A Palace Strong and Full of Light

A palace strong and full of light. I love this power-packed combination. I pray that my writing of this will be fruitful for you and me. I had written about each topic before, A House Divided Against Itself and All Light {Lessons from the Mount Part 2}. Why am I writing this again? Because I passed through Luke 11 just recently, this time with my KJV journaling Bible, and aside from the fact that I am slowed down by pondering deeper and writing down the Holy Spirit’s message, the passage spoke to me afresh at a different angle this time. The Scriptures does that to us, doesn’t it?

"STONEHOUSE", my original watercolor painting on 9" x 12" wc paper. (Inspiration: photo from IG).

“STONEHOUSE”, my original watercolor painting on 9″ x 12″ wc paper. (Inspiration: photo from IG).

In the many years of my illness, every time I open my Bible, I am always on the lookout for how God’s Word will speak to me in the light of my sickness and suffering. I strain to dig deep and scratch about the words, verses, and passages, like a hen scraping the earth for bits of food, to look for doors through which I can pass to the other side. The side of healing. And thanks be to God, for I believe that, through the years, I have been fruitful in that regard. Although I have not yet received complete healing, I have had enough strength, hope, peace, and joy to go through it all. For that length of time.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace.22 But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. (Luke 11:21-22)

I received another epiphany as I read this recently. We are strong and fully armed when we are at peace with God and constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. For when we are full of the Spirit of God, we walk after Him and not after the flesh. And when we walk after Him, we don the whole armor of God and are protected by it from the fiery darts of the devil. We cannot put on the whole armor of God when we don’t walk in step with the Holy Spirit no matter how hard we try. For it is the Holy Spirit that teaches, guides, and empowers us to do those things that God would have us do:

fasten the belt of truth

put on the breastplate of righteousness

shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace

take up the shield of faith

put on the helmet of salvation

take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God

pray at all times in the Spirit

(from Ephesians 6)

We can only behave wisely in a perfect way and walk within our house with a perfect heart as David himself had greatly desired (Ps. 101:2) when we follow closely after the Spirit. It would be next to impossible to live in love from a pure heart without the Spirit of God continuously sanctifying us.

The passage above further says that when we guard our own palaces, that is, our bodies, the temple of the living God, our goods are in peace. More than our material possessions, these goods mean our joy, peace, family, important relationships, work, businesses, even dreams. And of course, our health.

I have always believed that because of my sins and the bad decisions I had made before I received salvation, my health and strength were stolen by the devil, and with them, my joy and peace. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy… (part of John 10:10). But now that I am in the Lord Jesus Christ, why am I still ailing?

That, for me, is the question of the century :) .

But the peace, joy, marriage, and family that had been stolen were all restored. These goods I now have in abundance. And other good and perfect gifts I have, which I received from my Savior. So, there’s truly been a different kind of healing for me.

When I was yet of the world, there had not been a strong man guarding my palace to talk about. The devil was a lot stronger than me, that’s why he came and spoiled all my goods, even to the point of death. But even that the Lord has utilized for good. It turned out to my salvation and my clinging to Him tightly to this hour.

But even when we are already of the Lord, there are times we can still be weak against the attacker. That is, when we put our guard down. Weaknesses come in. Fears and unprofitable feelings like discouragement, self-pity, depression, resentments, anger, unforgiveness, joylessness, hopelessness grip us and seem to triumph over us. And yes, even our health becomes poor.

Why? Because we have made the attacker stronger than us. We have become weak against him because we have been divided against ourselves. How so? When we have been beholding the world instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when we behold the world most of the time, our mindset and affections are influenced by it. And when we are influenced by the world and not by the Word, the Holy Spirit grieves. And when He does, all manner of problems attack us on every side.

That’s why the Apostle Peter admonishes us to:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

I think that is the root of our problems: when we look back to the world instead of ahead of us where our Shepherd leads. In the world there is endless lusts, covetousness, envying, materialism, superfluity. The Lord Jesus warned:

“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

A united palace is a strong palace. A united body is a strong body.

If we focus our eyes on only one thing – JESUS – our eyes are good and we will be full of light. What wonder!

