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.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The world is dangerous... but don't worry! Why?


S: John 167:32-33 “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

O: Christians are being persecuted all over the world today. Today, Saeed Abedini sits in an Iranian prison because of his faith in Jesus. He made a cross out of paper and put it on his cell wall, but his jailors made him take it down. In solidarity, Brant Hansen is urging people to make a paper cross and put it on their Christmas tree to remind us to pray for him and to encourage him and his family.

In Syria and Iraq, Daesh has killed many Christians and chased the rest out of the territory it controls. In Nigeria, Boko Haram continues to kill Christians and even Muslims who are not for their murderous agenda. In Somalia and Kenya, it is Al-Shabaab.

Even here at home in Malaysia, Perkasa, Isma and even the government has threatened Christians, banned the Malay and Iban Bible, told Muslims that they're sinning if they wish us Merry Christmas, etc. Nowhere close to being as bad as Al-Shabbab, Boko Haram and Daesh, of course. But Christians feel the threats.

Hebrews 11 has a list of Old Testament saints who suffered much for their faith, saying “the world was not worthy of them.” In the New Testament, we have a huge long list of martyrs. from ancient times till today.

Yet, Jesus told us from the beginning, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” But he also immediately followed it up with “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

As I wrote about 2 life journal entries ago, if we are in Christ, we have no longer any need to fear death. That's why Paul could say, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

A: So, as we face this world that of great evil and great danger, we can rest assured that

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

- Romans 8:31-39

P: Father, when we feel afraid or anxious because the evil in this world, remind us of this truth. Keep us faithful and on Your path. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why Jesus came


S: John 11:21-27 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

O: As we come close to Christmas, people are focused on the baby Jesus. But the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus was because of what He came to do: die to pay for our sins, and in doing so, conquer death. That is why He is the resurrection and the life, so that everyone who believes in Him will live, even if he dies.

A: So even as we celebrate Advent, let us remember why He came. Let us live in light of that wonderful fact:

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

P: Father, thank You for the Greatest Gift! May we live our lives in appreciation, sharing Your love with the world. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

O death, where is thy sting?


S: Luke 12:4-7 “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear. What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

O: Most people fear death, even people who know the wonderful secret:
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

- 1 Corinthians 15:51-58

I used to say, “I'm not afraid of death, though I might be afraid of the pain of dying.” Now that I am a father with young children, I am concerned for their well-being if something should happen to me before they get old enough to look after themselves. As Rich Mullins once said, “That’s one of the things I love about being single, everybody always goes ‘Oh, you’re single what a tragedy.’ And I go ‘Well, yeah, from about ten to two each evening it is a tragedy but that times a tragedy for most married people as well.’ One of the great advantages of being single is you can still pick up hitch hikers, if you are married you don’t want to get, you know, slit or anything, cause you have a family to support. If you single and you die it doesn’t really matter so you are free to do what you really want to do. I love that!”

But the principle remains. If we are in Christ, we should not fear death.
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

Philippians 1:20-24

No wonder the early church had to teach that suicide was a sin! But the point is, if you're trusting in Christ, you have no reason to fear death.

A: Therefore, we should live for Christ. Let's use our life as an opportunity to serve God and other people. Let us be brave in the face of danger for the sake of others and for the Gospel. And let us flee temptation, humble ourselves before God, and resist the devil.

P: Father, help me to live bravely for You. I need to daily flee temptation, humble myself before You and resist the devil. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reason to rejoice


S: Luke 10:1, 17-20 The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. ... When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

O: We as human beings like to have power and authority, so when the 72 disciples saw that they had power & authority over demons, they were understandably happy about it. But Jesus put things in perspective. Power and authority is temporal. God's gift of salvation is eternal.

A: In response to God's amazing grace — His undeserved favour to us — in appreciation, we are motivated to follow Him — all the more so since following His directives for us benefits us in the long run.

P: Father, when I am tempted to do what is wrong, remind me of this. Not by might, not by power, but by Your Spirit, O Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

His body broken for us. His blood poured out for us.


S: Mark 14:22-25 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”

Mark 14:34-36 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

O: In the Old Testament, there are regular animal sacrifices to atone for sins. An year-old (i.e. young adult) male sheep with no defects would be slaughtered, the blood poured out as an offering to God, and the body burnt on the altar. A part of it would be eaten.

This prefigures the ultimate sacrifice that the Messiah Jesus would make on the cross.

