Monday, 20 February 2017

Why Do You Worry?

Hello All,

The following scenario may sound familiar to you:

You see a loved one worrying excessively about something and out of concern, you tell her, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.’ She responds by saying, ‘Do you think I enjoy worrying? It’s just so hard not to worry.’

Telling a person not to worry will not stop a person from worrying. Worrying is, in actual fact, a symptom and a manifestation of a deeper problem.

We worry about matters that are of great importance to us. What we worry about reflects our priorities and the things we hold dear to our hearts.

What do you worry about? Food? Clothing? Finance? Career? Responsibilities? Your reputation? The approval of others? Unmet expectations? Relationships? The wellbeing of loved ones? Aging?



Worry
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (29 January 2017)

You say, 'How can I not worry?
Burdens are weighing down on me!'
God says, 'My child, do not worry
Lay your heavy burdens on me'

'I've dealt with your greatest burden
Your burden of sin I've taken
Give to me your lesser burdens
Those burdens I've also taken'

'Now, look at the birds of the air
Flying freely without a care
If God feeds the birds of the air
For you, dear child, He'll love and care'

Worrying is hard not to do
It may be natural for you
But God's Word tells us what to do
Seek first God’s kingdom; seek what’s true

THE END…

Points for Reflection:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Matthew 6:33 ESV)
·       God tells us to seek first His Kingdom. Many of us struggle to put God’s Kingdom first because we are so worried about our ‘little kingdoms’.
·       We are so worried about our ‘lesser burdens’ that we unconsciously forget the joy and relief we should be feeling over our freedom from our greatest burden – the burden of sin.
·       It is ironic that we are often more worried about our ‘lesser burdens’ in this life but hardly give a thought about our greatest burden of eternal value. Christ’s death on the cross has freed us from God’s judgment on our sin. We do not need to fear the sting of death for we can look forward to our future hope in heaven.
·       When we are tempted to worry about lesser things, let us remind ourselves of the freedom we have in Christ and rejoice in that wonderful gift. Let us reach out to those who are lost in darkness and need Jesus. Let us rejoice over a sinner that comes to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who are going through trials and temptations. Let us seek first the Kingdom of God.


Monday, 13 February 2017

Are You Worried?

Hello All,

Worrying is a common habit of many. There are some who are more prone to worrying than others.

However, no one in this world is spared from the anxieties and cares of this world. No one can say that they have never felt anxious or worried about anything. They may worry less in comparison to others but they are not ‘worry-free’.

Are you feeling worried? If so, what are you worried about?

You may not be feeling worried right now. But what do you usually worry about?

What are the things that distract you from enjoying the company of your loved ones, the cool breeze against your face or the gentle pitter-patter of rain at twilight?



Worry
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

Worrying is hard not to do
It's all too natural for you
You have many things to do
Those things are piling up on you

There are words to say, bills to pay
Tension is increasing each day
But worrying just does not pay
It adds no hours to your day

'Worry not about tomorrow
For each day has enough sorrows'
The One who knows your tomorrow
Speaks soothing words to your sorrows

TO BE CONTINUED…

Points for Reflection:
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:34 ESV)
·         Many inspirational quotes emphasise on the brightness of tomorrow and on how we can overcome the challenges that tomorrow brings by sheer will power.
·         But there are many times in our lives when we dread the burdens of tomorrow. We push through lives with gritted teeth and clenched fists. And then we wonder to ourselves, ‘What is the meaning of life? Is this all there is to life?’
·         We have no control over what happens tomorrow. Although it is possible to steer the elements of our lives in our favour, we’ll have to admit that the outcome is often unpredictable.
·         But there is One who knows our tomorrow. God holds our lives in His hands and He cares for us. He is the Creator of the universe and He is asking us not to worry about tomorrow but to commit the future into His sovereign hands.
·         Jesus never minimised the problems that we face in this world. For He says, ‘In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.’
·         Are you anxious about tomorrow? Why don’t you bring your anxieties to God in prayer? Tell Him what you are worried about and ask Him to give you the peace of mind to commit the future to Him. Find rest in Him and do not let the worries of tomorrow rob you of the blessings of today.


Monday, 6 February 2017

Coming Out of the Closet

Hello All,

Do you remember the feeling of being trapped? It is very common for many to rouse from nightmares of being trapped in an enclosed area. When I was a child, I often dreamt of being trapped under the bed, with all openings for escape sealed.

There was once a little girl who felt trapped in the closet she grew up hiding in. ‘The Closet of Shame’ was the name coined for that dark, gloomy closet. She had the key to open that locked closet. But the uncanny thing was that her mindset kept her believing that she was trapped, with no way out.

An inner child resides in each one of us. Our age may tell us that we are grownups but many of us carry the emotional wounds we sustained as a child into adulthood. Instead of bringing those wounds to God in prayer, we hide from them in a closet of shame.



