Monday, 13 November 2017

The Fragrance of Winter

Hello All,

Can you sense fragrance in the stench of despair? Can you see the good in the bad? Can you see God’s love behind the atrocities of life?

There are many sorrows and tragedies that we may not be able to come to terms with. It’s all too natural to question God’s goodness in the pit of suffering and pain.

We may not have any answers to the brokenness of this life. But God has the answers, though He may not reveal them to us in this life. His ways are higher than ours and He can see what we can’t.



By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (9 November 2017)

The fragrance of winter is in the air
Elegant snow is falling everywhere
Where does fragrance come from in this season?
The trees are bare; the flowers have fallen

The fragrance of winter is in the air
There’s beauty in the winter of despair
The sweet fragrance comes from the ground below
Do you see blue flowers beneath the snow?

The fragrance of winter is in the air
God gives hope in the winter of despair
Can you smell the lovely fragrance of myrrh?
It issues from the tomb before Easter

The fragrance of winter is in the air
God’s grace lifts us from the tomb of despair
The fragrance of the Cross is shared with all
Who believe in Jesus after the Fall

The fragrance of winter is in the air
Spring comes after the winter of despair
There will be a day when all is made new
When stale rivers become fresh morning dew



Points for Reflection:
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
(Revelation 21:4 ESV)
·       Despite our questions and maybe even anger at the unfairness of life, we can draw comfort from God’s sacrificial love shown through the death of Jesus Christ.
·       We may not understand the purpose behind our pain, but we have a God who has gone through excruciating pain to save us from the hell of eternal torment. He knows your pain. He knows my pain. He knows our pain.
·       The suffering that we may be facing now is truly hard to endure but it will not last forever. For those who trust in Jesus Christ, we can look forward to the day when we see God in heaven.
·       Heaven is a joyful place with no tears. It is a place where broken relationships will be made whole. It is a place where we can enjoy being with God and His people forever. Do you long for that day? I know I do.
·       The fragrance of winter is in the air. Spring comes after the winter of despair. There will be a day when all is made new; when stale rivers become fresh morning dew.



Monday, 6 November 2017

Beneath a Blanket of Snow

Hello All,

Winter marks the end of the cycle of seasons. It reminds us of the year that is coming to an end. What has passed is now buried in the snow and when spring comes, it will be no more.

The year carries with it its highlights and heartaches. All that falls in between is usually forgotten.

As you reflect on the year that is coming to an end, what would you consider your highlights and heartaches? What were your happiest and most painful moments?

Winter, though gloomy, is beautiful. It possesses the beauty of hope. The hope of spring, a new beginning. But there is beauty not only in its future hope but in its frozen rivers and bare trees. In our scarcity, we find the plenteous mercy of God.


By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

The land lies beneath a blanket of snow
The river is frozen and does not flow
The leaves have fallen and the trees are bare
Winter is dressed like a maiden so fair

The land lies beneath a blanket of snow
Its beauty and fairness blossom and grow
And yet there's sadness and grief in the air
Sadness is dressed like a maiden so fair

The past lies beneath a blanket of snow
It's frozen but still there, and does not flow
The past is now gone, but memories are there
The past is dressed like a maiden so fair

My heart lies beneath a blanket of snow
My tears are frozen and do not flow
My grief is silenced and my mind is bare
Sorrow is dressed like a maiden so fair

My heart lies beneath a blanket of snow
My soul is frozen but Jesus knows
He knows my sorrows and His hand is there
His hand guides me when my feelings are bare

My hope lies within a manger so low
A manger too humble for Christ, I know
Born of a virgin in a place so bare
But great was His mission - our sins to bear

My hope lies beneath the great Tree that glows
On that Tree, my Saviour's blood streams and flows
My sins have fallen for my sins He bears
The Tree is dressed like a maiden so fair

My life lies beneath the great Throne that glows
From that Throne, the River of life flows
Jesus sits enthroned and white robes He wears
Joy is mine for in His Kingdom I share


Points for Reflection:
For to us, a child is born, to us, a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)
·       Despite our past and present circumstances, our eternal hope lies within a manger and beneath the Tree. Our hope lies in the birth and death of Jesus Christ.
·       Jesus became one of us through a miraculous virgin birth and He saved us from God’s wrath through His death on the Tree. Through His death and resurrection, sinners like us are made righteous and are ushered into God’s Kingdom.
·       Jesus now sits enthroned in the heavens and we will see Him face to face in our future and eternal home.
·       Because of this hope, we can be comforted and strengthened in the gloomy winters of our lives.
·       There’s beauty in winter and all that lies beneath a blanket of snow.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Sometimes…

Hello All,

Sometimes the bitterness of life brings out the sweetness of the love and kindness of a friend.

If we had a choice, we would rather have a life without a trace of bitterness, hardships, and heartbreaks.

