Because He is…

“We underestimate the power of our own will.”

That’s what struck me from a sermon I just finished listening few minutes ago. It is somehow a good intro of what I want to share on how my 2019 turned out to be.

I must say 2019 was a continuation of my 2018 journey.  Though really, our journey is not bounded by end or start of a year. It just keeps going.

2019 was a very humbling year for me. God helped me discover things about myself that I didn’t know were happening to me. What I went through during the later part of the year is hard to explain. It’s really true that only God knows the deepest of our heart. When I share it to people, it would seem petty and just really a normal struggle anyone can go through. But from my end, it was a battle. I struggled with anxiety and deep fear that paralyzed my faith, took away my joy and shattered my peace. No matter how hard I fought it, I would find myself back into the pit. It’s like quicksand.

As a child of God, the only way to overcome the battle was to continue reading God’s Word even if it was hard holding on to it. I kept asking myself what was really the cause of all of it. I thought it was my stressful work. I thought it was certain circumstances that didn’t go the way I wanted it to be. God eventually made it clear for me. He showed me that I’m weak. Not that I didn’t know I am weak. I for sure am aware that I am weak – on certain areas in my life. But God showed to me the kind of weakness that I wasn’t aware has slowly been crawling into my life.

I am weak in allowing myself to be slowly swayed into the comfort and “good” of the world without being aware of it. I am weak that I was becoming self-entitled and demanding in a very subtle way without being aware of it. I am weak that I was becoming ungrateful when things didn’t turn out the way I thought it would be. I am weak in thinking that when God provides, it will always be smooth and easy. I am weak when my focus was starting to be about myself and what I want and what I deserve. I am weak that even just little difficulties, I would just want to give up.

It is so true that most of the time we underestimate the power of our will. We don’t realize the little things we feed into our mind will eventually change the way we think and the way we believe. I’m still in that battlefield, letting God continue to renew my mind and transform my heart. Fear & anxiety would try to creep in from time to time, but Jesus helps me overcome. His peace is undefeated.

People who know me might think that I am always okay. When people see me at church, they would probably think I am doing well with my walk with God. That those I mentioned above never manifested when they see me or when I serve. All I can say, despite my weakness, God’s work will continue to move. And that’s what amazes me. In the midst of my struggles, His work doesn’t stop.

The biggest blessing for me in the midst of this struggling time is to experience God’s presence and to see how He can continue His work through a season of brokenness. Every time I would find myself going to church, being at work, serving in ministry, meeting my discipleship group or cleaning my room – I know that it was all Him. My own will would just be in a depressed state, in my bed and just be thoughtless. But His grace was working during the time my own will just couldn’t. 

In my almost 15 years as a follower of Christ, I was never in this state of deep anxiety and fear. And somehow, I have understood how those people who really struggled with depression, on how hard must it be for them especially if they don’t know Jesus. What’s the source of their hope? What are they holding on to keep going?

Please include me in your prayers and pray for your loved ones who are probably going through difficult times right now.

If there’s one thing I would like you to take from this is that to remember that we have a sovereign and powerful God. Because He is who He says He is,  even if I am weak, His work will prevail. I may be defeated, but Jesus is not defeated. And that’s the truth that I am holding on. That even if there were days that I have failed, Jesus has already overcome it for me.

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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:10-13

 

Gratitude Attitude

I just finished watching the CCF Sunday Message through Livestream and the message hit me big time.

I don’t know when it started but I had again a phase of grumbling and complaining at work. Things at work are mostly really busy for me. If I can eat lunch with my colleagues on time and consistent in a week, that is already a huge break for me.  And, I really think that God allows it to happen to reveal what is in my heart and to test my character.  You see, being busy at work is not really the problem. It’s not even like I bring work at home. However, because I am overwhelmed with work that I expect other people to work in same pace and provide results as I do. That’s when the grumbling and complaining happens.

The message I just listened talked about “Entitlement”. And how to avoid it is to always have a gratitude attitude. And this really hit me. I feel like I complained too much that I already lose sight of the true important things. Things that I should learn to count and be grateful for. I also forgot that I myself is a recipient of grace. In God’s standard, I will never be good. But because of His grace through Jesus, He is able to forgive me of my misses and failures. I am reminded that I should be the same to other people. I have to stop easily judging people and see them  as how God sees them.

I used to have reminder at my desk at work, “Increase Appreciation, Lower Expectation”. I should really put that back to remind me to always learn to see the good on people. It is very hard especially when you expect people to perform based on their status and position. By God’s grace, I’m praying that I will really learn to lower my expectation and even more surrender those to God as He is the one who is really in control.

