Saturday, August 31, 2013

Seasons of Life

In Canada we enjoy four seasons, namely, summer, spring, winter and fall. Each season represents changes that we are accustomed already. We even have four sets of clothing for each season. While they always come on time, however, their impact is quite unpredictable at times. But no matter what the season may bring us, remember that life must keep on moving as always.

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 summarized what seasons of life is all about: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” (1-8, ESV)

When we begin to accept that God indeed provided a specific time for every aspect of life to occur, then every encounter that we face will make sense from His perspective. It is only when we forget that life has seasons that we miss the clear messages He has for us for us to discover. There is no code to break, just the simple realization of life’s realities that God is in control. If you read Genesis 1:14, God also set everything with a clear purpose: “And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.”

Somebody said, “Some people will change when they see the light. Others change only when they feel the heat.” I believe that when we see the light from God’s perspective, we can effectively handle every experience, whether good or bad, as companions to make us better. Moreover, when God is in full control of your life, everything around us and in us happens for a reason, although we may never know the reason at the time it came. But the most important thing is to comprehend its value for our growth and development.

Howard Hendricks described the three stages people go through when confronted with change:
1. Resistance to change
2. Tolerant of change
3. Embrace the change

Looking at each description, where do you see yourself? How do you usually respond to changes? Do you begin from #1 and eventually reach #3 after you fully understood the changes? Or get stuck at either # 1 or # 2 and never reach #3? There are reasons why people respond to changes differently. Most of the time, they see changes and it doesn’t make sense why it is done and there are times that changes are done just because of a personal agenda. But when God is at work, the changes He intends will always benefit us even when they don’t make sense.

Here is something for us to think about: if Abraham did not accept and follow God’s prescribed changes for his life and Sarah, he would have missed God’s promise and stayed at Ur as an ordinary man. But because he obeyed God and embraced the changes, Abraham became a great man and was confident of God’s promise in all the seasons of his life. You will find that Abraham’s life was not perfect; there were many struggles yet he was greatly assured of God’s promises. He simply persevered and stayed faithful to God’s agenda for his life until to his last breath.

Thus, whenever you are feeling down as you go through a tough season, remember that when God is on your side, everything works together for good. He will never leave us nor forsake us in every season and whatever changes may come our way, whether favorable or unfavorable, at the end of it all we will always become better. I fully believe that if God is at work in my life, He is also at work in your life.

Lets talk again!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reminded of God’s Promises

It has been days that I find myself waking up early and the one thing that I distinctly noticed, having my bedroom windows opened due to summer heat, was the sound of birds tweeting harmoniously. I really liked what I hear and it gave me delight to listen to them attentively. I fully immersed in their singing until the usual morning noise drowned it out and even though I cannot hear them, I know they were still singing and tweeting their songs. With this new found fascination, I was reminded of a Scripture that I love to speak and remind people about: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew6: 26 ESV)

Martin Luther wrote this reflection to the same effect: “God's wonderful works which happen daily are lightly esteemed, not because they are of no import but because they happen so constantly and without interruption. Man is used to the miracle that God rules the world and upholds all creation, and because things daily run their appointed course, it seems insignificant, and no man thinks it worth his while to meditate upon it and to regard it as God's wonderful work, and yet it is a greater wonder than that Christ fed five thousand men with five loaves and made wine from water.” This is what I believe must be constantly deliberated by all who trusts in God’s provision: “God will always inspire.” God, through the birds tweeting daily and ceaselessly every morning, inspired me to listen and shut out all the worries of the day to remind myself of what God can do each and everyday for those who believe.

Although the demand for our attention of each waking day is rigid and overwhelming, it is imperative that we MUST take the time to pause and contemplate to align ourselves to what God has prepared for us instead. Because I firmly believe that when we choose to do so, we will find ourselves calmed instead of being rattled. Like myself, I discovered complete serenity just by listening to the birds singing outside my bedroom window. With it, God, took it as an opportunity to remind me of His promise that if birds can sing without an inch of worry or fear for the day, I can do the same with faith in His promises. Thus, I needed to focus with them singing and at the same time to be open to what God has in store for me also.

