Be Refreshed in the Lord

The year 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Without warning, the pandemic came and interrupted our lives —we shall never be the same again. Nevertheless, this should not be an excuse not to move forward in our lives.  

No doubt, there are good things that have come out of the lockdown. For example, during the lockdown, we were able to take a break from the hustle of work life and to spend more time at home. We could spend time to reflect on our life, our work, our relationships and also spend time to cultivate a deeper relationship with our family members and with God.  We were also given the opportunity to learn some new skills (e.g. cooking, baking, DIY projects around the house) or to pick up a new hobby (e.g. playing a music instrument, listening to music, gardening, etc.)

There were tough times too. The pandemic could add stress in our family relationships. It also adds anxiety as we might be affected financially. It turns our family time-table upside down. When the going gets tough, we need to come before God’s throne of grace and mercy to be refreshed.

Be refreshed in our minds

The psalmist says, “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times” (Psalm 119:20, NIV). For the psalmist, he fills his mind with the word of God. He knows that the word of God guides him and sustains him at all times. When he was surrounded by evil and arrogant people, when he was slandered, he delighted in God ‘s Word. It is God’s word that give him delight, counsel and advice (Psalm 119:23, NIV). 

Be refreshed emotionally

The psalmist was taunted by others but he held on to God’s promise of His unfailing love and salvation (verses 41-42). Being taunted and slandered may bring us down emotionally. Remember the example of the psalmist. He is able to walk in freedom and joy because he trusts in God (verse 45). He knows he will not be put to shame. If you are slandered, hold on to the Lord. Like the psalmist, he turned to the Lord and realized that blameless and righteous people will be blessed by the Lord (verse 1).

Be refreshed spiritually

The psalmist says, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word“ (Psalm 119:28). The psalmist delights himself in God’s Word but still, he faces sorrow and anguish. He refreshed his soul by dwelling in God’s Word. Feeling anguish is something that happens to us. Let us be encouraged by God’s Word. His Word encourages us and His Word reminds us how deeply we are loved by our Father in Heaven.

Be refreshed physically

Taking care of our physical needs is just as important. Eating nutritious food, getting blood pumping through regular exercise, getting enough sleep will refresh us physically.                                                                                                

The psalmist experiences God with his senses. He seeks the Lord with his heart (Psalm 119:10), he hides God’s Word in his heart (verse 11) and he rejoices at God’s law (verse 14). With his heart, he obeys God’s law (v 34). With his lips, he recounts God’s law (verse 13). He prays that God will turn his eyes from worthless things (v37) and that God will open them to see the wonderful things in God’s law (verse 18). He holds fast to God’s Word (v 31) and uses his legs to run in the path of God’s command (v 32).

The psalmist uses all of his physical body to praise the Lord. He uses his eyes, his mouth, his heart, and as an imagery, his hands and legs to seek the Lord and to praise Him. 

It is my prayers that you will be refreshed in your mind, emotionally, spiritually and physically. May you experience the deep and satisfying love of God.

Sales and Contentment

A couple of days ago was 11.11, a day which was made special by marketers to give us consumers many reasons to buy more. It is also called Global Shopping Festival, or Singles’ Day, or 11.11 Sale. Shops and online shops are offering tempting discounts. You can find everything: household items, kitchen appliances, electronic gadgets, laptops and phones, toys, books, jewelry, clothing, cosmetics and so on at very good discounts. 

I too, took time to browse through my online shopping app and discussed with my friends what we were planning, hoping or thinking of buying.

Christmas is coming soon. This is the time where most of us are thinking of presents for our family and friends. Presents and things make us happy but most of the time, this happiness lasts only for a few months or a few years, before we forget about them and replace them with something newer and shinier.

Our self-worth does not come from the things we have. In my younger days, I used to collect action figures. I burned holes in my pocket trying to get my hands on the latest model of Transformers’ Bumble Bee, Batman figures and Star Wars figures. Do they satisfy me? Yes, but only for a short while. Soon, my Bubble Bee is but a forgotten toy with its joints slowly rusting away. A wheel fell off from another tinier version of Bumblee Bee, and I couldn’t find the wheel—it is missing. Without the wheel, it is a handicapped robot. I can’t play with it. It is now officially a junk which I had chucked it in a box in the store room.

Pre-loved things give us additional stress and take up storage spaces at home.

As Christians, how should our spending be like? Material things will starve us because they are never meant to fill us. God did not design us to be satisfied in material things. He designed us for something much greater — a relationship with Him that satisfies our deepest longings and hunger.

God designed us to be filled by Himself—the fountain of living water. This fountain is forever flowing. It never runs dry. We can drink as much as we want from it and be deeply satisfied. Let us not get too carried away with consumerism. It will be like hewing out broken cisterns that do not hold water (Jeremiah 2:13). The more we set our minds and hearts into it, the more energy we will put into something that will not last.    

One helpful question to ask before buying something is: Do I really need this? What benefits will this give me? Is this God honouring and glorifying?

If we make Jesus our joy, we will spend less time stressing and worrying about what we should have. God provides all our needs. Contentment in God will open us to new joy that is found only in Him. And we will be able to taste more of His goodness, faithfulness and greatness in our lives.   

Knowing “Why”

For the past 2 days, I had attended 3 meetings. As we are approaching the end of the year, there will be more meetings to come to plan for the coming year.

Meetings can be draining but knowing “why” in what am I doing will help me to approach it with a better attitude and with desired outcomes to achieve. Like a boat sailing in the ocean, it will drift around aimlessly, blown to and fro by the wind and the crashing of the waves if the captain does not have a destination in mind.

If we ask ourselves “why” we are doing what we do, our eyes will be opened to the significance in life. Have you seen a person with a purpose in life? You can feel passion and joy in what they are doing.  Their eyes sparkle and they work with intense focus and joy. You are drawn to their energy and admire their love for their craft.

On the other hand, there are those who hate every minute of what they do. And it shows in their bad “I don’t care” attitude. It is painful watching them at work.

There were times when I was served by cashiers and waitresses who make it a point to make the customers feel that they are a nuisance and troublesome. I was trying to be as polite as I can as customers should. Unfortunately, their frustrated faces, the unfriendly tone of their voices, their sluggish body language— I can’t help but to feel so sorry for them. They were wasting 10-12 precious hours each day, 6 days a week, to do something that they do not enjoy. What a tragedy! I feel sorry for their manager too because I will not be a returning customer, no matter how good the food or the product is.   

How do you discover your “why”? Ask yourselves these questions:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What is important to you?
  • What are you passionate about?

Yes, I drag my feet to work on some days. I suffer from Monday Blues (or Tuesday, since Monday is my day off). But a strategy I am using is to spend more time to do the work that I am gifted in and lesser time on the tasks that drains me because I am less competent in doing them.  

God gives each of us gifts. The more we practice and cultivate these gifts, the more joy and fulfilment we have in life. These gifts point us to the purpose of our lives. We do not live just for ourselves, we live in a community: we take and we give back to our community. Our gifts will also inspire others to cultivate their gifts and find joy in daily living.  

God is a God of order and not of chaos. Without a sense of purpose, our lives will be chaotic. It will be dictated by the to-do-lists and someone else’s agendas instead of living in fulfilment and purpose.  

As you seek God, may He show you the things that bring you passion and joy. Cultivate them and may those around you be blessed by your gifts and your life.