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 2, 2017

Are tongues a sign for non-Christians or a sign for Christians?

I had, for a long time, been confused with 1 Corinthians 14:22-23. It says
So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and unbelievers or uninformed people enter, will they not say that you have lost your minds?
I had been confused because in the first sentence, Paul said tongues were a sign for unbelievers, then in the third sentence, he said that if unbelievers come and see you speaking in tongues, they'll think you've lost your minds.

So which is it?

Upon further reflection, I think what Paul is pointing out is this:

  1. If an unbeliever who knows a language you don't know comes and hears people in your church speaking in their own language, when it is clear that the speakers never learned that language, and then they hear it interpreted by another person who doesn't know that language, and the interpretation is correct, they will realize a miracle has occurred, and be drawn towards Christ by this sign.
  2. If an unbeliever comes in to your church and hears everyone babbling in tongues without interpretation, they will think you've all gone crazy.
I think this makes sense in light of the fact that Paul was just before this making the point that we should not have “mass babblings” where lots of people are speaking in tongues without interpretation.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thoughts on 1 Peter 5

1-11 Leaders mustn’t lord it over the people they lead, but we likewise must submit to proper authority. I struggle with humility as I want to be recognized for my achievements, but I need to let the Lord honour me rather than trying to get myself honour.

12-14 Peter calls the church of Rome, where he was at, “Babylon”. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Thoughts on 1 Peter 4

We should be finished with sin… but we’re not. So Peter exhorts us to stay true to God, and tells us to be ready to suffer.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thoughts on 1 Peter 3

1-7 Traditionally, men have used this to oppress women, forgetting that if we don’t honour our wives, our prayers will be hindered!

8-10 Here is the mystery of grace: God is for the good.

13-22 Generally speaking, we shouldn’t suffer for doing good. But even if we do, we’re only walking in Christ’s footsteps. And God will reward us in the end.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Thoughts on 2 Peter 2

1-12 We were once not a people, but now chosen by God, we've become a special people. So we need to live like that, and let our light shine to the unbelieving world.

13-25 Our submission to human authority is part of our submission to God. It's only when they command us to go against God’s higher law that we should disobey. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts on 1 Peter 1

3-6 What God has given us by His great mercy:
  • New birth
  • Living hope
  • Imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance reserved in heaven
  • Protected by God’s power through faith
  • Salvation
  • Joy

6-23 Because of all this, although trials may come, but we still can rejoice because of God’s predicted salvation. We can be steadfast to follow Jesus -- He knew us before the foundation of the world, and we will outlast this temporal world.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Study on James 5

1-11 James tells us to be patient when we see people gain wealth by evil means, as judgement is coming. However, I remember that elsewhere in scripture, there is also the idea of grace. We do not fall under judgement or condemnation for our sins when we repent of our sins and receive God’s propitiation through Jesus’ blood. In a similar way, we need to go beyond desire for justice against others to see that God doesn’t so much want the evil person to suffer, but rather, to repent.

12 Instead of only telling the truth when we take an oath, we need to tell the truth all the time. Personally, when I have time to think about it, it’s in some sense easier to do this. Often I find myself lying or “stretching the truth” or “putting a spin” on the spur of the moment, reacting on instinct. Still a long way to go towards Christ’s perfection.

13-18 Prayer is more powerful than I believe.

19-20 Here James touches on what I reflected on in the first part of this chapter -- getting people to repent is a higher value than wanting God’s wrath to fall on them.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Study on James 4

1-3 Jesus told us to pray in His name, but James points out that we ask and don’t receive because we ask wrongly -- to spend it on our passions.

4-10 I may have chosen to be God’s friend, rather than the world’s friend, but actually it’s not a one-time decision -- daily, I’m confronted with the decision whether to be God’s friend or the world’s friend in different situations. It’s so easy for me to be proud instead of humble.

11-12 God is judge. Yet I keep trying to be judge.

13-17 Part of humility is realizing that whatever we plan is submitted to God’s sovereignty. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Study on James 3

1-12 I need to be careful how I speak. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will wound much deeper.

13-16 “Wisdom” that promotes jealousy, selfishness and lies is demonic. Godly wisdom is pure and promotes peace and goodness.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Study on James 2

1-13 Although I consciously try to avoid prejudice, unconsciously, I’m affected by it all the time. Need continued renewal of the mind!

