Daddy blog

I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
I also have a general blog.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What do you do with your knowledge about Jesus?

Christmas Day, 25/12/12

S: Matthew 2:1-12 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.” After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshipped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back by another route to their own country.

O: The chief priests and experts in the law had knowledge about where God had predicted the Messiah would be born. When bloodthirsty King Herod asked them, they could give him the answer: Bethlehem.

Yet, unlike the "ignorant shepherds" out in the field, unlike the "learned pagans" who came from the east, they did nothing about that knowledge!

A: Many people know about Jesus. They know that He was born in Bethlehem. They may even believe that he lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins. But if you don't take action and live in light of that truth -- put your faith in Him, and follow Him -- if you just go on living your life just like everyone else, then you would be like those chief priests and experts in the law.

Many "Christians" are willing to take Jesus as "Saviour" but not as "Lord". "Lord" means that we actually follow what He says. That we present our own bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God -- which is our reasonable service. That we are not conformed to this present world, but that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we can test and approve what the will of God is -- what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

I don't claim to do that perfectly, but as St. Paul wrote, "Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways. Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained." (Philippians 3:12-16)

P: Father, thank You for Your Son whom you sent as a baby but who grew up to die on the cross for our sins and save us! May I live totally for You! In Jesus' name, amen.

Actually, the Magi might not have been pagans. They could have also been Hebrews descended from those exiles who did not return with Zerubabel, Joshua, Ezra and Nehemiah from the exile in Babylon.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

God sees the heart


S: 1 Chronicles 17 When David had settled into his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Look, I am living in a palace made from cedar, while the ark of the Lord’s covenant is under a tent.” Nathan said to David, “You should do whatever you have in mind, for God is with you.”

That night God told Nathan the prophet, “Go, tell my servant David: ‘This is what the Lord says: “You must not build me a house in which to live. For I have not lived in a house from the time I brought Israel up from Egypt to the present day. I have lived in a tent that has been in various places. Wherever I moved throughout Israel, I did not say to any of the leaders whom I appointed to care for my people Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house made from cedar?’”’

“So now, say this to my servant David: ‘This is what the Lord who commands armies says: “I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to make you a leader of my people Israel. I was with you wherever you went and I defeated all your enemies before you. Now I will make you as famous as the great men of the earth. I will establish a place for my people Israel and settle them there; they will live there and not be disturbed anymore. Violent men will not oppress them again, as they did in the beginning and during the time when I appointed judges to lead my people Israel. I will subdue all your enemies.

“‘“I declare to you that the Lord will build a dynastic house for you! When the time comes for you to die, I will raise up your descendant, one of your own sons, to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build me a house, and I will make his dynasty permanent. I will become his father and he will become my son. I will never withhold my loyal love from him, as I withheld it from the one who ruled before you. I will put him in permanent charge of my house and my kingdom; his dynasty will be permanent.”’” Nathan told David all these words that were revealed to him.

David went in, sat before the Lord, and said: “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point? And you did not stop there, O God! You have also spoken about the future of your servant’s family. You have revealed to me what men long to know, O Lord God. What more can David say to you? You have honored your servant; you have given your servant special recognition. O Lord, for the sake of your servant and according to your will, you have done this great thing in order to reveal your greatness. O Lord, there is none like you; there is no God besides you! What we heard is true! And who is like your people, Israel, a unique nation in the earth? Their God went to claim a nation for himself! You made a name for yourself by doing great and awesome deeds when you drove out nations before your people whom you had delivered from the Egyptian empire and its gods. You made Israel your very own nation for all time. You, O Lord, became their God. So now, O Lord, may the promise you made about your servant and his family become a permanent reality! Do as you promised, so it may become a reality and you may gain lasting fame, as people say, ‘The Lord who commands armies is the God of Israel.’ David’s dynasty will be established before you, for you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a dynasty for him. That is why your servant has had the courage to pray to you. Now, O Lord, you are the true God; you have made this good promise to your servant. Now you are willing to bless your servant’s dynasty so that it may stand permanently before you, for you, O Lord, have blessed it and it will be blessed from now on into the future.”

