new fear

that i will be so used to this sin that it stops becoming such a big deal to me and i lead my double/pretend lives which only God can see but I don’t care anymore

i am a saul. i am a saul. i say one thing, the good thing, the right thing, but i do the sordid in disguise. the lord became his enemy and saul fell on his sword and took his own life.

How can one live if even God becomes his enemy

i am simon, the magician, and ananias and sapphira. i see the signs and wonders and believe but i keep a little corner of my life to myself apart from God. they say simon died horribly. ananias and sapphira were struck dead on the spot.

Because my God will not be mocked.

stand firm stand firm not only in the morning, but at noon and at night so that you might stand firm the whole day, then tomorrow, and the next day. then you might stand firm always despite everything. 

it doesnt matter what your intentions were the whole day, if you kept clean the whole 20 hours out of 24. the one minute you fall, you fall. they trickle into hours, much fewer than your 20 good intentioned hours, but they spoil everything.

wars arent fought and won on a grand scale of months, weeks or even days. When it comes down to it, it’s who you bowed to in that one minute that determines if you live or die again.

Dead today. Will try to live tomorrow. And hopefully, hopefully not on my own.

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it took a zombie apocalypse

It’s late but I feel like I need to write anyways for better or for worse.

Let me just back up till Monday.

Friends are my pockets of comfort zones. I really appreciate them when I realise they are people I can be around without any pressure of having to prove myself in any way (except maybe that I’m a nice person and not overly weird or lame I usually keep that for later). Sorry, this is introverted me dealing with group work. Group work can be fun and great, especially if you need help because there are people to help you. What I don’t like about it is the whole trust building thing, and having to constantly prove that you are worth your salt and are pulling your weight. I keep comparing myself to others, worrying about whether I contributed as much as other people and whether I’m being obnoxious or overbearing in any way (I’m usually not, I’m usually the too-quiet one and so I worry about them thinking I don’t pull my weight). And also trying to not make anyone mad or annoyed by me. Just because. I dunno.

They say double consciousness (ie seeing yourself as how other people see you) is an extension from self consciousness (don’t really know what this is) but I’ve been living in double consciousness my whole life lel.

I never thought the day would come where this verse would apply to me:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24

Materialistic girl walking.

I never thought I would have a bone to pick with money. It just seemed like the least, weakest evil to fight with because it was so physical and material and external. I thought the hardest enemies to fight would be all in my head.

When it comes down to it, can I actually just not money.

What do I want. What do you want.

Ok, maybe I know what you want. But I’m still ungh about wanting what you want. Ungh.

Time to live the frugal life. It’s not that I absolutely need the moolah. It just means I have to cut back a bit on my lifestyle. Not impossible, but unghhhhhhh.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:6

I had been humbled.

Moving on.

Walking to the train station on this unbearably hot afternoon and then the clouds came to cover the sun all the way until I reach the station.

And the whole walk there I was just amazed at how good God is.

And it dawned on me that God is crazy to love me, love us like this. I’m not talking about the weather. I’m saying He’s crazy to even care, to actually bother about me, how I feel, what I want, what I think. Me. Dust of the earth. Dust out of the millions of other dust of the earth (all dat people).

And He doesn’t have to. God, He’s God for crying out loud. Let’s get real. The reality is the created has no say, has no right, has nothing to leverage with his creator. Nothing. The creator doesn’t need to care. He doesn’t need to to do anything according to his little creation.

The fact that he does, the fact that Jesus wept with Mary even though He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead like two minutes later, the fact that He allots us that agency to be an entity in ourselves and respects that, and cares about that, even though He’s God… I’m sorry, that’s crazy. God, You’re crazy.

And it’s not because I’m worth anything for Him to love. There’s this idea that since the Lover loves the Beloved, it is the Beloved who has power over the Lover. Look at all the lovesick boys chasing the girls who got it all together. The loved has power over the lover, right?

Not even. We have nothing worth loving like that. Even if we had anything at all, definitely not enough to demand the love of God. The point is, God, God, allows Himself to love us (and allowing Himself to be hurt over us) is really just… why would you even do that? That’s foolish, a foolish love. That’s stupid.

I’m just amazed. I’m blown away.

Jesus is loving with a stupid love because He is loving me, a nothing.

 I can’t understand this love that keeps me alive, that keeps my heart beating. It is the least beneficial love for Him. He makes Himself vulnerable and lost so much to save me.

Stupid love. Beautiful love. Pure love.

A love, for once, that’s not based on what you can get out of it, that’s not about you. You have everything to lose but love anyway.

Lastly.

It took a zombie apocalypse for me to realise how much You did on that cross for me.

Drama class this week, we did body voting on moral dilemmas. It was an experience, that’s for sure.