14-26 Although saved by grace through faith, faith without works is dead. Works is evidence of a real faith.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Study on James 1

2‭-‬4,12  I generally am able to believe that the testing of our faith produces endurance, but still have trouble considering it joy!

5‭-‬8 I often have trouble asking without doubting, so this could be discouraging. But I am encouraged by Jesus's response to the man who said "Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief!"
9‭-‬10 Total role reversal here.

13‭-‬15 God tests us but never tempts us. It says happy are we when tested, not when tempted. The devil tempts us, and our own flesh tempts us.
Sin leads to death! Let me remember this when I'm tempted!

19‭-‬21 This is something I have to remind myself of regularly.

It's so easy to feel good about my own "righteous indignation". But human anger does not accomplish God's righteousness!!!

We are to be salt and light in the world and influence it for good, to correct injustice where we can, to persuade people to God's way, etc. but not to indulge in self-righteous anger!
So hard to do especially when we are railing against injustice. Yet that's what God calls us to do!

‬22‭-‬27 This passage is especially important for me, I think.

I am good at studying the Bible, the historical background, apologetics, etc. But I have to live the message and not merely listen to it. The message must motivate me to godly action.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Study on Titus 3

Titus 3
1-2 Ooo, be subject to the authorities and don't slander… we who oppose BN have to keep this in mind lest our zeal for democracy causes us to sin. I know I've sinned in this manner many times.

3-7 We started out in the evil camp, but the grace and kindness of God have given us a new life.

8-11 Reminder to eschew foolish quarrels.

12-15 Personal notes, similar to the letters to Timothy.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Study on Titus 2

1-10 Whether old or young, slave or free, as Christians, we need to be good examples to others.

11-15 The grace of God trains us for good -- although grace is undeserved favour, i.e. not a result of our good works, our response to grace should be good works. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Study on Titus 1

1-4 God actually had the plan for salvation before the ages began, but it was now the right time that God revealed this ancient mystery to the world.

5-9 The qualifications for elder here are are quite similar to the qualifications for bishop in 1 Timothy 3, and again, they’re good virtues to aspire to even if you’re not going to become an elder.

10-16 Sometimes the observer only observes based on his own internal state. How often, then, do I see something that’s not there? O Lord, make my vision pure. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Study on 2 Timothy 4

1-8 “Be prepared!” is the Boy Scouts’ motto, and that should be our motto as well regarding preaching the Gospel. We need to be self-controlled, even when people don’t want to hear the true Gospel. This doesn’t mean we should not be tactful -- for preaching the Gospel in such a manner as to put people off will not help people to come to Christ. May I be able to say, like Paul, at the end of my life “I’ve fought the good fight; I’ve finished the race; I’ve kept the faith.”

9-22 Paul ends with some personal notes and greetings. Even heroes of the faith are real people, with real feelings, shortcomings, and relationships. God uses ordinary people, and we can all be like these heroes of the faith if we let God.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Study on 2 Timothy 3

1-12 Paul wrote that “in the last days” things will be like this -- people being selfish, boastful, various kinds of evil. But that’s been the case ever since the Fall. There’s also the idea that since Jesus’ ascension, we’ve been in the “last days”. So maybe the thing isn’t to concentrate on “last days” but rather, that we beware of this kind of stuff.

10-17 People opposing us for the Gospel is to be expected. We shouldn’t let this stop us. We need to stick to the scriptures, which teach us, corrects us, and trains us for righteousness, so that we’ll be equipped for every good work.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Study on 2 Timothy 2

2 We need to pass on the faith to others who will also pass on the faith.

1,3,10 When the going gets tough, the faithful keep soldiering on.

5,6 Go for the gold!

11-13 Live, endure, and stay faithful. God stays faithful.

14-26 Beware of false teachers. Grow good virtues, and God will make us a vessel for honourable user.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Study on 2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 1:5‭-‬7
The blessings of a Christian heritage in your family. Thomas and Annie, and Patrick, have this blessing. The rest of us don't, I think. May our children and grandchildren grow up in the Lord and have this blessing, too!

