Four Amazing Things

18 There are three things that amaze me— no, four things that I don’t understand:
19 how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.
Proverbs 30:18-19 (NLT)

The above verses tell us about four things that we can see every day and yet they contain amazing lessons, which can benefit us. In this article, we shall look into them.

How an eagle glides through the sky.
How does an eagle glide? All it has to do is to spread out its wings. The air current in the sky will help to sustain it for a long time. The eagle only has to move its wings to adjust its direction and altitude. In other words, eagles were designed to fly with minimal energy. The ability to glide through the sky gives the eagles an edge over other species. It makes the eagles fast and energy efficient.

What can we learn from this? As Christians, we were designed to reach the sky. All of us have different interests and passions in various fields. They come from God. God expects us to excel in the fields we are in. We are supposed to soar like eagles in the sky. However, we are to do it according to God’s way and not the world. The world’s way of reaching to the sky is to flap our wings like crazy and sacrifice everything else. If you follow the world’s way, you will be constantly filled with stress and anxiety.

God’s way is different. He wants us to glide like an eagle. Eagles don’t get tired or stressed when they were gliding through the sky. Likewise for us, it is not necessary to be stressed for us to get to the top of our field because we have a loving God on our side. As long as we put our trust in him, stress will have no place in our lives. We may get tired physically but not mentally. No matter how much pressure we face, we can still remain calm and be at peace because God constantly refreshes us. We are eagles.

How a snake slithers on a rock.
Snakes do not have hands and legs to climb up the rocks. Yet it can move up a rock by slithering on it. In fact, snakes can live in every environment on earth. They were designed to be so flexible that they can go almost everywhere other than flying. You can find them in the trees, water, dessert, grassland and underground. So, don’t feel sorry for snakes because they don’t have hands and legs. They are very successful in their territory and they happen to be at the top of the food chain. They are the predators.

What can we learn from this? Don’t give up just because we lack the conventional means to be successful. Many people believe the only way to be successful is to follow the conventional methods. Once these methods become unavailable to them, they give up. If the snakes behave like that, they would have been extinct a long time ago.

Let me give you an example. I suspect all of us believe education it the passport to success in this world. This means we should do the best we can in our education if we want to be successful. However, if you happen to be a school drop-out, it does not necessary means you are destined to live like a failure for the rest of your life. Bill Gates happened to be a drop out from university. He gave up his education to start his company, Microsoft. I am sure at that time, many people would have considered his actions to be silly but history has proven otherwise. There are also many rich people out there who made their millions without much formal education.

The lesson for us here is, don’t give up our quest for success just because the conventional means are unavailable. Be like the snakes in Proverbs 30:19. We need to be flexible enough to look for other opportunities for our success. The most important truth we must always remember is, God is on our side. He who is with us is greater than he who is in the world. If God is with us, who can be against us?

How a ship navigates the ocean.
The ocean is greater than the ship. No matter how big the ship is, it is still inferior compares to the ocean. Yet, a tiny ship can still navigate on the ocean.

Here is the lesson for us. You may face situations, which you think are too big for you to change. You may feel helpless. You may be facing a recession, a natural catastrophe, a plague or any other bad situations. Bad things can happen around us. However that does not mean God has defaulted on his promise to deliver us. His promise on no weapon formed against us will prosper is still valid.

Therefore, whenever we are facing a bad situation, we are to place ourselves above it. So what if the oceans is huge? A small ship can still float and navigate above it. As long as you refuse to give up and continue to place your trust in the faithfulness of God, you will float above the situation and even able to navigate through it. You will be able to turn the setbacks in life into the stepping stones to success.

How a man loves a woman.
This is about romantic love. How to explain this love? No one knows for sure. Yet we do that. Such love results in the formation of marriages and families. Children were born and nurtured with love. Love forms the basis of our society and civilization. The ironical part is, none of us truly know what it means.

Likewise, we don’t have to understand fully the love of God for us in order for us to enjoy and benefit of his love. When we spend time with God through prayers, reading the Bible and listening to faith messages, we will get to know more and more of his love for us. However, we will never get to the place where we will understand fully the extent of his love for us. This does not stop us from enjoying and benefiting from it.

The bottom line is, we don’t have to understand something fully in order to benefit from it.

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Only Fools Vent Their Anger

11 Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
Proverbs 29:11 (NLT)

This is another verse on the topic of self-control. What did you do when you were provoked to anger? Did you vent it out and gave everyone a piece of your mind? Did the act of displaying your anger make you feel powerful? Do you have the desire of repeating such feats? If you have been venting out your anger, God calls you a fool and he wants you to repent. In the mind of God, displaying anger openly is something to be ashamed of. God thinks only fools do that. The difference between the fools and the wise is while fools vent their anger, the wise quietly hold it back. In this article, we shall look in depth on the necessity of controlling our anger.