The cause of my busyness was a big project I was part of that just got implemented recently. It’s a good accomplishment and it was successful. But, in all honesty, I feel that I failed the test God gave me. I ended up grumbling so much instead of rejoicing more. I became loud inside instead of allowing peace to work in my heart. I forgot to be grateful of the blessing of work and blessing of relationship. I lose sight of what truly matters for eternity.

I know that God will always bring me to circumstances that  will prune and mold me as God’s purpose for us has always been Christ-likeness. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I pray that I will be better next time.

I want to end this by thanking God for a lifetime of grace that is overflowing for me and for you that we may always be reminded of what truly matters and to always be grateful.

———-o———-

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:3-8

be grateful!

Hold Your Tongue

In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 3:5

I have been grumbling and complaining too much at work which I feel have also caused others to stumble. It’s been hard. And every day, when I wake up and do my quiet time, I would always pray the same prayer – to be patient, to be humble and to be Spirit-filled. And, I kept failing.

Taming the tongue is really hard to do. Gossips, grumbles, bad humor, etc. These are the things we tend to nurture more. I got reminded how powerful spoken words are. When I start venting out my frustrations to someone instead of venting out to God, I realize I am not doing any good to that person. I might just start a spark that would lead to a big fire.  I have to learn to bring all my cases to God first all the time, then to people who will not tolerate me but instead rebuke me in love and provide godly wisdom.

I pray that I will really let the Holy Spirit control how I respond and react in words to circumstances.  I pray that my words will be words to build and encourage someone. By God’s grace.

Will you pray for me?

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Struggle of a Discipler

My heart was troubled for the past days. This got triggered when I learned something about someone so dear to me. It somehow broke my heart for the fact that she did not tell me about it immediately when she has been open to me about a lot of things. And also, the fact that she pursues something that somehow I thought she would be wiser and spiritually mature enough to make such choice.

Three important things that God is teaching me these past days.

One – this circumstance made me reflect on how I should be as a discipler. I went back to the One who started it all. How was Jesus as a discipler? How was Jesus when He knew that Judas would betray Him? When Peter would deny Him? When the disciples hid and ran away? All of these did not stop Jesus to love them and all the more He prayed for them. I got reminded (not the first time) of how I have to let go the people that God has entrusted me to disciple. Let go, meaning not to stop discipling them but to let God take care of them when they choose certain things which we might think would not be good for them.

Second – this also reminded me of God’s heart. I realize that if my heart aches for my disciples when they choose to do things that are not in obedience to God, God’s heart who has the perfect standard must be aching more for all of us when we do things that are not pleasing to Him.

Lastly – it also made me reflect being a disciple. I realize that I, myself also do not tell everything to my discipler. It could be that I feel like I am not doing anything wrong or I could be scared that I might get judged or I just don’t feel the need of telling. And probably, the girls I disciple are also feeling the same thing that’s why they don’t tell me the things that I thought they would tell me. For whatever reason, I must learn to respect and just continue trusting God who knows the deepest of their hearts.

Overall, I am humbled. God reminded me that the most important that I can do for the girls I disciple are to love them and pray for them. I am also truly grateful for the disciplers that God has used to help me in my walk with Him. I am thankful that they allowed me to depend not on them but on God alone.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (Jesus’ prayer for the disciples – John 17)

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Job Well Done – Not Mine.

The past months at work had been truly a tough one. But good tough, I must say. I felt like this year passed by so fast with so many things that had happened for the past 11 months. And in every project, there is always an ending. Finally!

I must say it was tough, but I felt like I’ve grown so much for those months. I remember, before that project happened, I had doubts about myself and my ability to perform my role. Not to mention, being in a totally different culture.  Yes, I struggled (I wrote a blog about it).

For me, each day was like going to a battle. And what kept me going is the assurance that God will not let me do something I am not capable of. That whatever is given to me, He will enable me. The past months had made me more dependent on God. It had made me more prayerful not just for myself but even for the people I work with.

A lot of prayers. An increasing faith.

As the project is closing, feedbacks were just amazing. I’m just overwhelmed with God’s favor in my workplace. As I look back on the days I was struggling and to now, I’m just in awe on how God has enabled and sustained me. I can never take credit for anything because I know that apart from God, I can only do much, but I can never be at my best. I had my own lapses with my work and with my character as well, but God made me come through.

It’s all because of Him. For all the good jobs and appreciation I received, all credit goes to God and God alone. God did a good job in me!