Ponder

In the Book of Haggai, the Lord spoke to the then governor of Judah and the high priest through the prophet Haggai: “Give careful thought to your ways.” (Haggai 1:5). The same instruction is repeated in Haggai 1:7, “Give careful thought to your ways.”

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Throughout the bible, God cautions His people to ponder and reflect upon our words and actions, such as in Proverbs 4:26. It is also important to note that God also specifically mentions about focusing on the road ahead and not to be distracted whilst we are pursuing our goals. It is biblical to be intentional, to plan and to be focused. In the busyness of our lives, we may plan with the best of intentions but we get sidetracked and in the end, we lost track. If any part of our lives seems like a mess, it is time for us to “give careful thought to our ways.” In our ways, have we been honouring God, as we should? In our ways, did we seek God and conscientiously ensure that we are not straying?

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Lent Season 2017

Tomorrow, 1st March 2017, marks the beginning of the Lent Season 2017. Last year, I tried to finish reading the whole bible during the 40-day Lent season, but I did not manage to complete the reading. This year, I am going to join Margaret Feinberg in reading the Book of John during the Lenten season.

I contemplated fasting too, but I do not think that I am ready for that yet.

Are you embarking on your own Lenten journey this year? If yes, what will you be doing?

Favourite Bible Verses – November 2016

In the month of November this year, I made a point to spend more time reading devotional materials. I have been very far behind in my bible study and reading of Christian literature, so this is one baby step towards picking up the pace.

This is a round-up of my favourite bible verses, gleaned from the devotional reading last month (not in any order of preference).

#1 Galatians 6:4-5 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.

#2 Hebrews 12:1 … let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.

#3 Ephesians 4:26 And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you. v29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

#4 Psalm 141:3 Take control of what I say, O Lord, and keep my lips sealed.

As we can see here, there is an emphasis on being focused and moving ahead. There is also a desire to watch out for the words that come out of my mouth, because too often I catch myself saying things which I shouldn’t have, and not saying words which I should.

In this month of December, it is also good to reflect upon the past year, of our achievements, shortcomings and to take note of these life lessons as we move into the new year.

Justice and Love

One the earliest phrases that my five-year-old learned to say is “That’s not fair”. Well, he doesn’t fully understand the meaning of “fairness” yet, for he used it whenever he didn’t get things his way. His idea of fairness is obviously different, not to say, inaccurate, but it is a wonder to see that such a young child chose this word to express his dissatisfaction.

In Hosea 12:6, God asks his people to “… Act on the principles of love and justice.” Love encompasses many things, and the most comprehensive definition of love can be found in 1 Corinthians 13. God is love, and the ministry of Jesus is all about love for God’s people. But what about justice? We know that God is just (and merciful), but what are the principles of justice?

There are times when what we do does not appear to be just or fair, so to speak, just like when I took away the TV control after my five-year-old has had his share of cartoon for the day. Perhaps he felt like his rights has been violated, but to me, I was acting for his good. I was acting on the principles of love.

Whenever we act, let us ask ourselves honestly if we are acting on the principles of love and justice. If we are, then we can always live in confident dependence on our God (Hosea 12:6). If we aren’t, then the next time we caught ourselves red-handed, we should pause and ask ourselves this question, “Are we acting on the principles of love and justice?”

 

Make Away with Selfish Prayer

If you believe in God, do you pray to Him? If yes, how do you pray? What do you pray about?

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I come from a family of non-believers. None of my immediate family members are Christians, so in my young years before knowing Christ, I prayed to the gods that my parents prayed to. After I accepted Christ, unknowingly, I still prayed the same way.

I read books on prayer and I listened to sermons on prayer. When I first accepted Christ, because I didn’t know how else to pray to God, I would recite the Lord’s Prayer daily. After attending baptism classes, I learned the A-C-T-S approach to praying. Every now and then I would use this approach in my prayer, but more often than not my prayers are selfish.