O: David had the right heart -- he saw that God had established his rule in Israel and he was living in a comfortable palace, yet the Ark of the Covenant where God's official presence was was still housed in a tent. So he wanted to honour God and build God's Ark a proper temple. Nathan the prophet also thought it was a great idea.

However, God did not allow him to do so, as David had killed too many people. (See 1 Chronicles 22:8).

Nonetheless, God saw that David's heart was in the right place, even though his proposed action wasn't the right action in these circumstances. Therefore God richly rewarded David anyway.

In governmental affairs in modern human rights, we recognise that governments must not try to legislate thought crimes. This is because human beings cannot judge one's heart -- only God can. Therefore human governments cannot criminalise thoughts and intentions -- only actions.

I just got reprimanded recently for good intentions in trying to be helpful to someone, but my actions turned out not to be exactly in the way that the person wanted, and so that person was frustrated with me instead. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" but God can and does correct our actions. But God also does see our heart intentions, whether good or bad.

God sees our hearts in their full measure. He can indeed and does judge our hearts -- whether our intentions are good or bad. Jesus reminded us that all sins begin in the heart -- e.g. Matthew 5:21-28.

A: So we should continue to study the scriptures to learn what God wants of us, and intend good.

S: Thank You, Father, that You see our intentions and reward us accordingly. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Works and Grace -- both and, not either or.


S: Titus 3:5-8 “He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.” This saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on such truths, so that those who have placed their faith in God may be intent on engaging in good works. These things are good and beneficial for all people.

O: Various people over the centuries have emphasised works to the exclusion of grace and grace to the exclusion of works, but the Bible actually teaches both -- it is both that God saves us not by our works but by His grace, and that all who have truly placed their faith in God's salvation would be intent on good works.

So it is not either works or grace, but rather, both works and grace should be evident in the life of a follower of Jesus Christ.

A: Jesus died to save us -- now let us live for Him!

P: Father, thank You for Your amazing grace! Now we want to live for You! In Jesus' name, amen.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A loving community


S: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all. See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not extinguish the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this. Brothers and sisters, pray for us too. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I call on you solemnly in the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

O: Paul holds forth a lofty goal to shoot for us here as a Christian community.

It's relatively easy to do good to those who treat us well, but man, is it hard to repay evil with good! Yet, that's what Christ taught us, and Paul now reiterates.

The Thessalonians were urged to even greet each other with a holy kiss! Now, that'd be hard to get away with in our current societal norms here in Malaysia. I remember when I first came back to Malaysia after many years in USA -- how I missed being hugged at church! But the principle stays the same regardless of what culture you find yourself in: be friendly and hospitable.

A: Is it hard to act in the manner urged by Paul in the above verses? Yes, certainly. But it if you aim at nothing, you'll certainly hit it. How much better it is to aim high and achieve something good, even if it's not perfection.

P: Father, this is a tall order to live up to, but I trust that if I abide in You, You will bring me closer and closer to the image of Christ. In Jesus' name, amen.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Get your priorities right


S: John 12:23-26 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to receive glory. What I'm about to tell you is true. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only one seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves his life will lose it. But anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it and have eternal life. Anyone who serves me must follow me. And where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honour the one who serves me."

O: Jesus used hyperbole many times, in order to make an emphasis. So, he might not be telling us to hate our life, but we must prioritise correctly -- if we are caught up in "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in this world, then we may find ourself losing the true purpose of life instead.

In the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20,Matthew 13:1-23,Luke 8:1-15), Jesus pointed out that some people receive the Word of God at first but the cares of this world choke out their faith like undesirable weeds choke out a desirable plant.

A: Therefore, we need to get our priorities right. I personally struggle with this as well. My wife has been a good person to remind me that I need to put my time with God first. There's nothing wrong with doing my job, reading my science fiction, doing my exercises, etc. but if I'm doing that in neglect of what God wants of me, then it becomes bad.

P: Father, thank You for Juliane who reminds me to spend time with You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)