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Comfortable with Uncomfortable
May 19, 2017
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I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes. Romans 1:16

People love to do things they are comfortable with, and avoid anything uncomfortable. Fear of public speaking makes a juggernaut of discomfort! It has its own name: Glossophobia. 

Likewise, the very thought of sharing the gospel with a friend or colleague can send shivers down our collective spines. Let’s name it: Gospelophobia.  “I don’t know what to say,” “They might think I’m weird,” or "They’ll probably all reject me,” are all standard excuses that help us to snuggle far down into our comfort zones.

Paul’s call in Romans 1:16 is to us who feel uncomfortable in sharing the gospel. It’s true that our unease arises from the thought that our friend or colleague will reject the message, causing us to lose face. However, understanding that people come to believe not by our skills in communicating the gospel, but by the power of God, should provide us with much-needed comfort when we are uncomfortable. It is God who changes the heart and saves, not man.

Knowing that Christ was rejected to His face by the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-27) could give us some comfort. So even though Jesus Himself showed that man his need for a Saviour and the cost of discipleship, the young man still rejected Him and went away, sorrowful.

Success in Evangelism is measured not by outcome, but by obedience to the Great Commission. Our uncomfortable experience in this endeavour has eternal value when a soul is saved or not; either way we have the honour of being used directly by God to preach the message—regardless of response.

Learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable by:

  • Thanking your loving Father for His presence and ask His help to not be fearful in sharing the gospel.
  • Asking God to give you the spirit of obedience to His command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

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Don’t Fear, Don’t Veer; I’m Here
May 18, 2017
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Fear is common emotion throughout the Bible, and thankfully, with each expression of our fear, God negates it with one simple word: “not.” That succinct two-word reassurance and command to “Fear not” runs throughout Scripture, from Genesis (God to Abraham, 15:1) to Revelation (Jesus to John, 1:17).

Sometimes the command to Fear Not is expressed in a positive way. In Joshua we have one of the best examples of this. This comes at a time when Joshua has to fill the very big shoes of Moses. (I’m sure you’re familiar with his CV: led the Israelites out of Egypt; parted the Red Sea; received the Ten Commandments from God. And that’s only an abbreviated version.)

After Moses dies, God passes the big leadership task to Joshua: to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, and also to conquer all the people already living there. Easy to see how Joshua might be feeling just a bit nervous, and a little afraid.

In Joshua 1:6-9, God fleshes out how we are to Fear Not.

Don’t Fear: Or said from a positive perspective, “Be strong and courageous,” (1:6). God does more than dispel fear for us, He fills us, and blesses us with the antidote to fear. Don’t just quell your anxieties and worries and doubts. Courage is not simply the absence of fear. It is acting even when we are afraid, and in order to do that we need to be positive, optimistic, and hopeful.

Don’t Veer: “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go” (1:7).

Strength and courage from God can come supernaturally as a blessing or an answer to prayer. It also comes as a result of day-by-day obedience to Scripture. When we are intimately familiar with the Living Word and internalise it, memorise it, that itself is a source of bravery and reassurance. Strength and courage in life aren’t just “Hail Mary” prayers in desperate moments—they are also the result of daily spiritual discipline in the small things. 

I’m Here: “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (1:9). Perhaps the greatest antidote to fear is knowing that the Almighty God is always with us. Not only is God, the Father with us, e.g. externally, by our side, but Christ, the Son (Galatians 2:20) and the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) both live in us!

If you ever feel alone and isolated, take comfort in the fact that the full force and presence of the Trinity is “here” with you, alongside and within you.

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I Choose You
May 12, 2017
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Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14:2b

“I choose you.” This is the foundation of a healthy and lasting relationship. It can only be built between two people who choose one another and take full responsibility for that choice. It is a refusal to run away from difficulties and is a decision to embrace the opportunity to journey together. We hear this touching line a lot at weddings, but today it brings me back to 3 April 2011.

On that day, I was asked: “Do you choose to follow Jesus for the rest of your life?” I understood baptism is an outward expression of my internal faith to God, but little did I know the significance it would have on my life when I responded with a resounding “Yes!” in the semi-cold pool. It has become the anchor of my soul, especially when I come face-to-face with my character flaws, failures, and insecurities.

