The Crossing Over to the Other Side Always Begins with a First Step

I snapped this shot whilst on a short family break five years ago. As I looked over the horizon, the way forward extended into nothingness.

Having been instructed by the Lord to drop everything without even knowing the next assignment, this picture sure described my situation so accurately. And yet, I knew I had been told to cross over; and that cross over must begin with a very first step of obedience by faith.

It would be 10 days later, on 27 Oct 2013, that the Lord would reveal the next assignment to me – Archippus Awakening. Five years and many steps later, what a journey it has been! Even so, I still don’t know what lies ahead. All I know is that my King and Master, JESUS, is more than faithful and He will lead me forward as I determine to fulfil all He has assigned to me entirely by His grace.

Today, I face a new horizon and another crossing over. After five years, is it not odd that the next step still feels like a first step all over again? The principle remains: every step must be taken with obedience and faith. Truly, it is not where we have been, but where we will continue to go with the One who deserves all worship, praise, glory and honour.

And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry
which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfil it.” Col 4:17

God’s “No Mercy” Policy

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I was hoping for “no pain”. Instead, I was told, “No mercy.”

Earlier this year, sometime in April, I began experiencing a tightness around my left shoulder. I have no idea how it came about. Just one day, it was difficult to remove my T-shirt after a run. Perhaps a pull or muscle strain, I thought. So, I left it for while, hoping it would go away on its own. But nope, the tightness persisted. I was just thankful it didn’t become worse.

Six months later, I find myself at the doctor’s, listening to the various possibilities of a tendon tear, an impingement or a bone spur. A common occurrence, I am told, for someone who has come of age. Yes, growing older.

This morning, with X-ray and ultrasound results in hand, I met my doctor friend again (same ACS cohort). Other than a slight bone spur causing mild adhesive capsulitis (fancy term for frozen shoulder), the tendon and muscles are all ok. As such, surgery is not required – for now. To help bring down the inflammation, the doctor administered two jabs (slight ouch). After this, it’s back to the physiotherapist for stretching exercises.

And that’s when he said, “No mercy.”

He added with a smile, “If she gently sayang sayang you, no point.” Ya right, thanks. Just what I needed to hear 🙂

As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think about the two words – no mercy – in the context of the Church and Christianity today. With the present focus on love and grace, “no mercy” sounds so incorrect. Too harsh. Surely, this has no place in the Body of Christ. After all, the God we know is full of mercy, is He not?

Of course, He is! And that will never change for His mercy, His lovingkindness endures forever! However, we must not forget that, at times, when needed, our God also administers a “no mercy” policy.

Like my shoulder, there could have been something that has caused irritation, stress and pain in our lives. As much as He is able to bring relief, He also desires that the tendon/muscle be stretched out and strengthened again. And for that to happen, pain may be experienced for a while more before the desired effect is achieved. Through that process, the Lord expects us to bear through the pain and discomfort, for our own good. In that, He says, “No mercy. You’ve got to push through until you get the breakthrough.” He knows that gently sayang sayang will not do the job at all. On the contrary, it is firmly sayang sayang (tough love) that our faith will likewise be stretched and strengthened.

In the Body of Christ, might there be an increasing proportion that seeks to grow without the pain? Are there questionable doctrines that have developed like bone spurs causing irritation and restricting mobility in the Body? Why can’t God just remove the discomfort instantly? If He is indeed good and merciful, surely pain and suffering cannot be from Him. With such thinking, no wonder there is such concern that the next generation of believers has grown soft, unable to take any pressure or pain. O, God forbid, that we should become a frozen (shoulder) generation!

At my first visit, the doctor took one look and observed that my left shoulder was a tad shrivelled owing to lack of use. Easing the inflammation was one thing. Getting me back in shape was another. And it’s the same with our spiritual walk and growth. As a miracle-working God, He could simply zap away all pain. But if that was all He did, we, and consequently, the Body of Christ, would remain shrivelled and weak. For sure, our God is more than able to do His part. But He also expects us, both personally and corporately, to do ours: to exercise, to stretch, to grow up in Christ.

Thankfully, we can rest assured that through it all, He watches over us, and will be with us, enabling us as we lean entirely on Him. For sure, His grace remains sufficient for us, even as He administers the “no mercy” policy.