2 Timothy 1:8‭-‬9
God's election, grace unearned. But our reaction, works not spurned.

2 Timothy 1:11‭-‬12
Being faithful to the Gospel may mean trouble... but we can trust God nonetheless.

Study on 2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 1:5‭-‬7
The blessings of a Christian heritage in your family. Thomas and Annie, and Patrick, have this blessing. The rest of us don't, I think. May our children and grandchildren grow up in the Lord and have this blessing, too!

2 Timothy 1:8‭-‬9
God's election, grace unearned. But our reaction, works not spurned.

2 Timothy 1:11‭-‬12
Being faithful to the Gospel may mean trouble... but we can trust God nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Study on 1 Timothy 6

Be careful of the desire to be rich - it’s a trap, and will lead you to evil. Pursue virtue instead and you’ll be blessed. If a Christian is rich, don’t be proud, but generously use the wealth for good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Study on 1 Timothy 5

We need to apply the Golden Rule in how we treat other people, even if they’re not in our family. However, we need to provide for those in our families who are too young or too old or too sick to provide for themselves. The church needs to help those who are destitute without relatives to help them.

It is right and proper to pay full-time workers in the church, though some might, like Paul, choose to have a secular job. Right now, we are paying all our pastors, but previously, Swee Tshung worked as an architect while pastoring CBC Puchong.

v23 suddenly has a practical piece of advice -- because Timothy had frequent stomach problems, Paul advised him to drink wine instead of water. We know now that the alcohol kills bacteria that might be in water. In this way, Paul is giving Timothy some medical advice -- perhaps something he had picked up from Dr. Luke.

This verse also is an argument against alcohol prohibitionists (and balanced with Ephesians 5:18 eschewing drunkenness) as well as the faith extremists who claim that we must not take medicine and “only rely on Doctor Jesus”.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Study on 1 Timothy 4

Denying ourselves for a time for spiritual discipline is good, but taking it overboard is bad. I find it interesting that Paul goes as far as to call it “doctrines of demons”.

Nonetheless, spiritual exercise - godliness - is valuable both for now and the afterlife. So regardless of age, we can be good examples.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Study on 1 Timothy 3

Even if one doesn’t aspire to become a bishop/overseer or deacon, these qualities, I think, are things to aim for. In fact, this, I think, is the source of why the church ended up mandating monogamy for all believers, and not just for bishops and deacons. So all the other stuff here I think also are applicable to us in general.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Study on 1 Timothy 2

1-8 I don't seem to be doing a good job of praying for Malaysia's political leaders, especially for the BN ones. I can't use the excuse that they're corrupt and unjust. Paul wrote this while being ruled by the Roman Empire's oppression. Paul also said that such prayer for all is good because God wants all people to be saved.

9-15 I have trouble with these verses. Not the modesty part - that's fine - but the part that says women must not teach and must not take authority because Adam was created first and Eve was deceived first, and that the woman would be saved through childbearing.

Several people point out that a common traditional understanding of this passage is that the word “childbearing” refers to the birth of Christ, potentially a link to Genesis 3:15 and the promise of a Seed to come through the woman. But then they point out that it doesn't fit the context of the passage, so they think it's not a reasonable interpretation.

However, this person argues that it is the correct interpretation:

This person interprets "through child bearing" to mean "in spite of having to go though the pain of child bearing":

This person points out the hurt and pain a wrong theology about this passage can cause for faithful Christian women:

This writer says that rather than abandoning their intended roles by demanding teaching and authoritative positions in the church, women will find true fulfillment through childbearing. God calls women to be faithful, helpful wives, raising children to love and worship God and managing the household wisely:

This part also makes no sense to me:
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.
1 Timothy 2:14
If Adam was not deceived, this means he's *even* *more* guilty than Eve. So how can this be a justification for the subordination of women?

This woman believes in a complementarian view -- that women are equal with men, but have different, complementary, roles.
She points out that the male domination view is wrong because the Bible clearly points out that all have sinned.

But as a complementarian, she believes that men and women are different. For example, men are more easily tempted by pornography. Women tend to be drawn into sin by a subtle series of little deceptions that seduce her.

