Gratitude Journal – November

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“What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest;…1 Kings 8:38 – 39, KJV


Saturday, November 29

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS – I AM GOD AND YOU ARE NOT – Part 2 (C)

John 8: 11 “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Lessons from Dr Ken Boa’s teaching of ‘Dealing with Temptations’ Part 2 (C)

http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-2

The Anatomy of the Solicitation to Evil: Lead Us Not Into Temptation but Deliver Us from Evil

Part 2 (A): The Thought Life (Tuesday, November 25)

Part 2 (B): The Principle of Replacement rather than Extinction (Wednesday, November 26)

Part 2 (C): Flesh Signatures: We live in a struggle. No two people have the same deceitfulness of sin. Certain besetting sins plague us throughout life and we need to be brutally honest with ourselves what they are. One person may be tempted in certain patterns while another along other lines. One may have a seductive pull towards one aspect of temptation while another to something else. The Scriptures warn us to be on guard and take care less we fall into the trap of the evil one that comes to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). The danger is always when we can sin in impunity without remorse as a result of the plague in our own heart, then our souls are in danger of extinction and eternal damnation. Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The deepest you as a child of God is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’. (Colossians 1: 27) If one is struggling to walk right before God, it is a good sign explains Ken Boa. God’s desire is for our best good. We need to internalize fully that we are forgiven. God loves us even when we fail but the LORD God is still the judge of the consequences of the choices we make in our lives. This is the dilemma we face as Christians. In our innermost being we want to follow Christ yet in outer flesh we yearn to follow the things of this world. So we live in a hostile environment for spiritual growth but if ‘Christ is in you’, then the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit is what Jesus declared to the woman in John 8: 11 “Go now and leave your life of sin.” The outpouring of the Spirit of God at Pentecost had not yet taken place at that point in time but the very presence of the Son of God Himself who did not condemn the woman but showed her the grace of God in the face of Christ was enough for her to leave the temple courts a freed prisoner of sin and delivered from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.

The Power of Habits: Bad habits do not need any power to form. They just happen. Do nothing and they will come upon you and no energy is required to acquire them. But good habits require intentionality, effort and perseverance. Good habits give rise to good works that are the product of the saving faith in Christ Jesus.

Grace to You and to Me: “Go Now and Leave Your Life of Sin.” John 8: 11 The world is not a friend of grace. We are saved by grace through faith in God and in His Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Growth towards holiness is in God’s sovereign hands as we respond to His overtures. The grace of God is also the key to sanctification. We are sanctified by grace and not by works and God’s desire is we are a people for His good pleasure to bear fruit, fruit that will last. Good deeds do not earn us any standing and merit before God but is the by-product of our right relationship with God that God Himself gives us through faith in His Son, Christ Jesus. This God-given grace allows us to be brutally honest with ourselves in regards to the allures of this world that we have within us – 1 John 2: 16.

# Key Fact 1: God will never violate the picket fence of our own unwillingness to change in our desires for the patterns of this world.

# Key Fact 2: There is a need to be willing to surrender on our part to the process of repentance and contrition that requires a mindset of a true, authentic understanding of ourselves in order for change to take place. This process of transformation will be painful and at times terrifying but we have the blessed assurance that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us on this journey to make it right with God.

# Key Fact 3: Authentic discipleship to Jesus involves this journey of reconciliation with God on a long road of obedience in one direction that ultimately leads us to glory with God.

Reflect: 1 John 2: 16 For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.

Colossians 1: 27  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Dealing with Temptations – Part 3: http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-3

Corrie Ten Boom
Corrie Ten Boom

Thursday, November 27

Where Are Your Accusers?

John 8: 10-12 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Awaken The Dawn

Throwing Stones: This account in my Journal today is personal. I am recording it so that I will remember and try to understand the heart of the woman who stood before the Savior of the world surrounded by her accusers, and that to in the temple courts of the LORD God of Israel. Last night a family member entered my home uninvited by me and unannounced.  I had been asleep for five hours (4.30 pm to 9.30 pm) only to be awoken by an uninvited ‘guest’. This person had come with questions for me to answer face to face. I was not only shocked but deeply disturbed that this unannounced agenda was now thrown at my face. I have been trying to spend the last four months (since starting ‘Awaken the Dawn’ in July) turning back and walking on a road that I pray will lead me eventually to the Lord. It has been a personal struggle because of the plague in my own heart and only the Lord knows how evil every inclination of the heart is bent to sin before a holy God (Genesis 6:5). This person demanded why I was ignoring her, why I had cut her out from every form of connection or communication – emails, phone calls, and took pride that had she not stepped into my life and corrected the wrong decisions or lifestyle I was leading the previous three-four months, before July, that I would be ‘dead’.

Stirring up old wounds, accusing me of running away from the truth, judging me that the reason I have stopped all forms of communication is because I am guilty. Her reason for this unannounced visit is this, “I want to know why? Why are you treating me like this. I have a right to know! This is my right.” What if the tide of turmoil was different? What if she said, “I came to wish you Happy Birthday for Nov 12th? What if she asked “How is your health”, knowing my heart condition as a bypass patient? What if she had asked, “How are you?” What if?…..

Rights? I write this because there is nowhere to go. There is no place to run anymore away from God. I have laid my life open so others can learn the road to glory is long and winding. As long as we live in this world we will always be faced by accusers demanding their rights be met first but they will never stop to think of the struggle the other person (the one accused of wrongdoing) might or is going through. There is no one who can understand the heart of what it is like to be a broken person living in a broken world except the One who came to save and heal it.  One of the first people I would love to meet, if I do get into heaven by the saving grace of God, would be this woman in John 8: 1-11. I would give her a warm embrace and say these words to her, “We made it. I understand what it must have meant for you to stand ‘alone’ in front of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, in the company of the teachers of the law and Pharisees. I understand. Thank God we have the Holy One of Israel who gave His life for both of us.” Two words that can heal any situation: I understand.

Neither Do I Condemn You: The scene in John 8 begins with everyone going back to their own home after the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Home? Where did Jesus go? The Scriptures inform us that the Lord went to the Mount of Olives and at the break of dawn the Lord appeared again in the temple courts teaching. Did the Lord know that in a short while he would be confronted with these accusers and the accused? Did the Lord demand from her His absolute right to know why she had sinned against him and against her fellow brethren? No, because I am sure He knew her heart was broken and in the process of healing through the convicting ministry of being in the Lord’s presence alone. (The Holy Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:39) Instead, the Lord addressed the crowd gathered with this statement: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Do Not Destroy: Al Tashith: The main reason why I have kept away from everyone except my own family (wife and children) and the Lord is because my heart is still not fixed and I still cannot sing and shout and declare from the depth of my inner being and soul like king David of Israel did in Psalm 57: 7:  My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make music. Till then, my daily prayer is what David wrote in the prelude to Psalm 57: Do Not Destroy – Al tashith. Yes Lord, please do not destroy me. Grant me the grace to stand before You alone, even in the company of my accusers, and plead for more grace to sin no more. One of the most beautiful words anyone can say to a broken person in a broken world is just two words: I understand. I know the Lord does. Amen!

Reflect: Psalm 57: 3-4 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

(At times like this, it is good to go back to those years in medical school when friends were many but trusted friends were few and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ was so meaningful and still is.)