With that, I fixed my appointment with the physiotherapist. Caution: Ouch Ahead!

If it’s Good For God, it’s Good For Me

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It wasn’t a response I was used to. Honestly, I don’t remember being taught to pray or speak like that. Perhaps, that’s why the verse caught my attention as I was reading 1 Chronicles 19.

The Ammonites had engaged the help of the Syrians to fight against Israel on two fronts. When Joab realised that the enemy was both “before and behind”, he assigned Abishai to handle the Ammonites, and himself, the Syrians. After pledging to help each other out should either front proved too strong, Joab said:

“Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” 2 Chr 19:13

Wait a minute! That didn’t sound like a prayer of faith, did it? Shouldn’t Joab have declared boldly that God has delivered the enemies into their hands? Or if that was too presumptuous, then at least that God would deliver the enemies into their hands. Should he not have proclaimed victory in the name of YHWH?

Given the faith teachings I have been exposed to, that’s what I would have done. Yes, victory in Jesus’ Name!!! Or at the very least, a good outcome – in my favour of course. After all, I am more than a conqueror, an overcomer! Yeah! Lemme at ’em! Grrrrrrrrr!

Well, Joab didn’t do any of that at all. In effect, what he said was, “Hey bro, let’s just do our part and leave the result to God. Whatever the outcome, it’d be cool. If we win, praise the Lord. If God decides it’s best to sacrifice a few pieces for the sake of His larger plan, and we lose and die, that’d be ok too. May the LORD do what is good in His sight.” In other words, whatever was good for God would have been good for Joab.

By our understanding these days, Joab would have been considered a doubter, one who is unsure hence choosing to leave it open-ended, just in case. But as I read and re-read the verse, I don’t see doubt at all, but faith. Here was a man who was willing to trust God, no matter what. He would still do his part – his very best – for God, for his king, and for his people. Given a choice, a good outcome would be to defeat the enemy and to win the battle. But ‘good’ was not for Joab to define. ‘Good’ was for God to determine. And whatever was good for God would have been good for Joab.

In no way am I suggesting that it is wrong to ask for favourable outcomes. There are enough examples in the Bible of such prayers. In fact, no one needs to teach us how to pray for good outcomes because we do that automatically. Going on a picnic, we ask for sunshine (not too hot). Sitting for an exam, we ask for good grades (easy questions). Playing against another team, we pray to win (because asking for the other team to lose just doesn’t sound right). Seldom, if ever, would we pray, “May the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

Joab’s response has really caused me to ponder if I would be willing to adopt that same posture in all situations? If I truly believe God is sovereign and in total control of all things, would I trust Him completely for and in all outcomes? If I declare that God is good and His mercy endures forever, would I accept that a negative or bad occurrence can still work for good because a good God has allowed it. And if He deems it good enough to be allowed, would I allow Him to show me the good in and through what has been allowed, even if it didn’t seem very good to me?

Through this reflection, I am reminded that faith is not only the ability to ask and believe what I have asked for, that I may receive. Faith is also the willingness to leave God to be God, to do as He pleases, however that may turn out in the end. And if it’s good for God, it’s good for me.

What Are Your Core Convictions?

When I set up One Day At A Time back in 2007, I felt it necessary to include a page where I shared My Core Convictions. For churches or para-church ministries, it would be a page detailing their Statements of Faith. But for a personal blog, it’s just a broad overview of what I believe in and what guides my spiritual walk.

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Over the years, this list has not only served as good reminders, but also a great source of encouragement to me. It points me back to what I regarded as foundational (still do), and helps me in my own alignment check. And especially in trying and difficult seasons, these simple lines anchor and hold me steady through challenges.

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Reviewing them again, I am thankful I made the effort to craft these ten statements then. I know that these pale in comparison with Jonathan Edwards’ 70 Resolutions. But then again, it was never meant to be too academic a piece or to sound overly theological. My Core Convictions simply detail what I believe about God, His Purpose, salvation, faith, obedience, the Word, provision, ministry, the Holy Spirit, God’s will and grace (supported by Scripture, of course).

