Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sacrificial Generosity

A story was told of a missionary in Africa who received a knock on the door of his hut one afternoon. Answering, the missionary found a native boy holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, "Reverend, you taught us what tithing is, so here. I've brought you my tithe." As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the boy. "If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?" At this, the boy beamed and said, "Oh, they're still back in the river. I'm going back to catch them now.

Couple of weeks ago I was reading Acts Chapter 2 and my attention was drawn to verse 45 that speaks about the generosity of the early church.  The whole thought beginning with verse 44 reads, "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need" (2:44-45).

From chapters 4 and 5 of Acts we know that the generosity of the early Christians wasn't demanded by church leaders, nor was it required of all the people. Rather, it was a free response to the movement of the Holy Spirit in people's hearts.

Generosity, at its core, means giving to others to meet their needs or to help them achieve their goals. Generosity is never about the recipient, but rather it is all about the giver. Generosity is about the heart attitude of the giver when they give. People often associate generosity with giving money. However, generosity is not just about money, but is also about giving out of what we have to others - our time, our talents, our treasure and our testimony.

True generosity is giving away something we want and need to someone who doesn't have the ability to obtain it any other way. It is responding to the obvious need of another without calculating how much we stand to gain or lose. Life's richest rewards can only be found when we follow the Master's example and give without measure. "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." (Luke 6:38)

The Psalmist adds his own endorsement to generosity, “Good will come to him who is generous     and lends freely.” (Psalm 112:5) Proverbs is wisdom literature. It states universal truths which any wise person can experience for themselves. It is Proverbs that tells us, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25). It goes on to add, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9).

Often we think of generosity as an unfortunate obligation that leads to personal loss. But here, in the verses above, Proverbs speaks of giving as an opportunity for gain. Generosity is profitable. This fact may collide with worldly wisdom and seem paradoxical to those of us who believe that a tight fist rather than an open hand will lead to financial security. 

Can you imagine being part of a generous community like what is mentioned in Acts 2:45? It would be a foretaste of heaven. The result of sacrificial generosity is recorded two verses later, “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). It was the grace of God that saved them but it was the generosity of God’s people that opened     the door for the gospel.

May the Holy Spirit continue to reminds us to be generous

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bring Forth Treasure!

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.

When the apostle Paul compared our lives to clay pots, he focused not on the earthen vessels, but rather the contents of those vessels. Jars of clay deteriorate over time, become chipped, cracked, and eventually broken. However, the real value of those ancient pots was not in the clay containers themselves, but in what they contained.

We human beings tend to focus on the frailties and imperfections of our decaying "vessels", looking, characteristically, on the outward form rather than the substance within. But the inward reality is what matters to God, and ultimately, to us as well, since that reality is His living Presence within us; a treasure of wisdom, power and love with inestimable value.

The Lord's evaluation of us is not by outward appearance, which is corruptible and deteriorates with time. His indwelling Spirit, His Living Word, and the dynamic intimate relationship into which He invites us— are where the real treasure lies!



Article taken from Worthy Devotion - http://www.worthydevotions.com/

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Reflection on 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 - Spiritual Parenting

This brief passage in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 is one of the most important statements in all of Scripture about spiritual parenting. Paul gave a compelling example for us. Paul describes his ministry among the Thessalonians by employing both parental figures side by side to describe his style of leadership. He considered the congregation his spiritual children and cared for them accordingly.  When a person gets saved, that is wonderful, but then he desperately needs the tender loving care of someone who will assume the role of a spiritual parent for him or her. Helping people to grow in the Lord, as with growing children, takes time and requires patience. Sometimes it causes pain and priorities need to be set in our relationships. We don’t raise children overnight, we can’t raise them without growing pains for both parent and child alike, and we can’t impact them for Christ without spending quality time to see them built up in Christ. The Spiritual Parent's heart based on Paul’s double metaphor for an effective leadership — a loving mother who cares for her children and a gentle father who encourages, comforts, and urges his family flock to live lives worthy is important for a church leadeship today. The two sides of spiritual parenting that Paul describe in perfect balance: the tenderness of compassionate, motherly care alongside the fortitude and strength of fatherly love.