Wednesday, November 26

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS – I AM GOD AND YOU ARE NOT – Part 2 (B)

James 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Lessons from Dr Ken Boa’s teaching of ‘Dealing with Temptations’ – I AM GOD AND YOU ARE NOT – Part 2 (B)

http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-2

The Anatomy of the Solicitation to Evil: Lead Us Not Into Temptation but Deliver Us from Evil

B. The Principle of Replacement rather than Extinction (James 1: 21: Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.) A person is seduced by his or her own lustful thoughts and weaves his own net of destruction because when sin is fully conceived brings forth death, an alienation and separation of self from God. The Apostle James then encourages us to put away those damaging thoughts and options of temptation to sin and replace them for something better. In humility, receive the Word that is planted in order to save your souls. The ‘Principle of Replacement’ produces vitality and life. God’s desire is for us to have life, prosper, flourish and finish well according to His will and purpose for our lives. One small compromise leads to another one and makes it possible to reduce ourselves to a level that only surprises us. This then will pull us into these illusionary patterns of deception that brings about only death and destruction. 

We are living in a culture that is moving away rapidly from the authority of the truth in God’s word. We are then called to be ‘counter-cultural’ agents in this world moving forward, flourishing and finishing well. Sin is deceitful and after it has taken root as a plague in our own heart can in turn harden our hearts to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and turn away from the living God. We then arrive at a position where we are not listening to the convicting ministry of the Spirit that gives life and become more stubborn and move away from  fidelity and obedience to God.

temptation

I AM GOD AND YOU ARE NOT: How does one get rid of moral filth? Submission to God. How does one stay away from the things that allure us to do evil and displease the Lord? Submission to God. Satan does not tempt us to do wrong things; he tempts us in order to make us lose what God has put into us by regeneration through the power of the Spirit that enables us to be born again into the kingdom of light.

Oswald Chambers writes: After Jesus in His baptism had accepted the vocation of bearing away the sin of the world, He was immediately put by God’s Spirit into the tempting machine of the devil in the wilderness, but He did not tire. Jesus went through the temptation “without sin”, and He retained the possessions of His personality intact. Can we do the same? Until we are born again, the only kind of temptation we understand is that mentioned by the Apostle James – “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Again the Apostle gives us the way out of temptation and get rid of all moral filth: James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

# Key Fact 1: Sin is deceitful and after it has taken root as a plague in our own heart can in turn harden our hearts to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and turn away from the living God.

# Key Fact 2: God’s desire is for us to have life, prosper, flourish and finish well according to His will and purpose for our lives.

♦ Reflect:

Hebrews 3: 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

John 6: 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.


Tuesday, November 25

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS – I AM GOD AND YOU ARE NOT – Part 2 (A)

James 1:13-15 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Lessons from Dr Ken Boa’s teaching of ‘Dealing with Temptations’ – I AM GOD AND YOU ARE NOT – Part 2 (A)

http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-2

stock-photo-you-are-now-entering-fools-paradise-59124265

A Fool’s Paradise: We have this delusion that we are the masters of our fate, the captains of our own souls and that we control our destiny. The allures of our life go ahead of the development of our character and we can be swept downstream by the currents of our culture and the plague within our own hearts. King Solomon of Israel was an exemplar of the seductions of modernity – money, sex and power and later writing in the Book of Ecclesiastes proclaims: Meaningless! Meaningless! All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Deuteronomy 17 was the prescription given by the Torah that the king was to be a man of the Word and accountability. He would have a biblical perspective of humility and that God had chosen the king for His purposes and planted him there to be a witness of integrity and character. However Solomon chose to live in a fool’s paradise and later reaped what he sowed in his own life. In 1 Kings 11: 9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because hus heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel who appeared to him twice. A constant reminder to my own heart and soul.

It was king Solomon of Jerusalem who knelt before God and declared in prayer: “What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest.” 1 Kings 8:38 – 39, KJV

The Anatomy of the Solicitation to Evil: Lead Us Not Into Temptation but Deliver Us from Evil

A: The Thought Life (James 1: 13)God does not solicit us to evil: A solicitation to evil is an inside-out process that begins with the thought life. James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. God does not solicit us to evil. In the Lord’s Prayer (Disciple’s Prayer): Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (the evil one). However, the Apostle goes on to say in verse 14: but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. That is the anatomy of the plague in one’s own heart. Consider the dialogue between the LORD God and Cain (Genesis 4:6-7). God tested the heart of Cain but Cain followed after the lawlessness of the plague in his own heart and committed murder against his own brother.

The ‘Deception of Temptation’ only presents its pleasures but never its consequences. A wise person will be prudent and consider and think through the consequences in advance before acting on the thought of the option to sin if is not pleasing to God. Especially in an area where we are most vulnerable to fall into and how I fail in this aspect of my life if not for the saving grace and power in the knowledge of Christ Jesus as my personal Savior and advocate in heaven.

When we begin to entertain an idea as a possible practice and this becomes more and more an option for us, then lust is conceived and gives birth and gets concretized into action that leads to sin and death. The wages of sin is death – a total separation from the holiness of God.

Awaken The Dawn

Do you truly love Me? Like Ken Boa, the allures of modernity are very much more alive in my own life today than they were years ago. It begins with our thought-life. Options to go back to the old ways and sinful cravings of the flesh are at every nook and corner of my daily walk and the struggle is real. I am reminded of the same stupid rationality of how I can reason and rationalize in my own mind that the option offered is alright, we are only human. If we entertain options that tempt us to follow the allures of this world, they will become real. Grace teaches us to follow after the man Jesus of Nazareth. ♦ Remember: This world is no friend of grace.

The process of authentic discipleship to Jesus of Nazareth is to meet every option that constantly wars against our soul with this question Jesus proposed to Simon Peter on the shores of Galilee (John 21:16): Do you truly love Me? Let me paraphrase this question: Do you truly, really love me more than this option to temptation to sin against Me? We need to recognize the brevity of this sojourn in this world and act justly, love mercy and walk humbly (Micah 6:8) before our sovereign God, Jesus of Nazareth. Amen!

Reflect: Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Dealing with Temptation: Part 2 (B) The Anatomy of the Solicitation to Evil : B: The Principle of Replacement)


Monday, November 24

PAGE ONE – Welcome to My World

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1: 1 

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I was walking along a tunnel bypass towards Time Square in Hong Kong and I saw this poster advert along the side walk with this quotation: every book begins with PAGE ONE – “Books allowed my imagination to take flight and it hasn’t landed yet.” – Lynn Payne. I also happened to see the movie ‘Interstellar’ and honestly I feel I have just returned from another planet. My imagination, using all the latest technology for beauty and body reshaping, has allowed me to take flight to another planet and I haven’t landed yet! There is now every available device to place on your head for hair growth, a LED red light face mask for facial rejuvenation, against your breasts for firming, suction on your tummy using cold freezing technology for fat breakdown, hair removal on your legs, foot reflexology for your tired legs, nails that can be designed to your perfection and that too with a smile, red laser light molds to whiten your teeth, magnetic devices to ease snoring and eyelashes to make you blink till the aliens recognize you are from planet earth! And this is just PAGE ONE.

