This has been with me for awhile: I don’t quite understand prayer.
I didn’t talk about it because I was worried. Prayer is the required discipline for all Christians and here I am, not understanding it. It is therefore comforting to read, “Anyone who has not wrestled with this question has not waded far into the ocean of divine sovereignty or the mysteries of prayer. It behooves us to take another look at an old but ever-present problem.” (Curt Daniel, Prayer and the Sovereignty of God)
No doubt I have been wondering, if God is sovereign, then why pray?
We are commanded to pray nonetheless. So how do we do it?
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.”
I think prayer is all about God, least about us. It is the acknowledgment of his sovereignty, seeking His mercy and resting in His grace. We can ask, but it all still rest on his sovereign will. We may not get what we ask for, but at least we have surrendered to his will, acknowledging that he knows best and his way is the best for his kingdom, least of all, us.
I have so much to learn about prayer. And Charles Spurgeon sets it in the right direction: "Pray for prayer - pray till you can pray, pray to be helped to pray and give not up praying because you cannot pray, for it is when you think you cannot pray that you are most praying."
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecc 3:11b
Eternity, העולם haolam, hidden time – the period beyond the present. God has indeed placed eternity into our hearts, so that we can know God and what he has done. All of God’s work is eternal, because he is eternal. It is only with eternity in our hearts that we will be able to discover what God has done.
Keeping a relationship is not easy, it is hard. We do not know how the other party really thinks and we do not know what they want. But we try, even though sometimes we fail; with our spouse, our children, our parents, our siblings, our friends, we try.
I am thinking about my relationship with God. I do try to keep the relationship going but many a times I fail. Here is a relationship with a perfect Being, he has revealed what he wants and what his intentions are. He is omnipresence, he is Emmanuel. So, what do I really need to do to build this relationship?
I am asking because I find it hard. Everytime I think it is going well, I fall back. What does it take to have a relationship with a perfect Being?
Psalm 24:3-6 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah.
It is an uphill task. To meet and have communion with God is an uphill walk and experience. It will not happen just sitting there waiting for things to happen, something I am guilty of doing. I am rest assured that God is there and I am here, I love him and he loves me and that’s it, everyone is happy but no sooner have I said that, I feel faraway from God. It is an uphill task. In Rev 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is at the door of our heart knocking. Do we hear it? If we hear his voice, go open it. He will come in. Then we will eat together. Keeping a real relationship requires active action and effort. Our walk with God must be done mindfully, obediently and lovingly.
And who may then stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands. Outward practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace (Spurgeon). If we want to draw near to God, we must have clean hands – it is what we do and how we do it – let it be clean. If it is not, we need to wash it in the blood of Christ.
But just clean hands will not suffice, it must come together with a pure heart. Our walk with Christ is heart-work. We must never be white-washed tombs, how Jesus has accused the Pharisees of – clean and white on the outside but dead and filthy on the inside. Our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are.
We also must not lift our soul to what is false. King James Version uses the word “vanity” for “false”. We are not to spend our lives in things that are vain, and worldly. I do waste a lot of my time doing unnecessary things. If I can redirect my attention and time to more important things, I believe I can walk closer with him. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. ~ Mat 16:24.
We are not ever to swear deceitfully, i.e. to speak the truth, not to say one thing and do another. Oh I am so guilty of this. I say I will pray more, but never do. I say I will do more good but spent my time an d money doing things for myself. I say I will study his word more but I ended up wasting my time on the television.
Psalm 15 A Psalm of David. 1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
The Lord has revealed to us through his word what he wants of us to keep a close walk with him. It is to walk blamelessly, do what is right, speak the truth in the heart, do not slander, love his neighbour.
One more thing I thought about while contemplating about being in relationship with Christ is our relationship with one another. We are a body of Christ. Our relationship with God is also brought into reality with our relationship within the body of Christ. Jesus supped with his disciples. He gave them bread and wine and told them to eat, and drink to remember him. It is done at the table, it is done together. We don’t do communion alone. We eat, we drink, we commune as a body of Christ. We are to do it in a community, to commune as a people of God. We share in our relationship with God together as the body of Christ. We learn and grow together. We read his word and pray together. We give to the poor and help the needy together. Therefore, our relationship with God and not just God and I, but God and us, God, you and I, we are the body of Christ. If all were a single member, where would the body be? ~ 1Co 12:19.