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What are your core convictions? Do you have core convictions? If not, I highly recommend that you take some time to ponder and to write them down. It is a worthy exercise as it will bring clarity to your walk with the Lord, strengthen your resolve as you serve Him, and also provide focus as you navigate through life’s many distractions and uncertainties.

The Experience & Joy of Being on Kingdom Assignment

IMG_5266I just returned last evening from Batam where I spoke at Bartley Christian Church’s Zone Camp. This was the second camp engagement in June, the first being Shekinah AG Church Camp. Next Monday, I will leave for Bintan to speak at Hakka Methodist Church’s Camp. To me, three camps in June is already quite a stretch to me (this is the first time I’ve ever committed to three camps!). Interestingly, I bumped into Pastor Benny Ho in Batam (he was the speaker for Jurong Christian Church Camp) and discovered he would be speaking at five camps this year! (No, I am not trying to compete with him at all – haha!)

Although the work of the ministry is demanding, as I move about my kingdom assignment through Archippus Awakening, I am discovering a very precious truth all over again. It’s not that this is new to me but I have come into a deeper appreciation of it. There are many Christian concepts and principles that sound good. When shared, many of us would very likely and readily nod and agree. But it is one thing to express intellectual assent with a particular truth and yet totally another to experience it first hand! And this is what I am experiencing afresh as I seek to faithfully fulfil this assignment which I have received in the Lord.

I have taught over and over about the grace of God, the favour and blessing of God, the power of God and the love of God. These are great truths! We would say AMEN and AMEN and AMEN! But in the past year of stepping out into the unknown, in the recent months of venturing into things that my little finite mind cannot grasp, I have experienced the depth of my heavenly Father’s love in new dimensions! In times of wrestling with weakness and even fatigue, I have experienced the sustaining power of His grace! In moments of doubt and anguish, I have experienced His presence, His comfort and His favour!

Not to appear facetious, but is it not accurate that many may declare a statement of truth and yet not perceive it to be true? That’s because for many it has remained largely cognitive and not experiential. How then can this be resolved? Quite simply, you can’t experience anything until you get to experience it! For this reason, the Lord invites us to participate in what He is doing. He knows that until we jump into something larger than ourselves, we will never come to an understanding or have a revelation of who our God is and what He is absolutely capable of!

Dear friends, I exhort and encourage you: Get aligned with the Lord and be on assignment for Him! It is when you take that first step of obedience that you begin to experience a deeper fullness of what it means to trust the Lord. Make no mistake! The assignments are not to show or prove how capable we are. On the contrary, God’s kingdom assignments will often expose how weak and how frail we are, yet at the same time reveal how good and how great our God is! This is the paradox of kingdom dynamics and living! Oh, how we love to think it is all about us when it is always about Him and Him alone! That said, kingdom purposes notwithstanding, the Lord in His sovereignty will use every kingdom endeavour to work a deeper work of transformation in each of us.

To this end, I’m beginning to understand, a little bit more, the words of Jesus, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:25) If I only serve that I may derive a sense of achievement, importance or belonging, my Christian activity, however sacrificial, is largely self-serving. But if I am willing to lose myself to the purposes of the kingdom, dare I say in total abandonment, I begin to receive the greatest joy and satisfaction beyond what I can ask or imagine! This is because in relying wholly upon Him who has given the task that I may be enabled to complete the task, I get to discover that truly everything that I am and ought to be is found only in Him who is Life!

Truly, there is no greater joy than to be serving the Lord, to be on assignment with and for Him! I am just so thankful that He has made me worthy in Christ to participate in what He is doing in these final hours. May this humble reflection bring much encouragement!

The Loss of Myles Munroe: How Do You Explain Such A Tragedy?

Dr Myles MunroeEvery once in a while, something happens that triggers a flood of questions. And quite possibly, there are little or no answers to any of these questions.

The tragic plane crash that caused the death of all its nine passengers, amongst which were Myles Munroe, his wife and daughter, is one such happening. I am certain much is being discussed both on- and off-line, and both inside and outside of the church.

How do you explain such a tragedy; and especially one that involves a faithful servant of God?

Please – just for a moment – refrain from spewing standard Christian answers, platitudes, clichés and slogans. I know these all too well and I might have used some of these too in times of simply not knowing what else to say, in hope that it might bring some comfort or encouragement. At the very least, it made me appear spiritual and matured.