Before he went to the cross, he instituted what we now call Holy Communion or Eucharist. He took the bread and wine at the passover supper and, in some mystical way, it became his body and blood, broken and poured out for us, for our sins. What a great sacrifice he made for us! (For a discussion about this matter in more detail, see and

It was not easy for Jesus to do this for us, as we read in Mark 14:34-36. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, so his humanity dreaded the horrible death on the cross. But nonetheless, he went ahead with it for our sake.

A: Christ's great sacrifice for us should motivate me to live for him. Yet time and time again I give in to temptation and sin. Yet God's grace through Christ's sacrifice means that there is room for repentance.

So, when I am tempted, I must remind myself what Christ has done for me. And if I do sin, I must repent and turn back to him, because he has provided a sacrifice for my sins.

P: Father in heaven, thank you for your provision. Jesus, thank you for your great sacrifice. Holy Spirit, thank you for quickening my conscience when I am tempted. In Jesus' name, amen.
In Love For Me (Communion Song) - The Witness Musical
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

We are family!


S: Mark 3:31-35 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.” Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

O: I used to think, "How rude of Jesus! His family came to see him and he ignored them" before the Jesus film pointed it out to me that it's quite likely that he took the opportunity to make this a teaching moment before he got up to go see his family.

Given that, what was Jesus trying to teach here? Our family is no longer only our biological family. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are also our family. That's why the early Christians started the tradition of calling each other brother and sister, to the point that the Romans, when persecuting Christians, accused us of incest — because they misunderstood when a "brother" and a "sister" were husband and wife.

A: Being family, we ought to love one another and help one another like family should. "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." (I Corinthians 12:26)

P: That's why the early Christians in Jerusalem lived communally like a family and shared everything. (Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:32-37) Of course, as the body of believers grew, this became impractical. They had to deal with the fact that there would be people who sought to take advantage of the system (Acts 5:1-11) and just the fact that with a large number of people, someone could fall through the cracks (Acts 6:1-7) However, the spirit of all of us being adopted into God's family remained and the idea that we should look out for each other like family remained, e.g. believers outside Judea gathering money to support the believers in Judea due to the famine. (1 Corinthians 16:1–4; 2 Corinthians 8:1–9:15; Romans 15:14–32)

So, we should likewise not only be concerned for ourselves and our own biological family, but also for our brothers & sisters in Christ. "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." (1 Corinthians 12:26).

P: Father, help me to be sensitive to the needs of others and not just be concerned for myself. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Abomination of Desolation


S: Matthew 24, Luke 21:5-36, Mark 13

O: In the last century, there has been much confusion about what the "the abomination of desolation" refers to. Many Evangelicals interpret it as something to do with the Antichrist which many Evangelicals believe is coming in the future, after or around the time of the Rapture.

However, the Matthew and Mark passages aren't the only testimonies of this discussion. Luke also records it, but he never mentioned "the abomination of desolation".

These parallel passages describe the same incident: the disciples are admiring the grandeur of the Temple in Jerusalem, which prompted Jesus to predict its destruction.

The sign that people should flee from Jerusalem to the hills, as stated in Luke 21:20, is "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies", instead of "when the abomination of desolation stands in the Holy Place".

The rest of the passages seem to be so much in congruence that it suggests that these two signs are the same thing. Luke was written to a Gentile audience while Matthew was written to a Jewish audience. As Gentiles ourselves, we can get confused by what the "the abomination of desolation" means, so Luke explains it for us, "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies".

To a Gentile, Jerusalem being surrounded by armies isn't a sign of "abomination of desolation stands in the Holy Place". But to the Jews of Jesus' time, it could well mean that.

History tells us that before A.D. 70, as Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem, the Christian Jews in Judea heeded Jesus' warning and fled. The non-Christian Jews did not, and were massacred. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple so completely that it was said that you couldn't even tell that there was once a city there. Decades later, the Romans under Emperor Hadrian rebuilt as a totally Gentile city and renamed it Aelia Capitolina. Jerusalem remained non-Jewish for almost two millennia after that.

A: When we find things that are confusing and unclear in the Bible, if we can find clarifications from other parts of scripture, it is better to look at that instead of making up fanciful imaginations of our own.

P: Father, thank You for preserving for us Your written Word. Help us to understand it. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sola fide? Yes, but...


