Footprints on the shores of time


Every year there are people who give too much importance on the shaping of the kind of footprints they would leave behind on the shores of time to ensure their marks in history. But be they footprints of the learned or of the unlearned, the tides of time are no respecter of footprints. For every time the tides visit the shores, the waves of change that they bring will simply wash away whatever marks there are on the sands.

Therefore as this year ends, whatever footprints this year may be leaving on the shores of time, be they good and/or bad, leave them to the waves of change and let us all embrace the dawning of another new year, holding on firmly to the assurance that the Lord will continue to sustain us throughout the next year and the years to come.

Consider a year as just a very long day and a new year as just another new day so that whatever may had been and whatever will be, still it is always worthwhile to thank the Lord, because his love and mercy, which sustain us every day, are new each day.

Have a blessed new year everyone.


What Greatness Is In God's Eyes

Humble servanthood is heaven's standard for greatness.

[Matthew 20:25-28] Jesus called His disciples together and said to them, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Watch the complete video at: Touching Lives - Video Broadcasts


Let peace be your weapon

"I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace."
--Muhammad Ali

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity."
--George Carlin

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."
--Albert Einstein

"Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves."
--William Hazlitt

"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."
--Nelson Mandela

"Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness."
--Marianne Williamson

"I do not just want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace."
--Helen Keller

"There was never a good war, or a bad peace."
--Benjamin Franklin

"Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means."
--Ronald Reagan

"If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots."
--Napoleon Bonaparte

"We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God."
--Thomas Merton

"Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love."
--St. Francis of Assisi


Fig tree in a vineyard

[Luke 13:6-9] The Lord spoke this parable. “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. He said to the vine dresser, ‘Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?’ He answered, ‘Lord, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it, and fertilize it. If it bears fruit, fine; but if not, after that, you can cut it down.’”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree in a Vineyard
Yves I-Bing Cheng, M.D., M.A.

The importance of bearing spiritual fruit is repeatedly emphasized in the Bible. Especially significant is the link between the failure to produce good fruit and divine judgment. Jesus makes this connection by telling the parable of the barren fig tree, a story describing a man seeking fruit.

A fig tree in a vineyard

Let’s take a closer look at this parable. We read in v. 6, A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard. The first question that comes to our mind is this: What is this fig tree doing in a vineyard? A vineyard is where you grow grapes, not figs. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate or at least more natural to say, ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his orchard.’

Well, to think like this is to misunderstand the agricultural methods of that time. Different plants have different demands on the soil. It was a common practice to plant a variety of fruit trees in vineyards and even in vegetable gardens. For that reason, the presence of fig trees in a vineyard was not unusual.

The other thing to observe is that fig trees and vines are often mentioned together in the Old Testament, which seems to indicate that these two types of plants were often grown together. We read for example in Joel 1:7, He has laid waste My vine, and ruined My fig tree… The same association is found two other times in the book of Joel (Joel 1:12, 2:22) where the vine and the fig tree have a spiritual meaning.

A barren tree

Then Jesus goes on to describe the man’s disappointment. ‘I have been coming for three years looking for fruits on this tree and I did not find anything. I must say that my patience with this tree is gone. Just cut it down.’

We know that when you plant a new fig tree, you will not get fruit from it right away. You have to wait at least three years before the tree is mature enough to bear fruit. This means that when a person comes to look for fruit, it is already in the 4th year of that tree. In this parable, the man had come to the tree after the initial three years were passed. Year after year, for three consecutive years, he came to look for fruit but found none. We may assume therefore that the tree was at least six years old by this stage.

‘Cut it down,’ the owner said. But the vinedresser intervened with a plea for patience. He wanted to give the tree one more year. Let it alone, sir, for this year too (v. 8). Six plus one is seven. The tree will be seven years old at that time. You know that in the Bible, seven is a number of perfection. I wonder if it has a meaning here. Perhaps it expresses God’s perfect patience. He has waited for a full seven years. In other words, his patience has been expressed to the fullest possible extent. He waits and waits until there is no more hope left.