With that, I must not only be concerned about my relationship with God but our relationship with God. When one part of the body is hurting, we all hurt. When one part is faraway from God, we miss his fellowship.
Our speaker preached about repentance this morning, a sermon very befitting the season of Lent. Her text was about I reckon the most famous Sunday School character of the New Testament, Zacchaeus.
Luke 19:1-10 (ESV) 1 He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."
Her gist of the message was that confession is not equal to repentance. Jesus requires 2 things of us: one, to repent and two, to have remission of our sins.
Zacchaeus was a tax collector. In those times, the Roman empire required the people to pay taxes but they did not have the manpower to do it. So they appointed tax collectors to be stationed at their designated towns. They had a quota to meet and anything they collected over and above the quota constituted their fees. So, you can imagine the further they go in collecting, the richer they'd become. Therefore, it is obvious that nobody wants to be with them, let alone be their friends. Now Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector, he is a chief tax collector.
Here Jesus is coming to town and he is attracting a lot of attention. Zacchaeus was curious and he really wanted to see who this man was, this man whom many want to be with, something he did not have. And being of small stature, he decided to climb a tree.
Next, Jesus did something quite out of the norm. He told Zacchaeus that he is going to stay at his house, not "he wants to" but "he is going to", something one would rarely do unless invited. I hadn't think of it that way because I am so used to the story being told so many times that I just don't think much about it anymore. What would you think if I told you I am coming to your house?
In the rabbinic rules during that time, anyone caught cheating must repay the injured party the full sum plus another 20% as punity charges. Zacchaeus was so moved by what Jesus did that he did more, he decided to give half of his wealth to the poor and repay those he has defrauded 4 times the sum. And Jesus said that salvation has truly come into the house. He has not only confessed but he has repented.
The other lesson to learn is that we can draw comfort that Jesus accepts anyone who repents, which in turn has a deeper underlying lesson for us - how well do we accept others? Do we judge more than we love? But this is not an easy thing to do because we must also love with wisdom. (For a good book on this, check out D.A. Carson's Love in the Hard Places).
What do we need to confess and repent this Lent?
The next portion of Scripture the speaker refered to was a good find for me. I may have read through the bible once but it seems to me as if there are large portions of it of which I have not even seen before, and this is one of them.
2 Cor 7:9-11 (NASB) 9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.
The passage speaks for itself - there are no two ways about it. Paul has it right on. And what also caught me was that I most probably have been having worldly sorrow more than Godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow has to do with me, me and me, and it produces death. Godly sorrow has to do with God, the sorrow we have because we know we have grieved God by the things we do. It produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation.
I wondered about the phrase "a repentance without regret". Barnes has this to say: There is no occasion to mourn over such repentance and change of life. It is that which the mind approves, and which it will always approve. There will be no reason for regretting it, and it will never be regretted. And it is so. Who ever yet repented of having truly repented of sin? Who is there, who has there ever been, who became a true penitent, and a true Christian, who ever regretted it? Not an individual has ever been known who regretted his having become a Christian. Not one who regretted that he had become one too soon in life, or that he had served the Lord Jesus too faithfully or too long.
He is right. There is no regret about repenting and abiding in Christ. If there is, then there is no repentance.
I am not very happy today. I had wanted to get an external hard drive. I need to back up the stuff in my PC. At the store, I realised I did not know how much data I have and SH keep saying that he will be impressed if I even have 4 gigs of them. So he felt that that I should be better off with a small and convenient thumb drive rather than a larger, bulkier and less dependable external hard drive.
So I got the 4G USB Flash Drive. After zipping up the folders, I am almost filling up the 4 gigs of space and I have several more folders to go.
I am not going to get that external hard drive yet. I should be able to survive with the 4 gigs of space for now, as my more important stuff are already backed up. The 80G external hard drive can wait, and it will even be cheaper later.
