Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Deserving of Pity

Offering the sacrifice of praise is pretty much ingrained into my lifestyle. I haven't got to the point when I would do the morning and evening sacrifices yet, but one or two sessions a day (outside of church) is still consistent.

Just yesterday I had this fiery dart hit me in the mind: if God can pretty much count on me to offer praise to him in the good times and bad, what motivation does he have to let me have more good days than bad?

Psalm 103:11-14 (NIV 84) - For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

The shield of faith went up - the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. The Lord has compassion on me. He has no obligation to bless me, to shield me from unnecessary evil, but he has compassion on me.

Moreover, this compassion is likened to that of a father with his children. That got to me. I certainly have compassion on my two sons. How many times have I seen they were really tired out and just let them sleep, while I settle things for them so everything would be OK by the time they wake up? How many times have I delayed waking up my younger boy from his nap, even though he really ought to be up and studying for his school exams? 

The NKJV version of this verse uses the word "pity" instead of "compassion". I didn't like it, but now I realize that pity implies that the object of pity is in a sad state. No matter how blessed we are in our human lives, we are still in a pitiful state. Really. You can have power and influence, a close-knit and loving family, a few gazillion dollars in the bank and servants to do your bidding, you can have perfect physical health for yourself and your immediate family, but in God's eyes you still need pity, because we are still nowhere near the highly exalted state we would be when Christ is fully formed in us and is fully displayed in us. 

Thoughts like this totally mess up my mind, but in a good way. :)

So God has no motivation to bless my life, except for his compassion. How confident am I in facing life? That would depend on how confident I am of God's compassion, right?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Your Drum Journey

Congratulations on starting your adventure into the world of drums! It will be challenging, confusing and yet satisfying, I assure you. Just so you know, here is the big picture for your drum lessons for the next 3-5 lessons. You will start learning the 3 foundations of playing drums, which are 

  1. basic stick control; 
  2. hand-foot coordination; and 
  3. counting (music pulse).

1) Basic stick-control

What’s the difference between just banging out rhythms on tables and walls (teenage boys do that all the time) and actually playing on the full drum kit? On the kit your playing has to be expressed through drumsticks. If you do not learn how to control the sticks properly, everything you do through your hands on the drums will be flawed. Once you have to play challenging stuff the flaws will become obvious.

So we aim to get some basic stick control first. Correct holding, correct wrist movement and all that. We all start with one hand weaker than the other, and the basic stick drills I teach will help you even it out for both hands and get both hands better. 

It is important to do this from the get-go. I’ve seen way too many people think they can skip this stage at the beginning. By the time they have to work on it properly the bad habits are too strong, it is very painful to fix. I’ve had to undo my bad habits for piano and drums before, and I know: it’s much easier to get things correct the first time!

2) Hand-foot coordination

This is the alphabet of drumming. They are not complex, but most normal people aren’t very well coordinated. The first few lessons help you build new connections within your brain, so that when new patterns and combinations come up your body is already primed to do them. You will also develop independence between your right hand and right foot. This is one of the trademarks of someone who has taken proper drum lessons before. 

3) Counting

This is about taking the pulse, the beat of the music, and knowing where everything you do on the drums fits in. People who are hazy about that are hazy in their drumming. Even worse, they are unable to adapt when the tempo of a song changes.

I’ve been involved with the worship ministry for about 20 years by now, and sat through countless practices and auditions. I was once in the middle of playing a song (to audition someone on another instrument) when halfway through someone sat down behind the drums and tried to play along. He totally messed up because he could only play in one time-signature (don’t worry if you don’t know yet what that is) and the song I was doing was in a different one. 

If he had ever learned how to count, how to discern the pulse of the music, he would have either been able to create on the spot something that can fit, or he would have known what little he knew didn’t fit and not messed up the song for other people. When it was his turn to audition, the other musicians started off at one tempo, and when he started playing the drums he couldn’t latch on to their tempo to support them. He immediately dragged the music down to the tempo he knew. Now imagine him doing that for pretty much every song the band tries to do on a Sunday morning… 

If he had been taught to count he would not have messed things up in the first place. But he never learned how to count. You can never say such people are rusty in their skills, they never had the skills in the first place! 

Counting is vital. The drummer has one job in the band – to count. He or she has to count musically, to count dynamically, but to count. A drummer who cannot count is no drummer at all. And problems in any of the basics cannot be handled with a few tips and pointers during band rehearsals, they have to dealt with one-on-one in proper music lessons. 


In the end, the goal of proper basics is to give you the ability to adapt. Without proper basics, “drummers” can play slow, they can play fast, but cannot manage anything in between. Without proper basics, drummers can play soft, they can play bleeding-from-ears-loud, but cannot manage anything in between. The basics are very important.

