Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Two Robbers in Our Lives

Have you met the two robbers in your life? And do you know their names?

Let’s look at this passage where their names are revealed.

Luke 23:39
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Do you see the name of the first robber?

The First Robber – “If only…”
The first robber told Jesus, though insultingly, if only Jesus was Christ, He would be able to save Himself and us.

He had pushed Jesus into the past.

“If only I had listened to my parents, or if only I had been wiser…”
“If only I hadn’t given in to him…”
“If only I had more options…”
“If only the financial situation was better…”

This thief suppresses you from rising to new challenges. He batters your confidence so much that you cannot lift your head up but rather hang down in shame. Your eyes are clouded with a veil to not look ahead towards a hope and a future because of your past failures. Each time to you make an effort to enjoy what you already have, he comes and robs your joy.

See the man who hurts his wife with condeming words. Though she is virtuous and good to him, he snaps back with contempt. He cannot forgive himself for his adultery two years ago. Each time his wife loves him, he punishes himself because he feels he does not deserve her.

Look at another woman who cannot love her child because many years ago as a teenager, she had an abortion. So she feels guilty for the unborn child and turns to drinking to drown her sorrows, indirectly neglecting her present child.

Observe the girl who had been sexually abused when young. Though she has met a wonderful man in her life, she feels dirty each time he touches her. She isolates herself and shuns his love. He feels frustrated.

Draw yourself to the boy who was rejected by his father. He cannot understand why his present wife hurts him with words of ‘too possessive’ or ‘too controlling’ when all he wanted to do was to show his concern and love for her.

Hear the elderly man's bitter ramblings. He had lost all his life savings – be it through squandering, gambling, investments, or was cheated of all.

The “If only…” thief brings a heavy burden of un-forgiveness, sorrow and pain. He reminds you life is unfair. He robs you of joy, success, peace and love.

The Second Robber – “What if...”
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

The second robber though respected Jesus pushed Him into the future.

“What if my investments are lost in this financial crisis?”
“What if he doesn’t love me?
“What if my child doesn’t make it in life? Or turns to the wrong side of life?”
“What if I am not the father of the child?
“What if this lump is cancerous?”

Each time you look ahead, the thief tells you how bleak the future is. There is little or no hope in life. Every man for himself, the fittest will survive.

This thief cripples with the fear of tomorrow. He burdens you with the unexpected, the “of all the people in the world it will happen to me” mentality. You will find it hard to hope, to dare or to love. He reminds you of those who tried and failed. You conclude that you are no better.

The “What if…” thief robs you of faith, hope, future and a sound mind. He burdens you with fear, worry, anxiety and confusion.

They stalk us all round. Some of them whom we have (un)wittingly invited them into our lives and have housed them for so many years. We have even grown so accustomed to them robbing us blind and have accepted them as our allotment in life.

Though in the past and future, they are very much present and alive in us.

Even if blessings have been poured out bountifully and abundantly upon you, you are oblivious to them. It seems like these blessings have slipped through your fingers like grains of sand. You cannot grasp or hold on to them long enough to enjoy them.

Both these thieves have robbed you at every corner of your life. Yet many of us cling to them.

Jesus is the answer - Today
43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, TODAY you will be with me in paradise."

Jesus stands in between the “If only…” and the “What if…”.

Today. That is God’s timing, He lives in the present. The ‘NOW’.

That is how God introduces Himself. The God of Now – I AM. That is how Jesus introduces Himself – I AM the Good Shepherd., I AM the Resurrection and Life, I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life.

I AM. Now. Present. Today.

The mana from heaven that the Israelites ate was sufficient for each day. Enjoy it now. There will be mana again for tomorrow. No need to worry. Don’t fall back on yesterday’s mana because it will turn bad.

Pray tell me who the mana represents? Is it not the one who calls himself the Bread of Life?

Jesus said the devil comes to seek, kill and destroy. The devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But the Son of Man has come to give us life. Not only just life but life MORE abundantly.

See God’s provision now, see His hand of blessings upon you now, look at Jesus and behold his matchless beauty and His loveliness.

Live in God’s timing. Now. I AM.

Look at the Samaritan woman by the well. She forgot herself in Jesus’ presence. She traded her past when she beheld the Man of her dreams, and went ahead with joy and gladness into the future. She was filled with so much joy that she evangelised to the whole town. Yes, the very same town who scorned her and condemned her for her wayward lifestyle.