S: Matthew 7:12-27
The Golden Rule
12“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
The Narrow Gate
13“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
The Tree and Its Fruit
15“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
True Disciples
21“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Building on a Solid Foundation
24“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

O: Ephesians 2:8-9 points out, 8God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Some Christians, e.g. Paul F. Pavao, thinks that this means you're saved by faith alone, but then after that, you're judged by works.

However, while I agree with much of what Parvao says, I stumble over passages like Galatians 3:1-4 which seem to say that the Galatians were foolish in trying to add works to their faith when it was their faith that saved them in the first place.

Traditional Evangelical doctrine, for example as expressed by this page, says works play no part in salvation at all, and that works is merely an evidence for faith, as in James 2:14-26.

Catholic theologian Christopher Malloy points out that Catholic theology only accepts justification by faith when in conjunction with charity.

A: So what do we make of all this? I take a page from the Eastern Orthodox Christians who live with mystery. Mystery in this sense isn't a mystery story, but rather, acceptance that there are things of God which are beyond human ability to understand.

Just because it is beyond our ability to understand doesn't make it untrue. For example, we can teach chimpanzees sign language and hence be able to hold a conversation with chimps. We can teach chimps how to count, and perhaps even how to add and multiply. But it is impossible to teach chimps calculus. Does that make calculus any less true? We build bridges, skyscrapers and airplanes with calculus, and they work. So a chimp's inability to understand calculus is more of a statement of the limitations of chimpanzee intellect than a statement of the truth of falsity of calculus.

So, in the end, how do we respond to this? The Bible clearly says that we are saved by grace through faith. The Bible also clearly says that we must do good works, and sometimes it says this is tied up with our salvation.

I don't understand how it all fits together, and that's OK. I do know that I must have faith in Christ, and that I must follow Biblical teachings and have good works as well. So whether you have Lutheran theology, Catholic theology, Arminian theology, Calvinist theology, Evangelical theology, we are all united in this: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)

P: Father, I need to continue in faith in You and Your Christ, and continue in following Your teachings. Help me to keep to the narrow path of righteousness, while not wasting time worrying but resting in Your grace through faith. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Purposeful Prayer


S: Matthew 6:5-9 5“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.7“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11Give us today the food we need,
12and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

O: I find it ironic that this very prayer which Jesus prefaced with “use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (as verse 7 is rendered in the King James Version) has been turned by so many people into a “vain repetition” itself.

The words Jesus showed us in the “Our Father” are wonderful, but if you just rote repeat them, they lose their meaning.

The same thing goes for the liturgy. Coming from a mostly non-liturgical background, I love listening to the liturgy when I find myself in a liturgical mass. It is so full of Biblical meaning. Yet most people seem to just rote repeat it without paying attention to the meaning.

But lest we from non-liturgical denominations become smug, we are also susceptible to just “going through the motions”. And “praying so that people can see us” is a temptation that faces people from non-liturgical traditions even more, perhaps.

A: Let us pray purposefully! Let us come before our heavenly Father in spirit and in truth.

P: Father, sometimes I find my own prayers are just “going through the motions”. Fill me with Your Spirit and keep my faith fresh. In Jesus’ name, amen. P: Father, thank You that You give us meaning in life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Is life meaningless?


S: Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:1,7-8, 12-14 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless. Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless. Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” ... For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless.” ... But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

O: Solomon showed such great promise. As a young king, God had offered him whatever he wanted, and he had chosen wisely: instead of asking for wealth and power, he asked for wisdom to be able to govern the country well. God commended him for that, and gave him wisdom and wealth and power. (1 Chronicles 1)

However, he let his wealth and power go to his head. While being wise in running the country, he wasn't so wise in running his own life: he ignored God's injunctions about kings not to multiply wives and for people to be faithful to God. So he married many wives, most of whom appeared not to be followers of God, and he followed them into idolatry. (1 Kings 11)

The book of Ecclesiastes is a chronicle of his attempts to find fulfillment in life without God. He had everything; he tried everything. He tried wine, women and song. He tried the satisfaction of a job well done. In the end, it was all meaningless. It goes through his changing thoughts as he thought through these things. That's why it is very dangerous to quote a verse from Ecclesiastes — it's as likely to be false as it is to be true, since Solomon went through many false thoughts as he thought through this matter.

Too bad for Solomon, in spite of his wisdom, he only realised this at the end of his life: there is no meaning in life if you just try to live for yourself! Only God gives ultimate meaning to one's life.

