I know we are already well into July, so reflecting on June has come just a bit late.
Last week at cell group, as we were ending the worship time, one of the cell members blurted out an extempore prayer reflecting on God’s goodness and our need for perspective. “Perspective” is an important word because it often goes together with “faith” (another important word that I want to talk more about in my next post because it links nicely with what Pastor Benny Ho preached last Sunday at church).
As I have said in previous posts, I really believe that this year for me is the Year of Unceasing Fruitfulness – a theme which God impressed upon me during the first church service I attended at the beginning of the year at New Creation Church when I was in Singapore. I believe that in the course of this year, God will continue to help me bear unceasing fruit even in the midst of drought and that each month, I will have a different kind of fruit to thank God for.
To be honest, I struggled a bit to try to think of what the fruit for the month of June would be. I had gone from the exhilaration of Converge to long hours at the office trying to sort out all the 30 June deadlines. It was a trying month.
But during cell group last Thursday (and I believe the Holy Spirit was really orchestrating a move amongst us), another cell member shared that we often approach God with a spirit of complaining rather than thankfulness, particular in relation to our job when we’ve been in the same job for a long time. Rewind to the days when we didn’t have a job, the job we’re in now was the biggest miracle and a long-awaited answer to prayer. But (for me, 6 and a half years later), it’s almost like the presence of God had left the office (yes, I know, that last sentence wasn’t theologically sound, but that’s how I felt).
So, as I reflect on the month of June, I’ve decided to shift my perspective.
I am grateful for the blessing of my job. I get to help people and be a godly influence in the workplace. God uses my job to help me pay my mortgage, living expenses and provides financial resources for me to pursue a lifestyle of generosity. When I look at it this way, as a matter of perspective, my job has a been a huge blessing from God. It’s not just a once-off blessing, but a continuous, sustaining blessing from the hand of God. And for that I am grateful.
And I am grateful for the end of another financial year!
And I’m also grateful, as I reflect on being unceasingly fruitful, my fruitfulness has nothing to do with my own efforts and righteousness, but by Christ’s efforts and His righteousness. There’s an old hymn that goes like this:
I dare not trust this sweetest frame
But wholely lean on Jesus name
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne
If the blessings of God were due to my righteousness and doing, I’d be one of the most unblessed people ever!
But as I was watching Joseph Prince’s Grace Revolution DVD the other night (recorded live at Lakewood Church), Prince shared a really interesting thought about God’s irreversible righteousness.
In Genesis 12:14ff, Abraham had gone down to Egypt and had lied to Pharaoh about Sarah being his sister. Pharaoh then took Sarah into his household. The result? God inflicted Pharaoh and his household (not Abraham) with serious diseases. And Abraham and Sarah were then sent away with sheep, cattle, donkeys and servants. In other words, Abraham was blessed and prospered despite his sin of lying.
And then in Genesis 20:1-17, the episode repeats itself with Abraham doing the exact same thing, this time to King Abimelech. In verse 3, God appears to Abimelech (not Abraham) and says to him that he is as good as dead because he took Sarah, a married woman. Abimelech then sent Abraham and Sarah away with sheep, cattle, slaves and 1000 shekels of silver. Again, Abraham was blessed despite what he did.
This so grated against my performance-centered conditioning that it was hard to take in. I have been taught for a long time that God’s blessing accompanies our obedience, our doing the right thing.
Galatians 3:5-9 says this:
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
What an amazing revelation! God doesn’t work miracles and blessings in our lives because we observe the law, but because we believe! Because we believe, we are children of Abraham and are blessed along with him. And as we are blessed, we can also be a blessing!
Lastly, I am blessed to be able to say that this post is my 100th! Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this humble blog would have gotten this far!