The truth is, such tragedies are still rather unfathomable and causes one to grapple with its seeming meaninglessness … and unfairness.

I don’t struggle of the fact that all must one day die and that salvation in Jesus Christ is to be received by His grace while we are still alive. What I struggle with, I guess, is the way one dies. I remember listening to quite a few stories and testimonies of faithful men and women of God who passed into eternity in their sleep peacefully. These quickly evolved into teaching principles and promises that those who walked closely with the Lord will never face a tragic death. As a much younger Christian then, I lapped it all up. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a peaceful uneventful departure? Note also that although it is not openly stated, the opposite is often implied … that those who do not walk closely with the Lord will encounter death more dramatically. Based on such thinking, we would have to conclude that the apostles, persecuted and martyred with tragic deaths, were all unfaithful and did not have a close walk with God. How absolutely absurd!

Today, having seen and experienced more, I will be very careful how I share such stories. We cannot presume that such “principles” apply across the board. Think about it: One day, the Christian community celebrates the 96th birthday of Billy Graham; and almost immediately after that, we mourn the loss of 60 year old Myles Munroe. How do you explain it? Is one more faithful than the other? Don’t even go there.

I really don’t have any plausible explanation. And any attempt will simply prove feeble and futile. I simply don’t know and it’s very hard to make sense of these tragedies on this side of eternity.

Please do not think that I have lost my faith or hope in God. Not at all. Let it be said that it is because of our faith in God and the hope we have in Him that we can find strength to live with and through such tensions. In the meantime, I will be honest to admit that I don’t have all the answers, and I’d be very careful that I do not unconsciously portray myself as one who thinks I do.

3 October: Another Spiritual Milestone To Remember

Photo Source: http://www.philanthropyfashion.com/memorial-stones/
Photo Source: http://www.philanthropyfashion.com/memorial-stones/

“Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal. Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”” Joshua 4:19–24

In Joshua 4, God instructed Joshua to erect a monument of twelve stones after the crossing of the Jordan. This was to serve as a memorial for generations to come and also for the world to know the power and faithfulness of God in the lives of His people. Similarly, there have been many key dates and events in my journey with the Lord and I want to make a conscious and deliberate effort to never forget any of these. I have “erected” spiritual milestones for these, and this is what I am doing here again.

Last year, on 3 October 2013, when we were both in a season of fasting and praying, the Lord spoke clearly to me through my wife, Serene. That morning, Serene stepped in and said, “The Lord says to cross over; and where we are going, we have not gone this way before.” She was reading the Bible when Joshua 3:4 ‘jumped’ out of the page at her, specifically, “that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” When I heard those words, my heart stirred with affirmation and we knew the time had come for us to ‘cross over’ into a new season and assignment. Where and how? We had no clue at all! What followed was my stepping down as pastor of CVCC; and later on, as dean of CVSOM.

I can’t believe that was one year ago. Time has gone by so quickly and so much has taken place. And as I have shared in other posts, I have since received fresh instructions for the ministry of Archippus Awakening. In my cave time of three months Jan-Mar 2014, I rested and worked on the manifesto. In April, the Lord gave me permission to publicly declare Archippus Awakening. On 3 August 2014, we held a prophetic event to birth this ministry in the presence of witnesses. Immediately after that, the Lord provided an opportunity for us to host our very first Awakening Event (A.W.E.), “The Beginning of the End” with Amir Tsarfati on 1 October, just two days ago Praise the Lord!

The funny thing is that when people ask me what the next steps are, I still find myself saying, “I don’t know and I’m not really sure.” To some, this may appear irresponsible or conclude that I have not spent enough time in God’s presence. That’s really fine by me because I remember His words to us. We have not gone this way before and He will lead us one day at a time, one step at a time.

That said, I do have broad strokes of where we are headed and I have given myself the next six months to be praying these through and developing these thoughts more concretely. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” And that is how it has been so far since stepping out again! I pray, I plan and I proceed. But God’s purposes always take priority and I am ever ready to be corrected and re-directed by Him. After all, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless, the Lord’s counsel – that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

And so, to my collection of spiritual milestones, I gladly add another one … 3 October 2013 … the day the Lord challenged Serene and myself to trust Him all over again; to follow Him where He will lead, to go where we have not gone before.

