Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tracking your Time with God

I started to pick up the Bible more frequently this year after a lapse of few months. It was back to familiar territory again. Praying. Reading. Thinking. Jotting down points. And praying. Yes, much needed to pick up the pieces and run again.

I happen to see my QT records for 1995 & 1996 in the back pages of my old Bible. What I saw both made me feel ashamed and challenged again. Almost 15 years ago, I was meeting with God like about 95% of the time. Those were good, close years of walking with the Lord.

The challenge now, with increased age and commitments, is to be faithful and prod on. No need to be dazzling and impressive, but simple faithfulness and growing in Christlike-ness.

Help me Lord.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

God is moved by our prayers

Today I opened up the Bible after a long while and I was glad that I did. My passage was in 2 Samuel 24, a passage that is about God's anger at David for numbering the people of the land.

At first I was intrigued by why did God punish Israel when, (1) He incited David to number the people, and (2) it was David who sinned and yet the innocent people of Israel died in the pestilence. I still don't have the answers to my 2 questions, but verse 1 of the passage, "the anger of the Lord burned against Israel" gave
some clues that it was for the sins of Israel, and He incited David to do the first steps.

Though I do not know the exact nature of the sins, I do know from the passage that God is merciful. He will relent from punishments when we pray. Three things stood out for me about God here.(1) He does punish - He is a God of justice. (2) When punishing He will relent from it - He is merciful. (3) God can be "moved by prayer" v25. It is important to pray as God does move and be moved when we pray.

This passage reminds me afresh that I should pray. It can and does work.

One question that I asked myself, 'Since prayers do work, what is ONE thing you want to ask for in 2012?'

I prayed for a turn around in attitudes for myself, my spouse and my children. A good turn around from the many inadequate attitudes that stumbled us in 2011, so that we can move anew in this coming new year.

Pray. It works!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fearing God

While John the Baptist came unannounced, worked away from the populace, and did not conformed to society norms, his results were outstanding. "The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him". Unconventional approaches. Unbelievable results.

My reflections today was on Mark 1 verses 1-4, on the introduction of John the Baptist.

2 main thoughts struck me. One was on the manner of John the Baptist's ministry. The other, theocentrically, was on the certainty of God's promises.

John was a messenger, not the One - the Son of God. He was the way preparer, the caller for the Voice, the path maker. He knows that his role is secondary and he will always play 2nd fiddle to the Messiah. He was also unconventional and non-conformist in his fashion, diet, and working style. All in, he is not your typical evangelist. But his results were stunning. Crowds came from all over and were baptised. Indeed, he was successfully preparing the way for the Messiah.

God's Word when uttered, always come true. "as it is written" in verse 1 and "and so John the Baptist appeared" bears to this truth of God's Word. What God promised will be done, minus the noisy fanfare and over zealous marketing. And when it is done, the results are visible and stunning.

While we know that His Word will come true, do we readily believe in it? This is where I find myself lacking and John the Baptist a quiet giant. John the Baptist went forth in obedience to His Word and did His bidding. I often shrink back and waited.

Teach me to fear your Word again. Let me not be one who knows about your word but take it lightly. Let me be one who knows your Word, fear it and let it order my life accordingly. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"though it is smaller... yet.. it grows"

Can small insignificant things/people ever amount to much? They can.

Mark 4:30-34, "though it is smaller.. yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all ... so that birds of the air can nest under its shade." Though this verse refers to the Kingdom of God, I felt that this word spoke to me this morning. God can turn things around. Here, from smallest to the largest. In Eze 17:24, the reference passage, from a tender one, to a stately cedar. He will do it to make the dry tree flourish for His name sake.

God gave me hope in this passage. For me, I'm thankful that I'll grow even though I'm a small seed. I don't need to be the largest and never sought to be one. Here God's word encourages, in that there will be growth.

The growth here is for a specific purpose, not for myself. Its that the 'birds can nest under its shade". Rest is a more common word for me, but enable others to nest is new. I'm reminded here to be strong and cooperate with others to en-nest others.