In the midst of meeting deadlines and attending meetings after meetings, we were required to attend a fire briefing, being in Tower 2 of the Petronas Twin Towers.
It is a break from routine though it did make me realise that I am sitting in some kind of a ticking time bomb; I hope it won’t go off.
Some interesting stuff includes the fact that:
1. each of the towers has 14 concrete columns making it hardy and sturdier for any impending you-know-what attacks; 2. the passenger lifts has side doors that can be opened using an alan key for a car-to-car rescue in the case of a lift breakdown which was cool (I actually carry an alan key with me! Don’t ask me why. I just happen to have one); 3. I lost count of how many elevator columns there are in the tower, I thought there were 9 but I think there should be at least 20; 4. they had to rethink the escape plans after lessons learnt from the various worldwide high tower emergencies experience over the years; 5. they have a 3+2 (3-floor evacuation and 2-sandwich floor alert) fire escape plan compared to the usual 1+2; 6. the maximum number of flight of stairs anyone in the 88 floor building has to take in a case of a building evacuation is 42 floors.
We were also brought to the sky bridge for a visit and silly me for forgetting to bring the camera, had to settle for the lesser phone camera.
Irenaeus (c. 120-202) was born in or near Smyrna in Asia Minor. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who himself was the disciple of John. He is the most notable of the 2nd century apologist, defending Christianity and particularly the four main Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He became bishop of the Christians in and around Lyons. He spent a lot of time and energy fighting the growing influence of Gnosticism.
A little about Gnosticism: Olson equated the 2nd century heresy to the twentieth century New Age Movement. Gnosticism in fact did not completely disintegrated over the centuries but was muted by official surpression by Christian emperors and state churches. It reared its head again with modern pluralism, tolerance of dissenting views, and the separation of church and state. It is usually presented by "self-styled Christians as a purer form of Christianity for genuinely spiritual people who cannot abide the smothering dogma and institutionalism of officially orthodox churches." (p.29)
Irenaeus's work include his 5-volume Against Heresies, the first sustained critical examination and refutation of Gnosticism by an influential Christian leader.
I think that our impression of Against Heresies not being an easy read would be quite right but what impressed me was his wit. Here's what he has to say about the Gnostic teaching of Valentinus, the best known and for a time the most successful Early Christian Gnostic theologian, regarding the origin of the world (p. 72):
He maintained that there is a certain Dyad (two-fold being, who is inexpressible by any name, of whom one part should be called Arrhetus (unspeakable), and the other Sige (silence). But of this Dyad a second was produced, one part of whom he names Pater, and the other Aletheia. From this Tetrad, again, arose Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia. These constitute the primary Ogdoad ... There is another, who is renowned teacher among them, and who, struggling to reach something more sublime, as follows: There is [he says] a certain Proarche who existed before all things, surpassing all thought, speech and nomenclature, whom I call Monotes, being one, produced, yet not as to bring forth ... the beginning of all things, an intelligent, unbegotten, and invisible being, which beginning language terms "Monad." With this Monad there co-exists a power of the same essence, which again I term Hen (One). These powers then – Monotes, and Henotes, and Monas, and Hen – produced the remaining company of Aeon.
Olson continues, "Irenaeus stopped his laborious exposition of Gnostic metaphysics at this point and responded passionately with a parody of this so-called Christian view of creation based on allegedly higher knowledge and wisdom":
Iu, Iu! Pheu, Pheu! – for well may we utter these tragic exclamations at such a pitch of audacity in the coining of names as he has displayed without a blush, in devising a nomenclature for his own system of falsehood. For when he declares: There is a certain Proarche before all things, surpassing all thought, whom I call Monotes; and again with this Monotes there co-exists a power which I also call Henotes, – it is most manifest that he confesses the things which have been said to be his own invention, and that he himself has given names to this scheme of things, which had never been previously suggested by any other. It is manifest also, that he himself is the one who has had sufficient audacity to coin these names; so that, unless he had appeared in the world, the truth would still have been destitute of a name. But, in that case, nothing hinders any other, in dealing with the same subject, to affix names after such a fashion as the following: There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd; and along with this Gourd there exist a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Utter-Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be part of themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus ... If any one may assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?
