Monday, 24 July 2017

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)




A Time for Everything
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

For everything, there is a season
A time for everything under heaven
Nothing happens randomly or by chance
God has determined each step in a dance

The events of life unfold rapidly
Against the backdrop of eternity
There is more beyond life under the sun
This race of life should not be blindly run

God has allotted time in His wisdom
Seasons have been set; nothing is random
Amidst the chaos, He is in control
He knows all things; He's sealed them in His scroll

When difficult situations are tense
When painful circumstances make no sense
When we're let down by life under the sun
Look to the Cross and follow Christ, the Son

Through Christ, God has made all things beautiful
Because of Christ, this life is meaningful
He's redeemed us from vain futility
From sin and death, He has set us free

Though life's poetry does not perfectly rhyme
God makes all things beautiful in His time
When life's ugly trials and problems arise
Help us, Lord, to see beauty through Your eyes

  
Points for Reflection:
For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV)
·       Amidst the chaos and mess in our world and in our own lives, do you at times wonder if God is in control? Are you discouraged when things just don’t seem to fall into place and nothing seems to work?
·       In His wisdom, He has put all events and phenomena in place. Nothing happens out of His sovereign plan. He makes all things beautiful in His time.
·       We may not understand the pain and suffering we witness in our world and in our lives. Many raise their fists in anger against God for the injustices and evil in our world. What strikes me is their refusal to thank God for the goodness, order, and beauty that remain in our world today.
·       God created a beautiful and perfect world and he placed humans to rule the world under Him. However, humanity chose to rebel against God and reject His rule over their lives. We want to rule our lives and our world our own way. Looking at the mess around us, I will have to admit that we have done a terrible job at ruling the world.
·       Are there areas in your life that you are struggling to submit to God’s loving rulership?
·       And yet, God uses evil for good. This can be seen most evidently in the Cross. Evil men condemned Jesus Christ to an excruciating death on the Cross. His disciples and those who followed Him were dismayed and distraught at His death. It looked as if all hope was gone. But God raised Jesus from the dead and their hope was revived and renewed. Because of Jesus’s death and resurrection, sinners who trust in Christ are free from God’s judgment for sin. Our future hope is brighter than the sun. We can look forward to spending an eternity of bliss in heaven with God, our Creator, and our King.
·       How have you seen God using the evil and unpleasant circumstances in your life for good? Has He been using trials and suffering to build your character and depend more on Him?


Monday, 17 July 2017

Possibilities

Hello All,

Possibilities are exhilarating but also scary.

It is scary because we fear the possible disappointments that follow failed expectations.

Because of this fear, we suppress our hopes for possibilities.



By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

My mind is bubbling
with possibilities
My heart is singing
of dreams and fantasies

Should we stop hoping
for possibilities?
Should we stop filling
our days with reveries?

I will keep praying
for possibilities
It's God's will and timing
He knows what's good for me


Points for Reflection:
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
·       Many of us have an all-or-nothing mindset. We swing between holding on too tightly to our dreams and expectations and refusing to hope because of unmet expectations in the past.
·       Is there a middle ground that we can stand on?
·       We have very little and often no control over our future. Things often do not go the way we envision them to.
·       Are we willing to commit our hopes for possibilities to God despite the outcome?
·       Are we confident that God knows what is good for us?
·       God may even use broken dreams and unmet expectations to reveal the hidden idols in our hearts.
·       The greatest blessing that we have is the restored relationship between God and sinners like us who were once His enemies. That restored relationship came at an infinitely high cost – the blood of Jesus Christ.
·       Possibilities are uncertain and clinging on too tightly to the hope of actualised possibilities leads to disappointment and despair. But at the same time, refusing to hope out of fear of unmet expectations puts our hearts in a stifling cage. We are meant to dream big dreams for God’s kingdom.
·       As children of God, we have a certain, future hope in Christ. When all else fails, God doesn’t.


Monday, 10 July 2017

Lessons Learnt from Frailty

Hello All,

I have been recovering from a chest infection that lasted for almost a month.

The most difficult part for me was not the discomfort (although it was highly undesirable), but losing my voice. I love singing and it was just impossible to sing well with a hoarse voice.

Apart from the wide variety of medication I was consuming, I tried every possible home remedies (e.g. honey, warm salt water, lemon juice) I could think of to restore my voice. I was desperate to recover what I had lost.

I am so thankful to God that I am much better now and almost recovered. My voice has returned although phlegm and coughing often get in the way.

I have learnt many lessons through frailty.



