Wednesday, July 30, 2008

warm our spirit up

In his letter to Timothy, several times Paul reminded him of the sufferings that he had to face for following Christ. Therefore, Paul reminded him to keep the teachings that he had been given and the knowledge of the holy Writings which are able to make him wise through faith in Jesus Christ.

As our body physically needs to warm up before going through heavy exercises, our spirit as well needs to be warmed up to enables us to face sufferings that its has to endure. The spiritual warming up or stretches will include praying, studying the Bible, attending prayer meetings and other activities related to faith development. These activities will prepare our faith for temptations of many kinds.

Without those stretching sessions our faith will easily fall even by the lightest temptations.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

scars of blessing

When Thomas heard them saying that Jesus had appeared to them, he doubted. He wanted to see Jesus' scars. Not only that, he wanted to put his finger in the hole of Jesus' palms. He wanted to touch Jesus' scars. Only then he would believe. Only then he would admit that Jesus had risen.

I'm like Thomas some times. I questioned God for things that happened. I questioned God for the suffering I faced. I question God for the difficulties I endured. I doubted God's presence in my life. I doubted God's power in making me happy. I doubted God's love because He let me be in trial of many kinds. I doubted God's power to heal because of pain I suffered when I was sick.

We pray some times "God, why let this happen if you love us?" We become like Thomas. All we ask is a sign. We would only believe if we see signs. If we touch or experience the signs. But Jesus said "Blessed a those who believe without seeing".

When we suffer, the pain would disappear but scars would remain. When we looked at those scars, we were reminded that we were once wounded. We were once suffered. But what we do not realize most of the time is the fact that the scars are sign of us ever been healed. We do not realize that God has healed us. We forget that those scars are signs of God's love. Signs of God's presence.

Give thanks today when we saw those scars in our life....

Monday, July 28, 2008

sunday school

Yesterday's sermon said about the importance of having the Words of God deeply rooted and grew in our life. It mentioned about the need for parents to encourage their kids to attend Sunday's school because the growing process of the words of God begins while we are still very young.

I'm very much in support of that and I thank God for reminding me something that I've learned through experience. While I was a kid, I would say that going to Sunday's school was something that I was waiting for. I remember that my Sunday's school teacher read to us the story of Joseph. He did it in a very entertaining way. He did it chapter by chapter. Each Sunday, he would spend thirty minutes on the story telling. So every time he ended, he would say, "Alright kids, come again next week to know what happen next to Joseph". And I could not wait for the next Sunday.

As a kid, we like listening to story. By telling stories of the Bible, kids will be encourage to come to Sunday's school. That was where I came to know about the story of Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, Samson and Jonah. That was where I began to know the life of Jesus.

Another interesting way of attracting kids to attend Sunday's school is by providing biblical comic books for them to read. During my Sunday's school day, I used to collect comics book on the biblical events. I read about the journey of Joshua to Jericho through a comic books. So as the story of Paul. But I can hardly find those comic books nowadays.

When kids know the Bible it would be easier for them to study it when they grow up. When they become youth, they don't need the story telling session anymore. They need Bible Study session. But without the basic knowledge about all the characters in the Bible, it would be a little bit hard to make them interested in studying the Bible. It would be hard to talk about Abraham's faith if we do not know the story of Abraham. It would be difficult to tell about how God helped David in fighting Goliath when we do not know the life of David. How could we accept Jesus' teachings when we do not know who Jesus is?

No wander so many people distance their selves from God when they become youth because the words of God did not root and grow in their heart during Sunday's school day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

different faces from different perspectives

It all depends on the way you look at things.

One day a father and his rich family took his son to a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"Very good Dad!"

"Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.


"And what did you learn?"

The son answered, "I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden, they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden, they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon."

When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless. His son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are!"

Isn't it true that it all depends on the way you look at things? From one perspective, you may have possessions and provisions for the future, but from a spiritual perspective, you are on the verge of bankruptcy. Perhaps you need a change of perspective.

- Author Unknown

Thursday, July 24, 2008

avoid those rocks

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
-Psalm 119:105 (KJV)

Why need lamp when there is a light for the path?