So her take on this is that the situation with Adam and Eve was that in this situation, Eve was deceived and left her God-given role to help and support Adam, while Adam wasn’t deceived, but deliberately chose to disobey God because of his own lusts. She wrote, “Eve asserted her independence, stopped being Adam’s helper and became his boss. Adam made no effort to protect, provide for, or lead his wife; he chickened out. Both of their actions were sin. Eve was deceived and Adam was not, yet both sinned. Both abdicated their God-given gender roles in favor of the fleeting promises of sin. Here in 1 Timothy, women are cautioned of the danger of rejecting their God-ordained role as helpmeet. In Romans 5:12-14, God holds Adam alone responsible for the actions of the couple, because Adam was appointed head by God.”

But what about the idea that women are now paying for Eve being deceived by being silenced? She writes, “I am not ‘paying’ for anything; Jesus saved me from everything. Paul’s command in verse 12 is not a disciplinary sentence, but a calling. Jesus is calling women to embrace the way He created them to be and operate within His design… I will willingly not teach or have authority over men, simply because my Jesus asked me to glorify Him in this way.”

Well, that explanation would work for people with a complementarian theology, for it affirms the value of women, but in different roles -- women not allowed to teach or take authority over men, not because they’re inferior, but because God designed them to have a complementary role. This explanation will not satisfy people with an egalitarian theology, like CBC, which allows women to teach.

The Junia project, on the other hand, totally rejects complementarianism. (“Junia”, by the way, was a female apostle, see Romans 16:7, so the Junia Project is affirming the teaching ministry of women.) It makes these points:
  1. “Authority” is a poor translation of the Greek word Paul uses in 1 Timothy 2:12
  2. Applying 1 Timothy 2:12 literally but not doing the same for the surrounding verses is shoddy hermeneutics.
  3. Paul’s restriction was given in the context of a personal letter to Timothy giving advice about a specific issue in the church at Ephesus.
  4. Using this passage to restrict women in leadership requires elevating a handful of verses over the rest of Paul’s writing, not to mention the entire New Testament.
  5. Churches find it impossible to put 1 Timothy 2:12 into practice in a consistent or logical way.
(Read the link for more details on what they mean by these points.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Study on 1 Timothy 1

The Ephesians were getting distracted by empty discussions of myths and interminable genealogies rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith. What secondary issues might I be getting distracted by?

Paul used to be a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man. Yet God redeemed him because “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. So we shouldn’t hate evil people -- we should view them as people who could yet be saved.

Verse 17 reminds me of the song by Walter Smith:
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

We must stand steadfast in Christ, and not allow our faith to be shipwrecked like Hymenaeus and Alexander.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Study on 2 Thessalonians 3

There will be people who oppose the Gospel, but God is faithful and will strengthen and protect us.

Each of us is supposed to earn our own keep and not mooch off others. (Other passages, however, make it clear that this doesn’t preclude helping those who are unable to earn their own keep, for example, old widows.)

If someone is like that, we’re not to encourage them. But, we should admonish him as a brother, and not treat him as an enemy.

I particularly like the way Eugene Peterson translated this: "If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice. But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares." 2 Thessalonians 3:14‭-‬15 MSG

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Study on 2 Thessalonians 2

Who is this man of lawlessness?

I did some Googling about this passage and came across this:
Augustine, perhaps the greatest of the early church fathers and still a great influence today, writes regarding a certain portion of the passage: “I confess that I am entirely ignorant of what he means to say.” New Testament Greek scholar Marvin Vincent omits interpreting the passage in his four volume lexical commentary: “I attempt no interpretation of this passage as a whole, which I do not understand.” Renowned Greek linguist A. T. Robertson despairs of the task of interpreting this passage because it is “in such vague form that we can hardly clear it up.”                      
So, not surprising we are having problems understanding it, when such great theologians through the ages had problems 🤣     

Who the Man of Lawlessness is thought to be seems to depend on the interpreter's eschatology: Premillennials and Dispensationalists usually say it's the Antichrist.

Postmillennials say it's Nero.                      

Amillennials I've read seem to avoid this part of the passage altogether.

But never mind. What we are supposed to do is stated in verse 15: "stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Study on 2 Thessalonians 1

May we endure like the Thessalonian believers , and be worthy of our calling from God.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Study on 1 Thessalonians 5

Instead of being so caught up with predicting when the second coming will be, especially since Jesus warned us that only the Father knows when that'll be, we should just always be prepared to meet our Maker.

That means daily taking up our cross and following Him. Quickly repenting of any sins. Let's encourage each other in this!

I'm not saying this like a man who has achieved this, but as a fellow traveler, and asking you to also encourage me along.

“Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.” 1 Thessalonians 5:26 Ooo, we've not been following this! 😜

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Study on 1 Thessalonians 4

4:1-9 It’s God’s will that we become holy -- being saved by grace made us holy positionally, but God also wants us to become holy actually. So we need to discipline ourselves to eschew lustful passions. In contrast to lustful passions, we must practice brotherly love.

4:13-18 Death should be no terror for Christians, because we have the hope of resurrection. Jesus's death and resurrection is the promise of our own.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Study on 1 Thessalonians 3

Persecution is to be expected. Paul was encouraged that Timothy brought the news that the Thessalonians were holding on firm to the faith in spite of the persecution.

We haven’t yet been persecuted here in Malaysia -- just discrimination. But may the Lord cause us to increase and abound in love for one another.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Study on 1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2:1-6 Paul and his friends didn't let persecution stop them from sharing the Gospel with the Thessalonians. They could do this breviary they were focused on pleasing God rather than men.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Study on 1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1:4‭-‬6 The power of the Holy Spirit is evidence that the Gospel really took hold in their lives: power of joy in spite of great affliction.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Study on Colossians 4

Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 NET

I have little difficulty with quick short prayers, but I have great difficulties praying for a long time, especially alone. My mind tends to wander, so not "keeping alert" in it.

But, as Brant Hansen points out, even short prayers is better than no prayers, so we gotta keep at it even if we're not that great at it.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.
Colossians 4:6 NET

This is another verse that tells us the balance, like "Speak the truth in love" - too often we forget to be gracious in our "righteous indignation"...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Study on Colossians 3

Colossians 3:1-17 We have to put away all the bad stuff and put on the good stuff.

I think Romans 12:1-2 is applicable here as well (renewing of our minds.)

Colossians 3:18-25 There's a proper way to treat other people based on the nature of their relationship with us.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Study on Colossians 2

Knowing Christ is knowing the mystery of God. Jesus has the wisdom and knowledge -- though other people may have reasonable-sounding arguments, we mustn’t be deceived by empty/deceitful philosophy. We’ve been crucified and raised with Christ. Jesus’ victory defeated the evil spiritual powers of this world. Asceticism without the true Spirit is in reality self-indulgence.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Study on Colossians 1

Colossians 1:9 says “For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”.

I was trying to figure out what the reason was. The previous sentence said, “You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave – a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf – who also told us of your love in the Spirit” But why would their live in the Spirit be the reason for him to pray for them? I would have thought it was more reason to give thanks.

Later, after more discussion with Thomas Kuruvilla, I am now thinking that the reason is that they learned the gospel from Epaphras and Paul found out about it.

Colossians 1:21‭-‬22 says “And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him”

We used to be God's enemies, but because of Jesus, that is no longer the case😄

Colossians 1:25‭-‬27 says, “I became a servant of the church according to the stewardship from God – given to me for you – in order to complete the word of God, that is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints. God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” God used to be hidden only among the Israelites, but now is revealed to all people.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Study on Philippians 4

4:5-7 Worry is such a natural thing. But worry doesn’t help. So instead of being anxious, we should pray, and remember to thank God for what He has already done. That’s when God’s peace comes.

4:8-9 It’s so easy for us to focus on the negative. But if we focus on the positive, and put them into practice, how much better our lives would be!

4:10-14 There’s nothing quite like contentment. Striving for more and more possessions will not satisfy.

4:22 By now some of the people even in Caesar's household have come to believe. As Paul mentioned in chapter 1, this was one of the beneficial side effects of his imprisonment.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Study on Philippians 3

The true circumcision is worshiping through the Spirit, not the physical circumcision. Paul had all the Jewish holy credentials, but they were worthless compared to the value of knowing Jesus as Lord.

Even Paul recognized that he hadn’t yet attained God’s perfection, but continued to strive towards Christ’s ideal. Yet he could hold himself up as a person to be imitated. So likewise, we can be positive examples to those around us in whatever way we’re correctly following Jesus.

Father, even as I recognize I’m no where near the perfection You have called us to yet, and yet, in the ways that I am following You, may I be a positive example to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Study on Philippians 2

We’re called to unity in purpose and love. I have long ago realized that I am by nature very selfish and don’t live up to the call “in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.”

