It’s been a whirlwind for the past 2 weeks and I’m glad that I have some time this morning to write this very important post that I’ve been mulling over for a very long time.
Hearing from God is a very important thing to me so I’m just gonna take a couple of minutes to distill a lil’ bit of what I know about this in this first of a series of posts that I have planned on the subject.
First and foremost, I think we need to know what the Bible says about some things and in my searching & doubts about my ability to hear from God I came across this particular passage from John’s gospel.
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
The Good Shepherd
The passage above gave me a lot of assurance especially in my questioning on how I know I can hear from God. As I searched my heart I felt led to these 2 things that make up a promise that comes from Jesus’ words.
- The challenge to us: Believe in Jesus & accept Him as Lord of our lives
- The promise to us: By accepting Him as the shepherd of our souls we become His sheep and we can listen to & recognise His voice. He knows us and we follow Him. Of course there are other wonderful gifts too but that one small detail which I have often overlooked just shone through as I read the above one day. Having a promise like that is a big deal once you realise just how much we are designed to be dependent upon God.
I’m still figuring things out but having this assurance means the world to me because there are many times when I wonder if I am able to hear from God or if I’m able to recognise His voice but this passage gives me a comfort that God does indeed gift us with a special privilege to recognise His voice when we have accepted Him into our lives.
Now that we have this foundation in place; tune in later this week in Part 2.
Showered by His Love
I was just talking to God in the wee hours of yesterday morning and God placed a song in my heart. This one is for all of you who struggle with acceptance.
Know that He loves you for you. No more. No less. Have a read & sing it if you know the tune.
Jesus take me as I am
I can come no other way
Take me deeper into You
Make my flesh life melt away
Make me like a precious stone
Crystal clear and finely honed
Light of Jesus shining through
Giving glory back to You
Have a good Thursday everyone!
This year’s IDMC was especially meaningful to me and it was as if God had a personal word for me in almost every single session with Ps. Edmund. My first night was a deeply emotional one as I felt God remind me through Ps. Edmund that He is a GOD much bigger than anything and He has been waiting for me to get to this year’s conference to hear all these things about Him & His Word.
There’s just so much to share but if I’ll try to distill all that I’ve learnt into 4 main things in this post:
- ONE: Our God is a BIG God
We hear this time and time again but do we really believe it? I used to believe that faith was dependent on how I felt when I prayed or how “powerful” I felt when I was praying for something. The paradigm shift here for me came from Matthew 17 in which Jesus tells His disciples that even faith as small as a mustard-seed can move mountains. It seems paradoxical but then Ps. Edmund shared the simple revelation that faith no matter how big or small is always rested on God. Our God is unchanging and all of us need to allow ourselves to be conformed to the truth rather than conforming the truth to our liking. The Bible consistently tells us of God & His character time & time again in every chapter & in every book but sadly we find it very hard to believe in Him because we let our problems turn God into a small God. Our faith is not in faith itself but it’s GOD.
- TWO: The Word is EXCITING
I remember during the closing sessions of IDMC 2009, Ps. Edmund shared with us on the imagination & colour of the Word and this year it was really cool to delve deeper into that. I’ve grown to love reading the Word in the last few years. After this year’s conference I’m learning how to just let the Word breathe and to use imagination in reading the Word. Here are two things that can help us paint a more brilliant & magnificent picture when reading God’s Word:
- Use informed imagination by paying attention to the verbs & contrasts in any given text
- Read the tension in situations by seeing the context & setting in which a story is set in
- THREE: Truth in itself does not bring change, it is truth APPLIED that brings change
I wrote this in my earlier post and it’s powerful to hear the same thing echoed at this year’s conference. I’ve been a Christian for such a long time and I am discovering more & more that I need to apply all that I know into daily living in order to be transformed. Ultimately I know that to be a Christian is to be Christ-like. The great news is that Christ-likeness occurs over time and it’s a process. In hindsight I am glad for all the challenges that have shaped me and I’m thankful for the responses that God has helped me make. There was a time when I was angry at Him but He loved me back to Him and for that I will forever be grateful to Him.
- FOUR: A RENEWAL of Mind is What We Need
We all need a renewal of our minds. The ways of world is the exact opposite of God’s and in challenging situations the Devil’s persuasive whisper to us is “Give up… Why bother? What difference can we make when we make a stand on things or when we choose not to participate in something that every one else is doing?” Our minds need to be renewed and the only way that can happen is if we delve deeper into God’s Word. There can be no replacement to spending time reading the Bible and studying it in order to get the most out of it. If we believe the Bible is truth then why not let the truth transform us? That’s a challenge that I know I wanna take up because without a renewal of my mind I don’t think I’ll be able to run this race of life well.