To see our step, we need lamp. To see our path, we need light.
With lamp, we see the details of what lie within a couple of feet in front of us. With light, we foresee what lie further ahead of our path.
With the brightness of a lamp, we may avoid stepping onto broken glasses lying on our way. With the shining light on our path, we may see the right direction of our path.

The words of God is a lamp of our feet. They help us to avoid being stumbled by rocks that were placed here and there on our path. We may not see those rocks unless we have lamp on our feet. There are many types of rocks lying on our way. They could be conflict in family, financial problems, relationship crisis, health issues and so forth. Without the lamp, we might step on those 'rocks' and worst ever being stumbled by the rocks. The words of God help us to foresee those rocks so that we are able to avoid it or at least not being stumbled by them.

Our path in life has many turns and junctions. We could end up at the wrong place if we take the wrong turn some where along the path. We need light to see the turns and junctions of the path. We need light to read all those signs and directions. Sometimes we take the wrong turn because we do not have the light with us. We simply take which ever turn that is available. Usually we tend to go for the most obvious turn or the wider path. What we do not realize is most of the time God's path is narrow and quite hidden. Without light we may miss the turn. The words of God is our only light that could lighten up our path for us to see clearly the path towards God.

We may have been walking on the wrong path. We may have taken the wrong turn. But if we ask for the light to lighten up our path, we would be able to go back and find the right path. We may get ourselves out of the predicament of being on the wrong path.

Daily Bible reading points us in the direction God wants us to go. By applying God's word in daily events, we can find our way out of any confusion life throws our way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

give to get more

When Jesus received the five loaves and two fishes, He looked up to heaven and blessed them.

He gave the loaves and fishes to His disciples to be distributed. His disciples distributed the loaves and fishes to the multitude of 5000 men. They all ate and fulled.

Jesus gives to us only five loaves and two fishes to be distributed to a big multitude. Do we have the faith to say that it would be sufficient to feed the multitude? Jesus' disciples did not complained. They did not say 'Lord, how could this be enough for them?' They did what was told. They distributed it as told by Jesus.

What happened when they distributed it? The food multiplied! And it kept on multiplying as they distributed them.

Jesus gives to us may be a little talent, financial resources and other form of gifts. What have we done with our 'five loaves and two fishes'? Have we given it to Jesus for blessing and distribute it to the multitude or the people who need them? What we don't realize is that only when we give what we have, we get more. Only when the food was were distributed, they multiplied.

Only when we distribute our gift from God, it will multiply and bless us and other people....

Friday, July 18, 2008

listening in silence

Elijah was once hunted by Jezebel for the death of the Baal prophets. Well, it happened when the Baal prophets challenged Elijah to call to God to bring down fire from heaven to burn their sacrifice. The Baal prophets burnt to death together with the sacrifice. Jezebel blamed Elijah for their death.

So God took him away to the top of a mountain. There at the top Elijah was almost blown away by the great wind. The wind was followed by a massive earthquake and fire. but God was not present in any of those events. In fear, Elijah trembled. He was speechless under great fear. When everything turned silent, God spoke in still small voice.

When God speaks through earthquake, we listen.
When God speaks through great flood, we listen.
When God speaks through great famine, we listen.
When God speaks through economic crisis, we listen.
When God speaks through accident, we listen.
When God speaks through family crisis, we listen.
When God speaks through diseases, we listen.
When God speaks through the gentle wind in the morning, we do not listen.
When God speaks through our wealthy, we do not listen.
When God speaks through unity and family love, we do not listen.
When God speaks within our comfort zone, we do not listen.
When God speaks through good health, we do not listen.

When God speaks in still small voice, we do not listen
When God speaks in mighty thunder, we do listen


Very often, even most of the time, God speaks in still small voice
are we listening?

How are we to listen?
We need to be in complete silence - get rid of all turbulence of life issues from our mind, forget about those noisy things of economic, family and relationship crisis.
We need to put our heart, mind and ears to Him.
We need to be closer, so close to Him.

Take time to listen to His soft and small voice.
If we are not listening to His soft voice, He will speak in loud and thunderous voice and we will be trembling in fear......

