Seek the fruits, not the works

Jesus warned us of false prophets. He said “by their fruits you will know them” (c.f. Matthew 7:20).

I believe most of us Christians have got it MIXED UP between “the fruits” and “the works/gifts” of the Holy Spirit. And we mostly assess the authenticity of a spiritual leader by looking at the works/gifts of the Holy Spirit through their ministry.

For example, we look at the number of followers, or the extend of charitable giving or the many signs and wonders demonstrated etc.. All these are not wrong, but that was not what Jesus taught His disciples to look out for. He told them (and is also telling us today) to assess and identify by their fruits, NOT works or gifts.

Don’t forget that Jesus also said that not everyone who calls Him Lord or prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name and done many many wonders in His name will enter His kingdom. In fact, He will declare, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (c.f. Matthew 7:21-23)

The enemy is very cunning and has infiltrated into our Christian camps. Paul says the devil masquerades as an angel of light. Which means he knows how to blend in and fake it.

Hence we need to be alert and pray. Being close to Jesus and knowing the truth is our weapon to discern and engage the lies to corrupt our lives towards allowing His kingdom to manifest on earth.

Therefore, let us not be confused. Look for the FRUITS of the Holy Spirit to assess one’s authenticity of a spiritual leader. Jesus also said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (c.f. Matthew 7:15). The fruits refer to GODLY CHARACTER.

How is he/she walking in integrity especially in managing finances?

Is he/she anchored and teaching sound and balanced theology?

How is he/her demonstrating humility and love by being a servant leader, even when receiving criticism or feedback?

Is he/she reflecting holiness and purity through their lifestyle?

By the world’s standard, we pay attention to a person’s or organisation’s reputation or accomplishments. But with God’s standard, we are more concern on the character. And that should also be what we ought to be personally pursuing for ourselves- godly character towards fruitfulness.

The greater glory found in Grace

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Contrary to mainstream’s fear or belief of licentious grace, GRACE does not demand any lesser than the law. In fact, grace DEMANDS and EXPECTS more.

Jesus always pointed out that the law focuses on our performance and OUTWARD behavior manipulation, but grace focuses on our heart and INWARD transformation that manifests outwardly.

The law places demands on you and I, we are thus ENSLAVED by guilt, fear, shame and condemnation because of our weaknesses. But grace places that heavy demand on CHRIST, and not on you and I… Halleujah!

For we can NEVER meet the glorious standard of God that the law demands.

But by grace, CHRIST on our behalf fulfills that demand which took HIS LIFE and consequently, sets us FREE. That is a COSTLY demand that allows us through our faith in His Son, to become the righteousness of God!

Putting off the OLD and putting on the NEW

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What do you want to see different this year? Do you want to see change in your life? Perhaps you could do yourself some good by first examining your MINDSET.

Don’t be surprised if you discover limits that you might (unknowingly or knowingly) have placed on yourself (and God) with your OLD thinking.

Old thinking says, “This is how I am and how I have been doing things in the past” or “This is how I’ve been taught to do so all this time”. These kind of thoughts limit the potential of NEW things happening in your life.

This year, decide to change your thinking by the renewing of your mind with His TRUTH and promises for you. When you change your thinking, you change your life!

Reflections for 2013

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1. My unforgettable answered prayer

Coming to Vietnam was never a brash decision I had made. It was a decision compelled by God’s love and call on my life since 2006. Now after slightly more than two years living here, I see His purpose unfolding more clearly. And answered prayer in 2013 would be the covenanted relationships that He has brought in my life of which I’ve grown closely knitted with.

2. My happiest and elating moment

This has got to be the moment when I received a call from my wife that she was pregnant. Unfortunately, that moment was short-lived. After one week, she suffered a pregnancy loss. :(

3. My greatest trial

The second half of last year would be the most trying period for me, and my wife too. Besides losing our first child, my wife’s physical and emotional health deteriorated. My work also suffered a beating with the harsh economic conditions with business not raking in as much as it should. I was pressed on almost every side, but by His grace, not crushed.

4. My most impactful decision 

During the trials of the second half of last year, I was entertaining the thought of calling it quits and to pack our bags to return to Singapore. There were just so many aspects that I was considering. However, I decided to stay on and be faithful, to trust Him and keep doing what I’m doing. And to press on. I believe that decision is paying off. Because it impacts those around us as well.

5. My lessons learnt about God

His grace, grace and grace. It’s all about Him. Although I’m no good and unfaithful, He is good and faithful. His grace never fails to amaze me.

6. My lessons learnt about my own-self

That I can be a better husband by loving my wife more intentionally. As a man, there’s still so much I don’t understand about a woman. And I guess I will never will, but I have to demonstrate love and patience. Haha…

Are you ready for 2014?

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I think you would agree with me that HOW we enter the new year will largely determine HOW better or successful 2014 will be. Before we finally bid farewell to 2013, perhaps we need to take a moment with God to be ready for twenty 14?

The first thing to DO is to LET GO.