Lessons Learnt from Frailty
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

The frailty of my body reminds me
Of my weaknesses and mortality
It reminds me of my limitations
Of my dependence on God's provision

When ailments take my voice away from me
When my hoarse voice can't sing of Your glory
My heart lifts up to You a silent song
It's You who's helped me sing all along

The frailty of my body reminds me
Of Your strength and immortality
One day, You will make all broken things new
Restore this world with the freshness of dew

In Jesus, we are a new creation
We're citizens of a holy nation
Though we're not perfected, let's fix our eyes
On our true heavenly home in the sky


Points for Reflection:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV)
·       I realised that my voice and everything I own come from God.
·       It is so tempting at times to stake our claim on our intellect, talents and other possessions and we unconsciously take pride in them. Little do we realise that what we own can be easily snatched away from us through sicknesses, natural disasters, and forces beyond our control.
·       We live in a fallen world that is decaying. But God will renew this world when Jesus Christ returns.
·       For those who trust in Him, we are a new creation in Him. Though our physical bodies are wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
·       The Gospel gives us hope when ailments and misfortune strike. We know that through it all, God is in control of all things and we can rest in Him.


Monday, 3 July 2017

Wounds and Love

Hello All,

Have you been wounded by someone’s words and actions?

Are there wounds that have left scars in your heart and some that are still bleeding?

  
Wounds and Love
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling
Dedicated to a dear friend for inspiring the poem

Are there wounds that run too deep?
Would those wounds completely heal?
Your courage you try to keep
Your bleeding wounds you conceal

You've opened your heart to love
But your heart keeps getting hurt
'Should I hide my heart in a glove?'
'Why invest my heart and effort?'

'Should I protect my heart with walls?'
'Keep myself safe from great pain?'
Suffering came after the Fall
We get hurt again and again

Christ opened His heart to us
We've spurned Him again and again
His love was deep and courageous
On the cross, He bore our pain

It's the cross that gives us courage
To break down our protective walls
To free our hearts from their cage
God's love causes walls to fall

God's love invigorates our hearts
We love others with His love
It is God's love we impart
Divine love that comes from above

I may hurt you; you may hurt me
But I'll still love you, my friend
God's love resides within me
A love that knows no time and end


Points for Reflection:
We love because God first loved us.
(1 John 4:19 ESV)
·       Opening your heart to someone – a spouse, family member, or friend – requires courage. Doing so may have left you wounded and afraid to open your heart to anyone again. ‘Never again!’ are the words that many have sworn to themselves.
·       If you can feel the intensity of the pain that reeks from the wounds in your heart, have you ever thought of the pain that Christ endured out of His love for sinners who spurned Him and spat on Him with contempt? Sinners like us who continually reject Him as the Lord of our lives. Sinners who seek ultimate satisfaction in someone or something else instead of in Him.
·       But the cross gives us the courage to break down our protective walls and free our hearts from their cage. God's love causes walls between us to fall. The cross gives us the courage to open our hearts and be vulnerable with others.
·       Opening our hearts to other sinners hurts. We hurt others and others hurt us because we are unable to love perfectly. But God loves us perfectly. And even if the whole world turns against us, we know that His love stands true.

·       We love others because He first loved us.

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Gift of Tears

Hello All,

Are you ashamed of tears? Do you feel that tears are only for weak people?

Do you feel awkward seeing other people cry?

God has given us tears for a reason. Do not treat tears as a curse, but treat them as a gift from God.


The Gift of Tears
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling

Tears bring relief to a heavy heart
A heart clogged with unspoken sorrows
Why do we wish that tears would depart?
Tears heal the soul like a lush, green meadow

God has given us the gift of tears
No tears that wet His feet are wasted
Cry if you must; without shame and fear
Christ comforts the broken-hearted

Divine tears fell at Gethsemane
Can you feel the anguish of Christ's tears?
Tears and blood mingled in agony
Because of Christ, to God, we can draw near

Tears brought relief to my heavy heart
A heart clogged with unexpressed sorrows
God's love has caused sorrows to depart
God's love gives me hope for tomorrow


Points for Reflection:
Jesus wept.
(John 11:35 ESV)
·       Crying is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to embrace and express the sadness of our hearts.
·       Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived, cried countless of times. He is God who chose to walk in the shoes of broken humanity. He cried over the death of His friend, Lazarus, although He knew He was going to raise him up from the dead. The knowledge of the future did not prevent Him from expressing the sorrow of the present.
·       Is your heart clogged with unspoken sorrows? Are you reluctant to express them in tears before God in prayer?
·       Divine tears fell at Gethsemane. Can you feel the anguish of Christ's tears? Tears and blood mingled in agony. Because of Christ, to God, we can draw near.
·       Find comfort in tears shed in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ. He knows your sorrows and tears.