What are some of your spiritual milestones? Take time today to remember these, to recount the Lord’s blessings and faithfulness in your walk with Him. Receive new strength and hope for the way ahead, knowing that if He has come through for you in the past, He will most definitely see you through today and tomorrow.

Who Says Faith And Fear Cannot Co-Exist?

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Yesterday, I saw this post on Facebook: “FEAR AND FAITH CANNOT CO-EXIST.”

This FEAR-FAITH declaration is not a new one and I’ve heard it many times before. You probably have been taught the same thing … that FAITH and FEAR are diametrically opposite, never to be seen or mentioned together. Well, this is not altogether inaccurate but I’d like to share a different perspective to the relationship with faith and fear. Relationship?! Yes, I have found that these two words do and can co-exist. I discovered this when I re-read one of my favourite verses one day, Hebrews 11:7 …

“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Heb 11:7 NKJV

It never occurred to me before but that day, I read the verse again and realised that both faith and fear were mentioned together in the same verse! Because I had been taught that the two words don’t go together, I completely missed the significance of this verse. In my mind, each time faith is mentioned, fear cannot be present; and vice versa. As a result, I had conditioned myself to dislike the word ‘fear’ and developed an automatic blotting out of that word whenever it appeared; and especially when faith is mentioned. I didn’t realise that by adopting that posture, I also conveniently erased every understanding of fear, including that of godly fear or the fear of the Lord!

Noah was a man of faith. And it was his faith in the Lord – what he believed in and of God – that produced a holy, reverent or godly fear which in turn moved him to obey every instruction and warning that came from God. When God said that He would judge mankind, He meant it! When God said that He would bring a flood, He meant it! When God told Noah to build an ark, Noah readily obeyed because his faith brought about a holy fear that God meant what God said! And if Noah didn’t proceed to work on the vessel for the next 120 years, he too would have been swept away by the waters, whether or not he repeated his salvation prayer or not!

We see the same example in our Lord Jesus Christ “who, in the days of his flesh, when He offered prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb 5:7-8 NKJV) If anyone had 100% faith, Jesus did. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He had complete faith in the Father whether the cup was removed or not. And yet, filled and led by the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2), Jesus submitted to the Father’s will for “His delight [was] in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:3). Like Noah, by faith, Jesus, moved with godly fear, obeyed and went all the way to the cross. Once again, the corresponding result of faith was fear, godly fear; and out of that, obedience.

My point? Simply this: Without realising it, our minds have been shaped by one-liners like “Fear and faith cannot co-exist.” or “Fear looks. Faith leaps.” As such, subconsciously, we have learnt to detest the word ‘fear’, even if it is godly or holy. Even when teaching about the fear of the Lord, we tend to qualify that as ‘reverence’ or ‘awe’, all too quickly and apologetically even. Clearly, we fear the word ‘fear’ and as far as possible, we’d rather not have it. Consequently, Christians today have little understanding of what it truly means to fear the Lord. We may say that we reverence Him or worship Him or hold Him in awe, but somehow, it just isn’t the same! We may lift our hands in darkened auditoriums and shed tears when we feel the tingles but as long as we don’t respond in obedience, we just do not fear the Lord! And that’s the problem with faith as we  know it today. We have been told that faith and fear simply do not go together. And so, our faith in our God is just that. We talk so much about faith but few are ever moved, as Noah and Jesus were, by godly fear that results in sacrificial obedience.

So yesterday, when I saw this post on Facebook: “FEAR AND FAITH CANNOT CO-EXIST.”, I couldn’t help but respond with the comment: “Not unless it is godly fear.”

What A Weekend of Expectation and Empowerment!

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When we closed our Encounter Weekend last year, I declared the number, “120!” Then, I didn’t know that that would be the theme for this year’s Encounter Weekend. As I sought the Lord, it became very clear to me that it would be “120: EXPECTATION & EMPOWERMENT”. In my heart, I asked the Lord for one hundred and twenty participants. Over this weekend of 29-30 March, with registrants and guests, we numbered 106. Thankfully, Acts 1:15 records that it was “about a hundred and twenty”. For sure, God is specific but it is not about specifics but the significance of what He would do when His people gather with expectation.