We came across this dilemma:

You’re in a zombie apocalypse. You have the vaccine to the zombie virus in your blood, but to extract it for the possibility of a cure, you will have to die a slow and painful death to stop the virus from spreading. Will you give yourself up for the vaccine?

A good number of us drifted to the “Yes” side, the mentality being that:

  • since I was going to die anyway, might as well save the world
  • I’d be recognised as a hero

Some of us didn’t catch it being a slow and painful death and after repeating the question, they edged to the “No” side a bit more before pleading for a quick and painless death. The “No” people were like “it’s only a possibility of a cure”.

This is exactly what Jesus did on that cross and I’m only getting it now because apparently a zombie apocalypse is more relatable and real a scenario for me to empathise with. It’s funny cos we were talking about defamiliarization and alienation in epic theatre that lesson, that is, staging something that helps us see the thing for what it is with new eyes and perspectives because our reactions have been so habitualised that we lose it. It’s like seeing stuff for the first time again, making the stone “stony”.

Zombie apocalypse totally did it for me. Seeing Calvary with new eyes.

Jesus gave himself up to give us a cure. And His stakes were much much higher:

  • He didn’t do it because He was going to “die anyway”. He came down for that very purpose of dying to give us the vaccine. Imagine if the zombie thing was only limited to a country, and the person with the vaccine in his blood purposefully went there to die for that country. It’s not as if he was there all along and he just did it as a by the way thing. No, He took the flight to get there. To die.
  • He died as a criminal. A criminal. When he was innocent. Dying as a hero, maybe the best way to die. Even if you went uncredited, it would still be ok. But dying as a criminal, when you’re innocent. Dang, the levels of humiliation. The worst way to go.
  • Slow and painful death – check. On a cross, death by asphyxiation.
  • To add to all that, the people He was going to help vaccinate against the virus didn’t like Him. They weren’t His friends. Maybe for friends and family, people you cared about, you might die for them. But would you do it for your enemies, for people you don’t like or can’t stand, for people who don’t believe you exist? As far as I’m concerned, they can all become zombies with me. But no. Jesus died to vaccinate people who hated Him, people who would never acknowledge His existence. He did it for everyone, before they realised they were all zombies and needed a vaccine.
  • And it’s only a possibility of a cure. Not that the vaccine won’t work, but that not everyone would take it for it to work. Not everyone would believe it works, it cures, and that’s the possibility He had to take. That He could die in vain. That He could die, with the vaccine sitting there in vats in a lab, and no one injects themselves with it and everyone becoming zombies.

Throughout the whole thing, it showed me I had a lot of morals to work on. And I question whether I would really be as altruistic to those I voted nobly when it came down to it. And also the double consciousness of not doing what I said/voted I would or vice versa.

Thoughts for only half a week/three days. Enough to last a whiles.

All the difference

Slowly catching up with the rest. Weighing my words with this hazy/slightly worried/kinda tired mind.

Oh God help me.

Ok.

There are instruments of God, and then there are servants of God.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7:21 – 23 (NIV)

The devo puts it this way: An instrument is a person whom God uses, whether that person is right or not. God will bless His word, whether a saint or sinner preaches it. But the servant of God lives in the fullness of His Spirit, evidencing the life of obedience. (Oswald Chambers’ Devotions for a Deeper Life: A Daily Devotional)

How I see it, instruments of God pretty much means anyone whom God uses to accomplish His will, whether they realize it/intend for it or not. Anyone can be an instrument to God’s will because anyone can be used by God in that sense, even what we consider not-so-good can be used for His glory. It all works out in the end.

Servants of God on the other hand aren’t just people whom God can use to do things in this physical realm. Servants of God are living in a whole ‘nother reality. They’re living in the Spirit and the Spirit is living in them and from that relationship comes that outpouring of obedience to God.

I used to be confused about this verse because I think subconsciously, I equated the outpouring of God’s power (prophesying and driving out demons and doing miracles) as being really holy and close to God. I kind of assumed that if you could do these things, you’re probably right and tight with God because otherwise, why would God use you and allow you to do all that? If you could do these things through God, doesn’t it mean you are after God’s will and that He approves?

And yet, He outrightly rejects them in verse 23. He tells them plainly He never knew them. And I’m like whut.

what talking you. contradictory much? What do you mean you never knew them if you allowed them to do all that fancy stuff? Doesn’t fancy stuff = much holiness + much tight with you?

So I’m looking at this verse again, and this is what I’m seeing. There is a connection between the one Jesus approves, the one “who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven” and about Jesus knowing this person/this person knowing Jesus. The actions and miracley stuff isn’t part of that equation. And here, another verse comes to mind:

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

John 14:21 (NIV)

There is a relationship between doing the will of the Father, in the knowing and keeping of these commands, and knowing the loving God who gave them. And I think there’s something really intentional here, which set the instruments and the servants apart. The servants have a direction, they have a master to follow and they have the Holy Spirit who lives in them and shows them what the will of God is that they might follow. And they do want to follow. There is the intention of obeying God, through the working of the Holy Spirit and through grace. And anything that comes from that, whether supernatural or not, is a result of this relationship with God and being changed into His likeness.