Be Blessed.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Merdeka 2012

While driving today, I heard an old song on the radio titled “Saya Anak Malaysia”. Tomorrow is our Independence Day (Merdeka Day).

Though as a nation we attained political freedom 55 years ago from our colonial master, there are many other freedoms that we have yet to win: freedom from poverty, deprivation, and the bane of corruption at various levels. What price political freedom if it doesn't include freedom from inequality, injustice and exploitation?

May we look forward for a better Malaysia as we celebrate this 55th Merdeka. In the pursuit to be a developed nation by 2020, let us not forget our principles of nationhood (Rukun Negara). Let us be reminded that this principles starts with the first fundamental principle that is "Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan" (Belief in God). It is important to establish this first principle right because the Bible says in Proverbs 9:10 (NLT) "Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment".

This Merdeka, I am glad to say - "Saya Anak Malaysia. Saya Anak Malaysia yang percaya kepada Tuhan"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

There is a first time for everything!!


Yesterday we went to a Stage Comedy show at Penang Performing Arts Center. First time ever going for such show like this. The show titled "Indian Lawyers! Saints or Serpents?" is a tongue-twisting Malaysian comedy about the seemingly magical powers of Indian lawyers.

Serious Comedy studios have a history of creating sharp, witty insights into the idiosyncrasies of Malaysian culture and they hit the nail on the head once again with Indian Lawyers! Saints or Serpents. It was 90 minutes full of entertainment and good acting bythe small cast of four comprises of Malay, Chinese and Indian... the true Malaysian "Muhibbah" spirit.!!!

The play spins an amusing tale of a Chinese man who will only settle for an Indian lawyer after he is accused of a terrible crime, witnessed by a young Malay man. The story follows the build up to the trial and the defendant’s desperation to get an Indian lawyer to defend him. All Indians are supposed to have the power to “speak Indian” and make you doubt yourself despite being one hundred percent certain before any question, so the obvious career for most should be a lawyer! The show is definitely worth viewing.




Monday, July 23, 2012

Revisiting Ecclesia - The Called Out Ones

The challenge of the 21st century church is that the church moved from being a first century movement, to a powerful organization in the middle ages, to a consumer mindset in this present world. The church moved from being concerned with the lost to being concerned with the insiders of the church.

The New Testament Greek word for the church is "Ecclesia", meaning "an assembly of called-out ones". Ecclesia has two purposes with regards to Ministry. One is Inward Ministry and the other Outward Ministry. The Inward Ministry refers to the ministry that goes on within the church. The Outward Ministry refers to the ministry that reaching out – based on the Great Commission and the great love of God for mankind. My focus of sharing today is on the External Ministry of the Church.

The church is given the mandate called the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20.

Matthew 28:18-20 "Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The church is given the mandate to propagate the Good News. We are familiar with the mandate but unfortunately the mandate has slowly lost it meaning among the 21st century Christian. We are living in our comfort zone that leads us to forget our ultimate purpose in this world. Time and time again, we are pounded with messages of the Great Commission. But what is our response?

Joseph Stowell identified the problem of the modern church well when he said, “We have become quite happy to call ourselves Christians with little or no thought of following”

The church knows the mandate but decides to stay in their comfort zone. Instead of being fishers of men, the 21st century church has become keepers of the aquarium.

I want to share 3 perspectives with all of us how we as a church can reflect back our calling in answering the great commission that Christ has given us.


1. Ecclesia - The Purpose of the Call: Evangelism

Evangelism is one of the elements that is embedded in the Great Commission. You don't evangelize to Christians, but to non-Christians. We are called to evangelism. In the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit came down in power in the Upper Room, the church went out to become witnesses.

Someone once said the church is meant to be the hospital for sinners and not museum for the saints.