Coming Out of the Closet
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

I’ve been hiding in a place so dark
The place; a closet bearing shame’s mark
Has been my prison and hiding place
It’s trapped me like a winding maze

The darkness is thick and tangible
The shame is painfully palpable
The darkness of shame is like a fog
A fog that clouds a gloomy bog

One day, I heard God’s voice calling me
‘Why remain trapped when I’ve set you free?
Now, open the closet, do not fear
There’s no need to fear for I’m right here’

I pushed open the closet of shame
Took one step forward and out I came
I glanced back at what held me captive
I’ve been given a new life to live

‘Look, but do not return to your past
I’ve given you freedom that will last
Forever and for eternity
Your shame I’ve vanquished on the Tree’

The freedom felt too good to be true
Is this true? I didn’t have a clue
Am I really free? How could this be?
My heart was filled with uncertainty

‘Take my hand now, I’ll show you the way’
His kind voice compelled me to obey
He guided me with steps to follow
He told me to look through the window

I peered through the window in the room
I saw beautiful flowers in bloom
The garden had a beauty so rare
‘Are you now ready to set foot there?’

My yearning eyes gazed at the fountain
Right in the centre of the garden
Despite my longing, I felt great fear
‘There’s no need to fear for I’m right here’

‘I’ve never left this room; I’m afraid
So afraid of getting hurt,’ I said
‘You’ve been hurt deeply; now that is true
Look at my hands that were pierced for you’

‘My hands I’m now extending to you
Hold them and let us start things anew
My nail-scarred hands will heal those memories
In my arms, you’ll find strength and safety’


Points for Reflection:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:1-2 ESV)
·       It is Jesus Christ who gives us the key to freedom from that closet of shame that has been holding us captive.
·       For those of us who trust in Christ, we may know intellectually that Christ has died in our place to set us free from facing the wrath of God. But our intellectual knowledge often does not match how we feel about our current circumstances in life.
·       Painful memories of the past, stormy trials of the present and nerve-wracking anxieties of the future may be holding our minds captive from fully enjoying the peace and freedom that we already have in Christ. We are living like prisoners instead of free citizens of God’s Kingdom.
·       What are the things that are holding your mind captive? What are you ashamed of? What are you hiding from?
·       Jesus Christ is extending to you his nail-scarred hands. Those hands were pierced for you. Remember the freedom that He has purchased for you with His precious blood. Find strength and safety in His arms.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Filthy No More

Hello All,

When was the last time you felt guilty about something you have done wrong?

What was your response to that guilt?



Filthy No More
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (26 October 2016)

Filthy I stand
On sinking sand
Filthy with sin
Stained from within

Filthy I am
Before I AM
Filthy with shame
Until Christ came

Filthy no more
With Christ, I soar
Righteous I stand
Saved by God's hand


Points for Reflection:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 ESV)
·         Guilt drives us in 2 opposite directions – towards God or away from Him.
·         Many will attempt to minimise and rationalise their sinful behaviours and make excuses for themselves. Some will try to perform more good deeds to make up for the bad ones. Others will hide away from God and wallow in shame.
·         Those are common responses that drive us away from God. So, what is the right response?
·         The Bible tells us to come boldly before God and confess our sins to Him. Our boldness does not come from our righteousness. It is Jesus Christ’s death on the cross that has taken away our guilt and shame. We are to approach God in humility for we are undeserving sinners who have received mercy from Him.
·         What sins are you reluctant to confess to God? Is it a secret sin you need to repent of?
·         Let guilt drive you to the foot of the cross, not away from it. Lay your burden of sin at the feet of Jesus Christ.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Forgiveness

Hello All,

Is there someone you are struggling to forgive?

What stage of forgiveness are you at? Are you unwilling to forgive? Are you willing but unable to forgive?

What is holding you back from offering forgiveness?



Forgiveness
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (13 December 2016)

Forgiveness is not a feeling
It’s not a feeling but a choice
It’s a gift I am withholding
It’s a choice that has lost its voice

The emotional hurt I bear
Cuts deep into my bleeding heart
Is there forgiveness anywhere?
I’m hurting from a deadly dart

Lord Jesus, help me to forgive
To pardon those who have wronged me
Let me, Your strength and grace, receive
That I may show others mercy


Points for Reflection:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
·       It is true that forgiveness for an offence so great requires time. Many of us are waiting for the ‘feeling’ of forgiveness to emerge in our hearts.
·       However, forgiveness is not a feeling but a choice. Our hearts may be bursting with anger and bleeding from the raw wound inflicted by the offender. Thoughts of revenge may even cross our minds.
·       While we may still be struggling with vacillating feelings of anger and sorrow, we can choose the path of forgiveness. After having made that choice, we need to rely on God’s grace and strength to counter the angry thoughts that threaten to invade our minds.
·       The Gospel of grace is all about forgiveness. We can show mercy because God has shown us mercy. We can forgive others, even if we feel they do not deserve it, because God has forgiven us when we least deserve it.
·       Are you willing to surrender your rights against the offender to God? Have you decided to forgive the offender just as God in Christ has forgiven you?