The Lord looks beyond our shortcomings and raw human desires. He has chosen us to be His treasured possession. He is committed to dwell with us forever. It doesn’t mean we are free from fiery trials. Will there be challenges to keeping God as our chosen priority? Will there be things that tempt us to disown Him? Will there be pain and disappointments in this life? Absolutely. The enemy prowls around looking for someone to devour and destroy our invaluable relationship with Jesus.

In this season of my life, when my capacity is physically and mentally limited, when anxiety and hopelessness take over my mind, I was reminded of the vow I made, which is the foundation of my faith. Jesus never fails. Each time I choose to trust Him in the darkest valley, I get to experience His faithfulness. I know for a fact that I would not have made it this far if I had not responded “yes” to be in a personal relationship with God.

My prayer is that we can spur one another on, and remember that we hold intrinsic value to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We are His chosen delight, created to know and be known intimately. Even if we tremble in fear, even if we struggle in our weaknesses, even if suffering invades our lives, I believe we can still say, “Jesus, I choose You.”

Declare “I choose You” by:

  • Praising God for saying “… I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3) and for pursuing you long before you chose Him.
  • Asking the Holy Spirit to help you pause, ponder, and echo the words of the psalmist, “Into Your hands, I commit my spirit, deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.” (Psalm 31:5)

Blog

Filled with What?
May 11, 2017
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While attending a conference, something I was challenged about is being able to see people the way Jesus does. To illustrate this, we looked at one passage from the parable of the Prodigal Son: 

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with ___________.” —  Luke 15:20 

Fill in the blank. What do you think the father should have felt? Wrath? Anger? Hurt? Bitterness? How would you have felt? The word you choose to fill in this blank reveals a lot about your own heart and how close you are to Jesus’ heart. 

The father in the story reflects Jesus’ own heart, and when Jesus looked at those who the world despised (and sometimes for good reason), His heart was filled with compassion. There are many other times recorded in the gospels that Jesus was filled with compassion:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. — Mark 6:34

Then a leper came to Jesus, begging on his knees: “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said, “Be clean.” — Mark 1:41

When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said, “Don’t cry.” — Luke 7:13 

These encounters with Jesus reveal His heart to us. And I am reminded that if I want to be like Jesus, I need to see the people I encounter with the same compassion of Jesus.

These passages are also a reminder that Jesus had compassion on me, loving me even when I was far from Him. And He continues to love me like that today. The more I reflect on that love, the more I realise both that I do not deserve to be loved like this because I don’t love like this.

Wait. Stop a minute. Let me just restate what I wrote. That phrase, ‘I don’t deserve to be loved like this,’ reveals how poorly I understand God’s love. How do we think we deserve to be loved? If you’re like me, you think you deserve to be loved based on how well you love others. In fact, that’s how we usually love others: based on how well we think they love. We tend to only love others who we think are deserving or worthy of our love. Imagine if God had loved us like that!

Instead, God loved us who were not deserving of His love, and He loved the ones who didn’t love like He did. This is why Jesus came and loved us even until death:

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. — 1 John 4:10 

God loves us unconditionally, regardless of how we have failed in loving others. This means God loves me this way even though I do not love others in this same way. How humbling! God’s love pulls at my heart and makes me want to love others with the same love that I have been shown.

It makes me yearn to grow to be like Jesus, to reflect His love more and more—a love that is filled with compassion for the undeserving.

I pray we will all know this love.

Blog

Share Your Story: Albert Liang and Jenny Lam
May 10, 2017
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NOTE: This video does not have sound in order to simulate hearing by sight.

Albert and Jenny are deaf and have encountered many challenges in life because of this condition. God’s love knows no bounds however as He brought them to Himself and in their journey they arrived at Island ECC. In the beginning, it was difficult to find community and they did not understand many parts of sermons because they did not have interpreters. In their prayers, they would ask for an interpreter and God supernaturally provided. Nothing is impossible for God.

 

 

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