We are a healing community; the church is a hospital for sinners, for the social outcast, for the brokenhearted. We are a community gathered that engages in a ministry of healing that reflects Jesus’ ministry. Hospital ultimate aim is to help the patient. As the church of Christ, our purpose is to bring the Good News, for people to come and experience the life of Christ.

One of my favorite shows in the late 1990’s was the medical drama “ER.” Each week the show usually began with a patient arriving at the hospital in an ambulance, and the doctors and nurses would rush them to a trauma room and with such passion and drama, they began working frantically to save yet another life.

The church is in the business of bringing the grace of God to the world filled with Sinners

Matthew 9:10-13: "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’? On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The “Church is a hospital for sinners”, for it is here that we encounter Jesus’ healing power, both for physical and spiritual healing.


2. Ecclesia - The Mission of the Call: Operation Save A Life

I recall two weeks ago Bro. Koay shared on his favorite show – Mission Impossible. In MI, every operation has a code name and it will self-destruct after few minutes.

The church is called to a mission and the code name for that operation is Operation Save a Life.

Luke 19:1-10: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore- fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

I want to emphasize on this, "for the son of man came to seek and save the lost".

We are drawn into this mission because God is on a search and rescue mission. Luke 19, Verse 10 says this: "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost."

There are so many of us who are busy with the world that we forget the mandate for Christ. We are called to the Great Commission to save and rescue the lost.

In the movie The Guardian, the coast guards respond whenever there's a distress call - rescue and help will be sent on their way no matter the sea condition.

In a search and rescue mission, we are not held up by risks but to press on because of lives.

If you watch the movie Titanic, there was a lady named Molly Brown. She was crying out to the crew to help and save those who are still in the water, but she was ignored. Perhaps the greatest tragedy surrounding the Titanic is that many of those people in the water didn’t have to die. Many of the lifeboats were only half full. Hundreds of people were in the cold water with life preservers. Most of them did not die from drowning; they froze to death.

God has given us the capacity to serve Him to the fullest and do our very best for His kingdom's sake.

We need to put our effort together to save a life.

In a search and rescue, you don't know who you save. I am reminded of the person who took me to church and led me to Christ. Couple of years ago, I managed to make contact with him. I thanked Uncle Khoo for all that he has done especially the path to Jesus.

Curtis Hudson says that most churches are like ailing lungs, with only few cells doing the breathing.

There is no retirement when serving God. The only retirement in our mission is when God calls us home. Till then, let us serve Him faithfully.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost and today that mandate is extended to us to bring His message of salvation to others.


3. Ecclesia - The Warfare of the Call: Know Our Enemy

In a Search & Rescue Mission, we ought to know that we are in a spiritual warfare. It is not easy.

Ephesians 6:12: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

It is too bad that sometimes the church fail to realize who is the real enemy. We need to know who is our real enemy in our battle. And we, as followers of Christ, are called to fight a good fight! But our fight is not against human flesh and blood. It is against the powers and principalities and rulers of the air.

In operation Desert Storm, the Americans went in to rescue Kuwait from Iraq. The highest casualties came from friendly fire. It is sad to hear that sometimes - "The church is the only army that shoots it’s own wounded."

The church in the 21st century failed to realize the real enemy. We need to know who we are fighting against; we need to know friends from foes.

Psalms 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is, when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore”.

Unity is an important nature of a church. A God led church is always a united church. Unity is an important nature of the church.
The tragedy of disputes in the church is that it destroys the unity of the church and what Christ represents. We need to know our real enemy and who we are fighting against.

Summary

The church is given the mandate which is the Great Commission, and that mandate translates to first our purpose, for evangelism. In fulfilling the mandate, we need to know the battle that we are facing.

My challenge to you this morning is “Are we geared up for the Great Commission?”

I would like to end with what Bro. Koay shared two weeks ago: The church has one mission; to bring a person who doesn't know Christ to know Him. And the church's mission is to complete that mission.