Final note: don’t try to find shortcuts around what I teach you. Everything I teach now, and the way I teach now, is to prepare you for everything you’ll need to know for the next 4-6 months. If you come back to this post in a few months time you’ll understand on a deeper level what I am talking about here. 

See you at the next lesson! 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wear White? Worldly Wisdom

To the Wear-White People

Let me make it very clear: I am a conservative, evangelical Christian. I hereby challenge you, whom I consider siblings in the faith, to observe and consider your own actions. I put it to you that your actions and reasoning are worldly, carnal and will yield no fruit worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Why wear white to send a message? You want numbers to impress the press, society and LGBT activists. You want to put on a show of power. You are, at the root of it all, playing a political game. Now tell me, where in the Scriptures do you see the people of God trying to get their way by a show of power?

Public display? Let me remind you of where in Scriptures we have public displays, people trying to get their way with the powers that be, through a show of numbers. The first was astroturfing with Pontius Pilate, when the chief priests and elders of the Jews persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. Pilate saw he could not prevail, that a tumult was arising, so he gave in. (Matthew 27:20-24) The second was the public rally at Ephesus, when Demetrius stirred up the silversmiths to protest against Paul and his missionary efforts. It led to city-wide confusion that the civil service had to step in and remind the people to follow set procedures and go through official channels. (Acts 19:26-41)

I think these two examples from Scripture are sufficient to show that such mass movements to rally support and put on a show of power are carnal and worldly. You can say the Wear-White display is nowhere like these two examples. I say it is nothing like the approach and the ways shown us in Scripture either. When the Bible shows us the people of God maneuvering amongst political leaders, they operate behind the scenes. Two examples come to mind

Nehemiah – when he desired to rebuild Jerusalem, he first prayed, and then brought up the matter with King Artaxerxes at the opportune time. When Artaxerxes questioned him further, Nehemiah showed that he had already put in thought and planning (able to give the king a time-frame, Nehemiah 2:6). Nehemiah astutely managed the conversation with the King and persuaded the King to provide resources and building materials for the rebuilding. All this was done in a private conversation, not in a public debate.

More importantly, note that Nehemiah only began to rally public support among the Jews only AFTER he had the political support of the king (Nehemiah 2:17-18). If he did it the same way we are trying to do now, you can imagine what the king would have thought of the matter!

Mordecai – When Haman the Agagite sought to use state machinery to destroy the Jews within the Medo-Persian empire, Mordecai did not try to rally support amongst the Jews, nor did he try to call in political favours he was owed by that time (he had saved the king from an assassination attempt, that must have had some political clout). He called upon Queen Esther to use her influence to save the Jewish race (Esther 4:8).

Even in the New Testament, Paul’s problem with the Ephesian rioters in Acts 19 was NOT handled with public confrontation or getting the believers in the city to put up their own power display. The political leaders contacted him behind the scenes and told him to just stay out of sight. If he had tried to counter the Ephesian rally with a rally of his own, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out it would all turn out very badly!

Finally, it is foolish to play political games with the LGBT activists. They know what they are doing, we have no clue. Example: one of the movies that was made with the deliberate purpose of eliciting sympathy for the LGBT cause grossed US$157.3 million in ticket sales in USA alone. And most of us Christians here in Singapore had no clue about that movie’s true purpose. Many of us probably watched the movie ourselves and even recommended our church friends to do the same. The figure of US$157.3 million, by the way, was only the first installment in the movie series, some of sequels grossed much, much more.

If we could not even discern this one move from one of their sympathizers, how can we expect to out-maneuver them in worldly wisdom? We cannot. Not only will we fail, we will fail miserably. I have read their playbook, people. And it amazes me how dense some people from the Love Singapore movement can be when I explain to them what the LGBT activists want to achieve and what frustrates them. Jesus told us Christians to be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. I’ve seen many of us get the two mixed up…

“Then what should we do, JJ? Nothing? Just let them have their way?”


2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NKJV) - For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds
And I don’t mean pray for Christian politicking to work. I don’t know everything about God, but I believe he has no interest in granting such a carnal, worldly prayer. There are so many prayers recorded for us in the Bible, we should be praying those. Note that the political efforts of Nehemiah and Esther & Mordecai were preceded by prayer. We too ought to pray. We should be praying until we catch the heart of God and receive heavenly wisdom, wisdom that is pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). We should be praying and seeking God until we truly perceive the glory of God.

And after that we are to display the glory of God.

Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) - Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Contrary to what some of the LGBT community would say of us Christians, we aren’t all cruel, uncaring and merciless bigots. But the wear-white movement draws attention to a wear-white message, when God wants the community we are in to see ALL the good that we do.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (NKJV) - Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Do good works. Show kindness. Let them see what God the Father is like.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV) - But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
If we think the LGBT activists hate us and what we stand for, then we have instructions from Jesus to do good to them. And don’t think for a moment we can get-away with a passive-aggressive kind of thing, to buy a coffee or a meal for an activist just to make a condescending point. They won’t be impressed, and neither will God. We have to look into really seeking common ground with them.

For example, when there were gays beaten and even killed in Russia recently, how many of us believers mourned? How many of our churches here spoke up against the beatings and killings? The local LGBT activists could garner at best 200 signatures for their petition to the Russia Embassy. If just a few of our smaller churches started their own petition calling upon the Russian government to stop the hate crimes and violence, would we not easily garner more support than that? Would we not have sent a message to the community at large that God loves the world and we actually do something to show it?

Another example – we all know the activists organize the Pink Dot gathering at Hong Lim Park pretty much every year. Did it ever occur to us that security is a concern for them? If any nutcase goes bonkers there and starts hurting or killing people… *shudder How many of us prayed for the safety of the people, that violence would not erupt there?

My point is this – there will be common ground between us and the LGBT activists. If we are active in doing good in the common ground, that will glorify God. For example, we don’t like to see an effeminate teenage boy get mocked, heckled or bullied in school. We don’t want to see teenagers estranged from their parents because of their sexuality and get chased out of their homes. Because of our resources and connections, we can actually actively help make things better for society even in such areas.

And that is the opportunity we still have at this moment. Whatever message we want to send to the government, press, society and LGBT activists, the MOST important message is: God is real, God loves the world, and we Christians are out to show it.

Don’t tell me I am naïve, unaware of the agenda at hand, uninformed about the persecution that awaits us Christians should those lobbyists have their way. As I said earlier, I have read their playbook, I know what is up and coming. But I also know the Bible, I know how God wants us to live in these times. If we want God’s kind of results we cannot achieve them without doing things God’s way. If we want to know the will of God we have to first make sure we do not conform to the pattern of this world. It all boils down to this: how much do you believe God acts on behalf of those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4)? I am betting on it, how about you?    


This was written in response to 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Songwriting - Personal Opinion

I spent slightly more than a month on night-time gig. It was an interesting one, an eye-opener for me in many aspects. We would regularly do a particular song as an instrumental, featuring a performer on the soprano saxophone. And after our set one of the singers would get on stage and sing the same song, but poorly (it seemed like he was making up all the lyrics as he went along, and in very weak English).

Our drummer would comment, "There are how many billion songs on this planet, why must he choose that one?"

That quite sums up my attitude towards songwriting for worship and for church use. We have a crazy number of songs available for church use these days, why would we need to write more?

Of course, I know that is my personal opinion, and there are people in the body of Christ gifted and tasked to write more songs for church use. Barring any major changes, I won't do that myself, because:

1) There is no assurance what I write is worth using in church;

2) Even if it is worth using in church, it will still need lots of time and exposure to make it something usable, with the potential of becoming what I call a Fallback Worship Song. Given that there are many great songs already available and in use, should my time and effort be put there?

3) I am not in the worship music business, with a quota of albums to create, produce and market. If you are, that's great for you. Be faithful to what God has put in your hand, OK? I am not, and so I see no need to come up with more songs to add to the millions already out in the church music scene.

That said, I wrote a few songs more than 10 years ago. I might get around to recording them and putting them up somewhere. But don't hold your breath, I am no Chris Tomlin, in either quantity or quality of songwriting. I do better in taking someone else's song and making it better! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ever felt cut off from God's goodness before? I know I have.

Sometimes I feel that way because of the current situations I am in. 

Psalm 27:11-12 (NIV) - Teach me your way, O Lord ; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.

When the threats and problems are current, right in your face, so to speak, it is easy to get caught up with the danger and trial and lose focus on the good that God has promised to us. And yet that is when we need to be mindful of God's goodness the most.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV) - I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.Wait for the Lord ; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord .

Sometimes I feel that way because of things I have done wrong before. When current trials hit, there always seems to be some bright spark around me who will say "If only that time you had (ABC) then you won't have to go through (XYZ) right now..." Other times I don't need that bright spark around; I remember my own failings and mistakes well enough, thank you very much!

Lamentations 3:19-20 - I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.

At such times, this is THE big question - are my mistakes, sins, and failings bigger and more powerful than God's goodness?

