Friday, 17 May 2013

Leaving a Legacy

In the Bible, the book of Ruth is a very interesting book. It is one of 2 books named after women (Esther being the other one). Through revelation, I also realize that it is 1 of the few books where God is not portrayed tangibly. Nowhere in this book does God speak to someone nor does a prophet speaks His words. We also don't read any of His miracles being performed. Actually, you can say the book is most like a romance story. Girl leaves home and finds love again.

However, it is more than that. But before I explain myself, let's refresh our memories on the story of Ruth. Ruth was a foreigner, who chose to follow her mother-in-law (shocker!) back to her homeland without any means of livelihood or support. Once back, she decided to work to get food and through this, met Boaz. Taking her mother-in-law's advice, she approached Boaz and they got married. The end.

After reading this, a thought popped into my head: why is this book in the Bible? As I mentioned earlier, we do not see God's presence manifested in any way. However, what we do see is God's law put into practice and fulfilled as its meant to be. Added to the fact that King David was her descendant, we see how through simple obedience, Ruth and Boaz have left a legacy better and far futher consequence for us.

In the Old Testament, we all know that God explicitly told the Israelites not to mix with the foreigners in their land. Through their history, we see how their disobedience to this cause the nation to suffer. Nevertheless, God does allow foreigners who choose to serve Him to be welcomed. In Ruth, we see this. Both Ruth and Orpah loved Naomi, but Ruth went the extra mile: she vow to never leave her. In her words:

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.” - Ruth 1:16-17
In Israel, there is a law not to reap their harvest to the edge of their fields (Lev 19:9-10). We see in Ruth, the value of this law as Ruth can now go out among the fields to collect food for herself and Naomi. Through this fulfillment of the law, we see how God cares for those who follow Him and how He has already planned for their need way ahead of time. The other thing I caught is how Ruth must still go out into the fields and work for it. In short, God provides but we have to play our part too and go out and work it out.

Then we see God work His miracle. He brings Ruth to the field of a very generous man, Boaz. Furthermore, Boaz is Naomi's relative. Here we see how God not only blesses just enough but blesses with overflowing blessing. He didn't just give her food, He gave her protection and also brought her back into family. It could have been any generous man's field but God specifically brought Ruth to Boaz.

Why did He do that? In Ruth 3, we see the reason. We learn that Ruth obeyed not only Naomi's advice to ask Boaz to redeem them, but to do it in accordance with Jewish custom at that time, strange as it was. By doing so, she respected and trusted Naomi and she also gave respect to Boaz.

From Boaz's reply, we realize that he also has been thinking of redeeming Ruth and Naomi. Now, we see Boaz's integrity and respect for the law. He knew that there was a kinsman who was closer and should have first right to redeem them. Instead of simply redeem Ruth behind that kinsman's back, he chose to enlighten him to his right even if it means losing Ruth. He also made a promise to Ruth that he will sort it out and he went through with his promise. As it were, the kinsman refused and Boaz was now free to marry Ruth. Of course, we all know what was the outcome of that marriage.

In studying the story of Ruth, we learnt that it is one of God's law being fulfilled and how it is a blessing to us instead of hampering us. In Ruth and Boaz, we see 2 people who chose to honour firstly His word and to do things His way. We see great submission, unselfish love, deep respect and faithfulness so evidently lived out in their lives. We may not see God's presence manifested but the reason we have the book of Ruth, is to see God's word being fulfilled in everyday life and how His plans work out for the best; today and in our generations to come. In Ruth and Boaz, we also see how their commitment to righteousness; and how that added into King David's life.

Personally, I'm encourage to continue to live faithfully for God. Though it's harder, though I can't see the reward, I know I am leaving a legacy, one that would far exceed my expectations in the generations to come. We talk about leaving a legacy of a better world... and we often equate this to a greener world. I put it to you, that a better world also means living a life of righteousness and leaving that legacy to the future generations. That, to me, is the better gift.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Shield of Faith

The Bible talks about the shield of faith. Have you ever wondered why our faith is our shield? Recently, I have. And some of the enlightenment I received makes for an interesting development...

As we all know, the shield is a defensive weapon. Warriors carry it into battle to provide protection against enemy attacks. The shield helps to deflect potential attacks away. It can also catch the offensive weapon, allowing the warrior to parry and attack in response. Just like in our life, our faith leads us past potential mistakes and troubles. At times, it will catch the attack and allow us to respond; attacking the issue with the sword of the Spirit. Of course, we will have to carry it into battle. We need to hold it up and use it.

Interestingly, the shield is also an offensive weapon. As Pr. Kenneth puts it, we can move forward as the shield of faith deflects potential attacks. The shield deflects, we then can move forward. If you can't imagine how, think of how riot police move forward. While protesters try to attack them, the police put up their riot shield and are able to march forward. Soon, the riot would be dispersed. Another illustration of shields in attack is that used by Captain America. Hey, who doesn't get excited when he throws the thing?! Notice how it will fly through the air and knocks out the enemy. Because of our faith, we can knock the enemy away. Remember that when we pray, we pray by faith; seeking to break down enemy strongholds, breaking chains of bondage.