Be Blessed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Faithbook


Excellent artwork from CuiLin

Monday, July 16, 2012

Turn the other cheek!!!

In Matthew 5:39 Jesus says “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”.

To the world, the act of "turning the other cheek" seems to be an act of weakness. But in Christ, to turn the other cheek is neither humiliating nor retaliation. It is a response of strength that says, “I will not seek revenge because I am stronger than that”. It also says, I will not respond in shame because I have dignity in Christ. My dignity is not found in if I can hit back and hurt my oppressor. My dignity is found in Christ and I will respond in just the way He would respond. Our dignity comes because we are made in the image of God.

Our significance comes because we are called by Jesus to be world changers. Our power and strength comes because we are filled with the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to receive the insults of others and respond with as Christ responded to those who hurled insults at Him. Turning the other cheek is not impossible, but it is difficult. But when we do respond with the gentle dignity of Jesus, then we bring glory to Him.

Be Blessed.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Words of Wisdom

Rivers don't drink the water they carry;
Trees don't eat the fruit they bear;
Clouds don't bathe in the rain they produce.

 We are by nature meant to GIVE even if we get nothing from it.
 Measuring life by what others do may disappoint us, but measuring life by what we do will make life meaningful!

 THANK GOD ALMIGHTY for the joy and success we enjoy regardless of its pains and disappointments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wolf Story

Something that I read recently on how the Eskimos kill wolves.Up in the arctic circle there is tribe of Eskimo's who have learned to set very simple yet effective trap for wolves.

First he sharpen the blade of his knife razor sharp.Then the Eskimo coats the blade of his knife with animal blood and freeze it. Repeat this process until the blade is completely covered with frozen blood. Next, he plants his knife in the snow, the blade facing up and goes about his business.

When a wolf finds his way to the luring aroma of fresh blood, he starts licking.... Then more ...and more vigorously, lapping it until the sharp blade of the knife is exposed. However, by this point, so intense is his craving for the scrumptious blood, that the wolf does not notice the sharp sting of the blade on his own tongue, nor does he even realize that his ravenous craving is now being satisfied by his very own blood!

Soon the wolf notices something is wrong, he is getting weaker not stronger. Since he knows blood as food he increases his efforts to feed on the ever increasing flow of blood. His last thoughts are of how good the now warm blood tastes. His carnivorous appetite just craves more--until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!" By light of dawn, the Eskimo will find the wolf laying dead in the snow.

A good illustration on how sin entices and seduces us - leading mankind into the temptations and addictions of this world. He yields to them and starts experiencing pleasure beyond his imagination till the very temptations numbs his sensibilities and his abilities to comprehend right and wrong and ultimately gets destroyed by them. It is a fearful thing that people can be "consumed by their own lusts." May God's grace keeps us from the wolf's fate.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Run the Race – Ignore the Hecklers!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

During the 1990's in an NCAA Division II national championship cross-country race in California, a bizarre twist of events took place. Mike Delcavo and 127 of the best runners in the country were battling for glory over the 10,000 meter course. About three miles into the race, Delvaco was somewhere in the middle of the pack, when he realized that the runners had made a wrong turn. So he yelled out, "You're going the wrong way," but they didn't listen. Only 4 others followed Mike when he turned in the right direction…and suddenly, he found himself in the lead.

However that lasted only about a mile, since Mike and the runners who followed him soon reunited with the larger pack who, having gone the wrong way, actually shaved about a half a mile off the course, and were now in the lead again. The final blow came when, because so many of the runners had gone the wrong way, the officials changed the official course route to accommodate their error. So when Mike Delcavo finally crossed the finish line, he was number 103 overall.

At the end of the race, some of Delcavo's competitors "thought it was funny that he went the right way."

In our mixed up world, when everybody is wrong, then wrong becomes right. However, in the world to come there is only one Judge and He will not change the correct course regardless of how many or how few actually run it. His rewards will be based on our having stayed the true course.