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The moment we started on Saturday morning, God began to move. After making some introductory comments, the Spirit led me on a different track and we broke out into song and into praying in tongues. After that, the Lord said that what we had just experienced was only a foretaste! And indeed, it was. Across the next sessions of praise, worship and teaching, His manifest presence was so strong. We’ve had great singing before but this time, it was very different. The voices rose up to the heavens as every person hungered and thirsted for more of God! And He readily obliged!

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DSC05949It was my turn to bring the Word on Saturday night. After another tremendous time of worship led by Ps Jun, I felt that we should continue singing and that’s what we did. I stayed on the keyboards and we sang love songs to Jesus! This really surprised me because I have never done anything like this before. It would another 20mins of spontaneous worship before I got up to share the Word. I taught about BIBLICAL HOPE and how that should encourage believers to grow towards perfection and to remain faithful in ministry regardless the pressures and challenges of this age. Our expectation is not based on wishful thinking but a Hope that is certain and fully assured according to God’s unchanging Word.

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When the people responded to the altar call, the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully! Many experienced God’s love and grace; some were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues for the very first time. Healing and restoration also took place. Words of prophecy and knowledge were released. And even as I report this, I must make it very clear that it was all God’s doing by the power of the Holy Spirit. I went on and on and on, and at times was physically tired, but there was such a liberty and joy as I ministered under the anointing. I have learnt not to force or push anyone to fall. Yet, it is extremely exciting when God moves! You know it is the Spirit when you lay hands and pray but nothing happens; and the moment you walk away from the person, he/she falls under the power! Awesome!!! It’s all about Jesus!

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I give thanks for the co-labour of the other speakers in Rev Francis, Ps Linda and Bro Jacob. I have always been amazed and remain amazed at how God leads us all separately and yet every message is connected. The times of worship led by Ps Jun, Bro George, Sis Trisha and SIs Linda, together with Ps Andrew who led the Morning Prayer, were simply electrifying. I believe the angels sang with us too. Praise God too for the intercessors who prayed for this weekend. For sure, all our prayers have been answered by the Lord!

When we ended yesterday, some participants stepped forward to testify. It was so encouraging to hear of how God ministered to each of them personally! God knows every person and every need. And in His presence, He addressed everything for them. Our God is so good and faithful! As each participant left yesterday, they brought back a fresh encounter with the Lord. I am praying that they will learn to keep it fresh in their hearts and allow the Lord to take them to the next level. As with all encounters, it does not signal an end but only a beginning.

What would the next Encounter Weekend hold for CVSOM, I wonder? I don’t really know but it will be the 8th Encounter Weekend; and 8 is always about “new beginnings”.

The Ways of the Kingdom

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I was assigned this sermon title and I pondered how best to share the aspects of the Kingdom within one session. Surely, I wouldn’t do justice to a topic as broad as this. Then, the thoughts began popping into my mind and I began to be overwhelmed by the various aspects of the Kingdom – what the Kingdom is about, what it means to be in the Kingdom and what is required of one who is a subject of the Kingdom!

I tried my best to put the points down and to organise them in as best a way as I possibly could. I know this list is certainly not exhaustive and I may well have missed a few (quite a few) here and there. But my prayer is that it will provide a good start to someone desiring to delve more into Kingdom understanding and matters, and that it would encourage and provoke us to live more purposefully for the King of kings and His Kingdom!

RESCUE First and foremost, we must never forget how we got delivered from the power of darkness and into the Kingdom of God (Col 1:13). Jesus literally went into enemy territory on a rescue mission and saved us. We were enslaved by sin and on the road to hell! That’s what the word ‘gospel’ means. It’s a message of hope announcing the arrival of a better king and His kingdom. It’s a call to repent, to turn and to follow this king! “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 When we believe and accept this good news of Jesus Christ by faith, rebirth and regeneration by the Holy Spirit gains us entry into the Kingdom (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

RULE Whilst Christians may readily accept Jesus as Saviour, not many acknowledge Him as King, Lord and Master. But He is! He paid a hefty price of redemption with His own blood and set us free from the power of sin. We belong to Him and are subjects of His Kingdom. We are under His rule and we do His bidding. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done!” Sadly, many recognise His rescue but not His rule, preferring to live by their own dictates and desires. “But why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?“ Luke 6:46 For these, the phrase, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” is truly questionable.