A: Let's not waste our lives and only realise this at the end of our lives. Let's live for Jesus while we are young, while we are middle-aged, and while we are old. Then we will hear the words of our Saviour, “Well done, good and faithful servant” welcoming us in the end. (Matthew 25:21)

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” — Jim Elliott, martyr.

The people in this song all had meaning in the lives. Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian were killed by Huaorani warriors due to internal Huaorani politics during their attempts to reach them for the Gospel. Yet “the blood of the martyrs are the seed of the church” — and today that Huaorani tribe has been transformed from bloodthirsty murderers that were going to wipe themselves out by their bloody lifestyle into peaceful Christians who love God and love their fellow human beings. Eric Liddell gave his life to bring the Gospel to China, eventually dying in a Japanese prison camp during the second world war. Yet his legacy lives on in the lives of many Chinese Christians today.

Their lives were full of meaning — because of Christ.

P: Father, thank You that You give us meaning in life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Being a friend to those who are down


S: Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Proverbs 25:20 Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.

Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

Proverbs 27:14 A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

O/A: It's not easy to know what to do sometimes when you have a friend or loved one who is feeling depressed. As two of the above proverbs point out, being cheery with them isn't always helpful. Yet, we have a responsibility to be a friend to them nonetheless, instead of letting them sink deeper and deeper into the slough of despond. There is a balance to be had between helping a depressed person and being dragged down yourself, but it's not easy to tell where the balance is.

Sometimes, just sitting silently and empathizing with them is already helpful.

Ultimately, the Friend who sticks closer than a brother, our taiko (big brother) Jesus is the only one who can live up to Carol King's song
When you're down and troubled
And you need some love and care,
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right —
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.

You just call out my name,
And you know wherever I am,
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there — you've got a friend.

P: Father, please give us wisdom when we have a friend who is down, how to comfort them and cheer them up without adding to their sorrow. And to bring them to Jesus, the ultimate Friend. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Accepting correction


S: Proverbs 13 1 A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction.
13 People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.
18 If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.
24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

O: We have often quoted verse 24, but as we can see from verses 1, 3 and 18, this principle actually applies to everyone.

A: Even as an adult, I make mistakes all the time and should be open to correction.

As a parent, I do need to pay heed to verse 24, but I also have to temper it with Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 and not exasperate my children.

P: Father, I continue to sin and make mistakes. Please keep me humble and help me to have the right attitude when criticized. Please help me have the right balance with correcting my children. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Don't hide!


S: Psalm 32

O: When we do wrong, it's a very natural human reaction to hide our sin. However, as David said in verse 3-5, "When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."

Sin also hinders our prayers. As Psalm 66:18-19 points out, "If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer."

A: I fail God time and time again. I must not hide from God like Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit, but instead run to Him, for as 1 John 1:9 points out, "if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."

P: Father, I confess my sins to You. Thank You that You are so forgiving, and that You have provided Jesus as our Saviour. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Run away! Run away!


S: Psalm 101

O: David starts out singing praise to the LORD but then goes on to say "I will be careful to live a blameless life—when will you come to help me?" He then enumerates what he intends to do to live a blameless life:
  • refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.
  • have nothing to do with crooked dealings
  • reject perverse ideas & stay away from every evil
  • not tolerate slander, conceit & pride
  • only allow people of integrity to serve in his house
  • liars would not be allowed to stay in his presence
  • ferret out the wicked and free the city of the LORD from their grip

A: Under grace, we don't live a blameless life in order to find favour with God. However, He does still call us to live a blameless life.

Some of the things David listed are appropriate for him as a king, but not so appropriate for us. But a lot of the stuff he listed is appropriate for us. I have been struggling with temptation myself and so I need to remind myself of this.

As 2 Timothy 2:22-24 says, I need to
  • run away from temptations
  • do the right thing
  • be faithful, loving, and easy to get along with
  • worship with people of pure hearts
  • stay away from senseless arguments
  • be kind to everyone
  • be a good teacher and very patient.
Easier said than done! But yet so needful. But then again, if we submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us. (James 4:7)

P: Father, this is a tall order, the kind of life You have called us to live. But ultimately, it is how we can be blessed and have joy in life. So I ask You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit again daily, so that I will have the power to do so. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When it seems like the wicked prosper


S: Psalm 73

O: Asaph observed something which we often see: the wicked seems to be prospering and getting away with their evil deeds. He said, "I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness."

But after bemoaning this for 14 verses, he said, "Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked."