The deeds aren’t it. The intention of doing the Father’s will, the actual doing of His will by His grace, knowing and loving Him, those are it. Deeds are one of the by-products of such a relationship.

So it’s not deeds = right relationship with God, but a right relationship = deeds. I.e deeds don’t always mean you’re a servant of God, but being a servant of God and being in that a right relationship with God will, as a natural consequence of obedience, have something to show for them (cos faith without works ain’t faith nya). One of those times an equal sign doesn’t mean equality. The mind games.

On the flip side of things, the people who are using things they “did” (or rather what God allowed them to do) as proof/justification for gaining God’s approval are met by a cold, harsh truth: God doesn’t know them and they don’t know this God either. Because they aren’t servants. They are mere instruments who have no direction/intention to accomplish the will of God. God uses them, yes, but that doesn’t mean anything about their heart for God.

I don’t know if it’s a stretch to say this but I feel like even Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was an instrument of God and he was far from perfect. Because of Judas, Jesus was crucified and salvation was brought to Mankind. So ultimate outcome is good, but was Judas acting in obedience to God to carry out His will? Nope. He wasn’t out to usher in God’s salvation for Mankind. He was more about betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But did God use him for good anyways? Yup. So yas.

Devo ends with this deep thought about what they think God is saying in effect: “when you judge the work someone is doing, don’t judge by the fact that you see Me at work. Judge him by his fruit.” Why? Cos the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit is in essence, character. Many can do the work of God but no one can imitate the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Adapted from Oswald Chambers’ Devotions for a Deeper Life: A Daily Devotional)

And that character and that fruit, that’s what God really wants for us. Always thought fruit meant like “results”, in terms of work and numbers and accomplishing things. But it goes deeper than that. Fruit is in the mature young man and woman in Christ who turn to God constantly, dying to themselves and living for him constantly. They are the ones being good stewards of what He has called them to do. Everything else that happens physically, the work, the outcomes, is God at work anyways, through instruments and servants. It is the fruit of the character that the growing stuff happens and that’s the important part.

I just felt like this was really important. It was really important to me then when I was looking at it a couple weeks ago and it is important to me now although in a slightly different, deeper way. It also tied in with the last post about successful service and our relationship with God. Getting different stuff all the time. Practically grew up with that Matthew verse and am only seeing new stuff from it now. God so amazing.

Anyways, I has more gems and musings on a couple of desiringgod podcasts which I shall endeavour to share soon. Was going to do it with this one but I wanted to take sometime to think and re-think this devo/passage so that’s that. Also, brain is failing and methinks that words, especially those about God, have gotta be carefully written.

Goodnight, friends. Go pray. God bless, always.

 

That’s what He said

I found it. I found what i was looking for. Or rather, He gave me this word today (by which I mean three days ago because procrastination. but I tried):

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Lk 10:17‭-‬20 NIV

Context: Jesus was sending out his disciples around the area to different towns. He gave them a bunch of instructions and basically gave them authority over illness and all things spiritually evil and demony. They came back rejoicing because v 17.

But the main point is v 20, which my devo paraphrases as “don’t rejoice in successful service, rejoice in the relationship you have with God,” which for me means to be able to lead this life which He has called me to, in obedience, and intentionally partake in His work.

I think that’s a great attitude, or a better one, at least. It gives back the glory and honor where it’s due, back to God, and it credits the source of my victories. Anything else, to rejoice in successful service, would just tempt that big ass self ego of mine, and that’s dangerous. Like, don’t miss the forest for the trees. The successful service is great but it’s not it. They’re just one of the markers of having a relationship with God, one of the outpourings of grace and favour. To be able to be used by Him and to serve Him at all is an honor. I think in a nutshell, it’s just about acknowledging Him and being grateful. When I win I praise You when I lose I praise You.

And since I procrastinated, I got a few more thoughts along the way the next couple of days.

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Luke 22:31-38 NIV

Ok I don’t confess to understand everything that’s in the passage here. Like I don’t know what’s going on with the last verse lel. But this is what I got from it anyways.

Jesus was pretty straight up with Simon Peter. He just tells him that “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat”, or in another version (KJV) “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat”. (and here I’m just guessing that being sifted as wheat involves some kind of tests and trials and tribulations. I’m thinking in the Job context, since Satan pretty much asked to ‘test’ Job too.)

And even though that’s what Satan asked, what did Jesus pray? To stop Satan and get Peter out of it?

Nupe.

He prayed that Peter’s faith mighn’t fail and when he turns back, to strengthen the rest. So what’s that mean? Is that cruel of God, to know that Satan wants a go at Peter and still step back to let him do it?