God in His wisdom has made the birds sing daily to remind us that we can also sing His praises every morning and it is God’s way of waking us up to find total peace first thing in the morning before we step out into the hustle and bustle of daily grind. Hence, I have shared my experience to encourage you to purposely take a moment tomorrow morning and listen to the birds singing and tweeting their praise of God. You will clearly hear how they are worry-free, confident and filled with much assurance that God will take care of them no matter what. Remember that if God will take care of them, how much more you?

Allow me to share this simple story to encourage you more: “A construction crew was building a new road through a rural area, knocking down trees as it progressed. A superintendent noticed that one tree had a nest of birds who couldn't yet fly and he marked the tree so that it would not be cut down. Several weeks later the superintendent came back to the tree. He got into a bucket truck and was lifted up so that he could peer into the nest. The fledglings were gone. They had obviously learned to fly. The superintendent ordered the tree cut down. As the tree crashed to the ground, the nest fell clear and some of the material that the birds had gathered to make the nest was scattered about. Part of it was a scrap torn from a Sunday school pamphlet. On the scrap of paper were these words: He careth for you” (Bits &  Pieces, November, 1989, p. 23). This is a very simple yet powerful statement to live by and needed to be embedded in our daily consciousness: “He cares for me.”

Let’s talk again!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Biblical Wisdom for Financial Health

Many people in our time are looking for ways and means to find the best way to achieve financial success. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of endeavor and we need to pursue it. However, it would be wise to hear the Scriptural teaching and reflect carefully to its guidance: “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). Simply put, here’s what we need to learn from this simple idea: “The wisdom to have financial health is to follow God’s plan precisely to the point as He prescribed for us to do.”

Remember that the ant is renowned in all ages for its social customs, prudence, frugality and productiveness. They know how to plan and collect their food in the right season and hibernate during wintertime. They are secure as they eat what they need today. Also, they eat enough to get them through the winter but don’t eat too much. If they didn’t eat enough today, they’d die and if they stuffed themselves on too much food, they’d burst.

Moreover, they find the perfect stability and this is what financial health can be understood from their example. In other words, we need to look towards the future, while keeping an eye on the present. If we live too much in the present, while ignoring the future, we run the risk of abusing credit cards to satisfy our every impulse. Then we will be in big financial trouble in the future. If we live too much for the future, we risk not grasping the present. If we work too much, we miss out on our children’s lives and growth.

W. Graham Scroggie, an English Pastor and writer observed, “There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money—“How much of my money shall I use for God?" or "How much of God's money shall I use for myself?" I hope that the last question should be where we stand as God’s stewards of what He has given to us. Fundamentally, this is where the dividing wall of genuine biblical success comes about: having the full understanding that God owns everything in our lives provides the basic premise for applying wisdom towards financial health.

In order for us to become wise, there are things that we must avoid, (a) Watch out against the snare of greed (2 Corinthians 9:6-8; 1 Timothy 6:10); (b) Never co-sign unless you fully understand the liabilities (Proverbs 11:15; 22:26-27); (c) Don’t get tempted with “get rich quick schemes” (Proverbs 15:27; 1 Timothy 6:9-11). But, there are some things we must also adopt, (a) A concrete budget system (Proverbs 24:3-4; Luke 14:28-30); (b) seek wise financial counsels from godly people (Proverbs 12:15; 19:201-21; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

In addition, we must begin to adapt to a new way of living, (a) Aspire to become debt-free (Psalms 22:7; Romans 13:8); (b) Practice generosity (Deuteronomy 15:10; Luke 6:30); (c) Recognize God’s ownership (Leviticus 25:23: Psalms 50:10-12). Finally, allowing oneself to become fully adept at these things will make a huge difference, (a) Live within your means and invest wisely (Ecclesiastes 11:2; Matthew 25:14-30); (b) Obey God’s financial strategy wholeheartedly to obtain success (Joshua 1:8; Proverbs 3:9-10).

Altogether, we must take heed to St. Augustine’s counsel, “Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.” While it is true that there are many voices that compete for our attention, there can be only one source of genuine counsel that we can truly trust, i.e., God’s counsel. Remember that God alone holds the key for us to attain the financial health we all long for in our life and family. Here’s one of His principles that we can mirror in our lives today: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Thus, always keep in mind that God desires the best for us and aligning ourselves with His principles will guarantee our financial health at all times even at the worst of times. Believe Him and He will never let us down.

Let’s talk again