A DICTIONARY FOR NAVIGATORS ON SPIRITUAL ROUGH WATERS 39: MORE WORDS FOR HARD TIMES

hard times contrastHard times are the number one concern to every individual, not to mention those with a family to feed. Hard times means a lack. Lack of sufficient resources. Lack of the usual stuff that we consider constituting physical, mental and emotional security and well being. Increasingly we hear of news of certain economic phenomena that gives us this sense of lack and the resultant loss. Loss of assurance. Loss of peace. Loss of comfort. Hard times means moving away from our comfort zone. Is there a way out? Today we read a word that points to a ray of light. A word of encouragement in hard times.

The word: LOOK. BEHOLD. Look. Jesus said, look.

If we can only see grim pictures, Jesus would not have urged His followers to look. The word “Look” is very pertinent today. Since Jesus Himself has urged us to look, we need to look. But what shall we look at which will counter hard times?

“Behold, a sower went out to sow.” (Matthew 13:3) This is what Jesus talks about when He meets the multitude. The people have come to see what good things He can give them. Free food. Free healing. Free deliverance. Even political and military positions and related material and social benefits. Sure. Jesus is fully capable of feeding thousands of hungry people without charging money. He does not even have to spend money to buy all those food. He just makes them appear out of thin air using fives loaves of ordinary bread and two normal fishes. Jesus is also fully capable of calling down heavenly armies to fight His just war and conquer the evil earthly kingdoms. He has the divine supernatural authority and power to as the Son of God to do what He wants if needed. 

But Jesus does not talk about His power and authority as the Son of God. He does demonstrate them in His healing and deliverance ministry and in His teaching of God’s words about the Kingdom of God. But in general He teaches something else. He talks about everyday living of the ordinary man who encounters hard times as shepherd, fisherman, farmer. He often addresses a common profession: farming. Sowing of seeds for crops. This is the generic profession for all of us today. He speaks of the chances of failure and success in getting a good crop. Some will fail. Some will succeed. Interestingly He does not talk about economic conditions like recessions. He only speaks of one criteria. The soil condition. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:8) Jesus also links economic sowing of seeds with the spiritual sowing of God’s words:But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”” (Matthew 13:23)

Do we need to fear hard times then? The Bible has a classic example of a man who sowed in hard times. Abraham’s son, Isaac reaped harvests of hundred-fold when all others suffered famine. he became very rich because of his sowing in hard times.

This is how the Bible describes his success: (Genesis 26:1-6; 12-14)

There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.

12-14 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.

coming home to sound of birds: a haiku (and a prose)

20160205_115012 copy 2Morning sounds are sweet

chirping twittering chatting

birds and human meet ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 [Full Chapter]

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
    I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
    how profound your thoughts!  (Psalm 92:1-5)

A dictionary for navigators on spiritual rough waters 38: more words for hard times

time square hilton NYThis traveler continues this journey on spiritual rough waters with a positive word. Not smooth but it’s worth it.

F= FIRST

‘First’ is a word commonly associated with performance superiority. Where an individual considers a thing of positive value to him, he wants to be first, to gain an advantageous position, and it means acting before all others. In a competitive environment he wants to be the winning one when compared to others in the same arena. The competition may be real or imagined on the part of the person who is required to perform, often with a stated corporate goal (with his own personal agenda) within stated corporate parameters. In a modern competitive economy based on scarce and limited resources, there is no way anyone who wants a reasonable and sustainable living without being measured by parameters set for performance in a corporate society.

In summary, often we (earth dwellers) want to be first only when there is a competition for scarce resources. There is a finite limit no matter how advanced we may currently are in ‘creative’ technology and science. The resources of the earth are finite. Parameters set by human and enforced by those with authority and power can restrain mankind from harmful ‘excessive consumption’ within the known and predicted limits of time and space and power. Increasingly the ‘war’ to control resources will intensify in quantity and frequency.

Enough for the discussion of physical natural ‘doom’. How can Christians be hopeful for exemption from this inevitable natural constraint for all earth-bound mankind? For the spiritual (supernatural) Christian, the word ‘first’ could mean quite opposite in the spiritual dictionary. The focus makes a paradigm shift to a set of limitless parameters. Parameters not bound by scarcity of resources. Let us read some positive meanings of ‘first’:

First thing first: Whom we believe (limitless and preeminent -above all)

and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

[ The Last Enemy Destroyed ] But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,”

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Christian’s strategy in a physical world:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (physical and other things to meet all your needs) shall be added to you.

The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.

So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”
Matthew 20:26-28  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
Revelation 2:5

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works,

“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

1 John 4:19

We love Him because He first loved us.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Hebrews 12:22-24 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
Two role models who scored ‘first’ in faith in action:
[ Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord ] Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.

———————————–

Warning:
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

(to the church) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

(revised 2-25-16) a door opens: a haiku

 

20160207_144250 copy

a door opens wide
while he is just walking by
pink and gold and light

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yet he gave a command to the skies above
    and opened the doors of the heavens;
24 he rained down manna for the people to eat,
    he gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Human beings ate the bread of angels;
    he sent them all the food they could eat.

(psalm 78:23-25)

A dictionary for navigators on spiritual rough waters 37: words for hard times

sea foams in sky

I decided to resume writing this unusual word dictionary for spiritual navigators. Today we look at some positive words to be used in hard times. Unlike many may think, these are not cliches. They are for the believers. Let’s ride this rough waters together! (Note: in summary, the following words are all neutral words which require your input to add value.)