It was amazing to see people from all over the world, thousands of them, converging in one city for three days to find out what is the latest for anti-aging. In fact one sign board read ‘Time Can Wait’. Is this arrogance a reflection of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech? The one language was ‘Beauty’ and the one speech was ‘Anti-Aging’. Again, the Scriptures warn us through the Prayer of Moses in Psalm 90: 12 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Me wearing a LED Face Mask
Me wearing a LED Face Mask

So here I was, in another world. There were a few medical devices that were brilliant and meant to enhance health and well being. One of them is ‘BeWell’, a medical hand-held device that delivers Low Level Laser therapy (LLLT) and excellent to restore blood health. For the first time I could see my own cholesterol crystals moving in a sea of blood like a meteorite waiting to ‘crash’ into the sidewall of a blood vessel and cause permanent damage. Did this frighten me? No! I had a large plate of Dim Sum after seeing this picture! So much for warnings! Then there was this helmet called ‘iGrow’ that you wear with LED and LLLT light meant to restore healthy growth of hair. There was no way I could salvage any of my own hair but the technology was brilliant for home use…and it comes with headphones! What else? Oh Yes…there is this machine that breaks down your tummy fat using cold therapy. The two suction pads suck up the skin and fat and using cold therapy, cryolipolysis takes place. Does it work? I will let you know soon because I just bought it.

Checking my blood before using the BeWell medical hand-held device
Checking my blood before using the BeWell medical hand-held device
'Real-time' cholesterol crystals with fat and red cells 'moving' in a thin film of blood
My ‘real-time’ cholesterol crystals with fat and red cells ‘moving’ in a thin film of blood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the beginningPage One: Welcome to My World: No matter what latest medical break through device I hold in my left hand to restore my blood health, no matter what latest face mask I wear against my face to enhance the anti-aging process, no matter what suction pads I place on my tummy to reduce my body fat, there is nothing, no cure for the plague in my own heart. The Cross of Christ welcomes us into the dwelling place of the Creator God who through the word of Scripture informs us that the first line on Page One in the bible is and will always be: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is timeless truth. Amen!


Wednesday, November 12 @ 7.00am Hong Kong

MY PURPOSE WILL STAND

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:9-10, NIV

Cross-stitch by Sharon Paulraj

My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please: Amazing God and thank you Lord because You first loved me and gave your one and only Son Jesus of Nazareth to die on the cross for me that today I can continue to awaken the dawn and sing praises to the one, true living God: For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 57: 10

Remember the things of long ago: As I first give thanks to God and remember His faithfulness in my life, the ups and downs, the valleys and mountain top experiences, I can only say “Thank you Lord!” Yes, “old man” that I am, as I turn 62 years old today, I am still learning and it always starts with love. My first call this morning at 6.30 am was from my mother, Joyce Gladys Arulmalar Lee! 94 years old and still, always the first one for the past many years of my life the first, always to call and say, “Happy birthday, son!” The next was a call from my family. Two words that I will always remember and treasure are “Son” and “Daddy”. Then text messages from two friends – one old, who came to Hong Kong with his wife for the Beauty Expo and someone I knew since the beginning of APCOD days in 2001 that reminded me of the faithfulness of God; and the other a new friend in the Lord who came to know Jesus through my testimony of the saving grace of the Lord in my life.

I can only thank God for the many loved ones and friends who have loved me and stood by me and watched me grow in the faith to lead and fall and get up again, and lead and fall and get up again…and prayerfully pray I keep standing and perhaps start to run so I finish this race gracefully and faithfully to the glory of God, always watchful of the plague in my own heart.

I also want to thank God for the ‘new’ friends that have dropped by on ‘Awaken the Dawn’. From Bulimba, Sungei Petani, Shah Alam, Kajang, Seremban, Palo Alto, Livinia, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh city, and many more…I see you and feel your love to walk with me and share this life with me. I pray my journey of faith rekindles a love for the Lord that is deep and meaningful. Someday, we will meet on the shores of Galilee and share the warmth of the charcoal fire that the Lord Jesus himself made for His disciples and what a great breakfast we will have together.

Till then, let’s keep on walking, singing, praying and most of all loving each other in the Lord. Thank you Lord! I will always love you! Amen!


Tuesday, November 11

My Gratitude Journal, A Slice From the Heart, will be online on different days from Monday, 10 November to Sunday, 16 November as I will be travelling overseas.

RELATIONSHIPS – PASTED PIECES NEVER MAKE A WHOLE

This morning I travel overseas to Hong Kong for Cosmoprof ’14. This is the first time I celebrate my birthday tomorrow Wednesday, November 12 alone in another city of refuge but these are difficult times for me. My Gratitude Journal on Sunday November 9 – LEFT OVERS explains how receptive my heart is now to learn from every situation in life, from moment to moment. Its only when you are empty inside that the Lord can fill your heart with His love and understanding through His word.

woman-caught-in-adultery1-e1389320071671 (1)

And Lead Me Not Into Temptation: Who me? Never!: I was reading this blog Alise…Write and felt I should share this blog and the real human condition of the heart: Temptation to Sin: ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;’ Romans 3: 23. In my GJ on Wednesday, November 5th, I asked this question: Why David, why? In 2 Samuel 11: verse 1: When every king was supposed to be on the battle field, this sweet singer of Israel chose to stay back in Jerusalem. Today we can all read 2 Samuel 11: verse 2 to see what happened but in real-time did king David of Israel know what was crouching like an animal at the door (Genesis 4:7) waiting to ensnare his heart? His eyes ‘saw’ and that invitation from temptation to sin changed the course of his life forever. Psalm 51 is a living testimony of the plea for forgiveness from a broken and contrite heart, one God will not despise.

Awaken the Dawn is a personal Journey of Reconciliation with God that resulted from ‘crossing over’ into Canaan territory. The loneliness I feel now only God can understand but it is blogs like this Alise…Write that helps me realize how solid and true Scripture is: 1 Corinthians 10: 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  I know the pain, I know the hurt, I know the cost, I know the brokenness and most of all, I also know there is a living God.

Broken Souvenirs: One of my favorite songs I sing at my Saturday night gigs is ‘My Broken Souvenirs’ and I tend to pause whenever I sing this line: Pasted pieces never make a whole. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ip7Ih63Qwk) Life goes on and only the love of the Lord Jesus can make any broken situation whole. The more aware we are of the plague in our own hearts, the fewer broken souvenirs we will have this side of eternity. I have found a place where all the broken pieces in life can be made whole again: It is at the foot of the cross of Christ. Amen!

Today’s shared blog:  Alise…Write: http://alise-write.com/the-scarlet-alise/

The writer has a new blog now titled: Knitting Soul – http://knittingsoul.com/

Sweet Peril (by George MacDonald)

Alas, how easily things go wrong!
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long,
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.

Alas, how hardly things go right!
‘Tis hard to watch in a summer night,
For the sigh will come, and the kiss will stay,
And the summer night is a wintry day.

And yet how easily things go right,
If the sigh and a kiss of a summer’s night
Come deep from the soul in the stronger ray
That is born in the light of the winter’s day.

And things can never go badly wrong
If the heart is true and the love be strong,
For the mist, if it comes, and the weeping rain
Will be changed by the love into sunshine again.


Monday, November 10

My Gratitude Journal, A Slice From the Heart, will be online on different days from today Monday, 10 November to Sunday, 16 November as I will be travelling overseas.