Lamentations 3:21-26 (NIV) - Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord 's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord .

The point of the above passage, however, is that it is NOT guaranteed that we will make it through the trial. It is NOT a given that we can clear past a particular storm or crisis. In other words, there is still a chance we will go under.

What does it take to successfully make it through difficult seasons? It takes the goodness of the Lord. And how do we access it? The passage tells us "The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him". How does one actually hope in the Lord? By seeking him.

"... it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord" - This tells me the deliverance of the Lord will most likely take time. And during that time, as we are enduring trials and difficulties, we have to continue to seek God. It is not for the faint-hearted or impatient. 

Seeking the Lord will also enable us to discern if he wants us to plant ourselves down long term. Huh? Check this out:

Jeremiah 29:4-7 (NIV) - This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
"Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you intoexile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

Remember, these are people exiled from Israel as a punishment for their sins. Humanly, we would expect that God would either take them back to Israel swiftly as they submitted themselves to God's will, and so they should not be making long term plans; or that God had forsaken them, so they would just wither, shrivel up and fade into obscurity in Babylon. 

But God chose neither. He had the prophet Jeremiah admonish them to make long term plans, and even to pray to the Lord for Babylon to prosper. I cannot imagine how much this idea messed up their minds and their pre-conceived notions of God and his ways!

Oftentimes it is much easier to stay out of trouble. God has already warned us in this Word that sin will have consequences, and we won't like them. God often gives us an uneasy feeling about people we really shouldn't associate with, as they can turn a good situation into bad. The book of Proverbs has MANY warnings that help us recognize problematic people, and avoiding them or backing out of partnership with them is a lot easier than dealing with all the grief they cause later, believe me!

But once we are already mired in the problems, however, getting out of them, and more importantly, achieving God's purposes in the midst of them, takes a lot more wisdom to manage. We really can't see the big picture while we are caught up in the storm, so all we can do is listen to God and have him guide us one step at a time. We have to discipline ourselves to not give room for the flesh, the carnal nature, to rise up and goad us into doing things we will regret later. And we need to keep our hearts and minds on God. 

Romans 8:5-6 (NKJV) - For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

May God continually guide and navigate us through life, and even more so during the difficult seasons! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Scripture Snapshot - Thinking About Politics

Thinking in the long term, I care about politics because I care about the country and environment my children grow up in.

Psalm 103:17-19 (NIV) - But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children -- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. 

But it is God's government that is truly important, no?

Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV) - For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

And God's government will only be fully established in Jesus. No point looking to men to establish it or make it work. In other words, put your hope in God, not men!

Psalm 94:20-23 (NKJV) - Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law,
Have fellowship with You?
They gather together against the life of the righteous, and condemn innocent blood.
But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge.
He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness;
The Lord our God shall cut them off.

Over where I come from, Christians care more about what is legal than what is right. The above passage tells us that God cares about what is right. Condemning the innocent is an abomination to God...

Psalm 75:6-10 (NKJV) - For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red;
It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth
Drain and drink down.
But I will declare forever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
“All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.”

... and eventually there will be a reckoning. We may see evil men in power now, but God will bring them down and raise up other people. So anticipate that process with much prayer!

Psalm 107:39-42 (NKJV) - When they are diminished and brought low
Through oppression, affliction, and sorrow,
He pours contempt on princes, and causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, and makes their families like a flock.
The righteous see it and rejoice, and all iniquity stops its mouth.

How does God judge princes? By how well the common citizens fare. That is God's heart for the people. Again, we see God's purpose and intent. But it is up to us to pray for it into reality.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV) - “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

May this be the acceptable year of the Lord. May your Kingdom come and your will be done, Lord, on earth as it is in heaven!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

After Resurrection Musings

One problem with trying to understand the prophets:  the sequence of events and themes isn’t always clear. After I looked at Isaiah 53, the next logical step would be to look at Isaiah 54. Here is what caught my attention.

Isaiah 54:9-10 (NIV 84) - "To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 

If the punishment for all my sin and transgression has been borne by Jesus on the cross, then logically speaking, God has no more reason to be angry with me ever again. I believe this applies in the sense of my relationship with God being secure. Of course my fellowship with God is NOT secure, and should never be taken for granted. If I choose to ignore God, neglect my prayer time and let dust gather on my Bible, I am out of fellowship with God. 

Imagine, not hearing the voice of God, being deaf and blind to the leading of the Spirit, while being weak in the inner man because of not feeding on the Word of God. That is a very dangerous state to be in these last days!

Isaiah 54:11-15 (NIV 84) - "O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. 

So what or who is this afflicted city mentioned here?