Notice that the owner of the vineyard doesn’t need a lot of persuading. When the vinedresser said, ‘Give it one more year,’ he didn’t say, ‘No, it’s finished. That’s enough.’ Rather, he said, ‘Fine. I will give it one more year. But after that, if it is still fruitless, cut it down.’

Beyond that point, it cannot go anymore. Beyond that, it would be irresponsible to let the fig tree grow in the vineyard. Why? Because it is depleting the soil. V. 7: Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?

Remember that a fig tree, like any plant, takes a lot of moisture and nutrients from the soil to sustain its growth. Every year the tree remains barren is a loss to the owner. The other vines and fruit trees suffer. And he could have used the same parcel of ground to plant a productive tree. In the owner’s judgment, the vineyard is better off without the fig tree if it doesn’t bear fruit.

Pleading for mercy

Then we come to the question of the identity of the two characters. Who is the owner of the vineyard? Who is the vinedresser? From the parables of Jesus, we know at once that the owner of the vineyard is God Himself. In the parable of the wicked wine-growers for example (Matthew 21:33-41), it is quite clear that God is pictured by the owner of the vineyard.

Who then is the vinedresser? The picture is also quite plain. Who intercedes and pleads for mercy? Who is the mediator between God and man? None other than Christ Himself of course. He is the high priest who is pleading for a little more mercy toward us. And the Father is very willing to grant it … up to a limit.

The picture of Jesus as Intercessor is explicitly mentioned in Luke 22:31 where Jesus says to Peter, ‘Peter, Peter, Satan desires to have you but I have prayed for you.’ ‘I have interceded for you.’ Jesus has prayed for Peter that his faith may not fail, that he would be kept by the power of God. It is such a joy to know that the Lord intercedes for us, to know that we have a merciful and gracious high priest who pleads on our behalf.

Now, the vinedresser pictures the Lord Jesus not only as an intercessor but also as a servant. When you study the word ‘vinedresser’ in the OT, you notice that it is used with reference to a servant class. In Isaiah 61:5, Jeremiah 52:16 and 2Kings 25:12, it is linked with the plowman, the person who plows the field, and these passages tell us that they come from the poorest group of the society. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen (2Kings 25:12). During the captivity, the poor were left behind as vinedressers and plowmen in order to prevent the land from becoming completely desolate. A vinedresser is by implication someone who is from the low class. And that is precisely what Jesus came to be. He came from the majesty on high to the lowest position on earth. As Philippians 2:7 tells us, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant… Jesus is not only an intercessor, He is also a servant.

Unfruitfulness of God's People

What about the fig tree? What does it represent? A tree may represent a nation or a people. In the Bible, the fig tree is a picture of Israel. In Jeremiah 24, we read about the prophet’s vision of two baskets of figs. Every person in Israel was symbolized by those figs. This means that the whole nation is one or several fig trees from which come the figs, the individual Israelites. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, when God was displeased with His people because of their unfaithfulness, He would make it known by referring to the lack of fruit on a fig tree. We have an example of this in Jeremiah 8:13. "I will surely consume them," says the Lord. "No grapes shall be on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things I have given them shall pass away from them." Here again, Israel as a nation is symbolized by a fig tree.

The picture of Israel as an unfruitful fig tree is also found in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus uses it in His acted parable of cursing the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22). Looking at a fig tree full of leaves but which had no edible buds, Jesus said, ‘You will never bear fruit again!’ And immediately the tree withered. This was meant to be a warning to the Jews. Israel is like this unfruitful fig tree. She is spiritually barren. By cursing the tree, Jesus is showing that Israel will come under the condemnation of God. So the barren fig tree portrays Israel as not having born any spiritual produce for some time.

The other thing to notice in our parable is that the fig tree is not just given another year. God doesn’t just give another chance. He does something positive. During that extra year, the vinedresser will loosen the soil around the tree so that moisture can get to the roots more easily and he will put fertilizer into the ground. That is to say, God is doing something very special for Israel. He is giving her an extra measure of grace. And this extra attention and love had been showered on the nation in the presence of their Messiah. Before He sent to them His prophets. Now the Son Himself has come to tend to this fig tree, to speak to Israel.

