“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise”

I wrote a series of devotion for my church on the Seven Last Words of Jesus for this Lent season and sharing them here. I am happy to discuss the answers to the questions in the comments below. So feel free to engage me in a dialogue. =) First of Seven Last Words of Jesus […]

Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane bears witness to the last moments of Jesus before his arrest and crucifixion, after the Last Supper with his disciples.

The Garden of Gethsemane

39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:39-46 (NASB)

Although fully man, Jesus is also fully God. The godly nature of omniscience means he knows what is to come ahead of him, explaining the extent of his agony. As the Creator of our human body, he knows exactly the extent of the physical torture that awaits him. On top of this, the emotional pain of betrayal from his trusted disciple, and the abandonment by his other disciples when he takes on the path of suffering weighs on him. The weight of humanity’s sin upon his shoulders causing him to be separated from his perfectly united Abba is tremendous spiritual stress. This cup refers to the cup of redemption in a Passover Seder meal (the Last Super) that he just finished with his disciples, when he gave them the blood covenant that we remember now as Holy Communion. The price Jesus has to pay for this cup of redemption is unimaginable by any human mind. Matthew and Mark records Jesus praying this prayer three times. Jesus knows that this is the will of His Father and there is no other way. There is no way out. I might think there may be the permissible will of God rather than the perfect will. Nope, only God’s perfect will. It in with the full knowledge that Jesus obeyed the will of God. It might be a lot easier if Jesus did not have full knowledge, and just “happened” to walk to the cross. Often times, we as believers realise on hindsight that it was God’s wisdom not to reveal His full plan in a situation for we will not be willing to take the first step due to fear. This is not the case for Jesus. Full knowledge and full submission.

Instead of encouraging words, flogging.
Instead of respect, a crown of thorns.
Instead of a drink, vinegar.
Instead of a hand to hold, a cross to bear.
Instead of gifts, nails on his hands and legs.
Instead of enjoying the gift of breath, pain.
All received willingly.
From people who are not able to tell what is right from wrong,
With a passion wrongly placed.

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It is instinctive for me to avoid being in situations where there is pain, especially if I can see it in the next step. What is my response to God’s invitation to carry the cross in Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.“? I shrink away. I wrestle with God, not for blessings but to avoid suffering. Some may say that Christ has already borne all suffering and pain on his shoulder and thus as believers, all we get is blessings. Yet it is hard to avoid the teachings about dying to self so that Christ can live in us. The only blockage to living out to our full destiny in Christ is ourselves, our fleshy nature. Because of this, we need to be crucified with Christ.

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

What amazes me even more is that in the agony of prayer, it is recorded that Jesus rose above the suffering COUNTING IT ALL JOY! I cannot imagine anyone consider enduring the cross as joy. Jesus casts his eyes further than the cross. Jesus is part of the Trinity even before he came to earth and was already ruling with Father God. The sitting down at the right of the throne of God represents a reinstatement of his position, which is a joyous occasion on its own. Perhaps there is an even greater joy that propels him through this suffering. Jesus was looking at the redemption of His Bride and through His authoring and perfecting her faith, she can be seated on the right hand of God with him.

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A Tribute to My Daddy

I miss my daddy. Miss him so much. I was daddy’s girl. Miss the fun I had with him, the discipline he enforced on me, the gifts he showered upon me and most importantly, being who he was in my life.

Daddy was a strong warrior who fought hard and well with cancer. He was atheletic and well-built but was half his size when half his stomach was taken from him. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy took him to another level of battle. There was not one word of complain throughout all the medical procedures and treatment. Chemotherapy weakened him further and all he said was that food tasted very strange. Radiotherapy left huge patches of burnt skin on his back and it seemed that my heart ached more than he did when he endured it matter-of-factly. At times his face cringed with pain, even so, he rose above it by being attentive to those around. He treated the nurses and health staff with much kindness and appreciated very help. Even though he struggled so much physically, mentally and emotionally, he chose to enjoy life as much as he could. He learnt different senior citizen sports after the cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was strange having daddy at home so often but it was good. I knew his days were numbered. My prayer to God was “do not take him home until He accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior”.

One day he collapsed at home. This time the doctor confirmed that he was not going to last. He was hospitalized for about 2-3 weeks with stronger chemotherapy. Not through the usual IV, but one that was inserted directly to his heart. Yes, he had a plug at his heart. The time came when the doctor alerted me that he only had less than 2 days. I stayed by him in the hospital throughout. He was in coma, not able to respond. I sat beside him and kept singing “Yes, Jesus loves you” tenderly by his left ear. The next day late morning, he woke up. In his weak voice he said, “I want to be baptised”. Our pastor rushed down that very afternoon and baptized my father. After the baptism, he managed to whisper some last instructions to me and a farewell… then he went back into “sleep mode”. His pulse was getting weaker. I continued to sit next to him, and held his hand. When it was almost midnight, I knew within me it was time for him to go. I kept my fingers on his pulse. True enough, not long after his pulse stopped. There was a glorious glow on his face with a smile. I believed he met Jesus. There is no other way to explain the glory reflected on his countenance.