First of all I would like to point out that Proverbs 29:11 never said anything about who have or does not have anger. Both the wise and the fools have anger. The difference lies in the way they respond to it. The fools allow themselves to be enslaved by their anger. They are under bondage. Why is giving way to anger a bondage?

When man is in an angry mode, he is no longer capable of thinking rationally. In other words, he cannot think. There is no room in his mind for alternative views or opinions. He is trapped in the belief that he has been wronged and he is a victim of injustice. Any suggestions that he may be wrong will only cause him to be angrier. Therefore, attempts to pacify and reason with an angry person are most likely to fail.

However, according to Proverbs 29:11, the wise respond differently to anger. When a wise man is provoked, he will still feel angry but he refused to allow himself to be enslaved by his anger. He will quietly hold it back. Why? As long as we are not consumed and possessed by our anger, we retain our ability to think and analyze the situation rationally. Thus, we will be in a good position to overcome the adverse situation that caused us to be angry in the first place. This is the characteristic of winners. Winners take control, losers allow themselves to be controlled.

“Don’t you think sometimes I have the right to be angry?”

The right to be angry is no different from the rights to be poor, sick, depressed, fail and die. Why do you want this right for? As for me, I prefer to have the right to overcome my anger and live in the prosperity God wants me to have.

“Suppressing anger can result in stress and subsequently disease.”

There is a difference between overcoming anger and just covering it up. When you are just covering up your anger, the anger is still there. It is less obvious because you pretend to be not angry. Another word for latent anger is unforgiveness. We are not designed to be unforgiving. Unforgiving is toxic to our bodies and souls. If you keep it there long enough, it will adversely affect your mental and physical health. The real solution for unforgiveness is to forgive and not venting out your anger.

When we forgive, we overcome our anger. We do not allow unforgiveness to ruin our mental and physical health. This means the wise are very forgiving because the wise want to live in the abundance of health and wealth.

“Why should I forgive this person who has done me wrong?”

We don’t forgive for the benefit of the person who wronged us. We forgive for the sake of our own health and wealth. Unforgiveness is hard work and it will result in sickness and poverty. When we unforgive someone, we allow this person to occupy our mind. We will end up using a lot of time thinking about this person instead of building up our faith to acquire greater health, wealth and success. Thus, when I say I forgive you, what I mean is, you are not worthy for me to think about you every day. I would rather spend time working on my faith for the sake of my prosperity.

In conclusion, don’t waste time getting angry. Spend time on your faith instead.

Greed Will Make You Poor

22 Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.
Proverbs 28:22 (NLT)

This article focuses on the problem of greed. According to the above verse, greedy people will try to get rich as fast as they can. In doing so, they ended up poorer instead. This tells us that we can never get rich by being greedy. Greed will only make us poor, not rich. In other words, if you want to be poor, be greedy. If you want to be rich, don’t be greedy.

What is greed in the first place? As I have mentioned in my previous articles before, greed is caused by a mentality of scarcity. In the mind of a greedy man, the world is constantly in lack of resources. (This reminds me of the economic class when I was in the university. If I can remember correctly, the principles of economy are based on the lack of resources.) A man who has a mentality of scarcity and wants to get rich will exhibit the characteristics of greed. He believes in the necessity of sacrifice in his quest for riches. He may sacrifice his health, marriage, family, integrity, compassion and other things that he used to value if he thinks it can help him to be richer. Unfortunately, Proverbs 28:22 tells us that such a person may end up poorer.

The greatest weakness of a greedy person is vulnerability to deception by con artists. Let me give you some examples.

If you have an email address, there is a high likelihood that you would have received emails that promised you a lot of money if you are willing to help the sender to transfer a huge sum of money. I have received a lot of them myself. When I read the contents of these mails, I feel like laughing. Who could be so dumb to fall for that? Yet, the truth is, there were people who fell for that. They responded to the mail and indicated their interest in participating in the schemes of the senders. The senders in turn asked for more details and even money for the transaction. One day, the victims realize that the money promised to them never came and they have lost a huge sum of money instead.

How could this happen? Those guys preyed on the greed of the public. People who are blinded by greed cannot think rationally. As a result they became victims of swindlers and ended up poorer.

