFE of beautiful memories.
  5. Always greet and be nice to other people.  More than 100 inquiries state that just smiling changes the mood.
  6. Listen to music (Praise God).  It is proven that listening to music awakens you to sing, this will make your life happy.
  7. Develop a good sense of humour.  Learn to laugh off matters, specially when things don’t go right for you.

Comments :

The Scripture exhorted us to count it all joy as we meet all kinds of trials in life because trials train us to be steadfast and yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  Besides, if we lack wisdom to face certain challenges, we can ask God and He will grant us generously.   James 1:2-4.  Heb 12:7-11.

Listening to music soothes our souls.  Whenever King Saul was tormented in his spirit, he would send for David to play him the lyre.  1 Sam 16:14-23.  Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is evidence of a Spirit filled life.  Eph 5:19.

Whenever we are nice to people speaking kind and gentle words,  not only we deflect animosity but we also gain friendship.  Prov 15:1.  Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  Prov 16:24.

Always keeping a merry heart is not only good medicine for the body but also it bring out a cheerful face.  Prov 17:22.  Prov 15:13.  It can be achieved by developing a sense of humour and laughing off stressful matters.

It is the gift of God that we may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all our toil.  And spending on travel is one great satisfaction.  Eccl 3:13.

Testimony (19)

My son and I traveled to Indianapolis via New York on 13 November 2018.  It was snowing that day when we arrived and we missed the connecting flight.  We arrived into Indianapolis late by a couple of hours.

When we returned from Indianapolis to New York Manhattan on 15 November, we were caught in a sudden snowstorm across the whole of the Northeast of America.   We were stranded in transit at Detroit Airport.  Most of the connecting flights were cancelled.  The snowstorm was unexpected in November and was the worst in 136 years with some 6.5 inches of snow fall.

I knew the incredibly slim odds of ever making back to New York from Detroit.  Let me try to explain the odds.

What is the probability of winning the first prize of the four digit lottery ?   It is one chance in 10,000.   For each digit, the chance of a particular number is 10.  So for 4 digits,  it will be 10 times 10 times 10 times 10 and that equal to 10,000.

I have to face 4 to 5 situation and clear all hurdles altogether in order to make it back to New York.  And you can imagine the incredibly slim odds.

  1. I managed to get into the plane ready to take off but twice I was de-planed as Newark airport refused to allow incoming flights.  Finally my flight was cancelled and also many other connecting flights.  What was the chance of me getting onto the last flight in the evening ?   What was the chance of even re-booking on flights the day after and subsequent days ?  The capacity of most domestic planes is only 80 persons at most and I have noticed the load for each flight was around 90%.
  2. It was the worst snowstorm in 136 years. The taxi ways were so jammed because not only planes departing were required to de-ice and so there were many other vehicles on the taxi ways, but also they were full of snow and impassable unless they were removed.  What was the chance that New York airport would re-open for the very last flight ?
  3. After prayer, I decided to go on standby for the last flight in the evening. We were 5 and 6 in the queue.  And the boarding was not closed till 5 minutes before departure time.  What was the chance of us getting on board ?   Even when we got on board,  would the flight be cancelled while waiting for clearance from Newark Airport ?
  4. The ground mass transportation systems were shut down. Only taxis were operating and most roads were impassable because of the snowfall.  It was unexpected total chaos.  What was the chance that I could get ground transportation to take me to my hotel ?
  5. Since we boarded the plane in the last minute, what was the chance that our luggage would follow ?   My son suffered from severe eczema and it would be a disaster for him without his medicine and creams.

It became clear to me that the odds of clearing all the above hurdles was way much much slimmer than winning the first prize of the 4D lottery.

I pleaded for God’s deliverance.  I have never been more helpless in such situation before.

How grateful I was for God’s deliverance !   We managed to get to our warm hotel just 2 hours after midnight.

Immediately upon our return on 20 November 2018,  the temperatures in Northeast America hit Siberian temperatures.  We would be ill prepared for such temperatures as we never expect such cold temperatures in November.

Our God is sovereign and He cares !    All thanks and glory to Him forever !

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-22/coldest-thanksgiving-100-years-northeast-braces-siberia-temperatures

 

Crypto-Currency And The One World Currency

(Summarizing an article by Tyler Durden on zerohedge.com and highlighting his suggestion on the possible future of crypto-currency to be used for the one world currency.   https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-22/did-imf-reveal-cryptocurrency-new-world-order-end-game)

There are a few things to know about crypto-currency:

  1. It is backed by nothing.  Anyone can create it out of thin air identical to the well-known Bitcoin.   If anyone can create, then there is no intrinsic value to the technology.  So literally thousands of such currencies can be created.
  2. In the event of a grid down or an internet lock-down (as it has occurred in the past in nations under crisis), the currency can be rendered useless because the blockchain ledger is no longer accessible.
  3. The amount of time and energy required to accumulate these digital currencies seem counterproductive in light of the fact that they might not be there when we actually need them. Trading with private wallets also make no sense because running into someone in the community with the same is very slim.
  4. The only attributes that made Bitcoin valuable are its branding and the amount of hype that is generated around it. Earlier, one more valuable characteristic is the supposed anonymity but now we know that any crypto-currency based on a block-chain ledger is highly traceable.
  5. What is happening to the boom and bust of crypto-currencies now can be likened to the Dutch Tulip mania.

As precious metals alternative system can be a threat to the current economic environment of fiat currencies,  Bitcoin and its likes can distract such attempt.

“In 1988, The Economist, a globalist publication, “predicted” that a global currency system would be launched in the year 2018.  It is now clear that crypto and the block-chain are that system.  This system would eventually use the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket as a kind of bridge to a one world currency, which they referred to as the “Phoenix”. Though some people claim that the SDR itself is not a currency, globalists apparently disagree.

Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO of PIMCO, praised the idea of using the SDR as a world currency mechanism and as a means to counter “populism,” reiterating the plan outlined in The Economist in 1988.

In The Economist article, it is also hinted that the role of the U.S. as an economic center for the world and the role of the dollar as world reserve currency will have to be diminished in order to clear a path for the new world order system. We see this already taking place now, as we verge on an economic crisis which could easily collapse equity markets, bond markets, as well as the reserve status of the dollar itself.

Lagarde’s latest piece is written like a sales pitch, selling the idea of central bank crypto not to central bankers, but to the financial media. The media will undoubtedly run with the talking points Lagarde suggests and regurgitate them in a blaze of articles as to why global crypto controlled by the IMF is the solution to all our fiscal problems.

The very core of the movement toward global crypto, I believe, is the destruction of anonymity in trade through a “cashless society”. When all trade is watched, all trade can be controlled. Beyond this, by monitoring trade transactions on a macro-scale, globalists can also, in a way, monitor mass psychology and predict public behaviour to a point.

Lagarde notes specifically in her article that anonymity from government oversight is unacceptable. She argues that any central bank cryptocurrency will have to ensure that private exchange is limited, and that centralized surveillance of transactions is warranted and necessary. What she of course fails to mention is that blockchain technology is already set up for government surveillance. It always has been. Not only this, but the very fabric of the blockchain requires that transactions are added to the ledger in order for the system to function. There is a built-in excuse for surveillance.

The only question is how exactly the IMF plans to attach the SDR basket to a crypto framework. This is not specifically described in Lagarde’s paper. I expect that this will not be a process of slow adaptations. Instead, it will be introduced swiftly in the midst of public panic.

The “everything bubble” created by central banks over the past decade is ready to pop. The Federal Reserve in particular has been enthusiastic about cutting off all stimulus measures, dumping assets from their balance sheet and raising interest rates into economic weakness during the worst corporate and consumer debt environment since 2008.

I suggest that the IMF already has a cryptocurrency mechanism ready to replace the dollar as world reserve, and that it will be infused into the SDR basket at the height of the coming crash. The fact that the IMF has been introducing central bank crypto talking points over the past year indicates to me that the crash is imminent.” – Tyler Durden.

Pastoral Conference In General Santos, Mindanao, Philippines

All praise and thanks to God for the invitation by Mrs Dolores C Rivera,  Chairperson of the Philippines Council of Intercessors International Movement (PCIIM) and Pastor Danilo, Chairman of the Council of Churches Movement to share a message of preparation in the end times with both groups.

Glad to witness first hand how the rich in General Santos is serving fervently to fulfill the Great Commission with the wealth that God has blessed them.  The serving ministers in PCIIM are given monthly allowance for life among other good deeds to help the poor and needy as well.  PCIIM is praying to grow her membership from the current 25000 to 1 million to pray for Philippines and the rest of the world.  You can imagine the size of the allowance budget.

Despite having only 9% of the 600,000 population being Muslim in General Santos, I observed there is hardly any smoking or liquor sold.  Though the city is under martial law, it feels safe.   The people are very friendly.

I believe as long as the rich in the city are taking good care of the poor and needy, the city will be blessed.  All praise and glory to our Lord Jesus !

(Update :  A 7.0 magnitude earthquake happened at 11.39am on 29 Dec 2018 just 121 km away from General Santos City.  Thank God for His mercy as there is no reported casualty.  I prayed that our Lord’s warning about the beginning of birth pains, the subsequent hard times, the necessary preparation and expectation of His return will be taken seriously.)

The Characteristics Of Self Deception

In Matt 7:21-27, our Lord mentioned 2 group of people who are deceived – those who made mere verbal profession (Matt 7:21-23) and those who have mere intellectual knowledge (Matt 7:24-27).  John Stott said that mere verbal profession and intellectual knowledge are “a camouflage for disobedience”.

We should note that our Lord was not speaking to anti-God people, or heretics, or atheists but to religious people who were obsessed with religious activity.  They were damned because they were self-deluded and on the wrong path.

They are excluded from heaven by self deception.  They have no intention to obey God’s commands.

John MacArthur gave these indicators for one to examine himself as well as spot one self-deceived person:

“How can a person know if he is deceiving himself?  How can we spot a self-deceived person?  Let me give you a list of things to look for.  However, just because a person fits the description of one item on the list doesn’t necessarily mean he is deceived.  However, the things mentioned here are good indicators to go by.

Is the person seeking feelings, blessings, experiences, healings and miracles?  This person is probably more interested in the byproducts of the faith than the faith itself.  He seeks what he can get, not what he can glorify God for.  He is more interested in pampering himself than in exalting Christ.

Is the person more committed to a denomination, church, or organization than he is to the Word of God?  That person’s Christianity may be purely social.  He’s the kind who says, “I’ve been a Lutheran all my life”, or “I’m a Presbyterian,” or “I belong to that church.”  He’s more committed to the organization than the Word of God.

Is the person involved in theology merely out of academic interest?  You’ll find this kind of person in colleges and seminaries.  He studies theology, and writes books about it.  Theology for him is an intellectual activity.  His life is void of the righteousness of Christ.

Does the person seem stuck over one particular point of theology?  This is the person who bangs the proverbial drum for his favorite topic.  Sometimes the area he emphasizes isn’t that profound.  He thinks he is close to God and has great divine insight that no one else has.  All of his activity is devoted to seeking attention to feed his ego.  Watch out for a person that has a lack of balance in his theology.

Is the person over-indulgent in the name of grace?  A person who lacks penitence and a contrite heart is self-deceived.”