Please pray for me as I will turn 62 years old on Wednesday, 12 November. I pray that my struggles and challenges I face on this journey of sanctification will encourage you to join me on this pilgrimage as we allow the Scriptures to set our hearts on fire for God.

17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but He has not given me over to death. Psalm 118: 17-18

In His love,

Charles

∼ Footnote: Whenever I travel overseas I have found this rendition of Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat major played by Vladimir Horowitz so amazingly beautiful and refreshing. A reading of Psalm 46 of the Sons of Korah with this music makes powerful meditation of God’s word to “Be still, and know that I am God:” I pray it will be a blessing to you too.


Sunday, November 9

LEFT OVERS

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” John 6: 12

Amin and Abing (L-R)
Amin and Abing (L-R)

New Friends: Last night was my third night singing at Kudos, a top end fine dining restaurant in Kota Kinabalu (KK). This time we had a new member to the group, a young man named Amin. It has been an interesting and an enlightening experience to partner with these two gentlemen, Abing and Amin. I have learnt a great deal from these two friends that has humbled me even more to understand the entertainment world and its struggles. I have always been told that I need new friends and well, its happening.

Amin, twenty-eight, is a father of three. He has been playing in various gigs for the past ten years and shared how different the entertainment world was for him. Being grounded as a young father has helped him stay focused on his family and children and not be allured by the seduction of the passions and temptations of this world. I saw this for myself because during the practice sessions, in between songs, he will be on WhatsApp with his kids.

A Capo
A Capo

Abing is a father of seven children and freelances to make ends meet to provide for his family. A very loving father, he always talks about his children and the kueh (cakes) his wife makes. I learnt a great deal about playing the guitar from him and also how to use whats called a capo. Since my knowledge of guitar chords is limited, the use of the capo allows me to play the familiar chords of C, G, D, F for practically every song! Brilliant, while he flowers with all those running chords. A humble man and well- respected in the music industry in KK.

Left-overs: I write this in my Journal this morning because what happened during the break time taught me about the heart of a man. The management had prepared three plates of pizzas for us. We laughed and joked. The guitar speaker we used was an old one I had at home. It needed some ‘cleaning up’ as it was very dusty and I said, “Guys, its OK. I have a blower at home!” Immediately Abing, looking at my clean, bald head, burst out, “Doc, you mean you have a blower!” What a laugh we had but it was fun. When we were about to go for the 3rd session, my plate was empty, but Abing’s plate had four small pieces of pizza left-over. I told him to finish his pizzas and he replied, “No. This is for my children.” Immediately the young man Amin replied, “Here, have all of mine!” There were four pieces left-over on his plate. I was learning…

Late at night, Amin sent me a WhatsApp text saying that he was humbled that a specialist doctor could sit at the same table and eat with them and drink with them and laugh with them and most of all sing with them. I said, “No. I am the one humbled Amin because you offered your whole plate of left-overs for Abing to take back for his children. You could have thought of your own but there is a special love in your heart that music has allowed you to share with your family, friends and the world.”

Both Abing and Amin are non-believers and I pray that I will be a better witness to them of the one, true, living God who loved the world that ‘He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.’ John 3: 16-17.

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When they had all had enough to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” John 6: 12  There were twelve baskets full of left-overs from the five small barley loaves and 2 small fish. I am sure many more families and children who did not come to hear Jesus and stayed at home would have enjoyed these left-overs. The twelve baskets would have been food to feed so many more people. That is the heart of God who provides for His people. What a great and loving God we serve.

I learnt from the heart of Abing that there are always others who need food and we will do well to always be humbled and thank God for each plate of food we eat with a grateful heart. We give thanks this morning for friends, family and the food the Lord Jesus of Nazareth provides each day – And now let the weak say we are strong, let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us! Amen!

Life is for learning and learning is for life – Dwight Pryor

Reflect: John 6:12Left overs. Let nothing be wasted.


Saturday, November 8

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS – MONEY, SEX AND POWER – Part 1

Dr Ken Boa, President, Reflections Ministries, USA
Dr Ken Boa, President, Reflections Ministries, USA. APCOD 2001, 2006 Plenary Speaker

♦ Lessons from Dr Ken Boa’s teaching of ‘Dealing with Temptations’ – Part 1

http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-1

Key Fact 1: Although Money, Sex and Power have a downward pull of gravity towards the World, Flesh and Devil, nevertheless they can be used and leveraged for good and Godly purposes.

  • We can desecrate the altar of Mammon and use it for kingdom purposes.
  • We can use Sex in the context of marital union that is a blessing and honour to God.
  • We can use Power in a way that serves others instead of self-aggrandisement.

Seduction of Modernity: All three are not neutral and they have a downward pull of gravity but we can leverage them when we walk by the Spirit of God. God can give us positions of influence, authority and power but we need the wisdom of God to use it wisely and well. We are called to pursue our vocation and calling in the marketplace with excellence and integrity. We need to guard our hearts against the ‘Seduction of Modernity’ – money, sex and power and not to conform to the patterns of the world but by the renewing of our minds serve another Master, Ruler and King. This will in turn inform the quality of our work in such a way that it is done as a sacrifice, as an offering, as an oblation to the King of kings – playing to an invisible audience of One rather than seeking to impress or manipulate a visible audience of many.

Led by the Spirit: The challenges of living this life to the glory of God must be seen as in tension between the things of the world, flesh and devil against submitting to the righteousness of God in His kingdom. We are called to walk with shrewdness and at the same time with innocence.

 Key Fact 2: The allures of life can often get ahead of the development of our character. They NEVER quit. The World, Flesh and the Devil brings about a constant gravitas, downward pull away from heavenly aspirations, but  the Spirit of God brings that levitas, levitation, an upward pull against gravity and the things of this world. We are now defined by our identity in Christ as a child of God and no longer a slave to the prince of this world and all that it offers.

≠ Key Fact 3: We need to internalize fully the empowered Word of God that is in us. We are called to be counter-cultural and not to be conformed to the patterns of this world. Now in Christ we are a new creationSin is below dignity in the new person we have become in Christ. John 8: 11 “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Awaken The Dawn

My Gratitude Journal: Yesterday, November 7, reflecting on Deuteronomy 17: 18, I wrote in ‘A Way of Escape’ that Moses had instructed the people of Israel hundreds of years earlier that when they chose a king over them, like other nations had, he was instructed to write down the Torah, the Law of Moses in the presence of the Levitical priests as an act of accountability. One of the greatest blessings having started my Gratitude Journal is that I get to write down Scripture every morning in my own handwriting before typing them on the computer. This has left a mark on my soul because it convicts me before the face of God instantly when my heart starts to deceive and manipulate any situation or challenge I am faced with to my own advantage and pleasure. Only then, after many years now, I can see the plague in my own heart and acknowledge how much it cost the Savior of my life suffering on the cross for my sins.