But sometimes it is during the most painful moments of your life that the love and kindness of a friend are most evident.



By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

Sometimes
Bitterness brings out the sweetness
Of a friend, whose love and kindness
Surpass the bitterness of pain
And shelter our souls from the rain

Sometimes
Bitterness brings out the sweetness
Of God’s love, whose grace and goodness
Surpass the bitterness of grief
And help our hearts find relief

Sometimes
Bitterness brings out the sweetness
Of the cross, where Christ, the Sinless
Took on the bitterness of shame
And rescued our souls from the flame

Sometimes
Bitterness brings out the sweetness
Of a friend, whose love and kindness
Reflect the perfect love of God
Though they are imperfect and flawed


Points for Reflection:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
(John 15:12-14 ESV)
·       A friend whom you feel safe sharing your struggles with and who constantly points you to Christ is indeed a great blessing from God.
·       Despite the imperfections of our friends, their love is a reflection of God’s perfect love.
·       Jesus Christ is the perfect Friend. He laid down His life so that sinners like us, who were once God’s enemies, can be reconciled to God as His friends.
·       Because Jesus has laid down His life for us, we are told to lay down our lives for our friends. We cannot die the death that Jesus died to save sinners, for we ourselves are sinners in need of saving. But we can die to our selfish desires to live for ourselves. We can put the needs of others before ours in wholehearted service and sacrifice.
·       Who are the friends that you can be showing God’s love to? How can you mirror God’s love to them? Who can you be reaching out to today?


Monday, 23 October 2017

Life Makes No Sense

Hello All,

Can you recall a time when life made no sense? Are you walking through such a time?

Can you recall a time when your mind shut down and refused to acknowledge the pain in your heart?

Have you ever felt numb? Have you ever turned to distractions and drugs to numb those deep-seated wounds?


By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

Life makes no sense
It’s all pretense
Nothing is real
That’s what I feel

Life makes no sense
The fog is dense
I feel no pain
I feel insane

Life makes no sense
It’s all nonsense
I am encaged
On a blank page

God, give me sense
When I feel dense
My mind is dim
My heart is grim

The cross makes sense
In life’s nonsense
When I can’t think
And when I sink


Points for Reflection:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
(Psalms 34:18 ESV)
·       When we are at our wits' end and can make no sense of life, the cross of Jesus Christ makes sense.
·       When we think we have lost all hope, the cross floods our empty trenches with hope.
·       Sometimes it is in our unfulfilled desires that we find true fulfilment in Christ.
·       Life's confusion and pain are megaphones that blast their message to us: this world is a mess and so are we.
·       If we are ever tempted to curse God in our pain, stop a moment to consider the suffering that Jesus Christ endured on the cross.
·       Although we cannot make sense of suffering, we cannot say that God does not care. He knows why; we don't. But He cares.
·       Jesus knows and has experienced suffering so that we can be spared from God's righteous judgement for our sin. We have rejected God’s rule over our lives, but He has accepted those of us who turn to Him as His beloved children.
·       Life may not make sense, but the cross does. Cling to the cross no matter what.



Monday, 16 October 2017

Life from the Ground

Hello All,

There are many things that do not seem to make sense. Many puzzles remain unsolved and mysteries unrevealed.

When these puzzles and mysteries hit us on a personal level, it hurts. Our hearts can make no sense of the pain of disappointment, betrayal, and loss.

Are there areas in your life that do not seem to make sense? Are you still hurting from the pain of disappointment, betrayal, and loss?

However, in unexpected ways, trials forge endurance, pain brings healing, and loss is gain. Life emerges from the ground through death.



By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

Life emerges from the ground
Life springs from a heart that was dead
Life from death is what I’ve found
Life comes from my Saviour who bled

Life emerges from the ground
Life springs from a soul that was dead
Life in Christ is what I’ve found
Life comes from my Jesus who bled

Life emerges from the ground
Though pain and anguish stay with me
Life in Him is what I’ve found
Hope, through this life, He gives to me


Points for Reflection:
"And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
(John 12:23-24 ESV)
·       We were spiritually dead in our sin. But through the death of Jesus Christ, He gives life to those who trust in Him.
·       Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ and received life in Him?
·       Now we die a different kind of death. We have died from the life we used to live. We’re no longer enslaved to sin but we are free from the judgment of sin. We are now slaves of a loving God.
·       In this life, we still struggle with the desire to sin but we are not enslaved to it. Through the Holy Spirit, God has given us the power to turn away from temptations. Although we still give in to temptation now and again, the Holy Spirit convicts and brings us to repentance.
·       What temptations do you struggle with? Bring your struggles to our merciful God in prayer.
·       Life emerges from the ground, though pain and anguish stay with me. Life in Him is what I’ve found. Hope, through this life, He gives to me