Let go of your PAST. This could be a wrong you have done or think you have committed against God or others that you regret. This has caused you to carry guilt, shame and condemnation upon yourself and unknowingly, this has disabled you in living life forward to the fullest.

Let it go. God forgives you. So forgive yourself.

Perhaps letting go of your PAST is forgiving those who have hurt or disappointed you with their words or actions. This has caused seeds of bitterness and resentment to grow like ‘weeds’ in your life. Similarly, I encourage you to let it go.

Just as He has graciously forgiven you, extend that same grace to those that might have hurt you. You are doing yourself more good than for the other party.

Philippians 3:13-14, “…..But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead….”

Remember, LET GO. You do not need to bring excess baggage into your new year. You need to throw the thrash out to make room for new good stuff that God wants to give you in 2014.

4 things NOT to do in 2014:

1. Do not COMPARE. (Galatians 6:4-5)

2. Do not GOSSIP. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

3. Do not PROCRASTINATE. (Ephesians 5:16-17)

4. Do not BE UNEQUALLY YOKED. (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)

I will not elaborate on the first three points as they are quite self-explanatory. These are unhealthy ‘habits’ that can hamper your development. However, please allow me to expound on point 4.

The term “unequally yoked” is usually referred to in finding a spouse, but the underlying principle is often overlooked. That principle is partnering or forging alliance with those with like-minded or similar values and outlook of life.

As we approach 2014, some of us might need to EVALUATE your relationships. The right people in your life add to the focus of what God is doing and the wrong people will become a distraction or even a destruction.

These questions would be useful in evaluating your relationships:

“Who am I allowing to influence (being yoked) my life in shaping my values and destiny?”

“Is this relationship ‘toxic’? Breeding unhealthy consequences?”

“Am I drawing closer to God and discovering/fulfilling His purpose for me through this relationship?”

Please do not misinterpret that I’m suggesting we abandon those relationships that you might conclude as toxic or undesirable. But in some cases, that might be necessary.

What I’m saying is that you might want to reconsider your PRIORITY (time and resources) you give to your relationships in your life.

This coming year, give the right priority to the right people at the right time and season of your life. The wrong people (even  a Christian friend or group) can distract you. Allow God to lead you. He has the BEST for you!

An awesome 2014 is ahead. Get ready. And happy new year!

What do you want Him to do for you?

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your FAITH has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

~ Mark 10:51-52

Most times, we err by misplacing our faith in man rather than in God. We naturally look and trust in what we man can (or cannot) do- our credentials or achievements, our physical attributes, and capabilities. And that misplaced faith causes us to limit God in our lives.

I love how Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you”. He did not say because of your bad or splendid past or because you’re poor or rich, so I healed you. It is the blind man, Bartimaeus’s faith that healed him. And that faith was placed on what God can do (and not what man can do).

Friends, with God all things are possible. Place your faith solely on Him. God loves it when you and I place all our ‘bets’ on Him. He relishes when we fully trust Him. That’s the only condition God simply looks at- our faith and nothing else.

What is it do you want God to do for you today that you cannot do? Approach your loving Abba Father and ask Him to do it for you. And according to your faith (and His will), it will be done to you.

Awesome 30 + Five!

ImageNo, I’m not celebrating my 68th birthday. The numbers represent by birth date! Haha…

I’m now 30 + FIVE years old. And I feel awesome crossing my 35th year on planet earth as a child of God. Why?

These are the reasons…

Fruitful
Grateful for all the relationships that God has place in my life especially the new friends I have made in Vietnam.

In particular, I’m blessed by those whom I consider my spiritual family. These bunch of fabulous people in Vietnam have so much potential in Christ.

I only pray that they know and experience the love of Christ more and more with each new day! I love them with the love of Christ.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” ~ Galatians 6:9-10

Interesting
Since being saved by Christ, my life has been exceptionally interesting. From a life lived aimlessly, and to one that is now lived purposefully!

For certain, I never for once thought that I would be working in Vietnam. Let alone imagine that it would be possible. Moreover with my wife in tow!

However, God is always full of awesome surprises and promises for His children. And I’m grateful that I now not only have a destiny, but also have the ability to live out that destiny in God.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” ~ Ephesians 3:20

Victorious
It is God who has given me the victories in overcoming all the obstacles and challenges in my life to be where I am today! I’m grateful that He is with me in all my valleys and mountain-tops experiences; from a delinquent who others say got no hope to a person who can now inspire others with hope.

Although it can be said that we can also be overcomers without God, but we would not be able to truly emerge stronger or fully realized our potential towards our true destiny without God.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” ~ Romans 8:37

Exciting
I’m excited about the next couple of years that God is leading me towards! Actually I’m more of a laidback and not so ambitious kind of person. But it is Jesus in me that motivates me to do great things for Him by instilling a fiery passion to live for others.

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:19

Lately, He gave me a new faith goal. And that is to be a business owner. Seriously, I do not know how this will happen. But I will just obey and follow since He has already taken me this far.

I’m confident in His grace that is able to stretch me further in becoming a greater positive impact to as many people as possible!

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