The Price for His Presence

The account of Mary’s anointing of the Lord is found in John 12. This may seem like a beautiful account of Mary’s devotion to the Lord, but really, if you could be present at that moment, you’d have found it awkward and intense. Awkward, because she broke cultural norms in order to step into a moment reserved only for men, to anoint the Lord. Intense and perhaps hostile, because her actions were misunderstood and totally inappropriate in those days.

What though is important to note is that she was the one who changed the atmosphere in that place and brought a pervading fragrance. While the guest list included the apostles – Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, Martha, the one who was the epitome of service, and many others; it was Mary who brought the fragrance. She brought the Presence of God.

I think there’s a poignant lesson for us here. I think this was a jab made by the Divine Author. The least likely person in the crowd made the difference in this gathering. She was too young. She was not of the right gender. She did not carry the authority. Yet she was the one who moved the Lord. What’s the key for us here? Can we likewise shift atmospheres and bring God’s Presence?

Here are a few things to note:

1. She Gave An Offering
It wasn’t just an ordinary offering. It was sacrificial. It was worth a full year’s income. There’s one thing we need to realise – money is one of the primary means by which we express value. Whether it be in Abraham’s life or the life of David, each time these men had an encounter with God, they’d bring an offering to the Lord. This is such a consistent pattern in Scripture that we must take note of it. Does God need our money or material goods? I highly doubt so. The cost paid is an expression of love.

Years ago, my senior pastor gave me an invaluable piece of advice that stays with me till today. I was in the process of purchasing our first home with my wife and we saw an apartment that she really liked. In my accountant mindset, I had decided already what the property was worth and the price I’d pay for it. The asking price though was higher than I was prepared to pay. It was then that my pastor said to me, “It’s worth paying more for the one you love.” It helped me understand that it wasn’t about how much the property was worth, but how much my bride was worth. It changed my life.

2. She Gave Her Future
This perfume wasn’t just a latest fragrance put out, but the major fashion houses of Jerusalem. It was what every young girl saved up all her life to purchase in order to anoint herself on her day of wedding. It was meant to be the thing that would mark the beginning of a new life. Instead, she gave it to the Lord in order to prepare for His coming death at Calvary. It wasn’t just a mere gift; it was a laying down of her life. She wasn’t just giving a sacrificial offering, she was giving her future to the Lord.

Giving our future to the Lord is a road less travelled. All our lives, we seek to secure our future. We pursue our studies and plan our finances so that we may bring a level of certainty to our lives. Yet the crux of our Christian walk requires a level of trust that’s deeply uncomfortable and unfamiliar in our well-organised and planned out lives.

3. She Gave Herself Up To Be Misunderstood
The critique that came at her was predictable. The frowned looks. The disapproving gazes. Could she have expected anything less when she determined to embark upon these actions? Yet despite all the possibilities of being misunderstood, she continued. The compulsion of love pressed her forward. In the end, it wasn’t just a flask of perfume that was poured out.

She, herself was emptied before the Lord. Emptied of her reputation, her dignity and any form of vindication. Her eyes transfixed solely on the One whom she sought to serve. She gave her all in that single moment because it was an opportunity of a lifetime. In fact, it was an opportunity of an eternity – to anoint the Lord in preparation for His greatest trial. With that single act, she etched herself into the eternal records of the life of the Son of God.

There were many more illustrious and well-qualified candidates at that gathering, who could’ve turned an ordinary party into an epic moment in scriptural history. Instead, Mary stole the moment. She managed to do it because she was willing to give herself in a manner that attracted the notice of the Lord. In the same measure, our ordinary moments in our daily lives can also be transformed into situations where the fragrance of worship becomes evident to all. The pattern is given to us, but are we willing to be the ones to pay the price to bring His Presence?

Pastor Lim Lip Yong

Be Like The Wind

Once during my devotion time, I asked God an audacious question, “How do I defeat the evil one?” Now, I know that Jesus has won the victory for us on the Cross and furthermore, Rev 12:11 exhorts us that we’ve defeated the “accuser of the brethren” by the Blood of the Lamb and by our testimony, not loving our lives nor renouncing our faith even when faced with death.
‬ But I was looking more for some practical steps to apply in my life. I was led to John 3:8 which I’ve come across before and it’s one of those verses which baffles me. It says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Yup, I read more…

The Inner Chamber

A 25-hour day? In December of 2016, researchers at Durham University and UK’s Nautical Almanac Office discovered that we could spend an extra hour either in bed or at work. Scientists have claimed that the earth’s days will get an hour LONGER in the future due to the planet’s slowing orbit and clocks will become outdated.

However, earth’s citizens have been advised not to throw out the clock just yet, as the day is lengthening only by two milliseconds every 100 years and getting an extra minute in the day will take 6.7 million years. And the length of the day will not extend to 25 hours for around another 200 million years. 

It’s not uncommon to hear of someone saying, “I’ve so much to do and so little time to complete them and having one more hour in the day read more…

Success or Victory?

One of the key things in life is to distinguish the difference between success and victory. Oftentimes in life, we tend to focus on success rather victory. Success is a term that’s often used commonly in the business world. Victory is a term that’s used for combat. And which is the better picture of a church? A business or an army? Did Paul not exhort us to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ?

