Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ask and you shall receive.. but what do we ask for?

People have been congratulating and reminding me about how old i am because of my birthday. 21st birthdays are usually really big, because of a few things.
1. You are official legal (therefore, all under 21s are illegal)
2. You are eligible to vote
3. You can do practically anything you want without any legal objection from anybody
4. You can drink(alcohol) and watch(PG and X rated) stuff without risks of being arrested
The 4th one is usually the most popular.

Another question people have been asking is what did i wish for my birthday? I don't know who came out with the wishing thingy during birthday cakes. If you wish for something before you blow the candles, you will get whatever you wished for. To me that is total nonsense, it is just a myth to give hope to the hopeless. If that were really true, why would there be poverty? or sick people? So it is either untrue or people have been making stupid wishes.

I know my God promised in Luke 11:9 'So i say to you, ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you.' I don't need to wish for things only on my birthdays, i can ask my God anything, anytime. Even the word 'wish' seems uncertain and not confident of actually getting something. But i am going to ask and believe that i am going to get what i asked for.

So, what do we ask for then? Will we get anything and everything that we asked for? Or do we only get what is in God's will? Let's take a look at Numbers 22: 5-21
'And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. 5 Then he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying: “Look, a people has come from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! 6 Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”

7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the diviner’s fee in their hand, and they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak. 8 And he said to them, “Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the LORD speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9 Then God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10 So Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, 11 ‘Look, a people has come out of Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come now, curse them for me; perhaps I shall be able to overpower them and drive them out.’” 12 And God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 13 So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Go back to your land, for the LORD has refused to give me permission to go with you.”

14 And the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak, and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.” 15 Then Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more honorable than they. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; 17 for I will certainly honor you greatly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Therefore please come, curse this people for me.’” 18 Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. 19 Now therefore, please, you also stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.” 20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men come to call you, rise and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you—that you shall do.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

Balaam was a prophet of the Lord judging by the statement from the king that 'whoever he bless is blessed and whoever he curse is cursed'. But, he had a weakness, which was greed for wealth.
1. Israel was God's chosen people
Balaam knew that Israel was God's chosen people and God would never allow His people to be cursed by their enemies. But Balaam ignored that because he was enticed by the amount of wealth he would get from just a few spoken words. He chose to ask God just to confirm. Alright, fair play to him.

2. God said NO! but hear Balaam's excuses
Balaam told the Moabites in vs13,'... the Lord has REFUSED to give me permission to go with you.' Using the exact words that he has just said, he is trying to act holy by telling the Moabites that the only reason he can't go with them is because God said so. Well, at least he got that right by obeying God. But i am pretty sure that it was eating him on the inside. The work 'REFUSED' shows reluctance and only because of authority, he resisted. The sentencing shows that he didn't really believe it himself. Balaam's reply suggests that he was hesitant and unwillingly complied.

The Moabites now returned with even more wealth and people with even higher status to deliver the offer. And this starts to get interesting. Instead of denying the offer straight away, Balaam chose to ask God again. Ridiculous!

3. Do you think God will change His mind because of more wealth?
That was a total insult to God. Who does Balaam think God is? He doesn't need wealth nor praises of man, He is the Kings of kings. But because Balaam was blinded by his own greedy desires and still wanted to seem 'obedient' unto to God. He nagged God.

4. God said Yes.
Incredibly, God gave in to Balaam's nagging. He allowed the desires of Balaam's heart.

Ask and you shall receive. Balaam asked and he received. He received the desires of his heart. In Ecclesiates 8:11 it says:'...therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.' That is the difference between God's perfect will and His permissible will. We still have our free will but unless we ask of what is in His heart, we are going down the wrong path because the hearts of men are evil.

Sometimes we are just exactly like Balaam. We don't want to disobey God because we fear Him. But we desire and are tempted by certain things that we know God clearly disapproves. We still try it anyway, in case He changes His mind. We still stubbornly nag Him about it so that we get the satisfaction without claiming responsibility for it. Then, when things turn out badly we just blame God and claim that we were just following His 'will'.

We need to constantly ask of God for wisdom. Be careful of what we ask, for it shall be given as promised. Guard our hearts and always ask for His heart. Don't try and act smart and question God. When He says 'Do it', just do it. When He says 'Don't do it', don't do it. Period.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change has come! But is it for the better?

The American people yesterday demonstrated their unique capacity for self-renewal by electing the first black man as head of state, not that many years after the country’s African-Americans were accorded full civil rights.
In electing Barack Obama president by a solid margin, accompanied by a congress with the biggest Democratic majority since the 1970s, Americans have signalled a dramatic change in the direction of the world’s sole superpower.
Two years ago, Barack Obama identified that the overwhelming sentiment in this presidential election would be a desire for change. His election campaign was based on the motto of 'Change we can believe in'. Throughout the campaign, he emphasised the urgency of this desire. The fact that he was a candidate with less experience in national office than any of his opponents in either the Democratic primary or in the general election, was turned from a potential liability into an asset that worked in his favour. The colour of his skin, regarded by many as an impossible obstacle to his ambitions, in the end served as the principal guarantee that he was a different kind of leader for a nation in crisis.
America’s yearning for change focused most closely on dissatisfaction with the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With their historic decision yesterday, the American people should certainly get change. Two questions however hover over the new president elect and his team.