There are also other forms like pyramid schemes and dubious investments. The operators of these schemes can only appeal to one weakness, greed. Once they can get you to be blinded by greed, you will be at their mercy. Your money is as good as theirs. You will be poorer instead of richer. However, as long as you have mentality of abundance, greed will have no place in your mind. You will not fall for these schemes.

Therefore, it is dangerous for your wealth if you have the mentality of scarcity and want to be rich. You will become greedy and want to get rich quick. Instead of riches, poverty will come on you instead. What is the solution then? Does this means we must not want to be rich?

Let me make this clear. God wants us to be rich. In fact, he sent Jesus to die poor at the Cross, for us to live rich. We can never glorify and honor God if we have no desire to be rich. However, we should not have the desire to be rich and a mentality of scarcity at the same time. Such combination will result in greed.

When we have the desire to be rich, we are glorifying God but at the same time we must build up a mentality of abundance. How do we do that? We need to spend time with God because he has the mentality of abundance. If you read the Bible, you can see that God has always been abundance minded. By reading the Bible, listening to faith message and praying, we are effectively becoming more and more abundance minded. Consequently, we are on our way for great prosperity to come into our lives.

The Importance of Self Control

28 A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)

The above verse tells us that a person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls. It was written before the application of gun powder in warfare. In the times before the invention of cannons, fortified walls were the most effective defense for cities. As long as the walls are in good shape, the city is secure. However, if the walls were broken down, the city would be vulnerable to attacks from external forces. In the above verse, God sees a person who does not have self-control is like a city with broken down walls. This person is vulnerable.

What is self-control anyway? It means the ability to take full control of ourselves and discipline ourselves to be at peace and rational even if we were provoked. There could be times you might feel like slapping, punching or killing someone for saying or doing things that made you angry. However, you had the self-control to restraint yourself from doing something stupid. As you look back now, you are glad that you did not kill that scum or you will still be in jail now.

Another part of self-control is in disciplining ourselves from giving in to our lusts. These lusts could be in the form of craving for food, excessive spending, alcohol, gambling, adultery and any other harmful activities. Self-control is basically the ability of our rational mind to control our bodies and pride in order to protect ourselves from being vulnerable to attacks.

I remember reading an interview with a self-confessed Satanist. According to the interviewee, Satanism is not about worshipping Satan. These folks do not believe in God nor Satan. Their operating principle is indulgence. In other words, they do whatever they feel like doing. They consider Christians to be hypocrites because sometimes we restrain ourselves from doing what we feel like doing.

Now, do you think these Satanists are able to live happy life with their unrestraint indulgence? What will the quality of your life be, if you are to live with unrestraint indulgence (or the absence of self-control)?

When you feel like getting drunk, you get drunk.
When you feel like taking drugs, you take drugs.
When you feel like not working, you don’t go to work.
When you feel like committing adultery, you commit adultery.

Will you be able to live a happy, healthy and prosperous life? Will you have a strong family? Will you be successful? You will never be able to live the life of total prosperity God wants you to have if you do not have self-control. You will end up wasting all your prosperity. This tells us that self-control is vital to our prosperity.

The Bible is not the only book that speaks of the necessity of self-control. Below are the excerpts from Sun Tzu Art Of War that show us that the lack of self-control is a disastrous weakness that our enemies can take advantage on.

I. Laying Plans
22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

III. Attack by Stratagem
5. The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.

VIII. Variation in Tactics
12. There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:
(1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
(2) cowardice, which leads to capture;
(3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
(4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame;
(5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.

In conclusion, if you have no self-control, you are a loser. You have to work hard on it.

Prepare Your Fields Before Building Your House

27 Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.
Proverbs 24:27 (NLT)

Proverbs 24:27 is another financial planning verse we can benefit from. In this verse God wants us to plan. We must place a higher priority in our “fields” over “house” in our plans for our future. What do “fields” and “house” mean in the above context and can we benefit from the above advice? We shall look deeper into it in this article.

Proverbs 24:27 was written in an agricultural background where people did farming for a living. The term “building your house” may suggest that the recipients of this verse might not be living in houses. They could have been living in tents. So, building a house to live in is an upgrade to them. Living in a house will not only improve their standard of living but it will also show that they have reached the next level, from being tent dwellers to become house owners. Today’s equivalent will be moving from government subsidized housing to a luxurious beachfront property. This is definitely something good.

The term “prepare your fields” in the agricultural context means the following:
1. Sowing seeds.
2. Softening the soil through plowing.
3. Ensuring sufficient water for the crops through irrigation.
4. Ensuring sufficient nutrients in the soil through the application of fertilizers.
5. Protecting the crops from pests.
6. Preparing for harvests.