Daddy fought his last 11 months with such grace. He taught me so much about endurance, and the giving of self. I am so thankful that my Father God is a God who answers prayers. He did not allow my daddy to be eternally seperated from Him. I know that although daddy’s presence is taken away from me now but I will meet him in the glorious Kingdom of God after the return of Christ.

Happy Father’s Day, my dearest Daddy! You are dearly missed.

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Refigured by Grace

One night, I was with my late father and his friends crossing a major road after a late dinner. The 8-lane road was really quiet at that time. The whole bunch of us stopped at the middle divider after crossing 4-lanes to look out for traffic from the other side of the road. After which, I have no recollection of the events that followed and all of it was related to me by my dad.

A fast-moving motorcycle came really close to the middle divider and hooked onto me. I was dragged along with the motorcycle for a distance while the cyclist jammed his brakes. The abrupt stop catapulted me to about 11 metres away from the where the motorcycle stopped, and the motorcyclist was flung 15 metres away. The next thing I remembered was opening my eyes in a hospital bed.

I was confined to the bed for almost a week. I had no broken bones and there were no visible wounds or injuries on my body. You can imagine how difficult it was for an active 11-year-old to stay in bed the whole day. The reason for the bed confinement was for the fear of head concussion. When I flew off from the grips of the motorcycle like a supergirl, I landed head down against the concrete road. Just imagine how huge the impact of the fall was upon the head considering I had no other injury on the rest of my body. In my one week of confinement, my head felt a little strange and stiff but other than that, no abnormality.

Finally they let me off the bed. First thing I did was to go to the sink to wash up with running tap water. This was the first time I saw myself in the mirror. To my horror, the left side of my face was completely covered with dried blood and wounds from the accident. Just imagine the wound a child gets when he has a nasty fall on his knees on a road. This wound multiply at least ten times, all on the left side of my face. I honestly look like a horror movie demon that just walked out of a film set, perhaps even more horrific looking than creature coming out of the screen in The Ring.

Thank God that I was discharged a week after when the neuro team of doctors were certain that there was no concussion or any brain damage. Since it is a neuro team, they did not quite treat my facial wound. I was discharged without any medication for my face except some disinfectant lotion to clean the wound. The wound was left open without bandage as well. By then, some bruises on my legs and arms started to surface but nothing serious. My parents took good care of the facial wound. They cleaned it diligently everyday and after a month or two, scabs of the wound began falling off revealing pink new skin beneath. The healing process was miraculous. I have ZERO scars on my left face. I stand amazed by the sheer fact that a fall on the knee leaves scars and I have scars on my face from pimples, but there is absolutely no sign of this major wound on my face!

It is by God’s grace that I am alive from the accident. Yet, beyond that He has His angels protect me that I have no broken bones and no head injuries. The only visible wound on the face, He miraculously healed it COMPLETELY! It was because of this, I chose to be baptised the following Resurrection Sunday as I know that my life is not my own but Christ’s.

P.S. I wished we took photos of my face after the accident but we didn’t have any. Even the newspaper report of the accident had no photos of me. Perhaps out of compassion, the people did not want to keep records of such a hideous wound. Even so, to God be the glory!

Salvation

Hand Over to Satan to Save His Spirit?!

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I am in the midst of writing a book on 1 & 2 Corinthians which serves as a study book for a Diploma Biblical Studies program. As I am writing, thought I will share a little about Apostle Paul’s almost incredulous instruction of discipline to “hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord” (1 Cor 5:5) for a man who is in an incest relationship with his stepmother.

Apostle Paul’s instruction of handing over this man to Satan is a very specific and strong instruction. If he only intends to excommunicate him so that the church is kept holy, there is no need to mention Satan. Moreover, it seems contradictory that handing someone over to Satan can eventually save his spirit. Paul mentions a similar disciplinary action in 1 Timothy 1:20 where he delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan for discipline. It should be noted that this act of handing a person over to Satan for discipline is more than just a physical excommunication where Paul specifically prays for the power of our Lord Jesus to be present. Another passage written by Paul in 2 Cor 12 where he refers to the thorn in his flesh as a messenger of Satan that is present in his body to keep him humble and also for the glory of Christ. In these instances, Satan becomes God’s rod of discipline. The person is handed over to Satan “with the power of the Lord Jesus” signifies that God is still in full control of the situation with the end purpose to save the person’s spirit. God is sovereign over the life of the person handed over to Satan as Satan has to submit to God even in his rebellion.

Another record of a man being handed over to Satan in the Old Testament is Job (Job 2:6). Although Job is a blameless man and the reason for him being in the hand of Satan is the wager between God and Satan, the catastrophes meted out to Job drives him to declare “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6). There is a process of maturity and growth in God that brings Job to such repentance. In examination of Job’s story, the delivery of a man to Satan is a pathway of discipline for maturity and growth and not for destruction. Another Biblical story that bears such similarity will be that of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) where the father has no choice but to allow his son to go into the world, which can parallel to that of handing him over to Satan as he is the prince of the world. It is when the prodigal son experiences the harshness and bitterness of the world that he will turn and appreciate the goodness of the father. This turning back is salvation for the spirit even though the physical, emotional and mental are battered by the battles in the world.

This is probably best typified by what we call tough love now. The wilderness of willful sin can either kill a person or drive him back to repentance.