He utterly cracked my up! Awesome wit! Who said the old folks, our theological ancestors, our faith father are boring?
There were 2 groups of theologians who emerged after the demise of the last of the apostles in the second century, and they brought about many changes in theChristian thinking about God and salvation. These 2 groups are the apostolic fathers and the apologists.
The apostolic fathers "sought to keep some semblance of order and unity in the church and began the fight against heresies such as Gnosticism, they also tended to present the Christian gospel as a message about morality." The influencing apostolic fathers were Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp, including 2 extant anonymous works, The Didache and The Epistle of Barnabas.
The apologists "turned their faces towards the hostile world outside the church and attempted to explain the Christian worldview and lifestyle to sophisticated, powerful leaders of the Roman Empire in an intelligible and appealing way. In the process they prevented Chrisitianity from becoming just one more secretive mystery religion of the empire, carved out a niche for Christian thought quite distinct from Jewish theology and worship, and related Christian belief to the wider world of Greek philosophy." They include Justin Martyr, Athenagoras of Athens and Theophilus of Antioch.
We have much to thank for them. In the most crucial turn of the century, when there were no more apostles, they were there to explain the way to the believers when the way was new and when it was under attack by heresies; they were there to defend the faith to the outside world, responding intellectually and philosophically to educated and articulate Roman orators. The Christian faith and belief is serious business and not to be relegated to myths and superstitions. Just imagine how it would be like had they not been around. God definitely has a plan when he chose to have it all happen in that milieu of a time and place.
I just purchased a copy of Olson's The Story of Christian Theology, Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform and hope to read it from cover to cover. Olson is a pretty good writer - I feel like I am reading a story, and in actual fact, I am.
"While a history is perceived to be as dry as dust by many modern readers, a story is always eagerly welcomed and greeted with interest. And yet history is made up of stories ... (it) is the retelling of stories - narratives that recount (hopefully, as accurately as possible) the events, movements, ideas and lives of people who have shaped cultures, religions and nations." (Olson, p. 13)
And it's what Olson has done. He says that, "the Christian story ... include more than just the biblical narratives ... too many Christians are almost completely ignorant of the continuing secondary narrative of God's work with his people - the body of Christ - after the biblical narrative ends ... What has God been doing for two thousand years to lead his people into understanding of the truth?" (Olson, p.11)
Coming up tomorrow: the Opening Act, what happened to the believers of the second century at the demise of the last of the apostles?
Micah 6:1-8 1 Hear what the LORD says: Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel. 3 "O my people, what have I done to you? How have I wearied you? Answer me! 4 For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD." 6 "With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6 gives us the prophet's exhortation after the precious promises in the 2 chapters before.
In that day, declares the LORD, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away and those whom I have afflicted; and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore. ~ Micah 4:6-7
Micah now talks about the Messiah's kingdom, to set the sins of Israel before them. The prophet presents a legal case against Israel with the mountains, hills and foundations of the earth as witnesses.
God enters an action against his people for their ingratitude, and the bad returns they had made him for his favours. He has ransomed them, sent them prophets and gave them security but they remained disobedient. Sound familiar? How do you think we would fare?
He shows the wrong course they could have taken. Burnt offerings? Year-old calves? Thousands of rams? Ten thousands of rivers of oil? My firstborn? Fruit of my body? Promises? Thousands apologies? More money?
But the prophet instead presents what they should be doing, what we should be doing:
1) Do justice 2) Love kindness 3) Walk humbly with God
To do justice is to live justly in the community of life. It is how we should live with one another. Set right the wrong and protect the helpless.
To love kindness is to exist harmoniously in partnership with others in the community. It is to love others sacrificially and to be faithful to God.
To walk humbly with God is to walk carefully with him, intimately and in close communication. It is to walk attentively, listening and hearing him. It is to yield to his will.
I have been so busy lately I am not being able to keep up with my daily posts, which also means that I am losing out on my daily devotion - I haven't had time to do them. This is not good. The current one week school break is coming to an end. So hopefully, things will go back to the same routine come next week.