♦ Reflect: Key Scripture : “You are not to go back that way again.” Deuteronomy 17:16

Walk by the Spirit: Galatians 5: 16-18 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

A New Creation: Galatians 6: 14-15 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

A Living Sacrifice: Romans 12: 1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Do No Go There Again: 1 John 2: 15-17 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

(To be continued: http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-2)


Friday, November 7

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS – MONEY, SEX AND POWER – Part 1

♦  http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-1

The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself,…He must not take many wives, or his heart will lead him astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17: 16 – 17

Inseparably Intertwined: Money, Sex and Power are major sources of temptation. The Scriptures are timeless – in a sense that human nature does not change, and God’s revelation does not change in that it reveals human nature perfectly. It exposes and manifests all the manipulations of human endeavour and all the ways we deceive ourselves. Richard Foster in Money, Sex and Power writes: ‘Throughout history and in our own experience, these three issues seem inseparably intertwined. Money manifests itself as power. Sex is used to acquire both money and power, and power is often called the best aphrodisiac.’  None of these three issues are neutral, they have a gravity that pulls us down, a downward pull as it were, towards the world, the flesh and the devil. This downward pull is part of the gravity that we encounter on a daily basis in this fallen world, in the shadowlands we dwell as aliens and strangers as we continue as sojourners and pilgrims towards the celestial city of the New Jerusalem. In this journey we find ourselves in this constant battle against the soul, pulled by these three temptations.

Regardless of our culture, regardless of how sophisticated or primitive the times, the human nature is still the same. Circumstances may change, civilizations may come and go but human nature is still bent on the same kind of objects and passions of the world, the flesh and the devil on a consistent basis.

“You are not to go back that way again.” Deuteronomy 17:16

temptation

Do Not Go Back That Way Again: The prophet Moses predicts hundreds of years in advance that the people of Israel will encounter three distinct principles of the world, the flesh and the devil in Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 and they were told to avoid these three basic downward pulls of gravity:

1. The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself – POWER

2. The king must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astraySEX

3. The king must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold – MONEY

♦ Way of Escape: However, they were also told of two things they should do and pursue as a way of escape: Deuteronomy 17: 18 – 20:-

  1. The king was told that he should write out his own copy of the Law of Moses – The TORAH: A Man of the Word of God and learn to revere and fear the LORD God. By doing so he will learn to act justly, walk humbly and love mercy and judge the people with prudence and understanding.
  2. The king should write his own copy of the Law of Moses in front of the Levitical priests. – Accountability to both man and to God. To read the word of God all the days of his life so that his heart might not be lifted up.

Matthew 6: 33: But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Job 7.16: “Let me alone, for my days are a breath.”

Pleasures Are Meaningless: Vanity of vanities: King Solomon of Israel did not ask for money, sex and power and instead asked the LORD God of Israel for wisdom. The Book of Ecclesiastes portrays life as meaningless. The lesson here is that in life we are best to persevere and pursue as our primary goal to seek after the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else we need will be added to it. Our hearts are defined by that to which we aspire. Pursue the one thing that is necessary and most needful and that is knowledge of the one, true living God. (John 17:3)

(To be continued)

http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-2


Thursday, November 6

DEALING WITH TEMPTATIONS – MONEY, SEX AND POWER – Part 1

The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself,…He must not take many wives, or his heart will lead him astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. Deuteronomy 17: 16 – 17

Awaken The Dawn

Unholy Trinity: Money, Sex and Power sound like three names of a lawyers company ‘Lee, Chan and David Advocates & Associates’ but in reality it is true – this is an unholy trinity we will do well to learn about and rule over them because at the root of this ‘company’s’ mission is temptation with a motive to kill, steal and destroy. In biblical terms, the love for this threesome non-profit alliance is to submit and conform to the patterns of the world and its desires that are in enmity with God. I have personally engaged this ‘threesome company’ and can testify in court that this team of ‘lawyers’ are not exclusively committed to protect my rights as a citizen of heaven.

Our Advocate in Heaven: The writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 2: 18 encourages us that Jesus ‘Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, and He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.’ And again, the Apostle John in his first love letter to all of us writes in 1 John 2: 1: ‘I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

temptation

So That You Will Not Sin: Yes we will, at some crossroad in our life’s journey as sojourners on earth fall into the unwholesome company of these three principles of the world that advocate the temptation to sin. But we have an Advocate in heaven, Jesus of Nazareth, who will meet with us, and the Holy Spirit will teach us and show us a way of escape through  the conviction of our sin so we may enter the gates of our heavenly courts with praise and thanksgiving and abide in the presence of our heavenly Father in heaven. Yes we can by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, approach the throne of mercy and seek forgiveness from God. ‘God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.’ 1 Corinthians 10:13

♦ In the next few days I will be reflecting on a series of messages titled ‘Dealing With Temptations’ by Dr Ken Boa who is one of the APCOD Faculty of Plenary speakers I invited for two Asia Pacific Consultations on Discipleship- APCOD 2001 in Malaysia and APCOD 2006 in New Zealand. You can find his teaching on this important subject at:  http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-1

How I wish I had met these few honest bible-based teachers of the Word of God early in my life who would have not only pointed me to the Scriptures in my daily walk to get it right with God but more importantly shared their own sacred journey of faith in God. None of us are immune to the seduction of modernity or postmodernity in all its  different masquerades bearing only one invitation – temptation to sin. So let us learn the art and science of mastering the skill to rule over it because at the foot of the cross of Christ we are all equal.

† Let us listen to this message from Ken and tomorrow let us share our notes and reflections and if you have not started a Gratitude Journal, start one today and together let us walk in victory on the road called ‘Pilgrims Progress’ from this world to that which is to come. We will progress, we must and we will through Christ our Lord. Amen!

♦  http://www.kenboa.org/dealing-with-temptations-part-1

♦♦ Key verses in Scripture: Deuteronomy 17: 16-17: 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

A Slice of Infinity
A Slice of Infinity

Wednesday, November 5

TEMPTATION – GROWING THROUGH NOT FALLING THROUGH – Part 5

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel…But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 11:1

Awaken The Dawn

Freeing Ourselves From God: As I continue this ‘Journey of Sanctification’ to make peace with God, I am so thankful that starting this Gratitude Journal has enabled me to see who my partners and companions are, invited or not invited, on this journey with me and one certainly stands out – Temptation. If I were honest to myself and make a list of all the situations I can vividly remember that have resulted from invitations from my ‘companion’ temptation, I can certainly admit that I was trying to free myself from God.

Why David, why?: Every disciple of Jesus of Nazareth must read, study, and memorize to heart  the lessons learnt from the narrative of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12 and grow through them not fall through with them. There will always be a ‘Bathsheba’ in every man’s ‘Journey of Sanctification’ as a Christian and if I do meet anyone who says ‘not true’, I will quote Jeremiah 17: 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I speak for myself and this morning I began to read the first paragraph of 2 Samuel Chapter 11 and then just sat in my chair at my desk asking this question for the past one hour: Why David, why did you stay? Like a trailer to any movie, this trailer of 2 Samuel Chapter 11 verse 1 just kept playing over and over again:

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel…But David remained at Jerusalem. – 2 Samuel 11:1

In the preceding chapters – 2 Samuel Chapters 8,9,10 we read of David’s multiple victories against the Philistines, against the Moabites, against the Arameans, Edomites, one after another but in 2 Samuel Chapter 11 verse 1, at a time when David should be out in battle like all the others kings declaring the LORD God reigns and is soveriegn over all nations, David chose to remain in Jerusalem. ‘In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, ….But David remained at Jerusalem’. Why David why? Was David trying to free himself from God? Did he ever know what was crouching like a tiger at the door for him?