She saw and met Jesus in the present. She forgot her past, and feared no longer for her future. She was changed inside-out.

Just a mere look at Jesus and his beauty – know that all your past sins have been washed away as white as snow, and the uncertainty of the future no longer holds sway over us.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

So do not worry about tomorrow but look towards the Lamb God has provided. Rest in His finished work to cleanse you of your past. For there at the cross you will find your Rock of Peace.

Still not convinced?

John 11:19
and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

Martha pushed Jesus into the past when she told Jesus – If only you had been here, Lazarus would not have died.

After Jesus replied to her, she pushed Him into the future with “in the last day”.

Jesus responded, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”. He is I AM. Now.

And you assumed the financial institutions would have learnt from the previous recession studies. You thought you could trust the future predictions from analysts and gurus.

Haven’t we wised up? But day after day, we continue to trust the market reports and their answers.

The truth, my friends, is that they don’t have the answer. But someone does – his name is Jesus.

You can believe Him for He holds the future. Your future. Make no mistake He has seen your past. That’s why He came to die while we were yet sinners. You can trust Him for your every need and want because He cares for you.

Rest easy in Him. He is the Lord of the yesterday and the future. He is our very present help in times of need.

Don’t let the robbers steal what Jesus has done for you. Don't be like Martha.

His grace is more than sufficient for you today. Draw from Him each day as mana from heaven. It is more than enough for everyone and everything – marriage, finance and daily provisions.

Jer 29:11 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.

Come, behold Him, the King of Kings… now.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Photos galore @ Tasmania (26 Sep - 4 Oct) - Part One

It was indeed a blessed and memorable family holiday. Faithful as always, God had kept the weather beautiful for us. Even though it forecasted rain that day, it was sunny and bright... until we stepped back into the hotel.

I know it sounds cliche. But hey, I am the beloved child of God. I was deciding to delay the visit to the Royal Botanic Garden but through a turn of event, we decided to drive straight to it. You see, it was supposed to be a heavy downpour that day. However we took the step of faith. You can see from the garden photos below that the sun was up and shining bright. It was hard to imagine it would rain. But rain it did after we had left the garden and driving towards our hotel!

And this wasn't the only time. We had planned to hike the following day after reaching Cradle Mountain. I was feeling tired after the drive from Launceston and we decided to rest that day. Well, it rained. No prizes for guessing the weather on the day we planned to hike. I'll tell you in Part Two about the Cradle Mountain visit.
Hobart is a very beautiful city. Reminds me alot like Ireland - coastal feeling with the sudden wind chills. The whole place has this the quaint, Europe-py feeling. Totally awesome coz both missus and I love Europe!

Anyway from the airport, you'll cross this beautiful bridge into Hobart. I had managed to take this shot from near the Royal Botanic Garden.

Bridge into Hobart

Ship going to Antartica, Europe-feel

Hobart city is pretty small as compared to Melbourne. I think you can cover it all in less than half a day. I hear it used to be a whaling port.

Wharf side photos

When in Hobart, never miss the Salamanca Market which is held every Saturday morning. Fantastic atmosphere and lots of interesting stuff to see. It's like the Pasar Malam in Singapore but with a much different feel. Gypsy, Europe, Swiss-sy feel.

We bought and tried the fruit leather, banana cake, Manuka honey, a potato dish which I forgot the name (yes the one with sour cream, bacon bits with some interesting fillings), bratwurst sausages, ginger bread, gypsy food, etc. Basically eat and eat. Good stuff!

Salamanca Market on a Sat morning

The Royal Botanic Garden is fantastic. There is an Observatory, a castle (I think it has been converted to a government house now), some nice history and a very intricate tapestry inside the house where the wooden sculpture man is standing. I took a lot of photos but could not display every one of them. Don't give this place a miss. You can be sure you won't regret it.

Royal Botanic Garden

We visited the outskirts of Hobart like Battery Point, Sandy Beach and the University of Tasmania. Except for Rachel (who was more interested in the playground), we loved Battery Point because the houses there had so much character.

Lovely houses at Battery Point

Where's Rachel... and missus?

Rachel playing at a nearby playground in Battery Point

Lookout point near the University of Tasmania

(Part Two coming with lots more photos...)

Updated: Part Two and Part Three