[Because of the works of the Lord Jesus, peoples and nations were grafted into His "Tree", and thus we became part of it. Are we bearing fruit or have we also become unfruitful?]

The time is short

There is one more question about this fig tree. Why is it used as an example? You see, sometimes Israel is pictured as an olive tree, sometimes as a vine. But here, it is a fig tree. Why? One remarkable characteristic of the fig tree is its fruitfulness. There is no tree that can beat a fig tree for fruitfulness. It can bear fruit in spring, in summer, in autumn and even in winter. For ten months of the year, a good fig tree can bear fruit, producing up to three crops of figs.

In this parable, the Lord Jesus chooses the fig tree as a picture of Israel to highlight the fact that what should have been most fruitful turns out to be not fruitful at all. Israel failed to be a fruitful nation. When God planted Israel, He expected fruit. The chosen nation was highly privileged in that it had received a choice spot in God’s vineyard. But with the privilege came responsibility – the responsibility to bear fruit. And Israel failed to match privilege with duty. Soon God will execute His judgment – one more year.

The image is similar to John the Baptist’s warning to Israel that the ax lies at the root of the tree in Luke 3:9. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. The ax is already at the root of the tree that does not bear fruit. That is a very explicit figure of the nearness of the approaching judgment. Chopping a tree with an ax requires a certain technique. Typically you line up the ax against a specific point on the tree. Then when you are ready, you raise the ax and you bring it back to that point. So when it says that the ax is laid at the root, it means that the woodman has already lined up his mark against the tree, and with the next swing, he will strike the tree right at that point. John’s message is clear. The time left for Israel to turn back to God and be fruitful is very short.

The fig tree in the parable was supposed to bear fruit. It had been planted for that specific purpose. But it did not bear fruit. Although the tree is given another chance to produce fruit within one more year, the prospect of seeing it happening is not so good. It is very unlikely that a fruit tree which has failed to bring forth fruit for six consecutive years is going to produce anything at all. To be realistic, it is virtually impossible.

This is where the supernatural element of the parable comes out. You see, this fig tree will never bear fruit unless a miracle happens. There has to be a complete and profound transformation in the fruit tree. It can be described as a miracle of regeneration in the tree and this vinedresser is actually looking for such a miracle to happen.

So the parable holds for the possibility of fruit-bearing in spite of a history of sterility, i.e., it holds for the possibility of change in the human heart in spite of its sinfulness. Such a miracle, God can perform. His whole power and grace is made available beyond measure for those who repent.

Bearing fruits worthy of repentance

Now here, the notion of repentance goes hand in hand with that of fruit-bearing. It is important to observe that vv. 6-9 of Luke 13 are closely linked with vv. 1-5. Like the three parables of the lost sheep, coin and sons in Luke 15, Luke 13:1-9 combines two questions related to repentance with a parable which illustrates in more detail the theme of repentance. They are coordinated in such a way that the need for repentance corresponds to the lack of fruit in the parable.

What are these two questions? Jesus taught the parable of the barren fig tree in the context of people coming to Him with a report about two recent disasters in Jerusalem. One was the massacre of some Galileans by Pilate in the temple. Question #1: Did these people suffer because they were worse sinners than other Galileans? The answer Jesus gave was negative. ‘Repent,’ He said to His listeners, ‘or you too will perish (v. 3).’ The other incident was the collapse of a tower in Siloam which left eighteen people dead. Question #2: Were those eighteen persons who perished worse sinners than others who lived in Jerusalem? Again the answer was ‘no’. Once more, Jesus said, ‘Repent, or you too will perish (v. 5).’

The parable of the barren fig tree then follows and its meaning in this context becomes evident. It is a warning to Jesus’ audience of the judgment that will come on them if they fail to respond to His call to repent.

How do you know that a person is truly repenting and seeking forgiveness for sins? You will know it by the effect that their repentance has on his life. He will bear fruit that shows a changed heart and a turning away from sin.