In short, it means doing everything it takes to make sure that your harvest will come. According to Proverbs 24:27, preparing the fields is more important than building house. The actual message is, don’t even build your house before you have fully prepared your fields. Why is that so? The answer is simple. Preparing your fields will bring you income. It will lead to prosperity. In contrast, building a house is about spending your money in luxuries. (Please be reminded that those people were already living in tents. So they were not exactly homeless. Having a house is more like a status symbol to them.)

The message God has for us is, make money first before spending them. I would like make it clear that God is not against us spending on luxuries. There is nothing wrong in wanting to drive a bigger car, living in a bigger house, owning your own personal plane or even your personal island. God has no problem with that. However, it is silly for us to get those things at the expense of getting into debts and forfeiting our future prosperity. God wants us spend on luxuries only after our financial base is secure. As long as our financial base is not yet secure, our priority should be set on building on our financial base and not on luxuries.

I believe this advice is relevant to many of us because we tend to spend more as our income increases. This is the temptation we should avoid. Let us have an example. Let us say that you used to bring your family out for McDonalds once a week. Now that your income is doubled, will you double your trips to McDonalds? The shareholders of McDonalds will be happy but you are not maximizing on the benefits of the increase of your income.

This is the problem that many people faced. Every time their income increases, their spending increases as well. As a result, no matter how high their income is, they are still making ends meet. Their financial base never grew. Their houses and cars may get bigger and more expensive but they are still as poor as they were when their income was a fraction from the amount they are receiving now. The increase in their salaries does not make them rich. In fact, it could make them poorer if they loaded up more debts in acquiring their houses and cars. This is not the prosperity God wants for us.

When God increase our incomes, he wants us to be richer and not poorer. Therefore, each time we receive an increase in salary, a huge bonus or a sudden windfall, we must discipline ourselves in order not to be tempted to waste them. Our priority should not be luxuries. We should focus on building a strong financial base. Only when our financial base is secure, should we move into acquiring luxuries.

How do we build our financial base? We need to invest our money to make it grow. This is the equivalent of preparing our fields. However, this is not just about calling a financial adviser, buy all the financial products he wants to sell. You need to do your own homework. Read up more on investments. You can start from the “Financial Planning” category in this blog. All my articles there are based on the Bible. The Bible itself contains a lot of lessons on financial planning.

Go to the library to borrow books on investments. Read up on them and start planning to build your own financial base. Once you financial base is secure, you will be in a good position to acquire some luxuries without harming your finances.

Jesus Bore Our Sickness At The Cross

4Surely our sicknesses he hath borne, And our pains — he hath carried them, And we — we have esteemed him plagued, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:4 (Young’s Literal Translation)

When Jesus died at the Cross, he had not only taken all our sins, he took along the results of our sins which include sickness and poverty. In this article, we shall study deeper into the result of his acts in bearing our sickness.

What does God mean when he says Jesus bore our sickness? Obviously, we don’t have to bear any sickness anymore. We are free from every sickness from as minor as flu or fever to as serious as terminal disease. No sickness has the right to oppress us.

However, there are still many Christians who are sick. Does this means Jesus’ works in bearing our sickness is no longer valid? If you really believe in that, then you must also believe that God’s requirement for Christians to be truthful is no longer valid because there are Christians who cheated. So, how do we explain why Christians get sick? The answer is our sickness is illegal. If you are sick right now, you need to be aware that this sickness has no right to oppress you. You have God given right to drive it away.

Think of the example of illegal immigrants. In Singapore we have strict laws against foreigners working here and overstaying unless they have the necessary work permit or employment pass. However, there are people from other countries who entered Singapore with social visit pass (which allow them to stay in Singapore for a limited time but not allowed to work for wages), but they chose to work illegally and stayed beyond the allowable days in Singapore. They have become illegal immigrants.

Now, does the existence of illegal immigrants in Singapore shows that the immigration laws in Singapore to be invalid? Certainly, not. If you see illegal immigrants in Singapore, the problem does not lie with the law. It lies in the enforcement of the law. The government will have to improve in the enforcement to ensure the law is kept.

Likewise, for us Christians. When a Christian falls sick, it does not mean that Isaiah 53:4 is no longer valid. The problem does not lie in Isaiah 53:4. The problem lies in the enforcement of it. Who are the ones who have to enforce it? We are. As Christians we have been given all the powers on heaven and on earth. God has given us everything we need to enforce his rule on earth. We have the authority to enforce health, prosperity, long life, success, joy, peace and every good thing that we desire. The only way to activate our authority is to pray by faith.