It's easy to follow the crowd. But it takes courage and conviction to follow wholeheartedly after God. Sometimes it can get lonely running your race, wondering where the crowd is going, and even whether you, yourself are on the right road. But you my friend, keep running with the Lord. And when the race is over and you have finished your course, may the He say to you, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"




Article taken from Worthy Devotion - http://www.worthydevotions.com/

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Boomerang Generation - Slackers in breeding?

Recently I came across the term Boomerang Generation. It refers to Young adults who left to go to college, get married or just strut their independence - are moving back in with mom and dad thus "boomeranging" back to their place of origin.. Boomerang Generation can be a mixed blessing for parents, both emotionally and financially. The reasons are many for returning, the first being economics. Some blame this situation as the result of "helicopter hovering parents" era where parents overprotect their children and indulged every whim that leads to kids who are not developed to face the reality of life.

Many of the young adults who in this category of Boomerang Generation are postponing their transition to adulthood. Instead of taking charge of their lives, they fall back to the comfort of home and parents - back to their safety nest. They continue to be financially dependent on their parents for periods much longer than earlier generations. A recent survey by the Royal Bank of Scotland of 1,200 university graduates in Britain found that nearly 60 percent are still being supported by their parents three years after graduation.

One of the grave effect of such phenomenon is young adults who are able to return home after an unsuccessful job hunt often become more passive in their search for employment if they continue to be financially supported by their parents. A lack of motivation can delay the start to a young adult's career and cause him/her to miss months or years of job earnings and experience.

I wonder what is the situation in Malaysia? Are we are simply breeding a generation of slackers? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The gift of Discernment - An "Early Warning System" for the Church

When the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004, the Indian Ocean had no early warning system to speak of—at least nothing like the Pacific Ocean's array of tide gauges, seismometers, deep ocean sensors, high-tech buoys, and communication systems. One year after the Indian Ocean tsunami killed an estimated 300,000 people, progress has been made on setting up basic early warning systems in the region. A full-blown regional system, however, may be years away, despite predictions that another huge wave could strike at any time. Such preparation probably saved thousands of lives recently in Japan and other parts of the world. When the recent earthquake struck, systems were in place to prepare people for the imminent tsunami. In fact popular search engine like Google even update “Tsunami Warning” in their web page. With a click of the mouse one could access life-saving information. The result of this early warning system was that people took shelter and much human devastation was avoided.

A network of ocean buoys designed for tsunami warnings called the Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis, or DART was deployed. In each of the DART, a recorder on the seafloor monitors the pressure of water passing overhead; a buoy tethered on the surface can instantly transmit warnings when a tsunami arrives.

What are the “early warning” systems in the context of the New Testament era especially for the church? Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to equip His church with power and spiritual gifts (Greek -- charismata) so that His disciples could continue to carry out His ministry objectives. While there are certain gifts of a spectacular nature that are often given greater attention, the New Testament mentions at least 21 that are provided to the church. These gifts are listed in Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:3-7, and 1 Corinthians 12:1-12,28, and are generally assigned to one of three categories, as listed below:

- Ministry (office) gifts: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher.

- Motivational (practical) gifts: Service, Exhortation, Giving, Leadership, Mercy, Helps and Administration.

- Charismatic (spiritual) gifts: Wisdom, Knowledge, Discernment, Prophecy, Tongues, Interpretation, Faith, Healing and Miracles.

It should always be remembered that the purpose of all the gifts are to edify the church, and their distribution within the body is completely dependent upon the discretion of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11). The scriptures imply that it's appropriate to seek specific gifts; however, one's motive must be for the building up of the church, not for self-gratification. "...since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel" (1 Corinthians 14:12).

