In the January 2012 newsletter, I shared the word of ABUNDANCE which the Lord laid upon my heart for 2012. Yes, for me, but also for anyone who would believe and receive. It was really exciting that this word blessed and encouraged many of you. Personally, I am seeing this come to pass in my life, family and ministry. Day by day, I am experiencing more and more of His abundance … and I know that this is still only the tip of the iceberg! I trust you are experiencing the same too … and more.
What the Lord impressed upon me to share in this update is the posture of our hearts as we position ourselves to receive all He has for us. Since Jer 17:9 reminds us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”, it is always good to be aware of the condition of our hearts. This is also timely as we enter Holy Week, reflecting upon the suffering of Jesus and what He went through to secure salvation for us.
Consider the spoilt brat who demands for more and throws a huge tantrum when he doesn’t get what he has asked for. Are we like that with God? After all, does Isa 45:11 not say, “…concerning the work of My hands, you command Me”? It’s disturbing that some have taken this to a selfish extreme, only to get upset and angry with God when He doesn’t give them what they have ‘commanded’ Him to do. I’m reminded of the account in Numbers 11 when Israel demanded for meat in the wilderness. Well, God “gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Ps 106:15). I suppose you could say that they got what they asked for. May we discern the difference between the more that we want and the more God that wants for us.
Does it mean that we had better not ask for anything then? Or when we do, that we should do so in fear and trepidation? A scene from Oliver:The Musical promptly comes to mind. The children at the orphanage had finished their meal – just a miserly bit of slop – and they were all still very hungry. They wanted to ask for more, but no one dared risk the consequence of such an act. So they draw straws and poor Oliver picks the short straw. With great fear, Oliver picks up his bowl and makes his way to the caretaker. Mustering up all of his courage, he asks, “Please, Sir, may I have some more?” Displaying shock and horror at the absurdity of such a request, towering over the little orphan boy (close-up on stern face with wide-angle fish-eye lens for effect), the man bellows, “More?! MORE?!?!?! YOU WANT SOME MORE?!?!?!?!?!” We may laugh at this but sadly, there are those who see God in this light. They try their very best to be content with their lot in life, fearing that should they ask God for more, they would be met with peals of lightning and rumbles of thunder.
On the other extreme, some feel there is no need to ask at all. They have concluded in their hearts that since God wants to give them more, all they need to do is just take. That, they believe, is their right and entitlement. Without any consideration, they will take what they think they deserve and use others to serve their own purposes. That’s presumption, and a heart like this is dangerous and reveals one that is totally self-absorbed and self-centred. To such a person, everything and everyone exists for them alone. Remember David and Bathsheba? Hmmm … if King David, described as a man after God’s own heart, can falter, it would do us well to take heed to ourselves lest we too trip in this same department.
Or there may yet be others who are like the older son in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. These think that the harder they work, the more they will receive from God. Hey, by all means, work hard and do well in the work of the ministry. But don’t confuse the “more” in the field for the “more” that is in the Father’s house! The older son was using his hard work to gain his Father’s approval. He must have thought, “If I don’t do well, my Father won’t love me, and then He won’t give me more.” Imagine the guilt and condemnation in the son’s heart if he didn’t achieve the targets. On the flip side, imagine the pride and self-righteousness that would overtake his heart when he did! No wonder he couldn’t bring himself to celebrate with his lazy-good-for-nothing brother. Instead, he accused his father for not giving him anything for his hard work. To which, his father replied, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have in yours.” (Luke 15:31) Did you get that? Did you know that? All that the Father has is already ours! In other words, if we have the right posture in our hearts, our Heavenly Father is saying, “No one is stopping you from enjoying the goodness that is laid up for you.” The psalmist proclaims, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!” (Psalm 68:19, italics mine) The right perspective releases us to receive these loads of more from One who lovingly lavishes us with His abundance and grace!
Don’t let anything hold you back from the abundance of God in your life! By the blood of Jesus, we can come boldly into His Presence, to ask, to seek and to knock. In Matt 7:7-11, we read that our Father desires to give us good things. In Luke 11:9-13, it is the Holy Spirit that He desires us to have. In Luke 12:32, Jesus tells us not to only seek after material things “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Wow! … good things … Holy Spirit … the kingdom! If these do not excite you, I don’t know what will!
But remember the posture of your heart because the abundance of God is not received with pride, presumption or fear. After declaring the deceitful state of the heart, Jer 17:10 says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Make no mistake. We do not have the capability to examine our own hearts. It is only the Holy Spirit who can accurately convict us of what needs to be dealt with in our hearts, and of what stands in the way of us entering into the fullness that God has for each of us. And when He does that, may we be quick to respond with humility and contriteness of heart.
As mentioned earlier, I am experiencing more and more of God as I allow Him to check, correct and align the posture of my heart each and every day. Some truths may be painful to deal with but I know the Lord desires only what’s good for me. And so, since there is nothing I can hide from Him, I willingly open my heart to Him.
This has changed the way I minister even. In the recently concluded CVSOM Encounter Weekend, I noticed something was different as I shared what I had received from the Lord. With the theme being “There is MORE!”, there may have been a deeper desire for more of the things of God, but I thank God that there was also a willingness for many to deal with the barriers to more; ultimately, the wrong posture of our hearts.
Teaching the Pentateuch in the first five sessions of “39: A Journey through the Old Testament” has been nothing less than exciting and exhilarating for me. The times of preparation have been so meaningful as I read and re-read the Hebrew Scriptures. Seeing Jesus revealed remains a high point for me; and what joy, when Jesus is declared, to see people respond and be saved after a teaching on the Old Testament. I am looking forward to the rest of the series in the coming months. Consider joining us and journey through the Old Testament with me.
I believe this abundance will flow into Vietnam when we are there 6-8 April 2012. At the invitation of the Methodist Missions Society, I will be preaching at the Good Friday Service (7pm) and the Easter Sunday Outreach Service (10:30am) of International Christian Fellowship. Please pray for me and the team (Sis Linda Yong, Sis Madeleine Chiang and my son, David) as we bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the expatriate community in Ho Chi Minh City.
God’s abundance continues to be experienced in our marriage when we celebrated our 17th Anniversary on 11 March. Each day, I give thanks for the wonderful friend and helpmeet the Lord has led to me in Serene. We have learnt so much and are still learning as we constantly face new challenges in the different phases of family life. Truly, there is not a moment we do not acknowledge the grace of God in our relationship. If not for His hand upon us, where would we be?
Ruth and Anna Joy celebrated their birthdays, turning seven and three respectively. Bringing them out for their birthday outings and dinners only serves to remind me that I am also growing older. Each time, I see the children laugh and play together, I give thanks for these blessings that the Lord has graciously bestowed upon Serene and myself. Of course, there are trying moments in the parenting journey but that is also when we experience even more of Him and His goodness!
Please continue to pray with us, for Serene and Sarah to be completely healed of eczema. The past two months have been quite a challenge for them, and it breaks my heart to see them constantly battling the itch and pain. But their faith and trust in God have also been a source of encouragement for me and I am learning so much from these two overcomers in the family! If you’d like more details and update, please read Serene’s blog entries.
Well, that’s it for now! Thanks for being fellow pilgrims with us. The road of life may be fraught with many difficulties and uncertainties but we know that the One who holds our hands also holds the future. Ours is not to worry about tomorrow but to place our trust completely in Him. In that, we can rest secure and take it One Day At A Time.
In His love and for His glory!