This was the way John the Baptist preached repentance in Luke 3. Just before declaring that the ax is laid at the root in v. 9, he says to the Israelites in v. 8, Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. For John, as for Jesus, there is an appropriate product of repentance. Real repentance manifests itself in behavior, or ‘fruit’ consistent with repentance. Fruitfulness then is expressed in the qualitative change of one’s life. If there is no fruit, John’s warning is that the tree will be cut down.

The other passage that emphasizes fruit bearing and warns of judgment is John 15 about Jesus as the true vine. In v. 8, we read, By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. The fruit is something that the Lord is looking for. God planted this vine in order that it might bring forth much fruit. And by this, i.e. by the fact that you bring forth much fruit, ‘so prove to be a disciple of Christ.’ In other words, the proof of discipleship is fruit-bearing. It is similar to John’s message about ‘bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance.’

John’s warning was to Israel as a nation. And in this parable, Jesus’ warning is also to Israel, the fig tree symbolizing Israel as we mentioned earlier. But I don’t think it is limited to Israel. The preceding discussion of the people who died in Jerusalem and the warning that ‘unless you repent, you will perish too’ favors a much broader application. It applies to all the sinners. It applies also to the new Israel, to all those in the church who profess to know Christ.

How do we sum up the main lesson of this story? We can say that the image pictured by this parable is one of judgment graciously held back for a time. In the context of the two reports concerning those who died, Jesus is telling his audience – and to us – that God’s patience will end in judgment if the sinner does not repent. In His mercy, God has allotted a period of grace for each human being, ‘not wanting anyone to perish.’ He does not merely go the second mile. He will go a third mile and if need be a fourth in order to save a sinner. But there is a limit to God’s patience. The clock will tick only so long before the current opportunity to respond is lost. When the allotted time for man’s repentance has expired, then judgment is unavoidable.

Read also Messages & Notes - September 03, 2012


Draw Close to the Light

Wanting to be blessed? Instead of merely lurking in the shadowy places outside the edge of the light, why not be bold and stay inside the light and draw close to the very center of it. Blessings are like insects. They are abundant at the light's center where illumination is most intense.

Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” --John 8:12


Keep Your Feet on the Ground

The wheel is one of man's greatest tool ever invented and it is considered as a leg of creativity. But no matter what kind of wheels one may be having as tool, when it comes to keeping one's own feet on the ground (meaning to say: being very practical and see things as they really are), it is more a matter of will than wheels.

“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.” ―Theodore Roosevelt

"Becoming a force of nature doesn't mean that all of our aspirations must be grand. First steps are often small, and initial visions that focus energy effectively often address immediate problems. What matters is engagement in the service of a larger purpose rather than lofty aspirations that paralyze action. Indeed, it's a dangerous trap to believe that we can pursue only great visions." --Peter Senge

Don't discount the practicality of some small things. Even the biggest of trees practically begins with a tiny seed. The scripture put it this way:

[Luke 13:18-21] Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and put in his own garden. It grew, and became a large tree, and the birds of the sky lodged in its branches.” Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”


Susama Sa Mga Dahon Nga Naglutaw

Matud sa usa ka batid nga magsusulat nga nagkanayon; ang kinabuhi kuno susama kini sa usa ka drama sa intablado. Sa gusto man nato o sa dili, ug maski unsaon pa nato sa paglikay, dili gayud kuno kita makaikyas sa tagsa-tagsa nato ka papel o katungdanan nga gisangon nang daan sa Kahitas-an nganhi sa matag usa kanato kaniadto pang sa dihang ang matag usa kanato atoa pa sa sabakan sa damgo ug ginalaraw pa lamang nga ipakahimugso nga nilalang ning kalibutan.

Kaha man, adunay mga panahon nga mahisimang o mobiya kita sa maong papel o katungdanan, apan susama sa mga dahon nga naglutaw sa ibabaw sa tubig, ang inanay nga pag-agus sa tubig inubanan ug dinasonan sa matag karon ug unya nga makalmahon nga huyop sa hinoyohoy sa hangin maoy makapaganoy ug makagiya sa mga dahon sa hinay-hinay ngadto paingon sa sunod nga lapyahan o lugar nga giandam nang daan ug nga gitumong alang gayud kanila nga maoy ilang paga padulngan.