Eh, number one, for me, is that God is pretty much the big guy who takes care of us. Like, Satan’s got to ask for God’s permission to even touch us. We aren’t beyond God’s care at all. So even if Satan’s trying to wreck havoc in our lives, it’s something that God, in His wisdom of knowing what’s good for us, allows to happen. Nothing that ever happens to us is beyond Him. If God is allowing something to happen, something like Satan to sift us, He probably has a good reason for it, some reason we might not be able to fathom.

Number two, also to do with God’s sovereignty, Jesus knows what we need and prays for that, even if we can’t see/don’t know that we need it. Like, that’s the thing; sometimes you just want to be a better person and you read loads of self-help books and try to improve and everything. But you’ll never be objective enough to know what to do or what you should aim for. And no one else can be that objective POV for you either cos no one knows you enough to know exactly what’s good for you, or be able to give it. They may get bits and pieces for you, where your blindspots are, but they don’t know you like you know you (not that you’ll know you enough to know either). They just wouldn’t be able to tell. But He knows and He’s got your back. He knows exactly what you need and how you need it and He’ll intervene to make us holy. He isn’t as concerned about just keeping us safe and comfortable and happy in little plastic bubbles than He is in wanting us to grow and be made perfect as He had created us to be. And that means trials and hard times and pain  because “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom 5:3-4). Plus all that strengthens faith, which Jesus prayed wouldn’t fail for Peter. 

Number three, Jesus knew Peter wouldn’t be able to keep up to his lofty claims of following him to prison and to death. He knew, even if Peter didn’t, even if Peter felt completely and utterly confident in himself. Jesus knew. But Jesus also knew Peter would turn back after denying and deserting him, and was already instructing him what to do when he did, to strengthen his brothers. Just a reminder that really, God knows everything and He’s got it all worked out.

Also pondered on v35-36. Wondered why Jesus didn’t continue to provide in His supernatural way as He did before, such that the disciples lacked nothing. It wasn’t as though He couldn’t (as He just recently proved). Just thinking that it was because they were entering a different season now. They already knew His power and providence. It was enough. Now, they had to prepare for something else, and that means they gotta pack their own bags for the road. Hwaha.

The point of this devo was about broken heartedness from the pain of self-revelation.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Psalm 51:17 NIV

I’m thinking of self-revelation as knowing how fallen we are and how much we need God. Peter didn’t think like that then. In v33, all he could see was his efforts, his confidence in his flesh. He was going to be the one who followed Jesus all the way even if no one else did. But he, like the others, fell away. And when the rooster crowed, he remembered what Jesus had said and he “broke down and wept.” I think that’s the point of self-revelation for Peter. He didn’t know he was as weak as that, as Jesus said he was. I felt like he honestly thought he would live up to his claims. That kind of revelation is really raw and painful and so so humbling. But it is so necessary for God to reveal Himself. After all, Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Mark 2:17) And if you don’t know you’re sick, you’ll never see the worth of the doctor and his cures. After Jesus rose again, he restored Peter and helped him forgive himself and Peter became such a force to be reckoned with afterwards as a leader of the early church.

I’m just reminded of all the times I felt like a crappy person, when I felt low and little and poor. So many times I’ve felt poor, with nothing in me to give and bless others. Always wondering why I couldn’t be as loving or gracious as somebody else, instead of being selfish and self-absorbed and proud etc.etc. And it really doesn’t feel nice to be a poor person. But I’m only poor because I’m broken and I’m a fallen human being, and God wants me to know that so that I can know Him. I think if this is what God means as the seasonal broken heartedness, the revelation that I’m really not all there yet and I need serious help to become a better reflection of God, then I think it’s ok to be poor and broken hearted. Because it doesn’t end there. Revealing my state of brokenness is the first step to mending that brokenness, which is what He wants to do, something only He can do.

It’s not that I’ll be living in self-loathing and feeling awful all the time. That would just be unhealthy. It would just mean that I will be able to see myself through His very objective eyes, from somebody who loves me enough to show me what’s wrong and help me right it, from someone who sees through all that crap and loves me as His child (not based on what I did). He would help me to love myself as He loves me, in the right measure, not too much to spill into overindulgence and condone sin, not too little to be crippled by guilt and stagnate. A healthy love, if you will.

Gahh I still have stuff to talk about but it’s 12. Hurr hopefully I can catch up on devo thoughts soon.

Also, I’ve taken to listening to DesiringGod’s podcast thingys whenever I lunch alone. I used to read physical books but it’s hard to handle a book over a steaming bowl of noodles with the chopsticks and the spoon so. Yea DesiringGod’s been just such a wealth of information for me. Much enlightened. Really excited to share some of the insights I’ve gotten from them. Hopefully hopefully I will be able to share them sooon yay.