Why do I say that my prayers are selfish? Most of the time I talked to God about my needs and my wants, my fears and my anxieties. I know that we can talk to Him about anything, but rarely do the well-being of others are mentioned in my prayers. Once in a while I prayed for some dear friends but that’s hardly enough as a Christian.

Some time last week, I decided to make away with selfish prayer. I tried to stop focusing on my own needs and wants, and each day I picked a person or an item to pray for, which has absolutely no beneficiary relationship to me. There are some days I don’t know who or what to pray for at all… not to mention that I am also struggling with my own personal matters.

After this past one week, I realize that it is not about whether I pray for myself or not. How can I have a personal relationship with God if I choose to keep my most vulnerable self from Him? The point in praying is to come before Him, in humility, in knowing that I am but His servant, in honesty and in faith.

It is just like what you would do if you want to build a healthy relationship with a person.

Are You Reading Your Bible Daily?

To answer my own question: I used to.

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I used to read my bible daily, diligently, early in the morning just before I head off to work. I used to feel uneasy whenever I did not manage to do my reading for that day. I remember how cell group members reacted with awe when I shared about my daily morning routine with God. My intention then wasn’t to brag about how I could pull myself out of bed to read the Word. The question was posed to me, so I answered. I also used to have a copy of Our Daily Bread on my office desk, and the first thing I did when I sat on my desk in the morning is to read the devotional for the day.

Sounds like a perfect start to the morning, isn’t it?

All that started to change after I had my second baby. The routine is to have no routine, because I was either too tired from the interrupted nights, or too worn out trying to juggle between a whiny toddler and a wailing baby. I started to fall behind my bible reading plan, but I still tried.

Since last year, for some reason, I just couldn’t get onto the bible reading routine. I would do it for one, or maybe two or even three days, and then life would catch up and I went back to square one. The feeling is frustrating, as I stare at the bible and wonder about what I have been missing out when I don’t spend time with God. I still pray, but without the nourishment of the Word, praying becomes dry and prayer becomes merely words.

Is busynesss your reason too for not reading your bible daily? Or is the daily reading too dry that you couldn’t find the willpower to carry on to the next day’s reading? If you are like me, it could probably be all of the above. It is just so easy to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow”. But tomorrow becomes another tomorrow, and days become months, months become a year.

Perhaps you and I had been too ambitious when we set out on our bible reading plan. I simply could not fit in the quiet time like I used to during those pre-motherhood days. Lately I discovered that I could actually make sure that I get to do my daily bible reading, if I do it while having my breakfast. It may sound like I’m not truly focusing, just trying to buy my way out, but that is better than not reading at all. What I am trying to say is that we can do it, and we don’t have to do it like what others do. Every person’s circumstances are different, so we work around our own circumstances.

Let us start afresh today in our reading of the Word, and may this journey bring us closer to Him, no matter how you choose to do it.

Worship is beyond Sundays

Worship.

One of the most basic entities of Christianity is worship. Worship is a significant part of the Christian life. As a Christian, I attend Sunday morning worship services. I listen to praise and worship songs. I read about worshiping the one and only God.

But what really is the meaning of worship? Is it expressed through singing the Christian songs which creates a “feel good” feeling in me on those Sunday mornings? What are the ways to worship the almighty God?

I gave some thought to this word, worship, and it became clear that one way I could understand it better is by applying the word in another context. If I talk about worshiping a person, would that give a better picture on what worship entails?

If I worship a person, for example, a particular celebrity, I would follow his every Instagram post. Do I follow God’s words as closely?

If I worship a particular celebrity, I would try to emulate his style, his characteristics, the way he carries himself. I would align myself with his likes and dislikes. Do I try to emulate the characteristics of Jesus Christ?

If I worship a particular celebrity, I would look forward to talking to him (assuming I have that chance). I would be punctual when I have a “date” with him. I would present my very best before him. Am I as enthusiastic when it comes to praying, going for church-related activities and coming before Him?

Worship is beyond the Sundays. Worship is not just about singing songs in the church and forget all about it once the services are over. Worship is actually a big, big word.

Are we worshiping?