REALM Kingdom literally means the King’s domain or realm. The extent of that domain determines the greatness of that King and Kingdom. The Kingdom of God transcends the natural and includes the spiritual! Don’t miss this awesome truth! Before there was the natural, it was the spiritual and that’s where the real action is (Heb 11:3). When we operate in the spiritual, we operate in the super-natural. Hence, Paul’s constant reminder for us to live a life in the Spirit, to set our minds on things above and not on things on the earth (Col 3:2).

RESPONSIBILITY I love the terms, “child of God” and “friend of God”. But I mustn’t disregard those of “ambassador”, “soldier”, “steward” and “servant”. I represent the Kingdom of God and I have responsibilities. The Kingdom parables make this extremely clear (Matt 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” Matt 24:45-46

RIGHTEOUSNESS The Kingdom is about the rule of God and the establishment of His righteousness (Matt 6:33a). Search the Scriptures and you will find that righteousness is always mentioned alongside salvation. That said, Jesus clarifies that this is not merely an outward show of piety but a heart that beats for the righteousness of the Kingdom. Our message is not for people to do the right things and be righteous, but for all to receive righteousness from Jesus and then be enabled to live righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit. This life of righteousness in the Spirit is the narrow way that leads to life and peace! Matt 7:13-14; Rom 8:6; Gal 6:7-8

RELATIONSHIP & RECONCILIATION From the beginning, it was about relationship between God and Man, out of which God’s rule and reign would be established on earth. And when that was affected by sin, the focus moved to reconciliation that relationship might be restored. God demonstrated that through the constant wooing of His people, through the sending of Jesus that the world might be reconciled to Him. And so it must be with our relationships too where grace is exercised, mercy shown and forgiveness extended. Freely we have received, freely we must give. Yet often, in our zest for righteousness, we become pharisaical, condemning and killing relationships instead of bringing life to them.

RESOURCE When the King sends, He also provides. In sending the disciples, Jesus told them not to worry about their needs. As long as we are on mission for the Kingdom, all these will be taken of (cf Matt 6:33). At the same time, every spiritual resource of heaven is available to us too through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit! The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! We have all power and authority over principalities and powers because we sit with Christ in heavenly places.

REJECTION Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:11-12 Live the ways of the Kingdom and get ready to be rejected and persecuted. Not everyone welcomes the message of the Kingdom. Not everyone desires Jesus to be King. It’s just too bad that they take it out on the messengers of the Kingdom. Jesus warned His disciples, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20) So brace yourself.

RESILIENCE The Christian walk is no walk in the park at all! Remember that we are still in a spiritual battle. There will be opposition and distraction. At times, life seems extremely unfair and God can appear extremely unjust when He allows certain situations to take place. Hence, the need for a sound and renewed mind that knows the person of God and also the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (1 Peter 1:13; Rom 12:2). Hence, the need for persistence in prayer and faith that we might not lose heart (Luke 18:1-8) in the face of difficult and challenging times and people.

REST Make no mistake, Kingdom work is hard work but it need not be burdensome work (1 John 5:3). But it would be extremely tiring and draining if we only relied on our own strength and abilities. Although we might appear to start out strong, it is only a matter of time when we fail and our flesh condemns us. It is in acknowledging our weakness that we begin to trust in His strength, to rest in His completed work, to work from this position of rested-ness in Christ alone!

READINESS & RETURN This is definitely not the time to rest on our laurels, to hang up our boots. If there is any time in the history of humanity to be alert and watchful, this is the time “for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Rom 13:11) As we work, let us watch, that the watching may in turn provide the impetus and urgency for our working. The signs of the time are all around us. Jesus is returning soon.

REWARDS These are the words of Jesus: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Rev 22:12 Salvation is not of works but it is for works (Eph 2:8-10). And it is the works that would position us for Kingdom rewards! James reminds us that our works provide the evidence that our faith is real and alive, and by our works, our faith is perfect. I’ve always wondered what “dead faith” (James 2:26) means or results in? Point to ponder for those who might too glibly proclaim, “I’m not after the rewards for I’m content with salvation by faith.”?