A: In recent times, we've seen some terrible things happen around the world. Ukraine. Russia. Israel. Gaza. Burma. MH370. MH17. Hamas. And this morning, Betong, Southern Thailand.

Yet, as Asaph points out, ultimately, we are accountable to God. Continue to do good, in spite of all that. Go into His sanctuary and remind ourselves of what is ultimately true.

P: Father, I pray for the suffering people of Ukraine/Russia, Gaza/Israel, and Burma, and many other places in the world. I pray that in spite of wickedness in the world, I will stay true to You, and continue to encourage others to follow You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

True worshippers


S: Psalm 50:7-10 “O my people, listen as I speak. Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God! I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.

Psalm 50:16-17 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant? For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.

Psalm 50:22-23 Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you. But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

O: There is no point being a great philantropist donating vast sums of money if you're evil. Remember the incident of the widow with 2 copper coins? (Luke 21:11-4)

A: To obey is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22)

P: Father, when I am tempted to do wrong, remind me of this truth. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Probabilities, not Promises


S: Psalm 37 3Trust in the lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. ... 7Be still in the presence of the lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. ... 16It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. 17For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the lord takes care of the godly. ... 25Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. 26The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing.

O: Sometimes when we read the Psalms and Proverbs, we read some stuff that is manifestly untrue. Sometimes the good do suffer. Sometimes the evil do prosper — at least in this life. Sometimes we don't see justice done.

As a result, some people lose faith. It seems as if these "promises" in scripture are not being fulfilled.

There are two aspects here. Firstly, these are not "promises" per se, but rather, principles or probabilities. If you do this, things will tend to go well for you — but it is not a promise that it definitely will... at least, not in this life.

That's the second aspect of this: that ultimately God is just and God is judge. Even so, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and God does not want anyone to perish. In a sense, we are all wicked. But God loves us and so while we were still sinners, He sent His Son to die for us, so that we may be saved and spend eternity with Him.

A: So, be good anyway. The principles He gives us does predispose us to a better life, but it not a guarantee of it. But regardless, once we have been covered by the blood of the Lamb of God, we are adopted into His family. So we do good out of a love relationship with God, not to earn merit to gain heaven. And yes, the Lord does help the Godly, rescuing them from the wicked, as it says in Psalm 37:40.

P: Father, when I am tempted to do evil, help me to trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mourning into dancing


Flickr/Lara Cores, Creative Commons License
S: Psalm 30:5, 11-12
5For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.

11You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

O: God is just, but God is also loving. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather wants people to turn to His ways and live.

A: When we suffer, either as a consequence of our own wrongdoing or because of other reasons, we can turn to Him.

P: I sing praises to You and will not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jesus understands our suffering


S: Psalm 22

O: Jesus quoted the first sentence in this psalm on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Large parts of this psalm applied to Jesus in His suffering leading up to His death, e.g. verses 6-8, 13-18, and 31 ― even to the details of gambling over his clothes (verse 18) and piercing his hands and feet (verse 16).

A: When we are going through a tough time, we often feel like God is far away, that God doesn’t understand.

However, He assures us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are―yet he did not sin. He is with us always, even to the end of the ageFor the LORD listens to the needy and doesn’t despise those in bondage.He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

P: Father, when we are suffering, when we are in the depths of despair, remind us that You understand and are with us and will never forsake us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Imagine God singing this song to you.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Want God to listen to your prayers? Then be faithful to your spouse.


S: Malachi 2:13-16 Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”
O: 1 Peter 3:7 says, “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” This passage from Malachi shares the same sentiment.

Unlike the prevailing cultural norms of the day that devalue women, St. Peter points out that women are equal partners in God's gift of new life. (Older translations, e.g. the KJV, say put it as “heirs together of the grace of life”. The prevailing cultural norms of the day allowed men to lord it over their wives, and sometimes treat them as property.

A: Most of us do not regard our spouses as our property anymore, but many of us persist in our selfish ways. I struggle daily to consider Juliane's needs and feelings. I would prefer to just sit in front of the computer and look at Facebook, read my science fiction, etc. but Juliane wants to spend time with me and talk. As a typical man, I find it very hard to talk without a topic, especially in the area of feelings. But I have to discipline myself to do so anyway, because my wife needs it.