A: Abundance. A very large quantity of something. This is a neutral word. If just gives you a measure of stuff. You need to fill in the blank or a substitute for the stuff. It matters what you fill into your life if you want an abundant life. Jesus actually promised His believers abundant life in goodness (richness and wellness in every aspect of the good life that God has originally designed for man). But many have not received. Two things are required: believe in Jesus. Be careful what you input into your life’s data base. Yes, today is our life’s PC/Mobile phone data base total cleansing and re-formatting day.

B: Behold.Similarly, behold is a neutral word. Its value and outcome depend on the content and object of your beholding. If you apply your vision on evil and enjoys watching it, you will be inputting into your soul evil which outcome will of course be evil. If you behold goodness (matters that please the good Lord) you will of course reap good. What you saw and what you input into your own soul (through the window of your soul –your eyes) is what you will reap.

C. Control. This is a bad word for those out of control. This is not necessarily a good word for those who are obsessed with control. It becomes a good word with the right input from the person who uses it. When used on one-self, it becomes a good word, self-control. This comes with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in a believer. The Holy Spirit in us is a Spirit of power, love (God’s kind), and self-control (or sound-mind). It becomes a bad word when the person (presumably a leader) uses it to Lord over others (in the Christian scenario). Jesus warned the disciples (and apostles) not to exercise their authorities this way.

D. Demand. This is neither a good nor a bad word. It depends on who you are and the contents of your demand. Demand is a strong word which is backed by some forms of authority. A superior may be in a position to demand his or her subordinate to complete an assignment within that person’s job description. On the  other hand, a superior may not be empowered to demand an unpaid voluntary worker the same way. The authority may ideally be imbued on or delegated to the person in charge but the ability to exercise that authority is another matter. It takes a lot of factors to exercise an demand effectively. In a Christian organization, one essential key is the true knowledge of God and His word and the practice of being led by the Holy Spirit. There is no short cut. In practice, those who know God and walk in His spiritual great light do not need to use the word ‘demand’ on one another. The assignment still gets done perfectly and on time according to God’s will. How marvelous!

E. Evangelize. This is the only word that says something substantial and of significant value. To preach the gospel. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.”

Bible verses:1 Corinthians 15:1-8 New King James Version (NKJV) The Risen Christ, Faith’s Reality

15 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Confession of a time-waster

passing of timeConfession of a time-waster: I am motivated by the words that we often read but not really understand. I try to capture each intent behind the word as it appears at a particular place. Today as I re-look at this subject I realize how important the word ‘time’ is in impacting the meaning of each word. I was sorting my old files and found a series of old poems. When I read some of them I found the repeated phrase “after some years”, “after many years”, and “after twenty years”. I paused when I read the last phrase about time. Why? Because I collected those poems about twenty years ago. I was touched by them and I treasured them. Because I just had my birthday celebration.

After twenty years, I read of what the poet has proclaimed, “Before the fence with green trees blooming with white flowers, we had casually waved good bye. But after twenty years of many changes …” I pondered over the phrase “after twenty years of many changes”. In the original language the phrase “many changes” are depicted by the fact that even the sea can be changed into orchards and on the other hand orchards can turn into a span of desolate water as vast as the sea. The poet might have hinted at the physical anatomy of life –sunken valleys and risen mountains all at the wrong locations.

On a more serious mood, I reflect on my reading God’s words and then casually living my life without a sense of time. I did not know that every time I waved goodbye to something or someone I was waving goodbye to time. Time is a precious commodity that never returns and cannot be replaced. Twenty years ago I was ready to step into a new phase of my life and I waved goodbye casually to the time before that twenty years. I even thought that the next twenty years would stretch over a long time and I would have sufficient time to get ready for my life after that.

Well, the reality is here I am twenty years later suddenly waking up to know I have waved goodbye to time too casually and too soon. Before time passes I looked forward to its fresh arrival. Every year end I waved goodbye happily to the old. I would wake the next day full of hope for a new year. Alas, the year came and went too soon.

I realize now it is not the thing or the person that counts. It is the time I spend. Time is a counting tool. It counted in the past since day one. It is counting today. It will count until the day I am shown the heavenly record of my lifetime on earth. The word of God does give me many clear instructions about time and the wisdom to live wisely where time is concerned. But I still wake up today finding twenty years have gone and I am not getting them back.

My recent refractive lens exchange on both eyes has given me perfect physical vision. For once I look into the mirror and see myself. The first shock was incredible. Where have all my twenty years gone? It reminds me of oldies of 1990s like “candle in the wind”, “I will always love you”, “everything I do I do for you”, “my heart will go on”… and worse, really ancient sixties’ songs like “where have all the flowers gone“, “blowing in the wind”, “the times they are changing”, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)”, “dust in the wind”…The good news is:

Here goes: God Will Make a Way: Don Moen’s May 13, 2003 release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WEejBUX5kE

Ecclesiastes 3 (NKJV)
Everything Has Its Time
3 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
15 That which is has already been,
And what is to be has already been;
And God requires an account of what is past.

rain in March

20150305 rain

a hundred days passed

the blessing poured on parched ground

the children laughing

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Rain of blessing

11 “The Lord will give you prosperity in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, blessing you with many children, numerous livestock, and abundant crops. 12 The Lord will send rain at the proper time from his rich treasury in the heavens and will bless all the work you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will never need to borrow from them.

(Deuteronomy 28)