I have been working hard lately on a project at work and I decided to give myself a treat, something I haven't done for a long time - a hairwash, a nice long pampering hair wash. Ahhh ... such bliss ...
I had said to myself many times over, I do not really get Job. I understand the part where God allowed Satan to test him but Job stood by his conviction to God, and he gained favour in God’s sight. I just don’t get the elongated debate between Job and his four friends. I don’t quite understand why it’s in the bible, why we need to know what they said when it is clear that Job is righteous before God. I also did not get it because what the 4 friends said were mainly things that are real and true in their own right, but not true on Job’s count, so how do I study them? As truth or non-truth?
Not until I experience a very, very, very, very minute and small portion of what Job experience that I am beginning to understand the purpose of Job, why it is there for us to study and meditate. Several people had said to me that bad things happened to me because I have disobeyed God. I do not mean that I am totally pure and righteous but I am innocent of the vice that they accused me of. I felt slightly annoyed. Only slightly because they are family and they mean well (maybe that is why Job let them go on and on for 42 chapters!). But I also suddenly feel worried, what if they are right. I turned to the Word and lo and behold, I suddenly get Job. If you are righteous before God following Him in His word and His will, it doesn’t matter what other people say. They may be saying things that sound real and true but not right.
After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: "My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. ~ Job 42:7
It was such a comfort. Sufferings happen whether we deserve it or not – it is a part of life and it is a way that will bring us maturity and character, and with that hope.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Rom 5:3-5
James 4:13-17 13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a -town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
The preacher started with this statement this morning: God's will is about our lives. I can't say I can agree with it without first qualifying it: God's will is first and foremost about Him and His kingdom, and what we do in respond to Him and His kingdom.
There are 3 options in James 4:
1. Ignore the will of God We are not to act as if things are certain in life because they are not (v.13, 14, 16). Foolishness is never taking into consideration the complexities of life, and living as if all things are good to get. It won't do to ignore the will of God.
2. Disobey the the will of God Be it pride or ignorance, we are not to disobey the will of God. His will is not an option but an obligation.
3. Obey the will of God This should be the attitude of the heart. It leads us into a living relationship with God. Even though life will not be easier, we will be happier and holier.
We attended our cousin's wedding today. They are such a sweet couple.
It reminded SH and I that we have indeed been through 12 years together. We thank God for his love and his grace, placing and keeping us together. There are ups and there are downs but God made us one. In our imperfectness, we are perfect for each other
I like these household codes in Colossians 3:18-24. Abide by it and for years and years to come, we will be delighted with each other and at peace with one another.
Firstly, wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
Secondly, husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Thirdly, children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Fourthly, fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Fifthly, slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
This is my 400th post. I am so amazed that I am still actively posting this daily. My usual journal keeping won't last even a week. The reason I am still at it is because this is all happening within a community and I appreciate the encouragement and motivation we give each other in our walk with God through our sharing of daily life and happenings. We are indeed one body in Christ.
There are several of us who has made the decision to stop blogging. Nevertheless, friendship has already been made and I hope it will not just end like that. It will definitely develop in a slower pae but I pray and hope it will still grow.
Paul says in Colossians 3:16-17, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
First and foremost, the word of God is our foundation, it is our basis, He is our raison d'etre. We must let Him first and foremost dwell in us richly. Following that, we must use His word to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. We sing together, we give thanks together. We do all we do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
I am asking because recently I am being asked these questions: is the sinner's prayer really necessary? Does it guarantee salvation? What happens if someone in his deathbed say the sinner's prayer?
I believe firmly in the saving grace of Christ, that whosoever believes in Him will live. But it will take more than just a few words to secure our lives in Him. It is faith, it is grace and it is abiding in Him and He is us.
I read this daily devotion by Charles Spurgeon and thought it so beautiful, so timely.