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

deeply rooted

A few months ago, I planted two different trees of our local fruit. The soil type of the ground where I planted them are a little bit coarse and sandy. Prior to that, a friend of mind informed me that soil of that type is not very suitable for certain fruit. But I insisted to try it out. For the first two weeks, everything seemed alright. I watered them every other day. Both trees showed sign of adapting to the environment. A month passed by, one of them began to show unhealthy sign. Leaves began to drop and turned brown. I took an additional effort to watered it everyday. After two months, it dried out and totally gone. The other one still surviving until now.

The Bible talks about the very same situation in the parable of the sower. If the ground is coarse, sandy and hard, any seed will face difficulties in adapting. If our heart is 'hard, coarse and sandy' the words of God will not grow in our heart even though we water it with prayer, meditation of the words of God and singing song of praise to God. The soil type needs to be change. Need to be replaced with a new type. The 'coarse, sandy and hard' soil need to be soften, made finer and blended with more nutrient. We need to get rid of our 'coarse, sandy and hard' heart.

The two different types of fruit could also be seen as faith of two different Christians. The shared the same 'ground' (went through same trials), they went to same church, attending same prayer meetings, cell group meetings and did many similar ministries. Ideally, they grew in faith together. But one of them didn't last for long. His faith weathered and melted even with all the watering. Why?

The reason is that the other tree has long and strong root. It penetrates deep into the earth and manage to find adequate water for it to grow. The other tree only depend on the water that I gave every time I watered it. It root didn't go deep into the earth. The faith of the other Christian did not go deeply into his heart. We saw him growing in the beginning but that was only the external. The root of his faith did not spread widely and deeply in his heart. That was why when he was alone, when no one watered him, his faith weathered and melted. The other Christians knows that deep down there is hope, there is water. He went on spreading and digging deep with his root and found water, plenty of water to keep on growing and producing fruits.

Monday, July 14, 2008

the correction of the heart

HARSH words had cascaded from my mouth with the force of rushing water. Ouch! I immediately wanted to take back the hurtful remark. However, just like rushing water, the words could not be stopped nor their force negated. I had scolded my small daughter. It wasn't that the words weren't true - or even justified. They were just more harsh than the situation required. However, like raging water, the words moved on - unable to be called back.

Our words reflect what is in our hearts. As Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Therefore, when my heart is brimming with an emotion, that feeling will leak or perhaps even spout out of my mouth. If I have unresolved sin or guilt in my heart, at some point my mouth will reveal it.

I used to pray to say the right things or not to say the wrong things. That prayer, however, did not seem to be answered. Negative words still cascaded from my mouth. Now I realize that the problem goes deeper than my words. I need to ask Christ to move in my heart to correct my wrong attitudes. If my heart is filled with love, that opens the way for kind and appropriate words to flow from my mouth.

(Leigh W. Young (North Carolina, U.S.A.)

Only God can correct our heart..

we need to fill our heart with His love, grace and mercy..

only then our words and attitude will full of love..

only then we will be able to show love to one another....

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Follow, Give, Sit, Receive, Use wisely

There are a lot of miracles that Jesus had performed while He was ministering on earth. One of my favorites is 'The Feeding Of The 5000 People'. Why?

  1. It spoke about Jesus' compassion for the multitude that was following Him.
    • He sees us when we are following Him. He knows our needs. He knows when we are tired and hungry. He has compassion on us.

  2. It tells us that Jesus can make small things big. The five loaves and two fishes were too small to be able to feed the crowd.
    • When we think that we have less, Jesus sees that we have more. All we need to do is to give the five loaves and two fishes to Him even though that are all I have.

  3. His disciples became worried of the big crowd and suggested that Jesus send them to go to the nearest town and bought food.
    • We tend to worry very easily when we saw big challenge in front of us.
    • We tend to make suggestion to God. We might say "Lord, let the trouble go out of my way"

  4. Jesus did not submit to the disciples' suggestion instead asked them about how much food the have.
    • But Jesus will say "How much strength you have to face the trouble?"

  5. Jesus told the crowd to sit down.
    • When we have give all that we have up to Jesus, all we need to do is 'sit down'. We need to relax, rest and not thinking of the trouble. Let Him do the rest.