On one level, it refers to the city of Jerusalem. We see the LORD speaking to Jerusalem in both Isaiah 51:17 and in Isaiah 52:1, and he does not address any other group of people until the start of Isaiah 55. That means that Isaiah 54:11 refers to Jerusalem. 

For us this can refer to the physical city of Jerusalem, or also the New Testament church

Hebrews 12:22 (ESV) - But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect 

One mistake to watch out for – do not let the spiritual meaning negate the physical meaning. There will be people who think that this prophecy can apply to the spiritual Jerusalem, therefore it does not apply anymore to the physical Jerusalem. That would be like saying because this verse: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh“ (Gen 2:24) applies to Christ and his church (Eph 5:33) it does not apply to our earthly marriages. And Eph 5:33 shows that idea is clearly not Scriptural. 
Two thoughts from this passage:

1) Move beyond an individual-based faith to a community-based faith.

Our individual, personal faith-walk with the Lord is the foundation. We need to seek God for our own lives, to see his working in our day-to-day experience, to experience his promises fulfilled for us. If not we end up like some people I have seen, who spend more time praying for the church than for themselves, sound very spiritual and mature, and yet fight losing battles with their problems and addictions in their personal lives. 

But after that foundation is laid, we must swiftly move on to praying for the community also. We can find many prophecies for Jerusalem in the Old Testament and prayers for the churches in the New Testament. If spiritual maturity is defined by how much the Bible reflects our lives, attention and priorities, then ignoring the community (Jerusalem or the church) is a clear sign of immaturity.

So pray! Pray for yourself, pray for your local church, and pray for the church at large. No one with a Bible and an internet connection can ever say “I don’t know what to pray about”, it’s handed to us on a silver platter by modern technology. We have no excuse!

2) Pray for Jerusalem

When I set out to regularly pray for Jerusalem, I soon realized that there were many Scripture passages I could use. The above passage from Isaiah 54 is only just one example. Just casually reading through the book of Isaiah yields many prophecies for Jerusalem (and Zion) for us to use in our private prayer time. But if you are wondering how to get started, here’s a simple answer.

Psalm 122:6-9 (NKJV) - Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:“May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls,Prosperity within your palaces.”For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say,“Peace be within you.” Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.

Pray that Jerusalem will experience the shalom of God, the peace, prosperity and well-being of God. And pray that there will be justice in Jerusalem, because the purpose of shalom is to order and establish his kingdom, the nation of Israel, with judgment and justice. In other words, shalom, judgment and justice will show the world what the rule of Christ truly is.

Isaiah 9:7 (NKJV) - Of the increase of His government and peaceThere will be no end,Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,To order it and establish it with judgment and justiceFrom that time forward, even forever.The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

I’d better stop here before I get carried away by the Scriptures again. If so I’ll never stop writing. Chew on all this sharing for now, I need to go back to praying. Be blessed! 

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Good Friday Musings

For the Good Friday weekend, I went to relook Isaiah 53. For my night-time Scripture reading with my boys, I took the time to read Isaiah 53 to them, even though they are old enough to read it themselves. I usually will pay extra attention to these verses.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV 84) - Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

All through the rest of the year I will prize divine healing (at my age being sick sucketh, verily), but this season I wanted to really meditate on the price paid for it, and for forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Then this part of the chapter grabbed my attention.

Isaiah 53:10-12 (NIV 84) - Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

“… the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand” – Sometimes (OK, almost all the time) I think the will of God is frustrated or even defeated. Let’s not look at all that is going wrong in the world, I just need to look at my own struggles with following God. It seems to be getting harder and harder, and I seem to fail more and more.

And yet in the midst of all that, the Word of God still proclaims, “… the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand”. Just as it was true in predicting the suffering, crucifying and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is true in declaring that the will of the LORD will prosper in the hands of Christ. I, on my part, need to continually place every area of my life in his hands, and it comes from specific, directed prayer. Which means listing out everything that bugs me.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV 84) - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And that, by the way, explains why I always make time to pray by myself, out of earshot of EVERYBODY in my family. My sons don’t need to know that Daddy seems to be bugged by just about everything!

“… by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.”

He will justify many. Even those who mock him and ridicule his name now. Even those who persecute his church. Just as he did for Saul on the road to Damascus, he can do for the evil people of this day. I have been praying for them to be judged, Jesus wants them to be saved, that his blood for them not be shed in vain. I need some major repenting here!

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

I can’t bear the sin of others, but can I at least join my Lord in making intercession for the transgressors? Knowing that I myself was counted among them too?

So this was what I was meditating on during the weekend. Be blessed!