“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.” (Luke 11:34-36)

When we behold what is bad – the world (the whole world lies in wickedness ~ 1 John 5:19) – our body also is full of darkness!

When our bodies are full of light, where will darkness dwell? All traces of darkness will flee! We are strong  – mind, heart, body, and soul – and shining brightly!

“Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning.” (Luke 12:35 ESV)

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Journey with Jesus,

All Light {Lessons from the Mount Part 2}

There’s a beautiful passage in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that I return to every now and then. At times, I’d wrestled with it, willing it to be absorbed in my system and to know what it really means.

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat. 6:22-23)

For a long time, as I battled against my illness, I had wondered if this passage could help me in a way. I had toyed with the idea that maybe, if my body was full of light, I couldn’t be sick and suffering still. A good thought. But how to make that happen, I really didn’t know where to begin. It’s only recently that I was able to grasp its meaning.

We only have two eyes, but we easily set our sights on a multitude of things. Whatever and wherever we set our eyes on, that determines the amount of light (or lack thereof) we let into our beings. The Bible tells us to look unto God our Savior:

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:
for I am God,
and there is none else. (Is. 45:22)

But often, we look into the world, too, and its temptations. Sometimes, we find it hard to tear our eyes away from them as our senses lap up their offerings. We look and our eyes land on material things and pleasures. What we are really doing is absorbing darkness into our beings. For if we don’t exercise discernment, wise judgment, and self-control, the things we focus our eyes on can morph into covetousness, idolatry, envy, comparison, competition, discontent, self-pity, and all the rest. These things will snuff out our light and make us grope in darkness.

We also look at other people and may use our eyes to judge, condemn, and criticize in our hearts, instead of doing something positive, like extending mercy, showing love, and praying for the salvation of those who err. Do sinners stir our hatred, judgment and condemnation, or mercy? When we look at them, do we look at the persons needing mercy and salvation or their sins, and judge them thus? The Lord Jesus Christ warns: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Mat. 7:1). We have been taught to hate the sin and love the sinner. The absence of love brings up two situations: the absence of light and the presence of darkness.

Our eyes are the gateways into which light (or darkness) enters our bodies and souls. Whatever we’re looking into, that will either energize the light to be brighter still, or dim it until it dies. But we can look unto others, whose lights shine even in darkness, and make them our encouragements and inspirations to be lights in the world in our own ways, too. Focus not on those who can make us stumble.

Most importantly, let our bodies be bathed with the bright, shining light of the Savior and let it be reflected in our lives as we set our eyes on Him. Let love be the proof of our faith.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2, emphasis added)

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Journey with Jesus,

His Word is Light and Life

Meditating on Psalm 119: 17-32

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law. (Ps. 119:17-18)

I can almost feel the psalmist’s agonized prayer to God through the passages of Psalm 119. Definitely, these are not ordinary utterances but ones that proceed from an afflicted, sorrowing soul. I remember the early days of my illness and suffering. One moment I was in the best of health, working, traveling, and doing the things I loved, the next moment, I was bound in bed, very sick and weak and feeling like I was drowning fast from the fears that accompanied my illness. During those dark hours, I strained to find comfort, strength, understanding, and deliverance from God’s Word.

I was desperately scrambling for light to understand what was happening in my life and I believed I could get that from God’s Word. In-between difficult eating and bouts of violent vomiting and struggling for breath, I begged the Lord to speak to me through His Word. How I desperately needed to know! And He didn’t fail me. He answered my very crucial questions through His Word, and I was greatly comforted and strengthened.

His Word was my light in the darkest hours.

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word. (vv. 25, 28)

As I spent endless days in bed, I was nourished by daily servings of His Word. I devoured chapters upon chapters. Did I believe this would do me good? Absolutely. I believed the Word could bring me healing. I believed it could resurrect me and bring me new life, both physically and spiritually. Revive me according to Your word; strengthen me according to Your word, the psalmist begged.

As I stalked the Lord Jesus in the narrow streets of Jerusalem or along the seashore or on the mountain where He resorted, I desperately wanted to be sucked into the pages of the Gospels and be with Him where there’s no more pain, suffering, and fear. As I followed Him relentlessly with the multitudes and straining to touch the hem of His garment, I knew without a doubt that I would be healed. I did all this through walking and living in His Word.