In a similar manner, Juliane does many things for me that she might not prefer to do, because it makes me happy. In our mutual giving to each other, and putting each other's needs before our own, we end up becoming more conformed to Christ, and also have a more fulfilling life. A life of selfishness only is gratifying on the short-term. In the long-term, it makes for a shallow and miserable existence without the blessing of God.

Neither of us do this perfectly. In fact, I know that I fall short virtually every day. Time and again we have to ask each other for forgiveness. We're still on the journey of being brought into conformity with Christ. But that shouldn't stop us from aiming in that direction.

P: Father, thank You for the gift of my wife, with whom I am becoming one flesh. Forgive me where I fall short of Your standards, and thank You for forgiveness. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

When the wicked seem to prosper


S: Psalm 10:4-6 The wicked are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead. Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see your punishment awaiting them. They sneer at all their enemies.

(Actually, refer to the whole psalm.)

O: Sometimes we see the wicked get their comeuppance in this life, e.g. Adolf Hitler, but many times in life we see the wicked seem to get away with it, e.g. Stalin. We each have less dramatic, but more personally impacting, examples in our own lives.

The psalmist at first despairs about such a situation, but then he reminds himself that God is still in control, and judgment is still coming.

God, however, does not rejoice over the death of the wicked, but desires everyone to come to repentance. For we all, like sheep, have gone astray ― each one of us has turned away from the way of God and gone our own way.

So, in a sense, we are all wicked and we all need God's grace for salvation.

A: We need to look at the wicked with the eyes of Jesus. If they don't repent, they will suffer eternal consequences. But God wants them to repent. He doesn't want anyone to be eternally damned.

P: Father, help us to see human beings not as our enemies, but rather, as victims of our ultimate enemy, the devil. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Blessed be God, the beneficent, the merciful (بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم )


S: Psalm 3 A psalm of David, regarding the time David fled from his son Absalom.

O lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!”

But you, O lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.

I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O lord. May you bless your people.

O: David was very much at fault for why Absalom rebelled against him. When Amnon raped Absalom's sister Tamar, David didn't take action. Eventually Absalom murdered Amnon in revenge. Because of that, Absalom fled. Eventually, David allowed Absalom back from exile, but refused to see him. All this caused Absalom to come to hate his father, though David was generally a good king.

So Absalom engineered a coup and David had to flee for his life. It was during this period that he wrote this psalm. In spite of the problem originating in his own negligence, he still trusted God, and God did deliver him eventually.

A: We are not perfect, just like David. We mess up. But David ultimately was committed to the Lord. That was why the Lord saved him in spite of all his messing up along the way. Yes, David had to suffer the consequences of his sin. But ultimately, he was saved.

So when we mess up, we must not flee from God. God is beneficent and merciful, as the Arabic greeting "بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم" says. He desires our renewal and repentance. So, when we mess up, we should not assume God is against us for good. We must repent and get back to relying on God, as David did.

P: Father in heaven, we thank You for Your mercy. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Both God's power and our action


Zechariah 4:4-7 Then I asked the angel, “What are these, my lord? What do they mean?” “Don’t you know?” the angel asked.“No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “This is what the lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!’”

O: People often quote the part of verse 6 that goes “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.” However, note that Zerubabbel wasn’t sitting idly by while all this was going on. He was actively doing what God wanted him to do.

But it is also true that if Zerubabbel were just to have relied on his own strength, the task would never have been completed. “Unless the LORDbuilds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORDguards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

It's not an "either-or" situation ― it is a "both-and" situation. Jesus wants labourers in the harvest, but He is the Lord of the harvest, not us.

A: We mustn't be sitting on our hands, but at the same time, we must recognise that God is the one in charge, and it is by His power that we accomplish anything.

P:God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Compassion Intentional


S: Jonah 3:6-4:3, 11 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city:“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”


(The Lord said) “But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

O: Jonah was a patriotic Israelite, and Nineveh was their enemy. So Jonah wasn't happy when God told him to go warn the Ninevites that judgement was coming -- he wanted the Ninevites to be destroyed by God! Although God didn't explicitly say that if the Ninevites repented, He would forgive them, but this was implicitly understood by both the Ninevites and Jonah himself.

This is why Jonah headed in the opposite direction -- to Tarshish.

A: We need to see our “enemies” through the loving eyes of Jesus. He told us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

People are not our enemies - Satan is our enemy. People are deceived by Satan, and God doesn't want them destroyed, but rather, that they might see the error of their ways and turn back to Him. (Ezekiel 33:11)

“If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22 / Romans 12:20)

I struggle with this when I am hurt by others. I want revenge, but God calls us to a higher standard.