In the context of the “early warning” system, the gift of discernment fits into this criteria. The gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10) is a supernatural ability to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, between holiness and evil. 1 Timothy 4:1 says that in latter days, deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons will come, so the important role of the gift of discernment is to identify those spirits and doctrines. A.W. Tozer says "Among the gifts of the Spirit scarcely one is of greater practical usefulness than the gift of discernment. This gift should be highly valued and frankly sought as being almost indispensable in these critical times. This gift will enable us to distinguish the chaff from the wheat and to divide the manifestations of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit."

A discerning spirit tests the spirits with this rule of scripture:

- Observing what a person does. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus explains that false prophets are known by their fruit; by their conduct and actions.

- Observing whether or not a person exalts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as Lord and Saviour (I Corinthians 12:3).

- By listening to what a person says (1 John 4:1-3). Does their confession line up with the truth of God's Word?

Paul illustrated the use of this gift in Acts 16:16-18, as Peter had exercised it in Acts 5:3. When it was not being exercised in the Corinthian church, grave distortion of the truth occurred. God still empowers His people to unmask false prophets and carnal hypocrites. He gives them insight to expose imitations and deceptions that most Christians would take as genuine. The gift of discernment, however, can easily deteriorate into a critical, proud, and self-righteous spirit. It can be judgmental instead of corrective when it is imitated in the flesh. But rightly used it is a great protection to God’s people - an “early warning” system for the church.

Be Blessed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Life & Death

Dad passed away on 25th February 2012 at 9.17p.m after a brief illness. All of us are saddened of his passing away, but also very relieved that he no longer has to suffer. As I was reflecting on the event that took place in the last couple of days, I am reminded once again on the fragility of life. Ludwig B├╝chner puts in perspective when he said “Death is the surest calculation that can be made”.

Death - It is something that both intrigues the world, and scares the world. It is something that we are faced with every day, sometimes expectedly, and other times not. It is something that causes philosophers to sit and wonder, what really happens when someone dies. Is there a soul? Is there an afterlife? And if so, what is the afterlife like? Many aren't so sure, and the very thought of death brings a deep conviction, a fear of the unknown.

But for Christians, death is something else altogether. There is a hope, a life existing with God. As sad as death is for us on earth, and as much as we mourn and miss those who have passed; the truth is, death is only the end of our life on earth. We do not simply cease to exist, but rather we move on to live with God, in Heaven, for eternity. We move on to a place where we can truly glorify our Lord, a place that is free from pain and suffering.

As Christians, we should not be ignorant, as Paul says, regarding those who have passed away. Rather we should rejoice that they are with the Lord, in a place more peaceful and joyous than we can ever imagine. And for ourselves, when darkness seems to surround us, we should remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), and that we have absolutely no reason to fear death (1 John 4:17).

Someone defined Christian life as, "A Christian's life is really nothing more than a bus ticket to Heaven... sure it may be a bumpy ride now and then, but the destination is worth the price paid." Do you have the bus ticket to heaven? It can only be obtained by inviting Jesus into your life.

I’ll miss Dad but we will see each other again. I know he is in a better place where there is no pain, no sorrow and no suffering.

Be Blessed.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Story behind the song "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph's hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him Soon after Eliza's death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not go to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph's poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Well-known musician and revivalist Ira D. Sankey (1840-1908) was a
great admirer of Joseph Scriven. In 1875, Sankey came upon the music and words for What a Friend We Have in Jesus. He included it as the last entry into his well-known publication Sankey's Gospel Hymns Number 1.

After Joseph Scriven's death, the citizens of Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, where he gave so much of himself, erected a monument to his life. The seemingly sad and obscure life of one man resulted in so many lives being uplifted, both in his own time, and for many years after whenever the beautiful and comforting words of What a Friend We Have in Jesus are sung.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Empowerment of the Holy Spirit

It is more than a slogan or a theme; It is a divine promise

It is not a theory or an option; It is an absolute necessity

It is not a theological problem; It is the divine solution to the spiritual needs of our generation and the only power than can break satanic bondage.

There is no substitute or option for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

(Author unknown)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Worship which costs us nothing benefits us nothing!!