The first is whether the new president will choose to rein back the economical and social agenda of the large Democratic majority in congress. Though they threw out the Republican party yesterday it is not at all clear that the American people endorsed a Democratic party policy that is committed to big tax increases on wealthier Americans and corporations, restrictions on free trade, renewed empowerment of trade unions and the appointment of judges likely to rule in favour of more liberal laws on abortion and gay marriage.
The second challenge is simply the massive task of restoring America’s stature and the country’s economic power and global political standing.
The country faces challenges on a scale no incoming president has had to tackle in a very long time. The economy is in a recession likely to be as deep as the deepest in the last 50 years.
President elect Obama’s first task will be to do whatever the government can do to lift the US and with it the global economy out of its slump. A programme of reform will be necessary to begin to restore trust in the institutions of American leadership.

Americans made history yesterday. Some may argue that it was on grounds of pure desperation or smart tactical campaigning on the side of the Democrats. Nevertheless, it was the 'right' man at the right time and an opportunity well taken. What type of change will be instigated in the coming months? Will it be for the better? Well, lets pray that it will be. God bless us all!

Link to Barack Obama's victory speech:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Courage my son, courage!

I have finally gotten my internet connection. I know its no excuse for not updating my blog, but it played a big part though. I have been really getting extra exercise with the 20 minute walks to university even though I don’t have lectures on that day. I go to university just to use the internet.

I have been struggling with quite a lot of things for the past few weeks. It’s basically about the path ahead. I am a planner, I plan things. If bits and pieces are lying around, I will put them together so that they don’t go wasted. The habit of planning has been heavily influenced by my dad, who used to get us to plan for the year ahead every year. First I have a master plan, which consist of major events blocked out throughout the year. The 2nd stage is the weekly planning, where I usually get my daily routine in place and I know what I have to do for the days of the week. The 3rd part is the planning, where I plan out nearly every single thing I would do for the day to the minute. It sounds crazy, but it can be done and I never waste time.

So what happens to people like us when we can’t plan? Or when we don’t even know what to plan?
We get stressed out. We panic. We go bonkers.

Unfortunately, that’s what I had to learn. God told me to do something, He gave me the confirmation to do it and I acted on it. I planned it all out, in the ideal sense at least. BUT, everything started to collapse. One by one, it all fell like dominos. It didn’t progress like I expected, not even a little. I know that the world is far from ideal, but still… I had the most difficult 3 weeks in my life that I could remember. Nothing seemed to be going right. So when the grand plan fails, all the added potholes show up in front of you, plus the Big guy up there stays worryingly quiet, I was totally LOST.

I started to lose confidence in myself. I lost faith. Did I hear God wrongly? After all that was said and done, maybe im not the right guy for the job after all. I doubted and questioned many things. I feared because everything seems to be in a mess. That’s where the evil one has triumph.
It was very emotionally draining as I struggled and tried to pull myself out of it. I shared with a couple of people where they encouraged me but it was still lingering around. That was until I went for CG yesterday night. It was a teaching on ‘Hearing the voice of God’. It was really a good session, but I was a little distracted. Then the leader led us into a practical session.

The 1st part was to pray and then be silent to hear from God. I have done this many times but it felt a little different this time round. I got the word JOSHUA. I had no idea what it meant so I flipped my Bible to Joshua 1:1. This is what it read:
"After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good COURAGE, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and VERY COURAGEOUS, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of GOOD COURAGE; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I was astounded. The words where hitting my face. But, I still sat in the room emotionless and trying to just let everything sink in. Nobody in the room had any idea what was going on with me, at least that was what I thought.

The 2nd part of the exercise was to continue. We prayed and ask of the Lord for words of encouragement for others in the room. When it was time to share, one of the said: ‘Isaac, I have something for you. The Lord wants you to have BOLDNESS and be COURAGEOUS for the things He has in stored for you.’

I was stunt and completely speechless.

The 3rd was to be continued as we paired up to pray for each other. As we prayed, my partner said:’ Isaac, be COURAGEOUS. For the Lord is with you wherever you go. Do not worry about the things ahead but stay strong and be COURAGEOUS!’

The 4th part, we switched partners and continued the exercise praying for each other. The 1st words that came out of his mouth were:’ Isaac, I have 2 words for you. FAITH and COURAGE.’

I WAS DUMBFOLDED. The word ‘COURAGE’ was directed at me 7 times in one night by different people. I repented and slapped myself right and left. It was pure foolishness to doubt God.

We serve an awesome God. He is our comforter and friend. He is our fortress and our strong tower. NEVER ever doubt Him. For He is with us, all the days of our lives. Amen.