Dugang pa nga pagpamulong sa maong magsusulat: Ang tanan kuno nato nga mga kabudlay nga tumong sa atong papel o katungdanan, mao kuno kini ang magahatag kanato ug labaw nga katumanan sa atong pagkanilalang samtang ania pa kita niini nga kalibutan.

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. (Psalm 40:5)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)



Humble yourself before the Lord

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and [in His time] He shall lift you up." --James 4:10

Things are in a different perspective when we are down on our knees.

Take up your cross, and follow me

“If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own self?" (Luke 9:23-25)


He sends rain on the just and the unjust

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)


Bringing in a Lamp

He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."

"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you--and even more."

(Mark 4:21-24)


Don't count sheeps; talk to the Shepherd

Can't sleep? Don't count sheeps, talk to the Shepherd.

Call on the LORD, the good shepherd; and you shall not lack. He will make you to lie down in green pastures: he will lead you beside the still waters. He will restore your soul: he will lead you in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil: for He is with you; His rod and His staff they will comfort you. (Psalms 23:1-4)


How Heavy Is A Glass Of Water?

Author Unknown

A professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students.

“How much do you think this glass weighs?”

"50gms!"... "100gms!"... "125gms"… the students answered.

“I really don’t know unless I weigh it,” said the professor, “but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?”

"Nothing"… the students said.

"Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?" the professor asked.

"Your arm would begin to ache", said one of the student.

“You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?”

“Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure!”… ventured another student and all the students laughed.

“Very good. But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?” asked the professor.

"No"… was the answer of the students.

“Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress?” The students were puzzled.

“What should I do now to come out of pain?” asked the professor again.

“Put the glass down!” said one of the students…

“Exactly!” said the professor.


Life’s problems are something like this. Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem okay. Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache you. Hold it even longer and they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything.

While it is important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, it is even more important to put them down at the end of every day before you lay your head to rest. That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh and strong and can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way.

So, at the end of the day when you leave your workplace after a day's labor, remember friend to put the glass down.

"Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought of the things for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the trouble thereof." (Mathew 6:34)


In The Power of the Tongue

People could change for the better or for the worse. Today people may be good friends, tomorrow they could be bad enemies, or vice versa. In friendship and in hostility, people bless, as well as curse. Blessing and cursing is in the power of the tongue, but he/she who is able to tame his/her own tongue has wisdom and strength mightier than that of an army.

Therefore train your tongue such that in good times, while things are fine between you and other people, be quick to never miss the opportunity to bless and pray for them, so that when there will come a time or a situation where things turn bad between you and them, it would be too late for your cursing tongue to reverse the effect of the blessing and prayer you had given them.

Also, tame your tongue in such a way that in bad times, when things are not good between you and other people, and you can't find the strength to bless them, at least never say a curse against them. You will never know there will come a time when things could turn good between you and them, and it might be too late for your prayer to reverse the effect of the curse you had made against them.


[A Repost]: One Blessed Lady (The Gift of Love)

Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all his heart. When she first lost her sight he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again.

Click on the link provided below to read the entirety of this short love story and find out in the end how Mark made Susan gained back her confidence. Find out what made Susan even considered herself so blessed despite her blindness.


Mark gave her wife Susan a gift more powerful than the physical sight she desperately needed, a gift Susan didn't need to see to believe but which brought her a different kind of light that conquers all her fears of the darkness of her sightlessness.

They who live in the light of God's Love; they walk by faith and not by sight.

Happy Valentines everyone and be blessed for God loves you. :-)


Blessings and Miracles

By Andrew Wommack 

Which would you rather have, a blessing or a miracle? What is the difference between the two? The answers to these questions are much more important than most people realize.

Blessings and miracles are like two different delivery systems from the Lord. It is possible to be so expectant of a miracle that you miss the blessing!