Fresh word this day to "grow up and form larger branches" so that others can nest under it. Its a scary word if its all up to me. But its a comforting word, when He is the source of power and enabling.

Help me to respond alright Lord.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jesus and Prayer

Once a while, I review my old devotional journals. Today, I came across one that struck me. It was dated 28 Apr 2009 on a familiar passage of Jesus in Mark 1:35,  "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed"

It is one of those passages that embarrassed us about our own state of prayer versus Jesus'. He was working very hard the day before, and yet He got up early in the morning to pray. Prayer is definitely very important to Jesus, otherwise He would not do so. For me, tiredness would usually mean a rest from prayer so that I can rest - but not so for Jesus.

Another thought that stood out for me is that even Jesus need to pray. We would have thought that Jesus need not pray, being the Son of God with all the powers of heaven at His disposal. Yet He did, and perhaps, wanted to pray. Here I see prayer as not so much of coming to God with a list of request, but to come to God in fellowship and devotion. Prayer is that, where we seek the face of God and not just the hand of God to do things for us.

Jesus also made time for prayer in the midst of His busy schedule. When was the last time that I schedule time for prayer? Yes, perhaps in my younger days. I would need to do so again now.

I was reminded that the early Church Fathers had a 7 day prayer focus to help them in prayers.
Sunday - Pray against Pride; may God bless us with Humility
Monday - Pray against Envy; may God bless us with Kindness
Tuesday - Pray against Anger; may God bless us with Patience
Wednesday - Pray against Apathy; may God bless us with Diligence
Thursday - Pray against Greed; may God bless us with Generosity
Friday - Pray against Gluttony; may God bless us with Abstinence
Saturday - Pray against Lust;may God bless us with Chastity
Note: the "may God bless us with..." is from my church pastor and not from the early Church Fathers.

May we do something today about our prayer life again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

No Insights for the hardened heart

Read and reflected on Mark. 6: 47-52 today and the verse that stood out for me was, "They had not gained any insight ... but their heart was hardened" (v.52).

It is a sad commentary by Mark about the disciples' learning. Just hours ago, they were shown a great miracle of God's provision, and yet after that they fell to the depths of terror in the storm. They had gained no insight to the workings of God and missed out on the lesson to be learnt from the miracle.

Lest we be quick to judge them, it may be good to ponder why did they not learnt anything? Mark told us that their hearts were hardened and it blinded them to learning about God. Why and how was it harden? How long has it been harden? Can it be soften? Beware of the dangerous of a hardened heart.

In reflection, is my heart hardened or soft? Would i have replied the same as the disciples in verse 37? Am I still hardened by my past baggages and hurts? Can I still gain insights with this hardened heart?

With us, we cannot gain insight, but with God, He makes all the difference. The good news for us, is that He gets into the boat with us, see verse 51, and calms us.  He heard our cries in the storm and enters our boat to calm our fears. He can and will help us to know Him again in a fresh way.

Lord, please come into my life and totally transform me. Replace this hardened heart which prevents me from knowing you. Give me fresh insights to learn and to row pass the storms of life.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I feel compassion for the people

Mark 8: 2-3. “I feel compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

I am comforted to read of the God that we have - one who feels compassion for us. One who notices our plight and understands our needs and frailties. He knows how long we have been with Him. He knows that those who are with Him needs food - what a refreshing change from some task-oriented leaders that we serve.

While it is easy for me to blame my superiors, how do i behave as a leader, or husband or father? Am i also compassionate and look into their needs?  Do i know who are my sheep - my co-workers, my ministry members (those that have come a long way to learn and work with me)? Do i know how long they have been with me, and, how hard it is for them to remain with me? Do i know if their needs are met?  Do i know that they may faint if their needs are no met? Do i care if they faint?

Can I not look on those around me with eyes of compassion and feel compassion for them? Am i more complacent rather than compassion for people? After a while of working with people, compassion can be lost easily, and we may tend to treat people as just "these people" like what the disciples said in verse 4.

Today I am reminded to have true compassion for those around me and not to be quick to judge my leaders for not showing compassion to me.