I know I don’t fully reflect Christ just yet but I am encouraged to know that God sees the best in me and the Bible tells me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The most awesome thing for me is that the very same lessons echo in some of the material I’ve been listening to via Ravi Zacharias’ podcasts so it’s as if God has been preparing me to cement these truths in my heart. Isn’t that amazing?
Seats for next year’s conference have already been snapped up so I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it to next year’s IDMC. But one thing I do know is that I can trust God to make a way for me if I’m meant to be at IDMC 2011.
Till next time.
It’s been a rough two weeks and the question of where God is in the midst of all this has cropped up a lot more these few weeks. Hearing my mom ask the question of why did God allow this to happen has fired up the same question in me. It’s tough to see mom in a lot of pain and it’s tougher still to have some of these questions running through my head & heart whilst having to assure mom of God’s Presence.
Despite the questioning I have a number of things that I can give thanks to Him for even though things have been rough:
- I’m thankful that mom wasn’t hurt that bad. From what my dad has told me about her fall I’m thankful that she didn’t suffer anything far worse. It’s already bad enough to have to suffer through a closed-fracture but in the bigger picture I believe God watched over mom and protected her.
- I’m thankful that the doctors were able to prescribe a painkiller that was safe for mom to use.
- I’m thankful for all the people in my church and my subzone who rallied around me & my family. A few of us from my subzone met up on Thursday night to pray for my mom and other family members of the leadership who were going through struggles in the area of health.
- I’m thankful that the orthopedic doctors were able to look at mom’s arm to confirm that it was set properly.
- I’m thankful for answered prayer cos’ my mom’s creatinine levels are back to normal and also my subzone member Tau Fei’s mom’s blood pressure went down to normal too as a result of Thursday’s prayer meet. Tau Fei’s mom is scheduled for a knee operation on the 3rd of September so do pray for her.
I suppose the way I’ve been dealing with these questions is to replace the questioning with thanksgiving. The question of why in suffering doesn’t have a simple answer. Some say it’s just the fallen nature of the world we live in and I’ve learnt more & more that there is truth in that. I still pray a whole lot to God and I talk to Him daily about stuff and somehow having Him listen helps me get through the tougher moments in life. Many times we try to shape God in our image and expect many things of Him that isn’t really Him. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ravi Zacharias lately and it hit me very hard that instead of making the truth relevant to us; we are actually supposed to learn how to make ourselves relevant to the truth instead. That was quite a revelation and I realise that we all have misconceptions of God because we’ve not been taught well or more likely we form an image of God based on our own ideas & experiences in life.
I’m thankful that the question why bothers me far less now. Why? Because the why of my life has already been answered. Why am I here? To live a life in worship & communion with the Father and through that relationship I am to share His love with others. It doesn’t mean I don’t question the whys of suffering… but it does mean that I am learning how to get through dark & painful times knowing that there is always hope in God. It is that hope that helps us to continue to be encouragers and to be positive even though our world may be falling apart. A life of dependence on God is not weakness. It is strength.
I end today’s post with a quote from an interview with Ravi Zacharias on his book “Has Christianity Failed You?” which I am planning to get.
In surrendering you win. In dying you live.
And that’s exactly what it’s all about. We fight so much and so hard sometimes that we forget Jesus’ call to us is to just surrender and to take up His yoke which is a whole lot lighter than the yoke of the world.
I’d like to share a favourite quote from Ravi Zacharias; whom I’ve been listening to & benefiting a lot from recently (I may be paraphrasing here cos’ I plucked it from a talk he gave in KL a couple of years ago):
He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done;
“Have you a new sheet for me dear teacher I’ve spoilt this one.”
I took his sheet all soiled & blotted and gave him a new one all unspotted;
And into his tired heart I cried, “Do better now my child, do better.”
But I went to the throne with a trembling heart, the day was done;
“Have you a new day for me dear master for I’ve spoiled this one.”
He took my day all soiled & blotted and gave me a new one all unspotted;
And into my tired heart He cried, “Do better now my child, do better.”
Before the world began
You were on His mind
And every tear you cry
Is precious in His eyes
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come
Come to the Father
Though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives
He will take them all
The power of the Word
The power of His blood
Everything was done so you would come
Nothing you can do
Could make Him love you more
And nothing that you’ve done
Could make Him close the door
Because of His great love
He gave His only Son
Everything was done
So you would come