The Scriptures do not give the answer ‘why?’ but this we do know: An invitation from ‘Temptation’ came knocking at his door as it lay crouching like an animal waiting to destroy this great servant of God, King and sweet singer of Israel. This morning I will leave you with this question: Why David, why did you stay behind in Jerusalem?


(♦ I have taken this reading from Chuck Colson for this morning’s reflection as I search my own heart and try to answer this question: Why David, why? – why David did you stay back in Jerusalem? This choice David made in his heart opened the door to one of the greatest sagas in his life and showed him the plague in his own heart, because it is written in my own heart and life too.)

“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” – C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity

To be in temptation means to be constantly in the situation of wanting to be untrue to God. It means being constantly on the point of freeing ourselves from God.  – Helmut Thielicke

One way or the other: Temptation is a condition common to every human being. Even our Lord Jesus was tempted, in fact, more, and more intensely, than all other human beings combined.

Martin Luther is alleged to have said concerning temptation, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.” The Lord Jesus taught us to pray that God would not lead us into temptation, but this should not be interpreted as meaning that we will never be tempted. We will. And we are, every day of our lives.

Temptation represents a change point in our walk with the Lord. Whenever we find ourselves in temptation we have a choice to make. We can either remain loyal to God and continue along the way He has marked out for us. Or we can rebel, worship the flesh and the devil, and fall out of step with the Kingdom and Spirit of God.

At the point of temptation one of two things can happen. Either we will fall through temptation into sin. Or we will grow through temptation into greater levels of sanctification in the Lord. Either of these represents a change point. The objective for every believer ought to be to make the most of every temptation for advancing our walk with the Lord. We want temptation to be a positive, not a negative, change point in our lives.

But for this to be the case, we need to master four important disciplines.

Recognizing temptation

How can we learn to recognize temptation? We have to be able to see through it to the dark, smiling face on the other side, inviting us to worship something or someone other than the Lord. Temptation is a kind of warning sign notifying us that the possibility of sin lies just ahead. The better we are able to recognize sin, therefore, the more alert we will be to temptation’s presence when it arises. The place to begin in being able to recognize sin is with the Law of God (Rom. 7:7). If, as Psalm 1 recommends, we make daily meditation in the Law of God part of our disciplines in seeking the Lord, we will be in a much better position to recognize temptation whenever it arises, inviting us to free ourselves from God and His Law and to attach ourselves to some other loyalty.

In one way or another, every temptation begins with, “Yea, hath God said…?” It is the voice of the tempter, inviting us to “reconsider” the plain teaching of God’s Word and to try to manipulate God for our own advantage. By knowing – and delighting in – the Law of God, we will be in a much better position to tell Satan where to get off whenever he suddenly appears, or one of his minions, in our path.

Reorient your focus

Temptation can distract us from a true understanding of who we are, Whom we serve, and what we are to be about. When it came time to go out to battle that fateful spring, David must have thought to himself, “You know, I’m a bit weary of all this fighting and securing borders. I deserve a rest. I’m worth it. I’ll be OK.”

I… I… I…

Temptation tells us, “You can be like God! Make up your own mind. Do what’s best for you. Other folk will just have to look out for themselves.” Temptation shifts the focus of our devotion off God and His Word onto our own most base affections. We lose sight of Jesus Christ, exalted in majesty and splendor, and our calling to His Kingdom and glory. All we can think about is what we want right now.

In Psalm 73, the moment Asaph realized he was being tempted to be disloyal to God, rather than try to hide from God and His Word, like Adam in the garden, he ran to Him, resorting to prayer and meditation to get his mind back into a proper focus and orientation. For only when we are able to keep the eye of our heart fixed on King Jesus will we have the strength to continue obeying Him and to deny the invitation to rebel and fall into sin.

Resist the devil

One problem that happens when temptation arises is that we tend to listen to it and the possibilities it suggests. We consider the delights – fleeting, to be sure, though we don’t dwell on that – which temptation proffers. We turn the apple of temptation over and around, sniff and squeeze it in our minds, imagine ourselves tasting it, and listen to every word of the devil as he says, “This will be cool. It’s all right. Think about it this way.” Soon enough, we’re ensnared and falling.

Jesus typically had but a few words for the demons whenever He confronted them: “Shut up! Get out!” He silenced the devil without an argument simply be refocusing on the Word of God and reciting it aloud. James promises that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (Jms. 4:7). We can do this by seeking the Lord in prayer, calling to mind passages and teachings of God’s Word that have a direct bearing on the temptation before us, and just telling the devil to bug off.

Don’t try to skip this step. If you do, the only resources you’ll be likely to have on hand for resisting temptation will be those of your own wits and strength. And that won’t get the job done. Resist the devil with the Word of God and the shield of faith expressed in prayer, and he’ll leave you alone soon enough.

Resume

Finally, move on in your walk with the Lord. Don’t linger around the crossroad of temptation. Keep going forward toward the Kingdom of Christ.

Wherever temptation was suggesting you might go, head in just the opposite direction. The old Celtic Christians used to advise those who had fallen into sin to mark out a course of behavior contrary to their sinful ways in order to regain their footing on the journey of sanctification. If you are considering something contrary to the Word of God, then envision yourself doing something contrary to that. “Contraries are by contraries cured,” the ancient Celts explained. Then take the next steps, and the next steps to keep you moving along the path of righteousness and the way of peace and joy.

exit-interloop-300x247Temptation can be an important change point in your life, moving you along into greater heights of spiritual maturity in the Lord. But you need to attack it faithfully, diligently, and with a conscious and determined effort to grow through, rather than fall through, the temptations you will encounter each day.

Reflect: Deuteronomy 17: 14 -20 – Please read this for tomorrow’s reflection.

1 Corinthians 10: 13 “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”


Tuesday, November 4

TEMPTATION – MATED TO RULE OVER – Part 4

“But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4: 7

Ear reconstructive surgery using autogenous rib cartilage for left ear deformity.
Ear reconstructive surgery using autogenous rib cartilage for left ear deformity.

Mated As One: In reconstructive surgery I use the rib cartilage for reconstructive purposes in the ear and nose quite frequently. My passion to perform ear reconstructive surgery for congenital ear deformities (ear deformities present at birth) took me to Palo Alto, California, USA to spend some time with Dr Burt Brent. It was fascinating to see this surgeon sit for four hours and carve the framework of a new ear. The rib cartilage is first harvested from the chest area and then the framework of the new ear is reconstructed and this in turn is then embedded beneath the skin in the area of the deformed ear. This new skin envelope over the newly reconstructed ear cartilage framework becomes ‘one‘ and now takes the shape of a new reconstructed ear. This reconstructive surgery is usually performed in children by the time they are 11-12 years of age and they then learn throughout life how to look after and love this newly reconstructed ear. The rib cartilage taken from another area in the body (chest area) and reconstructed in vivo (means outside the body in the operating theatre) and then inserted into a newly created skin envelope (area of skin in the deformed ear) have both now become ‘one’. The beauty of the final reconstructed ear is now revealed as a single unit and part of the whole face. You cannot separate the skin envelope from the underlying rib cartilage. Both are now ‘mated as one’.