Lastly, the shield is used for battle identification. Armies of old march into battle with their allegiance painted on their shields. Shields are used in coat of arms. As we profess our faith, we nail our colours to the cross. We identify that our faith comes from God alone. It shows our dependance on Him and ultimately, that's what will help us breakthrough.

You know how sometimes we just don't have a logical answer, when we just have to say we have faith it will happen? I used to fret over whether we can defend our faith with logic. Then I realize that sometimes, saying that we move just due to faith is the best answer we ever have.

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. - Heb 11:33-34

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Gain Christ

All things are for you. Lord, what we do, what we do not do; it is all for You and You alone.

Everything is about gaining Christ. Truly in all that we go through, in all the decisions that we make, there is only one aim. It is all to lead us to Christ. For us to know Him more. It is vital that we remember and be reminded of this fact constantly. Nothing else is as important, everything else is secondary.

To that end, that is why we do our Quiet Time everyday. If this life is all towards Him, then we should spend TIME with Him. Through daily Quiet Time, we remain constantly in touch with Him. Through this, we will know Him more and more. Through this, we come to know His will and His plans for us.

Furthering this, constant prayer will. I don't know about you, but I enjoy the constant communal with Him through prayer. It is having your best friend walk with you, every step. Since we desire companionship, it is wonderful that we can have it all the time with Him. Why not claim it? He wants you to.

This is why we go to church. Don't go because someone ask you to. Don't go because you have to. Rather, go because you want to seek Him. Because you want to receive from the Lord. Go, so that He can move in your life and those around you. Go, to experience His goodness, His mercy, His grace. Go, to praise Him, to worship Him and to glorify Him. Church is not a weekly gathering that we do out of habit. Church is where we meet with God, seeking Him and learning of Him.

More than that, this purpose should dictate our every move. The events that we go. The work that we do. The service that we give. Whether we go full time or work in the marketplace. It is all to serve Him and to know Him. When we do this, we can't go wrong. For it is not us, it is Him who leads us through the right path.

Thank you for this revelation, Lord. Thank you, for Your wisdom.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Spiritual Earthquake

I just came back from Re:Union 2011: Taking It to the Next Level. The Holy Spirit was really evident and many lives were touched. I believe we all will never be the same again. But then again, this is just another manifestation of the Revolution that God has started. He has started a spiritual earthquake here in Malaysia.

Just as earthquakes have hit parts of the world, an earthquake has also hit Malaysia. Except this is a spiritual earthquake. God has shaken the very foundation of all that we use to believe in and brought our dependence back to Him. He took financial stability and proved what a sham that was. He shook the earth to show that even the physical foundation cannot be depended on. He has rattled the usual order of things in the country to show that things will never be the same again. And He wants to shake our personal belief to the core... so that we may again know that He alone is God and the only foundation we can depend on.

When an earthquake comes, it causes untold destruction. God also wants to destroy things in our life. He wants to take our old views and deconstruct them. He wants to take our perspective on life and prove it false. He wants to take our perspective on Him and throw it out the window. For how could we ever fully comprehend Him? His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). We can never be completely certain. And all we can always do is to continue to look to our God.

Earthquakes come fast. God is moving fast. Do not be fooled by the natural things around us. Do not also be deceived when He delays. He delays so that we may grow in Him. But He moves fast. Just read the book of Acts. Instant healing, immediate speaking of tongues, lives transformed on the spot. And don't forget, He made the whole world in only 7 days! God clearly does not move fast. Right now, He is even hurrying us. His movement is spreading like wildfire.

Now wildfires are a firemen's worse nightmare. They burn many trees in a very short amount of time. They spread uncontrollably fast. But that's how God is moving. For when something is out of our control, it's in God's control. That's better! Now He has taken over and is moving it forward faster than we can blink! Through this, we see His power and acknowledge that it is truly only through Him, nothing to do with us.

So I beseech you, brothers and sisters, rise up. Take hold of all that God has for you. Hold on to it, and let God take control. Let go of the steering wheel and surrender it to Him. We were always meant to be the co-pilot. The journey may be tough but it is oh so rewarding. For there is nothing better than to Pray, Listen and Obey the promptings of God. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

I'm not OK, but it's OK

There's a story of a cracked jar who thought it was worthless. It carried half the water of the full jar. but the farmer, who knows of the crack, still uses it to carry water. In fact, the farmer uses the crack to water beautiful plants. Without the crack, there may not be any plants.

What light shines the brightest? Naked, unhindered light. Those that come through transparent objects, cracked glasses. For what happens if we completely cover the light? It won't shine. It is completely sealed away, not able to be of use.

So what happens if we seal away our life? When we cover up our sins, hiding them away. God's light can't shine through. How will people see God if His light can't be seen through us? So we need to open up. Be transparent. Reveal our cracks so that His light can shine through, brightening up those lives around us.

And it doesn't matter who you are or how set your life is. You may seem OK, but I know that there's always cracks. For we are human. Humans make mistakes. Humans mess up. We mess up big time. We all always end up cracked, broken, soiled, full of the holes made by our errors.

So what do we do with these holes? We can cover them up or... we can allow God to shine through it. Surrender them to Him. Offer it as a sacrifice. For God takes it and in His wisdom, makes it all beautiful.

2 Corinthians 12:9 - But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (NIV)