Here’s another way of looking at it. When Jesus died on the Cross, did He look like a success? Everyone thought He was a failure. All His disciples forsook Him. As far as they were concerned, Jesus failed. But what happened at the Cross? The victim became the greatest victor! He gained the victory and overcame the power of sin and death. He didn’t look successful, but read more…

Tests of Success

When the LORD your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you… then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deut 6:10-12

This is a marvellous promise of the blessing of God to the Children of Israel. Now here’s the surprise. Moses reminded the people by stating the following, “When this happens… Be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (6:12). To forget the Lord doesn’t mean to forget that He exists. It simply means that you no longer have Him in mind as in times past.

The message to us is clear. Say for example you’re blessed with a new or upgraded home; does God come to mind? Is the Lord read more…

When Your Work Becomes Worship

I’ve been asked on several occasions this question, “How do you juggle between work and ministry, the secular and spiritual?” Well, I see work as an extension of ministry. They’re not competing for my time, but complementing. The key is that I don’t make a distinction between work and ministry because of the understanding of this one word, “Avodah”.

“Avodah” is a Hebrew word used in the Bible whose root has three distinct yet intertwined meanings – worship, work and service. For example, in Exodus 8:1, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship (avodah) Me’.” In Exodus 34:21, “Six days you shall work (avodah), but on the seventh day you shall rest…” In Joshua 24:15, “But as for me and my household, we will serve (avodah) the Lord.” What Joshua meant was read more…

The Truth About Salt & Light

I believe there are some essential descriptions of Christians given by our Lord Jesus Christ that’s crucial for us in deciphering how we’re to respond in an ever-changing world. I’m certain that the Lord foresaw the days of every generation right up to the days of His Second Coming, and gave us keys to understanding how we’re to thrive in it.

Two of those descriptions given to His followers are that we’re the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt 5). These are two very interesting descriptions, because each functions quite differently. On one hand, salt functions by quiet influence. When added as a seasoning, only a small quantity is required. It buries itself in the dish that it’s being used to season, but its impact on the flavour of the dish is immense.

On the read more…

The Grace of Yielding

Last weekend, we wrapped up an exciting Cell Month campaign for the month of July. Here are some follow-up thoughts in line with the theme of Discipleship, taken from Derek Prince’s book entitled, “The Grace of Yielding.” We’re often taught concerning the price of discipleship; but there’s also grace and reward in responding to God’s call.

1. The Test of Yielding
The more willing we are in yielding our all to the Lord, the easier it becomes for Him to reveal His will and ways. It’s possible to maintain a firm grip on activities or position that results in having a work for God, rather than an all-consuming focus for God Himself. As Corrie Ten Boom puts it, “We must not grasp things too tightly, lest our fingers get hurt when He prises them from us.”

Sacrifice, surrender and read more…

The Gift of Home

This week, we hosted our pastors from 17 nations for the annual Cornerstone Global Network (CGN) Summit. We had fun and wonderful fellowship in the midst of serious Kingdom business. God did an amazing work in all our hearts – vision renewed and sharpened, the hungry were fed, those struggling were strengthened, the weary were refreshed. Such camaraderie was forged over the four days that we were reluctant to say goodbye. There was never a dull moment.

There was a notable shift in this year’s Summit – a greater intensity and resolve to advance the Kingdom of God, and a greater intention to align and extend the work of God in the nations through Cornerstone churches. The Summit’s atmosphere was one of like-mindedness and authenticity. One pastor who had just joined us for the first time said to me, “I read more…

Motion vs Progression

We want to specially welcome the pastors from our Cornerstone Global Network for our weekend services. The Cornerstone Global Network (CGN) family covers 21 nations and every year we’ve our annual CGN Summit. This year, 80 of us will be spending four days together, communing, praying and walking in the revelation of His Word. 


The Summit is a key gathering and has always been a time of re-calibrating, sharpening and envisioning for the global family. It’s important to communicate and translate what the Lord has spoken so we can move with the same purpose and do the work He’s given us to do. We learn to take the lead from the Holy Spirit and to communicate the tribal anointing to the CGN. It’s also very fun-filled with lots of bonding time, and the test of these read more…

The Creation of Boundaries

The Creation account is so full of wisdom and understanding, but so few people pay close attention when reading through it. Our focus is often on the content of what was being created on each day of Creation, and we gloss over the process of creation and pay even lesser attention to what it says about the Creator.

For one thing, Creation is punctuated by a principal word – “order”. God laid out order on a planet that was without form, void and in chaos. At the same time, essential to establishing order on earth is the need to bring about a separation or division. In fact, the very first act of creating light was and an act to bring about a division between light and darkness. The next act of creation was to divide the heavens and the earth. read more…

It’s Better To-gather!

In the month of July, we launch our annual Cell Month campaign. It’s a month of celebrating cell groups and encouraging members to be part of one. Cornerstone is a cell church and one of our core values is that life change happens best in cell communities. At the same time, we inaugurated the 40-Day Solemn Assemblies on July 1, a nationwide campaign to mobilise churches, leaders and believers in our nation to fast and pray.

Cornerstone had the privilege of anchoring the first week of prayer and fasting in the Central Zone. Tremendous momentum has been building up and there’s been much grace for prayer and fasting. 

When we think about prayer, we tend to think of it primarily as a solitary and private activity. Yet, the Bible tells us to pray “at all times” and with “every read more…

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