P: Father, it's hard to forgive, but You have called us to forgive even as You have forgiven us. Renew my heart, O Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, April 5, 2014



Then I will purify the speech of all the nations,
so that everyone can worship the LORD together.

Zephaniah 3:9

The LORD your God is in your midsts
A warrior who saves
He will exult over you with joy
He will renew in His love
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy!

Zephaniah 3:17

O: We usually think of ourselves rejoicing over God, but here we have a scene where, after God has purified us — both Israel and us, the Gentile nations — God Himself is rejoicing over us!

What a wonderful party that will be — us and God in mutual celebration!

A: Even today we can have a glimpse of this: As we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way. When we do His good will, He abides with us still, and to all who will trust and obey.

So, trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

P: Father, when I am tempted to sin, help me to remember how much better it is to trust and obey You, and to be able to rejoice together with you. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice


S: Micah 6:6-8 What can we bring to the LORD?
Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?
No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

O: We sometimes hear of big gangsters who try to keep on God's good side by supporting the church or donating money to good causes. However, God wants us to act rightly in the first place.

The late Keith Green wrote this song:

To obey is better than sacrifice
I don't need your money
I want your life
And I hear you say that I'm coming back soon
But you act like I'll never return

Well you speak of grace and my love so sweet
How you thrive on milk, but reject My meat
And I can't help weeping of how it will be
If you keep on ignoring My words
Well you pray to prosper and succeed
But your flesh is something I just can't feed

To obey is better than sacrifice
I want more than Sunday and Wednesday nights
Cause if you can't come to Me every day
Then don't bother coming at all

To obey is better than sacrifice
I want hearts of fire
Not your prayers of ice
And I'm coming quickly
To give back to you
According to what you have done

Keith Green was extrapolating what God might have said, but I think there's a lot of truth in what he said. Recently, Ann Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham) shared about how she had been wounded by other believers and how she had to learn to forgive them. [Listen to the interview here.] Many people have left the faith because Christians who were faithful to tithe had not been doing what is right, showing mercy, and walking humbly with God.

A: Let us do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

P: Father, remind me when I am about to hurt another believer. Help me to remove the log out of my own eye, and to speak the truth in love. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

For such a time as this


Esther 4:14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?

O: Esther is actually a very entertaining and dramatic book. No wonder Hollywood made it into a movie. The Greek Septuagint version is even more dramatic than the Masoretic Text version found in most modern Bibles.

For example, Chapter 6 is dripping with irony -- Haman was all ready to ask the king to execute Mordecai, and ends up having to honour Mordecai!

And Chapter 5 (or Section D) in the Septuagint is even more dramatic -- my wife says it's almost Barbara Cartland-like.

A: However, hidden in this entertaining and dramatic story is an important moral lesson: God calls us to act rightly in difficult circumstances. If we do not, He can raise up someone else, but if we do, we will reap the blessing.

P: Father, when if I am called to be brave and do the right thing, give me the courage to follow You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Second chance


S: Jonah 3:7-10 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

O: When God gave Jonah the prophecy, "In forty days, Nineveh shall be destroyed," He didn't say "unless they repent." However, it was obvious to Jonah that this was an implied clause -- which is why Jonah got on a ship headed the opposite direction! Jonah hated the Ninevites and didn't want them to have the chance to realise that they were wrong and in need of repentance.

A: God is a God of second chances. If you have messed up, repent and turn back to Him! "The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." 2 Peter 3:9

P: Father, thank You for Your great salvation! May I keep short accounts with you and quickly repent when I do wrong. In Jesus' name, amen.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The letter kills but the Sprit gives life


S: 2 Chronicles 30:17-20 Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord. Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon those who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.” And the Lord listened to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.

O: People sometimes think that the God of the Old Testament was all about the letter of the law while the God of the New Testament is more about the spirit of the law. This passage illustrates that this isn't the case. God doesn't change (Malachi 3:6); Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Sometimes, we as Christians who take the Bible seriously, can fall into the same trap the Pharisees of Jesus' day fell into. We get so fixated on the "dos" and "don'ts" that we forget that God is love (1 John 4:8) and He provides grace in His love to cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

Some homosexual activists have been going to town with Pope Francis, even naming him their "Person of the Year" (well, so did Time Magazine, so the gay pride people are not alone.) In fact, Pope Francis did not change the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality -- a teaching which is virtually the same for Evangelical Christians.