  6. He fed them till they were all full.
    • He will fulfill our need and give to us abundantly.

  7. He told them to gather the waste.
    • I think Jesus wants to tell us not to waste foods. We cannot waste our blessings. We need to use our blessings wisely.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

To Be More Than A Millionaire

I read this article from the World bible School Website and find it very encouraging. I want to share the blessings with you.

Have you ever watched one of the most popular television programs "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" .How is the game played? A person is chosen from the studio audience and is asked a series of questions. If he answers them correctly, he wins! The creators of the game not only want the each player to win and they help him win. This makes the game even more exciting!

If the player is not sure, the game show host suggests three options to help him find the correct answer:

1. He may ask the people in the audience and take a vote. (Many people simply choose the way of the crowd.)

2. He may eliminate two wrong answers. (Sometimes people randomly select an answer after eliminating the worst choices. This is a risky option.)

3. He may call a trusted friend on the Life Line. (Prior to playing the game, people carefully choose the person in whom they will place their trust and hope.)

Imagine you are chosen to play a similar game called, "Who Wants to Be More than a Millionaire?" The host of the game show asks you a simple spiritual question, "What must you do to be saved?" You think for a moment without answering, as you realize stakes of the game. You feel like you know the answer, but you are not 100% sure. Then you are reminded you have three options for help.

1. Will you choose to take a vote of the people around you and select the popular answer?

2. Will you choose to ask the host to eliminate two wrong answers and guess which remaining answer is correct?

3. Will you choose to ask a trusted friend on the Life Line? Will you choose a Friend who knows the correct answer because he wrote the answer book?

After reading the article, I put the question to myself. It was quite strange because I thought I know the answer but there was other side of me that whispering my answer might not be absolutely true. So I opted for my third Life Line which is to ask help from a trusted friend. The friend that I choose is Jesus because he knows what should I do to be saved.

What's your answer?

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Guide Book

Yesterday's sermon was on the importance of Christians to read the Bible. Reference was taken form the book of Joshua whereby the Lord reminded Joshua to 'let the book of law be ever on his lips and his thoughts day and night'. Why?. So that he 'will be blessed and do well'.

In the previous posting, I wrote about praying to God as way of communicating with Him.Through prayer we express with is inside our heart to the Lord. Reading the Bible in the other hand, is a way of knowing God's commands to us. Through the Bible the Lord speaks to us. Therefore, prayer and reading the Bible are two very inter-related actions. We cannot expect God to answer our prayer by praying alone. We have to let Him speaks to us through His words which is the Bible. Although God conveys His message via many channels but still the Bible is our major reference.

By reading the Bible we will be able to know the characters of God, His wills for us, His everlasting love and all the amazing works He had ever done to all His people.

But reading the Bible is not an easy task. It's not easy to understand. That's why we need to pray before reading the Bible. We need the holy spirit to teach us, to open our heart and mind. Sometimes we need to refer to other people who has more knowledge on what we are reading.

Reading the Bible is not about completely reading it cover to cover. It is about understanding the gist of every word. It is about learning the lessons it taught. It is about seeing the reflection of ourselves in its every word. Because every word in the Bible is useful for teaching.

So how to start reading the Bible?. Well, one good suggestion is to start by reading about the life of Jesus Himself. We can read from either one of the four gospels. If we can relate the story of Jesus from His birth to the time He was lifted to heaven, we have done a very good job. Having done so, we learned the teachings of Jesus, we learned about His miracles, His healing and His parables.

For me, the most important is to live by the words. We cannot merely read because a lot of people do the same. We have to understand it. But having read and understand is not the point. We must apply it, put it into practice. We shall live by it only then it will live in us. Joshua was reminded by God to put the words on his lips and his thoughts. Our lips and thoughts must be controlled by the words. Our thoughts and actions must be in accordance with the words. The Bible is the instruction of our life. It is our guide book. Our light.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Talk and listen

After watching the movie Bruce Almighty, I was curious if that was the way God listens to our prayer. In that movie, it was shown that when people are praying, the prayers came to God like the sound of thousands bees. Can God be able to listen to each prayer?.