Many of you have heard the story of the woman who was trapped on the roof of her house during a flood. She was in a desperate situation, with the waters rising. Without the Lord's help, she looked doomed; but she was a believer and prayed in faith that the Lord would rescue her. Just as she finished praying, a big log floated by. She thought of jumping on it and riding it to safety, but no, she was believing God for a miracle. Someone then came by in a boat and offered to rescue her, but she steadfastly refused, saying God was going to miraculously save her.

Just before the waters swept her away, a rescue helicopter came and lowered a ladder to her. She still refused, knowing that the Lord would supernaturally save her. Shortly thereafter, she was drowned as the waters prevailed. In heaven, she was perplexed and asked the Lord why He didn't answer her prayer. He said, "I sent you a log, a boat, and a helicopter, but you wouldn't receive My help."

The woman in this story missed God's provision because she was committed to receiving help from the Lord in only one way. She didn't realize that these other, natural things, albeit less spectacular, were God's provision too. Likewise, many Christians only know how to receive from God through a miracle, and are unaware of the power and superiority of a blessing.

First, here are some definitions. The dictionary defines a miracle as, "an event that appears unexplainable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God." In contrast, a blessing is also supernatural in origin but utilizes natural means. In other words, a miracle supersedes or suspends natural laws, while a blessing is God's divine power working through natural laws.

Since miracles are much more spectacular than blessings and relatively much easier to come by, many Christians are only looking for their needs to be supplied through a miracle; but here are some reasons why having God meet your needs through a blessing is much better. First, before you can receive a miracle you have to be in a crisis. For God to suspend or supersede His natural laws, there has to be a very good reason. Physical laws aren't bad. God created them and said that everything He created was good. He's not going to stop the rain that thousands of farmers have been praying for, just so you can have a picnic. No! You have to be in a crisis situation before the Lord will grant you a miracle.

Therefore, those who live from miracle to miracle, live from crisis to crisis. In contrast, the blessings of God will prevent crisis in your life. Which would you rather have -- a desperate situation where you received the miracle of a new car; or would you rather be so blessed that if you wanted a new car, you could just go buy one with the cash you have. I think most of us would choose the blessing of just being able to buy a new car at any time.

Secondly, a miracle differs from a blessing in that a blessing is always more abundant. Take the example of manna. The Lord fed the children of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness by raining down what the Bible calls "angels' food" (Ps. 78:25), round about their camp six days a week. This was a miracle. If any of the manna was kept into the heat of the day it would breed worms and stink (Ex. 16:20). On the sixth day, they could gather a two-day supply of the manna to keep until the seventh day without it rotting. This wasn't normal. It was a miracle.

Miraculous as it was, the children of Israel loathed the manna. They ate manna three times a day for 40 years. There were only so many ways one could prepare manna. They longed for something more. Miracles may beat starvation, but they are never God's best. Once the children of Israel entered into the promised land, they had the blessing of eating the abundance of the land that flowed with milk and honey. Both the manna and the fruit of the land of Canaan were God's provision, but which would you rather have?

This leads us to a third difference between blessings and miracles: Miracles are always temporary, while blessings are eternal. The miraculous supply of manna is the longest, recorded miracle in the Bible. Most miracles are momentary, but the manna lasted 40 years. However, there was an end to the manna.

In Joshua 5:10-12, the scripture says, And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more: but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

The manna ceased because miracles are always temporary. I can just see some of those Israelites going out the next morning to gather manna. After all, they knew nothing else. This was the generation that had been raised on manna for 40 years. I suspect some of them refused to dig in the dirt to get their food. They would receive it directly from God through a miracle, but the time for the miracle was over. Some of them could have gone hungry waiting for the miracle of the manna, when the blessings of the promised land were abundant all around them.

Likewise, many Christians are looking for a miraculous provision when God has provided something better for them through His blessing.

Jamie and I learned some of this the hard way. When we first started in ministry, I somehow got the idea that it would be sin for me to work a secular job. I was called to the ministry, and praise God, that would be the only way I would get my needs met. This went against the laws of the kingdom of God that say if you don't work, you don't eat (2 Th. 3:10). Until I worked in ministry full time, I shouldn't have expected it to support me full time. My heart was right, but my head was wrong. Because of this, Jamie and I had some severe financial problems.