Mated to Love: One of the most fascinating and perhaps for me the most amazing ‘reconstructive procedure’, if I can label it as that, ever performed in the redemptive history of mankind is this: ‘The LORD God  took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man,. …and they will become one flesh’ Genesis 2:21-22, 25. Both were mated to love and cherish a pure relationship in the garden of Eden in the presence of the Creator God of heaven and earth. I have many times just stopped and wondered what an amazing, God we serve that in the garden of Eden there is this ‘Theatre of Creation’. This wedded union was created to be one flesh, united in true, pure, divine love created by the One true living God of all creation.

sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4: 7

Mated to Rule Over: “Sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  This is the Creator LORD God speaking to the heart of the man Cain. God knows the heart of all man (1 Kings 8: 39) and God warns Cain to examine his own heart and motives and do what is right before God. As I continue to study this dialogue, I have heard this conversation before. It was between God and the mother of Cain, Eve, in the declaration of her punishment for disobeying the rule of God. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3: 16. In this context, there is this loving relationship between man and wife, a wedded union of love, accountability and responsibility. However, because of the fall of man, there is also now a tragedy of a wedded union between man and sin and the LORD God is speaking to Cain that the temptation to sin now desires to have control over his heart and he must master the skill to rule over it or else it will kill him and destroy his life. 

This picture of the temptation to sin, portrayed as crouching at the sinner’s door, like a wild beast, is now wedded to him. He is mated with it and its evil desire to kill and murder and destroy was now evident in Cain’s heart. And destroy it did. Instead of subduing it through obedience to the voice of God, Cain yielded his heart to the invitation of temptation to sin and murdered his brother Abel.

Temptation is an invitation to sin. It is in our sinful nature and is the fruit of the spirit of the world at work in the heart of man. It is the gateway that leads to sin and God in His grace is reasoning with Cain that its desire, its nature, its habitat is to cause the owner of its habitat to sin. ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 6: 23

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. Ephesians 2: 1-2

temptation

Mated to Hate: God hates sin but loves the sinner. The Apostle Paul writing to the church in Ephesus declares this truth: ‘We are born dead in our sin and transgressions’. The work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin and unrighteousness and empower us to rule over the sinful desires of the flesh, reject any invitation temptation brings and submit to God and the devil that lies crouching like a wild beast at the door will flee. (James 4: 7)

I have struggled all my life with temptation because in the envelope that carries this invitation from the spirit of the world is my DNA to sin. All fall short of the glory of God and we can only thank God for the cross of Christ and God’s abounding grace to provide a way of escape in the midst of our struggle to overcome it. It is much easier to talk of the victorious Christian life than to live it. Facing temptation humbles us. We must know our own lustful and sinful desires well enough to know where temptations will strike.

One in Christ: This morning let us ask the Lord for more grace to master and rule over the invitation of temptation to sin that lies at the door of our lives before it brings inevitable and disastrous consequences. We must be armed with Scripture, the sword of the Spirit, so that we can overcome evil with the Word of God. After all, that’s what Jesus of Nazareth did with the invitation of temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:4)! Amen!

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16: 33


Monday, November 3

TEMPTATION – CROUCHING AT THE DOOR – Part 3

“But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4: 7

Awaken The Dawn

I remember having shared this fact in my GJ that every patient who visits my clinic needs to fill in a registration card. ‘Religion’ is one of the columns they are required to fill. If I see the word ‘atheist’ or ‘no religion’, I would first start with this question: You know the difference between good and evil? Answer, “Yes”. You know the difference between right and wrong? Answer “Yes”. So you have a conscience? Answer “Yes”. Final question: Who put it (conscience) there? Answer: “Must be God”. Then you believe in God?….silence.

Animal bites: I also remember having shared about a patient who received a dog-bite recently and how his upper lip is now disfigured and the injury has left a permanent scar for life on this young man’s face. Each time, in fact every day, he is reminded about the injury that he had no foreknowledge was going to happen and cause such trauma and scarring.

“But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door;” Genesis 4: 7

Crouching At The Door: Genesis 4: 6-7 is an account of the earliest dialogue between the LORD God and Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve. These early narratives embody great moral and spiritual truths and we will do well to read again and understand how temptation breeds destruction. Adam and his family knew the difference between good and evil. God who knows the hearts of all men knew the heart of Cain, the elder brother of Abel. Because of the rejection of his sacrifice, Cain brewed in his heart the action to sin that resulted from the invitation of temptation for selfish gain. Temptation is an invitation to sin against God.

temptation

“But if you do not do what is right” is pregnant with meaning. Cain’s sacrifice of some of the fruits of his labor from the soil did not gain the favor of the LORD God and was rejected. The key to the whole interpretation and understanding of the final judgement that follows the actions of Cain take root from this warning from God: “If you do not do what is right”. Here lies the truth to mastery over the forces of temptation. The first thing is to realize that crouching at the door lies a wild animal waiting to devour its prey and kill it. The imagery is clear. The Word of God gives us the pathway to life in God and leads us to the way everlasting. A.W Tozer said this: ‘Every one has a serpent coiled around his or her heart waiting to kill’.

Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, Above us only sky. You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one – Imagine; John Lennon

Incarnated Imagination: Imagine there’s no temptation but… I am only another dreamer. We, including me, are all deceived by the imagination of our hearts and mind that when an evil deed is done, it passes away and leaves no permanent results and scars. Wrong. Every wrong act has eternal consequences and haunts the evil doer for life. Cain was banished for life outside the presence of the living God and became a restless wanderer as long as he lived (Genesis 4:12). Whatever wrong, offensive deed I have done against the heart of God now sits outside my door as a grim reminder that this ‘tiger crouching and lying in wait’ will attack me again if I do not do what is right before God. Every momentary act of sin as a result of an invitation from the seed of temptation is incarnated, as a matter of fact, in my thought life and carnal sinful nature and lies at my doorpost waiting for me. There are perennial consequences to my actions which will abide with me throughout my life on earth as it did to Cain.

Middle of the Garden: This morning, let us be reminded that temptations come at unexpected moments. It is an invitation to sin and the Holy Spirit of God will convict us before it takes root in our hearts to become an act against a holy, just God. The LORD God was gracious to Cain to meet with him in the labyrinth of his soul and there in the middle of the garden of Eden, the serpent meets with its Creator. At that eternal moment of grace, we must master how to overcome temptation and its destructive endpoint through sin and beg for mercy from the One who gives wisdom so lavishly if only we come in repentance with a broken and contrite heart to serve God only. Amen!

∼ Tomorrow: Temptation – Mated To Rule Over – Part 4

Footnote: Please write to me and share with me your comments on ‘Temptation’ and how you have come face to face with this invitation…and your response.