During a bible study session, I learned that prayer is one of our way to communicate with God. So in order for communication to happen, it has to involve talking and listening. When I talk, God listens. When God talks, I must listen. If I do not listen, then there is no communication. Therefore, no prayer. It is as simple as speaking through phone. I speak at the other end hoping that God will listen at the other end. And when I have finished, God will speak and I have to listen and so forth. But will it always like that?

I remember some times when I pray before retiring to bed at night, I would fell asleep right after uttering the word 'Amen'. I did not give God any chance to speak! I believe that most of us pray to God many times a day. We pray before each meal, before going to bed at night, when waking up in the morning. Some times we attended prayer meetings and we spent time praying. Then again, how many time we listen to God speaking back to us? when we don't listen, we become like a child asking his father for an ice cream but before his father could ask back for detail, the child had gone to the play ground. The father would not get the ice cream for him because the father did not know what ice cream's flavor he was asking for. Besides, the father knew that his child had false teeth so ice cream is not good for him. But the child did not knew that for he did not spent time listening to his father and blamed his father for not loving him.

How to 'listen' to God? I have to keep His words in my mind and write His laws in my heart. His words and laws will speak to me about His wills for me. His words and laws will be a light to my feet so that I won't stumble. His words will be a light to my eyes so that I will see what I have done wrong. So that I won't judge other for their wrongdoing because I see my wrongdoings first. So that I will be able to ask forgiveness from God for all my wrongdoings. When my heart is pure, only then he will answer my prayer...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The hidden quality

I have not met this particular friend for quite some time. One day he rang me up and asked me out for lunch. Since our office were only a few blocks away, I volunteered to fetch him at his office. I have never been to his office so I thought this would be a good opportunity to visit his office. As I was driving to his office, I was imagining his office to be reflecting the corporate images for he is a successful entrepreneur. I was expecting to see a nicely decorated lounge, with security guards and receptionits welcoming me. But when I arrived at his office, I was surprised with what I saw. There were no security guards and receptionist. The scene of his office did not reflect the success of his career.

Many times in life we were deceived by what we saw. We see something beautiful but inside is ugliness. We see something bad but inside is full of kindness. In Genesis, Lot and his family was deceived by the look of Sodom and Gomora. They saw Sodom and Gomora as a beautiful place to reside. They did not see the evils inside Sodom and Gomora.

When God sent Samuel to Jesse's house, he thought the oldest son of Jesse was the one chosen by God because of his physical appearance. But God told him not to look for the outer form for God sees the heart. We tend to believe in our first impression of people. When we saw people with smiles in their faces, we thought straight away that they are friendly. But we never know if that smiles are fake until we get to know them.

And how many time we try to appear joyful but inside we are full of sorrow? Or we try to be friendly but we are full of hatred?

Let us pray not to be deceived by the outer form of things but to be able to see the heart....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Being with God

Yesterday I read the parable of the prodigal son. The story reminds us the forgiving character of God. It speaks about God never ending love upon us. When reading this story my focus will usually be on the prodigal son. Perhaps because of the title of the story. I will look at how the father have loved his prodigal son. But yesterday my attention was caught by the non-prodigal son which is the older son. The older son was the person who have been working hard for his father. He never disobeyed his father. He had been loyal to his father. He never even complained of anything. One day he returned home from their farm and saw a big fiesta was going on at their house. He was made to understand that his father was celebrating the return of his long gone son. He became resentful and frustrated upon hearing that. He was thinking of his father as being unfair to him. To him his father never appreciate his hard works, loyalty and obedience. Now he is complaining. But what did the father said? "You are always with me, all that is mine is yours". The father knows that his son has always been with him. He knows his son's hard work, loyalty and obedience..and he has already rewarded his son with all he has..This scenario always happen to times I have the thinking that God being unfair to me..I worked real hard but at the end I did not see the reward. I put everything to do the best in my job, I did not go against the rule,I followed order and directive but at the end somebody else get the credit. I was complaining to God..but He says " I know what you have done, you are always there with me...whatever is mine is yours"...So, what else I want if I have whatever is God's. Perhaps I am expecting something big like a fiesta but God says I already have more than that. In fact, since I am with God I do not need to be celebrated for everyday is a celebration by itself. Since I am with God, He sees my hardwork, loyalty and obedience.
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