But that nature isn’t destiny, because we are new creations in Christ; the flesh is buried with Christ’s death, and we’re resurrected with Him.

Jesus was God Himself yet he emptied himself and took on the form of a slave, and died a terrible death for our salvation.

So this work to remove my selfishness is part of working out my salvation. This doesn’t contradict salvation by grace through faith, but is the other side of the coin.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” -- oh, so hard to do, yet so necessary! Father, remind me of this when I am tempted to grumble.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Study on Philippians 1

As I struggle to follow Jesus, and keep sinning and having to ask for forgiveness, sometimes it feels like a hopeless task. But “He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it!”

So I must remind myself, it’s not a hopeless task -- He will complete it.

Paul’s imprisonment was a “bad thing” -- but God made use of it, because now the whole Praetorian guard got to hear the Gospel.

Sometimes we get upset because people do things out of impure motives -- but nonetheless, we can still rejoice that good is being done. Of course, the person doing good out of impure motives will not reap the reward, but we can still rejoice in the good.

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” We need not fear death, for if we are in Christ, it is merely the doorway to eternity with Him.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Study on Ephesians 6

As parents, we need to have loving discipline but not provoking our children to anger.

As employees, we need to work as to please the Lord. As bosses, we are to treat our employees well.

We’re not fighting people -- we’re fighting the devil and his forces. So we need to have the full armour of God. Truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, the word of God, and prayer.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Study on Ephesians 5

Imitating God in love is no easy task, but it is the ideal that we’re called to. Similarly, getting rid of all sin may be a lifelong task but we should keep at it. We’re to expose deeds of darkness. This is wisdom. Don’t get drunk with spirits; instead be filled with the Holy Spirit. Give thanks, sing spiritual songs.

And submit to one another… sometimes very hard to do, but necessary. Our wives would find it much easier to submit to us if we love them like Jesus loved us and gave himself for us. How often do I “die” for my wife? My innate selfishness rears its ugly head but I must beat it down and put her needs before my own.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Study on Ephesians 4

Our salvation is by grace through faith, but we nonetheless should live worthily of our calling. When people annoy me, I need to bear with it in love and unity.

God gave different roles and gifts to different people. This is for mutual benefit. Let's not be jealous of each other.

Telling of the truth must be done in love, or it can be hurtful.

Human anger, unlike God's, is destructive. We mustn't harbour it. We must get rid of it ASAP, or else we'll give Satan a foothold. Forgive!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Study on Ephesians 3

The mystery of Christ that was hidden but is now revealed is that we Gentiles are fellow heirs of the wonderful Kingdom of God!

Paul prayed for God’s Spirit to strengthen the Ephesians -- likewise we can pray for God’s Spirit to strengthen each other. God is able to do much more than we could ever imagine.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Study on Ephesians 2

We once were in Satan’s kingdom, but no more! Because God’s grace saved us! We’re God’s masterpiece for good works.

Here is the balance -- by grace we’ve been saved through faith, not of works, so we can’t boast. But what’re we saved for? For good works.

So now all of us are saved that way, there is no longer any room for racism. We are one body in Christ.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Study on Ephesians 1

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing! Wow! He chose us before the beginning of the world! Is that awesome or what? We are redeemed by Jesus’ blood! And sealed with the Holy Spirit.

And His power is incomparably great. Jesus is far above every ruler in the world. All things are under Christ’s feet!

And this is being written to a first century church that was small, politically powerless, etc. How much more can we take courage in our current circumstances?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Study on Galatians 6

6:1-10 All of us have sinned, so when we see someone else sin, instead of being self-righteous, we should seek to bring them to repentance and restoration.

At the same time, we should not gloss over sin. Sin has consequences and we will reap them if we sin. So we must keep on doing good to all, especially our brothers & sisters in Christ.

6:11-18 As Paul signs off, he again warns against the judaizers. We can’t boast in our rituals, only in Christ.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Study on Galatians 5

Christ set us free! So let’s not get caught up in the slavery of legalism. “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Wow… so easy to say, so hard to do, especially when we consider the list of sins in verses 19-21.

But it is true that as we walk in the Spirit over the years, we grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Not there yet, but keep at it!

Father, as I face temptations, keep me walking in the Spirit! In Jesus’ name, amen!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Study on Galatians 4

4:1-7 We get to call God daddy because He has adopted us as His children. We get to inherit God’s blessings.