"She called his name Benoni (son of sorrow), but his father called him Benjamin (son of my right hand)." ~ Gen 35:18
To every matter there is a bright as well as a dark side. Rachel was overwhelmed with the sorrow of her own travail and death; Jacob, though weeping the mother’s loss, could see the mercy of the child’s birth. It is well for us if, while the flesh mourns over trials, our faith triumphs in divine faithfulness. Samson’s lion yielded honey, and so will our adversities, if rightly considered. The stormy sea feeds multitudes with its fishes; the wild wood blooms with beauteous florets; the stormy wind sweeps away the pestilence, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distil bright drops, and black earth grows gay flowers. A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil. Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial; if there were only one slough in the world, they would soon be up to their necks in it, and if there were only one lion in the desert they would hear it roar. About us all there is a tinge of this wretched folly, and we are apt, at times, like Jacob, to cry, "All these things are against me." Faith’s way of walking is to cast all care upon the Lord, and then to anticipate good results from the worst calamities. Like Gideon’s men, she does not fret over the broken pitcher, but rejoices that the lamp blazes forth the more. Out of the rough oyster-shell of difficulty she extracts the rare pearl of honour, and from the deep ocean-caves of distress she uplifts the priceless coral of experience. When her flood of prosperity ebbs, she finds treasures hid in the sands; and when her sun of delight goes down, she turns her telescope of hope to the starry promises of heaven. When death itself appears, faith points to the light of resurrection beyond the grave, thus making our dying Benoni to be our living Benjamin.
I hate housework. And if I could avoid it, I would. But then I like it clean and tidy. So I'd just push myself to do it. This time though I decided to get some help. I am glad I did. Trivial but important nonetheless.
I have been staying up late trying to put in more work into the Holy Spirit assignment. So far so good, though every time I look at it, I make major changes - but I suppose that is good, it shows that I am thinking and working.
The paper's structure looks like this, at least for now:
1.What is the role of the Holy Spirit in Acts? 1.1. The Driving Force of Salvation History 1.2. The Spirit of Prophecy 1.3. Baptism of the Holy Spirit 2.The Spirit in Acts and the Rest of Scripture 2.1 The Old Testament 2.2 John 2.3 Paul 3.What does it mean to us today? 3.1. Pneumatology, Ecclesiology and Eschatology 3.2. The Powerful Presence of the Holy Spirit
My post yesterday is very much a rhetorical question more than anything after a very interesting chat with a friend about church leadership. Coincidently, the sermon in church today has to do with exactly the same topic: church leadership in the theme of serving together.
Luke 22:17-27 (ESV) 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!" 23 And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. 24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
The gist of the sermon is pretty straightforward: it basically drives home the fact that how the world practice power or authority and how Christ does it are poles apart. While one greatness is determined by how many people are servant to him, the other is determined by how many are served. Different focus, different standards.
What intrigued me though was this passage in John.
John 13:3-17 (ESV) 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" 7 Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." 8 Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." 9 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" 10 Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you." 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "Not all of you are clean." 12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
I find this passage so prominent and significant in carrying the message of servanthood that I am very perplexed why it was not picked up by the other Gospels. And I am sure there is an answer. But I do not have one. Do you?
Matthew 20:20-28 20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." 22 Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." 23 He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
So, what is church leadership? I might not be taking it in context, but Jesus' words "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" should ring loud to whoever who desires to sit in the earthly high places.
We're finally home! But it has not been easy. The discharging process took forever and my car battery died in the hospital parking lot. After all the delays, we are back home at 6 pm and that is a 6-hour delay from the expected discharge time at 12 noon. I should have expected it but no matter, we are home.
I am so, so tempted to take a sabbatical from blogging but that would mean a sabbatical from my daily devotion. I have not been keeping it for awhile already with all the changes in my daily routine and I must get back to it. Therefore, a sabbatical would not a good idea. I will persevere.
I Want To Be Where You Are by Don Moen I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence; I don't want to worship from afar; draw me near to where You are. I just want to be where You are, in Your dwelling place forever; Take me to the place where You are, I just want to be with You.
I want to be where You are, dwelling in Your presence, Feasting at Your table, surrounded by Your glory; In Your presence that's where I always want to be. I just want to be, I just want to be with You.
O my God, You are my strength and my song, And when I'm in Your presence Though I'm weak You're always strong.
I just want to be where You are, dwelling daily in Your presence; I don't want to worship from afar; draw me near to where You are. I just want to be where You are, in Your dwelling place forever; Take me to the place where You are, I just want to be with You.