We were sincerely believing God the best we knew how, and because of God's mercy and love for us, He did provide for us miraculously. We had miracles nearly every day to keep us and our children from starving. We went from one crisis to another with the miracles being only temporary and never a full abundance. When my lightning-fast mind finally began to cooperate with the spiritual and natural laws of God, the blessings started to come, and I can personally testify that the blessings are better.

Not too long ago, I was remembering those old days of lack and miraculous supply. Every day, we had to have a miracle, or we wouldn't have eaten. All our furniture was just given to us. We drove our old car after it ran out of gas and with impossible mechanical problems. I was beginning to feel a little condemned because I hadn't seen any of those miraculous provisions lately.

The Lord then spoke to me and said, "Would you really like to go back to those days of lack and miraculous supply, or would you rather be so blessed that none of those things are issues? If you want to eat, go get something to eat. If your car needs repairs, just fix it or go buy another one. Which would you rather have?" Well, I quickly repented for longing for the old days and told the Lord I was very grateful that the blessings had overtaken me in my life.

There are times when all of us make unwise choices, or we just don't know how God's kingdom works, and we get in a crisis situation. If that's the case, then a miracle might be the best and only way out at the moment; but make no mistake-the blessing of God is the superior way to receive from God. We need to reach a place where we are praying for miracles for others, but walking in the blessings ourselves. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you were so blessed that you never needed another miracle from God!

Another concept that needs to be corrected about blessings is that "things" aren't blessings. When the scripture says that Abraham's blessing is mine (Gal. 3:14), I don't want his 4,000- year-old rotten tents or the bleached bones of his animals. No! The blessing is God's spoken favor that causes tangible "things." The physical things that Abraham had were the result of the blessing, not the blessing itself.

If you can understand that, then you can begin to appropriate the blessing of the Lord regardless of the amount of "things" you possess. If your stash of "things" fluctuates, which it inevitably will do, then your faith doesn't falter because God's blessing isn't things-it's His favor that has been spoken over you. That will never change.

Once the blessing is given, it cannot be reversed. Hallelujah! God spoke this through Balaam. In Numbers 23:19-20, Balaam said, God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

The blessing of God isn't conditional on our holiness either. In the next verse Balaam said, He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel. This certainly wasn't because there wasn't any perverseness or iniquity in Israel. This is saying that the blessing of God isn't conditional on our performance. Praise the Lord! That is good news!



The universal law of reciprocity is also philosophically encapsulated in the golden rule. In some sense, its principle says that life is like a surrounding of mirrors. What we project will be multiplied and will be reflected back to us (as what the picture above is illustrating).

Therefore, let the light of the Lord's peace be shown so that it may multiply and light up the whole world and drive away many darkness.

This Chinese new year, here is wishing everyone, 和平与你同在 (Ping Pa Ho) -- Peace Be With You.


What are you carrying?

What burden are you carrying? Put it down and take upon you the Lord's yoke instead.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)


Wishing Everyone Renewed Hope for the New Year

Another year, another resolution -- some are new, but most are old. Most of people's new year resolutions are made only just to be broken as the days of the year go by. But even so, if there is one thing good about this habit or tradition of making new year resolutions, it may be what as Arthur H. Sulzberger once said: "For eleven months and maybe about twenty days each year, we concentrate upon the shortcomings of others, but for a few days at the turn of new year we look at our own. It is a good habit."

Despite how bad the year 2011 may have ended for some of us, nevertheless let our faith always be steadfast in the Lord so that we will remain to be hopeful for His continual blessings and for good things to come in this new year 2012. In welcoming the new year, our attitude should be like going fishing with our friends. We cast our line into the water because we have the highest hope of catching something. This genuine hope is contagious and this is what gives all of us the excitement and enthusiasm to expect for positive things despite known and unknown odds.

So, here's wishing everyone a renewed hope for this new year 2012. May the grace of the Almighty remain to bless each and everyone of us always as we move ahead throughout the year and also through the many years that are yet to come.