Reflect: Micah 6: 8:  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 


Sunday, November 2

TEMPTATION – BY INVITATION ONLY – Part 2

You love what is right and hate what is wrong; Therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. Psalm 45: 7 (A wedding song by the Sons of Korah)

Awaken The Dawn

AWAKEN THE DAWN: “It is the Lord!” Every morning, since July 8, I wake up to the sound of the alarm from my mobile phone, which has been set to 5.00 am, and awaken the dawn with thoughts of one man who gave His life for me: Jesus of Nazareth. I would then review my previous day’s writing in my Gratitude Journal (GJ) and examine what I have written from my heart to the Lord. It takes about an hour and within that hour the Lord will then stir in my heart what I would have written in my GJ, said  or done yesterday that I now acknowledge “It is the Lord!” who allowed such an event or situation to take place. One can literally hear the voice of the disciple Jesus loved say to Peter in John 21: 7: “It is the Lord!”. Then after reading yesterday’s GJ I realize that in some situations during the course of yesterday I can hear my own voice, “It is not the Lord!” I would then read audibly a verse of Scripture that the Spirit of the Lord has stirred in my heart and begin to write the morning’s blog. This takes another two hours and by 8.00 am it is posted on cyberspace and I am off to work. If it is posted late it is because the ‘wrestling with God’ is still going on. By the time I finish I am about ready to meet ‘two faces of life’: Temptation and Testing and BOTH battle scenes take place within the chambers of my spiritual heart. If you have not started a GJ of your own, start one today! Why? because I will meet with you in the middle of the garden where these two ‘faces’ came alive.

Middle of the Garden: Let me make this statement up front: Satan tempts us, but God tests our hearts. On reading yesterday’s GJ, I wondered how this planet would have been if the LORD God did not plant in the middle of the garden of Eden the tree of knowledge of good and evil? (Genesis 2: 9) Then everything concerning life with and in God would have been pleasing and good. But there in the middle of the garden we see a way of escape: the face of Christ on the cross at Calvary and give thanks with a grateful heart. In this journey of the Lord’s testing of our hearts to see if we truly love the Lord God in the midst of all temptations, God is faithful to set us above all our trials and temptations only to anoint us with the oil of joy that comes from the Spirit of God to love and do what is right and pleasing to God.

Oil of Joy: Last night I had an engagement to sing at a fine dining restaurant with my now new found friend Abing! One of the guests having dinner happened to be my patient! She was overwhelmed with joy to see her doctor singing that she stood up in front of all the other folks present and started this loud proclamation: “My doctor, my doctor. My doctor can sing- bah! (‘Bah’ is a local slang word). During the break she called me to her table and within minutes took a picture of me and her and guess what? posted it on facebook! with the approval of her husband, of course. Within seconds this joy was shared with hundreds of her friends through cyberspace!

How wonderful if we can do the same with Jesus right now. There is only One face in the Book of Life and how our hearts yearn to be in this ‘face-book’ with the Lord Jesus of Nazareth by our side. What a picture that would make! But the word of God is sufficient to grant us this overwhelming assurance: Therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. Psalm 45: 7  The psalmist is writing prophetically about Jesus of Nazareth whom God would anoint with the “oil of joy”. In Hebrews 1: 8-9, the writer of Hebrews quotes this Psalm and verse from this wedding song by the Sons of Korah and draws our hearts to think of Jesus as the absolute source of joy. How can this oil of joy be ours in the face of temptation and testing through all our trials and struggles to make it right with God? It is by invitation only and what a wedding song we shall sing with the Lord by our side at this wedding. ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:10

temptation

By Invitation Only: In the face of temptation we have this divine invitation: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from thee.” James 4: 11 The invitation requires a response for submission. The greatest mission in life is submission – Hudson Taylor. In the context of social invitations, RSVP is a request for a response from the invited person or people. It is an initialism derived from the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît, literally “Reply if it pleases you” or “Reply please”.

This morning how would we respond in reply to these two invitations: An invitation for temptation that would displease the Lord or an invitation to submit to God, resist the enemy of our soul and please God by doing His will in our lives. The gift of repentance and submission to God is receiving the fruit of the anointing that comes from the Spirit of God: Joy. (Galatians 5:22) Who would not want to know total joy in the midst of the temptation and testing in our journey to make peace with God in this life? Who would not want to know total joy in the presence of God at the wedding supper of the Lamb, Jesus of Nazareth? Amen!

Reflect: 1 Chronicles 29: 17  I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 


Saturday, November 1

TEMPTATION IS AN INVITATION – Part 1

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: 1 Corinthians 10:13; KJV

Awaken The Dawn

I Spy With My Little Eye: Growing up, we used to play this guessing game called “I Spy With My Little Eye something beginning with ‘a letter of the alphabet'”. One person secretly chooses an object that they can ‘spy with their little eye’ and the others take turns to guess the name of the object. Then we will look around the room or while travelling in a car to see if we can name the object of what the eye can see but the other person cannot see as obvious but has to really search and guess the answer. Well, if I could go back to my teenage years when I gave my heart to Jesus at the age of fifteen and then lost it to the world for the next twenty-five odd years till I was born again on February 22nd 1995; well I would re-play the game like this: “I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘T’?” The answer would be the word ‘Temptation’ and the only person who can see and give the right answer would be God.

∼ Search me, O God, and know my heart: I know the number of times I have read this verse in Psalm 139: 23 only to quickly move on to the next verse because ‘temptation’ would be the first and largest word that would fill the dark chambers of my heart. The next verse 24 ( ‘See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting’) involves ‘sight’ and only the Lord can see and in turn lead us out through a way of escape to gain eternal life in God.  Discipleship to Jesus begins in the Garden of Eden and there we learn that ‘every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.’ Genesis 6:5  Temptation is an invitation that starts in the eyes, works its way to the heart and emotions, and then moves to the rest of the body.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. Genesis 3: 6

temptation (1)

A Pleasing Invitation: Invitations can change your life. How we respond to an invitation can change the course of our lives.’ In the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life was planted as the way everlasting, a way of escape that the LORD God had provided for man to escape the temptation of the enemy. But Eve chose to respond to the invitation from the serpent, an enemy of God, an invitation that meets the eye of the beholder and from the eyes here emotions were aroused to the effect of seeing the fruit as pleasing and next her body responded by touching the forbidden fruit with her hands and eating it. Eyes…emotions…heart..body… and the soul is then defiled before a holy God. The fruit of sin is death. The gift of repentance is God’s forgiving grace to lead us in the way everlasting through faith in His Son Jesus of Nazareth.

temptation

 IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT:  Temptation is an invitation to sin. It is the ‘face of the spirit of the world’ that we meet every moment of the day as strangers in this world. In John 17: 15, the Lord Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

Oswald Chambers writes: ‘Temptation is not sin. Not to be tempted would be beneath contempt. Many of us suffer from temptations because we simply choose and refuse to allow the Spirit of God to lift us to a higher plane of steadfastness of the heart. A man’s disposition on the inside determines what he is tempted on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one being tempted, and reveals the possibilities of the sinful nature within. Every human being has the setting of his or her own temptation, and the invitation to respond to the seduction of the world and its sinful desires will come along the line of the ruling disposition within the heart of the person concerned.’

Meet With Me: This morning we can choose whom we want to meet with. We can choose to either meet with the face of the serpent as in the Garden of Eden, and be offered the world and its sinful desires of the flesh, or we can choose to come before the face of God, Coram Deo, and gain His wisdom to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. Temptation is something that completely overwhelms me and as I continue to acknowledge my daily struggles in this area of discipleship to Jesus because of the plague in my own heart, the words of the Apostle Paul writing to church in Corinth brings a breath of encouragement this morning: ‘But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.’ 1 Corinthians 10:13 Here is the message that I hear from the Lord: ‘But will with the temptation also make a way to escape’ – God does not save us from our daily temptations but meets with us in the midst of them. Amen!

Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

Reflect: Romans 5: 15-21 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

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