I was driving home one day when I saw a group of people walking home. In the group were 2 female adults with 2 children walking in front of them. They had the biggest smile on their faces. Apparently, they were walking home too. I noticed that their home was just a very simple place and yet, they were filled with joy.
The ladies reminded me the simple joys in life do not cost a lot: spending time with loved ones, a leisure stroll and a simple meal. There were times when I sulked because I do not have what I wanted (not what I needed). Apostle Paul reminded his mentee Timothy that, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6, NIV).
Godliness is a life with God in the centre. Contentment is finding joy and satisfaction in what God has given to you. The opposite of contentment is greed and greed is like a bottomless pit, we will never be satisfied when greed is lurking in our hearts.
Contentment is something that we will learn as we walk with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is not in our human nature, it does not come naturally to us. Apostle Paul also said, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11, NIV). Paul learnt contentment through his own life experiences when God put him in situations where he would be in need, starved and also in situations when he had plenty and was well-fed (Philippians 4:12).
We can not keep what we have forever. Verse 7 and 8 tell us, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
Greed will lead us to do things that will bring terrible consequences. Apostle Paul continues, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”(verse 9). People fell into destructions because of greed. Think about the news you have read this morning. Crimes were committed: robbing, stealing, cheating, murder, all because of wanting to get money quick. We grieve with the victims on the loss of their money, although some may also, out of greed, fell into these traps.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”(verse 10). We can never have enough. We see something, and we want it. If we set money as our main objective in life, we will lose all that matter. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (verse 10b). When the love of money is untamed, it brings us sorrow and griefs—not just status and power in the society.
Money does not bring joy as the social media claims. The celebrities may be living the lifestyles of the “rich and famous” but true joy does not come from money or fame.
May God help us, to live a life of joy and contentment. The next time when I catch myself grumbling because of what I do not have, I shall count the bountiful blessings which I have received from my God who loves me. The simple pleasures and joy in life do not come from money, but they come from God who “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Time with my 2-year-old taught me new things about life.
My niece, Ariel, lives in Australia with her parents. Apart from video calls, I only get to see her physically once a year. She is now 2 and a half years old and she is such a bundle of joy!
I am single, never married and do not have children of my own. When Ariel and her parents were visiting, they stayed with me. Just spending time with her, playing and talking (she could not really talk yet as she had not turned two when I last saw her in person) made me reflect about life and relationships. She has taught me so much.
Love others as we love ourselves: Love without condition
Ariel loves without condition. She gave hugs and kisses to us so generously.
As time passes, we pick and choose whom we want to love. We are afraid to love freely without conditions. We may be worried we might get hurt or be taken advantage of. We are generous with our good friends, we are only friendly to those who love us but we could not care less when it comes to people we do not really know.
Jesus taught us to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31, John 13:34). When Jesus was asked what was the greatest of all commandments, the person who asked it did not really want to know because he considered himself to be an expert in the law and the prophets and he only wanted to test Jesus.
Jesus answered His question with wisdom and grace. Loving and taking care of ourselves is something that we can do. We do not need trainings or to go for courses. By nature, we want what is the best for us. Jesus said, the way you love yourself is the way you should love others: we don’t love others more than ourselves. Nor do we love others less than ourselves.
What are the acts of kindness you can do for someone today?
We are living in this world. We are citizens of a country. But, as believers of Jesus, we are more than this. We are not of this world but of Heaven (Philippians 3:20). Jesus says in John 18:36 that His kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), which is beyond our time on this earth. Our lives on earth are just like a vapour (James 4:14). We should have eternity in mind (1 Peter 5:10).
Moments before Jesus would be arrested and then nailed to the Cross, He prays to His Father in Heaven, “14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[a] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:14-19, NIV)
Jesus brings His disciples before His Father, saying that they are “not of the world” (verse 14), “even as I am not of it” (verse 16).
We are not of this world, but we are being sent into the world (verse 18). Jesus prays that God will protect us from the evil one (verse 15) and that the truth will sanctify us.
We live in the world but we are not of it. We don’t swim with the currents of the world culture and ways of living. As in the prayer of Jesus, we have been sent into this world. We are to be God’s vessels to bring the message of His love, joy, hope and peace. Our lives should reflect that we are the children of the Almighty God.
It may seem overwhelming but God is with us, He empowers us (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). He has sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us in our daily livings so that we will make decisions that please His heart.
Let us live in purity and holiness. Let us also act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
Live in the moment: full of wonder and curiosity
The older I get, the more self-conscious I became. I used to care a lot what people thought of me. But that is the little prison I had locked myself in. I don’t think this is the way God wants me to live—in a prison that only exists in my mind.