24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Mark 11:24 (NLT)

We need to believe we receive when we pray in order to activate the powers of God in our lives. So if you are sick right now, don’t pray for the sake of praying. Pray for results. Don’t pray like you are begging God to heal you as though he has not decided whether he wants you healed. God has decided 2,000 years ago at the Cross of Calvary that he wants us healed when Jesus bore all our sickness at the Cross.

In God’s mind, every Christian is free from any form of sickness. His will for us is to be eternally healthy. So, when we pray, we pray with conviction that our God wants us healed and we pray with faith that his will to be done in our bodies. All the sicknesses in our bodies shall be eternally removed from us. As long as you believe, you shall receive your healing.

So, when you are sick, the issue is not how serious or how incurable the sickness is according to the medical report. With all due respect to the doctors, their verdict on your condition is based strictly on the limited amount of knowledge that they have based on the natural law. Their medical knowledge does not include what Jesus did at the Cross. Therefore, when you are sick, the only question you have to ask yourself is, do you still believe Jesus bore all your sickness at the Cross? If your answer is yes, get up and claim your rights.

Religious people will oppose to this verse because according to their religious doctrines their God is the one who give sickness to Christians to bring them to heaven. In fact, one religious guy wrote in to this blog to tell me that sickness and grave leads to heaven. How perverted can he be? The hypocritical part is, even religious people seek treatment when they are sick. Obviously they don’t really believe in their religious doctrines.

In conclusion, when you are sick you have to remind yourself what Isaiah 53:4 says and stay away from religion. If you really want to get well, avoid religion like a plague.

Never Oppress The Poor

22 Don’t rob the poor just because you can, or exploit the needy in court.
23 For the Lord is their defender. He will ruin anyone who ruins them.
Proverbs 22:22-23 (NLT)

There are many people who have negative views on the rich. In their mind, if you are rich then you must have oppressed the poor. So, they hate rich people. They consider the rich as parasites that suck blood from the poor. The world will be a better place if we can confiscate all the riches in the world and distribute them equally to every one. That is the basis for socialism and communism. There were countries that tried that and failed. Today, the biggest communist country in the world, China has turned to capitalism.

Communism failed because it is based on a wrong doctrine. While there are rich people who oppressed the poor, there are also rich people who help the poor by creating wealth. If the rich do not create wealth, they will not be able to create jobs for the poor. The poor will only get poorer.

The above verses tell us that the worst way in getting rich is to rob the poor and exploit the needy. Why? The Lord takes it personally and he will defend them. He will act against those who oppressed the poor. If you happen to be doing that, you better repent. You need to realize that you can still get rich without having to oppress or rob anyone.

It is very clear in the above passage that God identifies so closely with the poor that he is prepared to ruin anyone who ruins them. This means that he must also be prepared to prosper anyone who prospers the poor as well. Wow! I see another get-rich opportunity here. If you want to get rich, help the poor. How to do that? Here are 2 principles to remember:

First, it involved giving as I have explained in my previous articles. You can choose to fix a certain percentage of you income to be given to a specific course. For example, you may have decided to give away 10% of your income to a ministry that cares for the orphans in Africa.

When you earn $1,000, you give $100.
When you earn $10,000, you give $1,000.
When you earn $100,000, you give $10,000.
When you earn $1,000,000, you give $100,000, and so on.

This means the more you earn, more orphans will get to eat and live in dignity. Will God be happy? I bet he will. Since God identifies himself so closely with the poor, he must be willing to what he can to provide for them. Since, you have been committing a proportion of your income for his course, he must be encouraged to increase your income as much as he can so that you can give more to the poor.

We should be encouraged to get richer. No matter how high my salary is, I aspire to earn more because I want to give more to the poor. This principle gives me the drive to be richer and richer.

The second principle is in choosing the type of business if you want to start your own business. If you want to build a successful business, your business must involve in helping the poor in some ways.

The best example I can think of is Wal-Mart. It is so successful that the heirs of its founder, Sam Walton are billionaires. If the founder is still alive, he can easily be the richest man in the world. What makes Wal-Mart so successful? Its business model is about cutting cost and selling daily necessities at lowest possible price.

What do you think will happen when you sell necessities at the lowest possible price? The poor will benefit the most. Their very little money can buy more things. Their quality of life will improve. It is like giving a pay rise to everyone within the neighborhood. Wal-Mart is also hiring those who cannot get employment elsewhere like the retires. The entire business functions like a charity, selling goods at the lowest possible price and employ those who cannot be employed elsewhere. As a result, it is a great success and its shareholders reap huge profits.

This tells us that if we want to be rich build or invest in a business that helps the poor.