Pope Francis was emphasizing the need for grace and winsomeness. The Gospel means "good news", yet so often Christians end up communicating it in a way that hearers hear it as "bad news". Jesus welcomed the adulterers and other sinners. The incidents with the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12) and Zacchaeus (Luke 9:1-10) illustrate this.

A: We need to have a balance between communicating God's standards and His grace. Eschew legalism, share the love of God that was so great that He sent His only begotten Son while we were still His enemies to save us. (John 3:16, Romans 5:10)

P: Father, help me to speak the truth in love, yet full of grace and truth when I communicate Your principles to my friends. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trusting God in Troubled Times


S: Habakkuk 1:2-4
How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

O: Habakkuk lived at the time of the final decline of Judah -- the last good king of Judah, Josiah, was dead. From here on out, they would have one bad king after another until the Babylonian conquest. Injustice was rampant, things were only going to get from bad to worse.

Habakkuk cries out to God, asking God why He doesn't seem to be doing anything about this. God replies that He was going to send the Chaldeans (Babylonians) -- that "bitter and hasty nation" (Habakkuk 1:6), whose god is their strength (Habakkuk 1:11) -- to come and destroy Judah!

Habakkuk is aghast! Yes, Judah is wicked, but how is it that God will use this even worse nation to destroy them? Does this mean that people are no different from the fish of the sea? Does might make right? (Habakkuk 1:12-17) Habakkuk decided he would wait for God's answer (Habakkuk 2:1).

God answers that indeed, God would also judge the Chaldeans. The proud may do their evil, but the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). The judgment on the Chaldeans will also come upon them at the right time.

In the end, Habakkuk realizes that he can trust God -- even when things are falling apart around him. No matter what, even if the nation is conquered, the ultimate fate of the one who trusts in the Lord is in His hands -- like a mountain goat on a steep cliff, God can guide him through to Eternity safely.

A: Even as we struggle to bring real democracy to Malaysia, even as we see all the injustice around us -- even if we fail in our struggle -- God is still in control. We can still trust in Him.

I recall watching a fantastic "multimedia production" by 2100productions in the '80s on Habakkuk. (Unfortunately, this show is no longer extant, except for the audio track, which you can download here.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 is remarkably apt in describing not only Judah in the 7th century B.C., but also Malaysia today. His message is just as relevant in Malaysia in 2014 as it was in 7th Century B.C. Judah, or in the '80s USA. We see the injustice around us, and we can still trust God in troubled times.

P: Father, may I continue to trust in You. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finishing well


S: 2 Chronicles 24:2 Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.

2 Chronicles 24:17-25 But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. They decided to abandon the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem. Yet the Lord sent prophets to bring them back to him. The prophets warned them, but still the people would not listen. Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands and keep yourselves from prospering? You have abandoned the Lord, and now he has abandoned you!” Then the leaders plotted to kill Zechariah, and King Joash ordered that they stone him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s Temple. That was how King Joash repaid Jehoiada for his loyalty—by killing his son. Zechariah’s last words as he died were, “May the Lord see what they are doing and avenge my death!”

In the spring of the year the Aramean army marched against Joash. They invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the nation. Then they sent all the plunder back to their king in Damascus. Although the Arameans attacked with only a small army, the Lord helped them conquer the much larger army of Judah. The people of Judah had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so judgment was carried out against Joash. The Arameans withdrew, leaving Joash severely wounded. But his own officials plotted to kill him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest. They assassinated him as he lay in bed. Then he was buried in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery.

O: Joash started out very well, restoring the temple, calling the people back to the Lord. Yet when his mentor Jehoiada died, he went astray, and when Zechariah ben Jehoiada confronted him on it, instead of repenting, he had Zechariah killed.

As a result, he lost the battle with the Arameans, his kingdom, and his life.

A: Joash only committed murder. David had committed adultery and murder. Yet God forgave David (though he had to suffer the consequences of his sin) and still called David a man after His own heart because when the prophet Nathan confronted David, he quickly repented.

It is good to start strong -- like both Joash and David did -- but even more important is to finish well. Like David, we may succumb to sin along the way. But if so, we must quickly repent and return to the Lord.

P: Father, may I finish well, staying steadfast in Christ. When I sin, may I not delay but quickly repent and return to You. In Jesus' name, amen.

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