…The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)

The words of the Lord are life. They give life and bring healing and restoration. He and His Word are one. The Word [is] God (John 1:1).

I love God’s Word. I have not gotten tired of opening it and walking through it, meandering through the beautiful, life-giving passages, and pondering on and wrestling with the hard teachings. That I may swallow them and be digested in my inmost parts that I may continue to live. To live, physically and spiritually.

It is my constant prayer to remain fervent in His Word.

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Journey with Jesus,

The Light: Lessons from the Beginning

We go back to that very first day, from the very beginning, the first day of creation. On the first day of the foundation of the world, we get a glimpse of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind. Yes, even before the first man was created.

(image from Google)

In the beginning, there was only darkness. I can barely imagine that kind of darkness, maybe engulfing, choking, so thick and close one can hardly breathe. Deep, dark, and waters – the Spirit of God was in the midst of it all. Then His Word pierced through the darkness and void, “Let there be light.” And there was light.

The very first thing God created was —- light.

But is this light from the sun or the moon or the stars? That couldn’t have been because He created the sun, moon, and the stars on the fourth day yet! And this was the very first day. This light is His light.

…And light dwells with Him. (Dan. 2:22)

Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment… (Ps. 104:2)

Just like that very first day, God’s light pierces through our darkness and void. By His Word, He brings light to our souls that are in deep darkness.

The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9 NLT)

And He came to bring us life, life that is our light.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness… (John 1:4, emphasis mine)

Have you experienced the dark and void and deep? Have you fought their choking grip only to find you are powerless over them? Have you felt like you are being sucked into an endless deep and darkness and you have no strength to stop it? Helpless in that place where no one can reach you?

Or are you there now, my friend?

I’ve been there. When I found myself alone in the dark and void and deep and knew that no one could reach me there, I cried out for the only One who could. I cried out for the name – the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And He came. His light broke through my darkness shattering it into splinters. And He reached out for me.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)

Call on His Name. Cry out His name in your darkness, in your fear, in your emptiness, in your confusion. He will come. No darkness can stay in His light. He had done it from the foundation of the world.

He gives light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, He guides our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:79).

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Journey with Jesus,

‘Drinking in’ the Light

(Image source here)

In 2005 when I was recuperating from my illness and spent a lot of time in the bedroom, I found out that there was a re-run of the big-hit drama series from Taiwan. I hadn’t watched it before (honestly, such drama series wasn’t my thing when I was still engrossed with my career), so I was excited to watch it. A good way to pass the time, I thought. But being an obedient baby-in-Christ at that time, I asked counsel from one of the elders in Church, a preacher.

He adamantly counseled me never to watch such kinds of TV shows. And he used Phil. 4:8 to support his stand:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil. 4:8)

I was sad not to be able to watch it, but having read and reread the Word of God then, I knew what he said was true, and so, I never watched it again (or any of its kind).

Followers of Christ, the children of God, must walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). We are the children of light.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Eph. 5:8)

But there is darkness in the world we live in. Sometimes we are pulled into that darkness, the enemy tempting us to dwell there. Slowly, gradually, we are lured by the enemy’s deceptions. Sometimes we are not even aware of it. Where do we set our eyes everyday? Do we stare at the TV drinking in juicy secular shows which trigger in us negative emotions – sensual, impure, worldly? Or videos and movies and the Internet offerings which have the same effect in our psyche?

What do we drink in? Do we strain to be under the light, to be bathed by its brilliance, drinking it in and letting it spread, filling our dark crevices? What do we let penetrate our hearts and souls? Do we drink in things that kindle in us covetousness and materialism and feelings of envy, jealousy, self-pity, bitterness, resentment?

Where we dwell and what we look upon – these are what will make us into becoming – whether of light, the children of light, or of darkness, the children of darkness.

These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ:

The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light. (Luke 11:34-36)

The children of God dwell in the presence of the Lord where light surrounds them and there is no part dark. They gaze upon His face, drinking in His magnificent brilliance and His light shines through them. He is that light. How bright and glorious is that light they carry and reflect wherever they go!

“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Related: 7 Habits of a Spirit-filled Christian

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