We can be so critical of ourselves when nobody is actually bothered about it.
My niece, Ariel is full of wonder and curiosity. She finds joy in the things around her. She sings when she felt like singing. She sang when she was bursting with joy. She danced when she was happy. She laughed when something funny caught her eye. She didn’t care what we think. She was living in joy and she showed it. She didn’t know her singing and laughter brought joy to us too.
Chris Tomlin wrote a song, “The Way I Was Made”. A part of the lyrics go like this:
I want to live like there’s no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one’s around
I want to sing like nobody’s listening
Before I lay my body down
I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I’m not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made
When was the last time I looked at something with joy, wonder and awe?
Ariel reminded me to live in the moment. Be filled with love and wonder at your surroundings. Cherish the people around you. Enjoy the gifts God has given you. Honour the way that you were made so wonderfully by Your Father in Heaven (Psalm 139:14).
Trust in God: Everything will be all right
There were times when I would toss and turn in my bed and could not sleep because the problem I was facing seemed too big for me and I couldn’t seem to see the way out.
When her parents were with her (they were always with her), Ariel felt safe and secure. That was why she could laugh, sing and dance. She knew her parents loved her and that she was safe. She trusts her parents.
Do we trust our Heavenly Father? Our Father in Heaven takes care of us. Time and time again in the Bible, God reminds us of His unfailing love. Psalm 121 talks about a God who will not fall asleep and who watches over our lives.
The psalmist also prayed, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4, ESV).
In the New Testament, Jesus reassured His disciples that God’s children would not be in lack. Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?…Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25, 27, NIV)
Apostle Peter also urges us, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, ESV). We can rest in the Lord, knowing that He is with us and He watches over us.
Jesus Christ teaches His disciples to have childlike faith. Childlike faith is to:
Love others as we love ourselves
Remain pure in this world
Live in the moment, be filled with wonders and curiosity
Put our trust in God
I have had my experiences in disappointments, hurts and so on. But, I have also experienced so much joy, wonders and blessings in life! It is amazing that a 2 year old can help me to rethink about my life and to treasure each day with God and cherish the people in my life.
This is my 9th year of full-time pastoral ministry. There is nothing else I would want to do with my life than to serve the Lord.
Of course, the “working” hours are longggg! We work in the office during the day and we have ministries at night (visitation, small groups, prayer meeting, teaching, etc). There are also urgent things: church members admitted to hospital, etc. There are times when I am envious of friends who hold office jobs and are working from Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm and then they are free for the rest of the evenings.
But, to me, it is such a great blessing to serve the Lord and His people. I read from somewhere that pastors get paid to read God’s Word. How great is that!
There are challenges, frustrations and difficulties along the way too but God is so faithful.
During this MCO period, my family and I have been experiencing blessings and so much love from our church friends. Some of them sent us delicious cooked food: curry chicken, pork, rice dumplings, Kentucky Fried Chicken, three layered pork belly, sweet and sour pork. Someone sent free range chicken. Yesterday, a church friend sent me a feast! Some of these were made by her, with love.
All that I can say is, “Thank you, Lord, You are so so good to me”.
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They can not be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” (Psalm 139:17-18)
The God that we serve is a God that enjoys giving us wonderful surprises. May you experience His love and blessings today and everyday!
Since the Movement Control Order, my parents and I have been eating at home. My mum is the Master Chef. She plans the menu for our breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the past 59 days (I took charge of the afternoon tea break, which is, a variety of snacks from biscuits to popcorns, peanuts and sunflower seeds). As I have mentioned yesterday, mum bears the weight of our household things so that we are free to do our work.
Eating at home resets my palate. Each dish has been wonderfully prepared by mum. The finely chopped vegetables, the diced carrots, the fragrance of the curry chicken, the nutrients dense vegetable soup… each dish are prepared with love and sweat from the kitchen (the weather gets so hot in the evenings) .
As they say, “health is wealth”, “you are what you eat”. I do crave for pizzas, fries and bubble tea from time to time but homecook meals bring the delight of bringing my family together. Having meals together is our bonding time. We talked about our day, what we did, and what we read from the newspapers. When I was living by myself, I ate in front of the laptop, watching whatever programme I had the mood for that particular day. I do enjoy spending time with my parents at the dining table.
In the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us, there was a part which goes like this, “give us this day our daily bread”. It means, God will provide for all that we need. We need not worry what we are to eat and drink because God knows what we need (Matthew 6:25-34).
Most of the time, the simple pleasures in life, and things that give us joy, are blessings from God which money can never buy. Let us receive them with a grateful heart.