The Book of Malachi is the final book of the Old Testament. The core values in the Book of Malachi are relevant for us today. Many times in this writing, the prophet uses a negative reality to emphasize a positive core value and then presents it as an available possibility. The Israelites, in Malachi’s day did not live up to the standards set by God. Chapter 2 is full of accusations against their hypocrisy, treachery in the home, violations of temple regulations, marrying people who worshiped foreign gods, divorce, and false teachings. The entire nation dishonoured God.

After returning from Persian exile and experiencing an initial revival of temple worship and righteous living, the Israelites grew apathetic and complacent. Shortcuts were being taken. Inappropriate offering were being offered as sacrifices unto God. The priests were taking bribes from the people, and family relationships had been compromised. While on the surface things generally seem OK, on the inside a cancer of complacency is eating away at the Israelites commitment. The Prophet Malachi is sent by God to call the people back to fidelity (Malachi 2:13-16).

Just like the Israelites, almost without realizing it, any one of us can slip into showing contempt for God's name through offering only what is second best and allowing our worship to become apathetic. Worship which costs us nothing benefits us nothing. Particularly in tough times, we can find ourselves just going through the motions and for our hearts to be cold as stone. It‟s all too easy to say 'Do I have to give up my Sunday's to go to church?' Do I have to give up my time to help with this group or serve in this way? Why should I?

I love what King David says concerning worship/offering. In II Samuel 24 and in I Chronicles 21, we find parallel versions of the same story. In verse 24 of each chapter, King David makes the statement, “I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which cost me nothing.” When King David spoke this to Araunah, I believe it reflects what worship means to King David. Let us examine the offerings and worship that we bring to Jesus. Let us not give that which is heartless and meaningless, but let us give our all to Him.

Be Blessed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stop Pretending!

Psalms 56:2-4 Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Some experts believe that acute stress can provoke changes in the heart that may lead to death. In one study, fifteen cases were identified in which people died after a physical assault, even though the injuries alone were not enough to kill them. Eleven of the fifteen showed a type of heart-cell death, similar to a reaction in experimental animals that feel helpless to anticipate or avoid danger.

We live in a day that godlessness is on the rise — a day in which the world (and even some of the church) is motivated by money, power and the desire for worldly pleasures — a day in which the fruit of this behavior is apparent even to the worst of us. It's a scary time.

Even amidst these frightful times, though, isn't it wonderful to know that we don't have to pretend we're not afraid? God knew we would be afraid from time to time. But He encourages us to redirect our attention to put our trust again in Him. He, who is all powerful and watches over us intently. What a gracious and compassionate Father we have!

Let's ask the Lord to help us keep our focus on trusting Him for all things. When we are focused on this, there's no stopping us from doing the great things He has called us to do! And there's SO much work to be done!!



Article taken from Worthy Devotion - http://www.worthydevotions.com/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed

Life is filled with compromise, but one place that doesn’t allow room for compromise is at the end of one’s life. When Ms. Bronnie Ware, who worked for years with the dying, wrote a list of the top 5 regrets people say aloud on their deathbed. She posted the top 5 regrets along with her commentary on her website, and I have recopied them for you here below. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.


Source: http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Reflection on Exodus 31:1-6: Bezalel & Oholiab

The Exodus story says that God "called" Bezalel and Oholiab and "filled" them with the gifts needed to make all that God "commanded. In this short account of only six verses, the LORD wanted us to know that Bezalel and Oholiab were qualified and equipped to serve Him because they were filled with the Spirit of God.

God knows your name. He knows the talents He has given you. God has plans for you and for those talents. God has called you, He has commissioned you and He is confident in you and your abilities, because they aren't yours, they're His and it's His good pleasure and His good heart to offer them to you to build His desires, and where His vision is, His provision follows.

What has God called and equipped you to do? Let Bezalel’s and Oholiab's story be an inspiration for you to pursue your gifting and to listen as God calls you by name and fill you with His Holy Spirit.

Be Blessed.