4:8-28 Because we have this blessing, been adopted as children of God, let’s not go back to become enslaved in observing special days, and other old testament laws.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Study on Galations 3

The Galatians knew that they received salvation by faith. However, upon the influence of the Judaizers, they had started to think that maybe they needed to add to what Christ had done.

The just shall live by faith -- so Paul isn't saying that we shouldn't have good works, but that good works are not for the purpose of salvation. Good works are our response to the grace that God has already shown us by Christ's sacrifice.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (3:28) Here is the original human rights declaration. At the time Paul wrote this, it was normal to practice racism, slavery, and sexism. (Similar sentiments are expressed in Colossians 3:11.)

Many Malaysian Christians, like the society around us, are still racist. I know a lot of us complain about the racism shown against non-Malays, but many of us also show racism towards others. Even things like refusing to rent properties to people of the "wrong race", etc. and I can't count the number of times fellow Chinese-Malaysian Christians have said racist things against Indians and Malays.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Study on Galatians 2

Gal 2:11-14 None of our human leaders, however godly and Spirit-led, are perfect. Peter was truly chosen by Jesus to lead the church after Jesus’ ascension, yet even he messed up here under the influence of the Judaizers, and Paul had to pull him back to the right path.

Gal 2:21 “I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!” It would be pointless for Jesus to die on the cross if we could work out way to salvation. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Study on Galatians 1

What’s the “other gospel” that the Galatians are being beguiled by? (Galatians 1:6) If I’m not mistaken, it’s the Judaizers -- who wanted to add the works of the law to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We often get the impression from the 4 Gospel accounts that the Pharisees were dead set against Jesus. But actually, many Pharisees became Christians -- their belief in the resurrection (as opposed to their rivals the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection.)

These Pharisee Christians ended up trying to influence the church to make the Gentiles essentially become Jewish proselytes first -- and follow the Old Testament Law -- to be “real” Christians.

But how do we actually get rescued? “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5)

Salvation is by grace through faith, not of works. It is a gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8). Jesus did it all. We can’t add to it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Study on John 21

Ikan bakar - the Jesus dish 😜

Peter’s 3-fold restoration, to reaffirm him after his 3-fold denial before the crucifixion.

‘So the saying circulated among the brothers and sisters that this disciple was not going to die. But Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but rather, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours?”’ -- John was the only apostle who lived to a ripe old age instead of being martyred.

“There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

I find it interesting that he stopped here, instead of going on to the ascension. I wonder why?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Study on John 20

Interesting that John got to the tomb first but didn’t go in, but he believed.

“Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father.” -- so he didn’t ascend to the Father until after this? Before the ascension? Because he allowed Thomas to touch him later.

Jesus appeared to the disciples on Sunday evening and breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” But the Holy Spirit didn’t come until Pentecost. So was Jesus predicting the coming of the Holy Spirit, or was this the infilling of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost was the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are the people who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s us!

“Now Jesus performed many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Sometimes we try to tell people too much, but John was selective what he told, because he had a clear purpose in mind.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Study on John 19

Pilate thought he had authority but his authority was only was given to him from above. As it turned out, he couldn’t resist the Jewish leaders’ machinations to get Jesus executed -- because God allowed that, so that Jesus would die for the sins of the world.

Though, Pilate did have his last laugh against the Jewish leaders, “The King of the Jews” -- “What I have written, I have written.”

Verse 24 quotes from Psalm 22. Go read Psalm 22. This was a psalm of David! A millennium before Christ! And yet when you read his psalm, there are so many echoes of what Jesus went through. In fact, Jesus himself quotes the first verse of this psalm, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Even on the cross, Jesus thought of his mother’s well-being, entrusting Mary’s care to John bar Zebedee. (“Bar” is Aramaic for “bin”.)

Verse 30: Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -- Jesus died before the normal length of time for people to die on the cross, as evidenced by verse 33 & 34 (and Mark 15:44 points out that Pilate was surprised Jesus was already dead.)

Why did Jesus die so quickly?
  1. Jesus was unusually tortured before his crucifixion, weakening him (see for an enumeration of these.
  2. Jesus voluntarily gave up his life, and the extra weight of the sins of the world killed him more quickly than just the physical trauma would have.