Being prayerful

29 May 2014

Even though i write a devotional everyday, it doesn’t substitute as prayer with God. Sometimes i get distracted and give the excuse of being too busy or feeling too tired to pray. I let one of the most important privileges and act of worship play a smaller and smaller role in my walk of faith.

But today, i am reminded of the importance of praying regularly. Prayer not only keeps me in sync with the Holy Spirit, but it also sharpens my thoughts and actions. It blocks off the subtle lies of the enemy and refreshes my mind with the truth and with God’s power.

Today, i must continue to stay alert to the discipline of prayer and make prayer a lifestyle to enjoy rather than just seeing it as a good  discipline to have.

My Lord and God, keep my eyes and thoughts on you throughout my days, let me seek you in my work, rest and play, let me share my lows and highs with you.

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I go to prepare a place for you

28 May 2014

Psalm 49

I will not trust in my wealth nor boast of the abundance of my riches, but i will trust in the mercy of Jesus and the abundance of his grace.

Truly no man can ransom another or give to God the price of his life, but Jesus has ransomed me and paid the full price for my life.

For the ransom of my life is costly and nothing would suffice. Even if i owned everything there is to own on earth, it would still not be enough to allow me to live on forever and avoid seeing the pit.

Though they may have lands called by their own names, those who trust in their wealth will leave their wealth to others and make the graves their home forever.

But God will ransom my soul from the power of death and hell and God will receive me.

Sometimes, the riches of my own life will blind me, and the riches of others will also dazzle me. My heart is prone to trust in earthly comfort and security, but my soul knows its home in the body is only temporary. For that reason, nothing on this earth and no riches or property would ever satisfy my soul because it knows that it would all pass away together with my body. There will be a growing sense of fear and insecurity no matter the wealth accumulated, and the more my flesh tries to react by hoarding, the more my soul struggles as its eternal home erodes away.

There was once a Chinese emperor who was so scared of death that he built a legion of stone terracotta armies to accompany him in the afterlife and to be his guard and shield in death. With every day of life that passed, the numbers of the terracotta warriors increased. He knew that life was temporary and feared the eternity he faced when his body passed away. That fear terrorized his waking life. Unfortunately no hands can build a home or an army for the afterlife.

Jesus said: ““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

Lord Jesus, i know i may trust in my horses and chariots at times and i know my soul struggles to keep in tune with the Holy Spirit. Thank you for reminding me about my eternal home and what it really means to be able to not fret over where i will spend eternity. Thank you that you have gone ahead to prepare a place and a home for me with you. I love you Lord, and i thank you for directing me home.

 

Watch Yourselves

27 May 2014

Luke 21:34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.”

It is true that sometimes, I can allow work, obligations and other activities weigh me down that i leave no room to care about the spiritual aspects of life. To some, the spiritual aspects of life are a tool to enable and improve the quality of everyday life on earth. But for Christians, the spiritual aspects of life will turn out to be the only valuable thing that remains and is of eternal importance compared to the other cares of this life here and now. It is far more than a tool to improve the quality of life here and now – it is the distinguishing factor between life and death.

Romans 8:6-8 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

i know that i am setting too much importance or care on my flesh when i feel dull to the spiritual aspects of life and the Word of God. When prayer feels tiresome and when reading scripture a toil, it suggests that my spiritual health is suffering. And Romans 8:6-8 suggests that it is probably because i am setting too much importance to the fleshly concerns and the cares of this life rather than taking care of my spiritual health.

Holy Spirit, teach me how and lead me to set my mind on you and to live in your constant care. Help me not to be overwhelmed with the cares of this life, but to be overwhelmed instead by the glory that is set before me. The glory which has been set aside for me, eternal treasure that is apportioned to me – if only i keep my mind on you.

Do not grow weary

26 May 2014

When we consider the criticism of other people or the harsh treatment we unfairly receive sometimes – it is easy to grow weary and discouraged. It upsets us and angers us – draws away our strength in the process and discourages us.

In Hebrews 12:3, it says: “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” and in verse 15 it also says: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

Whilst the rest of this verse in Hebrews actually speaks about the discipline of God being for our own good , i am reminded by the two verses above that Jesus – even though perfect and sinless, God in human flesh – was not immune from criticism, harsh words, false accusations, hostility, unfair treatment and the like.

It is just insane how we could even criticize God – the perfect, flawless Creator, the awesome and powerful God – honored and revered by the heavenly hosts who are mightier than humans – being told he is not good enough, not worthy and being condemned.

If God himself was not excused from such treatment, who am i to expect otherwise? As i consider the verses, i draw some courage and comfort in the fact that though the world may be unappreciative and harsh and even judgmental, there is a perfect judge and a perfect and loving Father who sees and will make right everything one day. In the meantime, i must endure as Jesus did, and i must dissolve any bitterness by reflecting on how Jesus had to do the same and suffer much more than i.

Lord Jesus, thank you for being my role model and walking the path before me. Thank you for showing me and encouraging me in my walk with you. Though i may hit bumpy roads, i pray that your strength and wisdom will be close to me and keep my paths straight. Help me remove bitterness from my heart. Help me to strengthen my knees and hands when they droop. I pray that i do not grow weary in keeping with what is glorifying to you.

Loving kindness

25 May 2014

Loving kindness is what drew my heart to Jesus. I am also drawn toward the loving kindness flowing from other people. I believe no matter who we are, or what we are like, we are instantly drawn toward those persons who radiate loving kindness.

In this loving kindness, i feel accepted and not judged. I feel safe and i feel free. There was once a man who was a hardened criminal. But every week, there would be nuns visiting the prisons, and over time, the loving kindness of these nuns had overwhelmed the criminal that he broke down in tears one day and accepted Jesus as his Lord. The loving kindness led the criminal to repentance and finally freedom from the guilt within. When he was set free, he went on to share the testimony of Jesus to other inmates in prison and i am sure, he also led many to the same repentance and freedom in Christ.

When Jesus started his ministry, he preached: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”. This was not an expression of judgement nor conviction of sin – but Jesus’ words and life were an embrace and act of loving kindness toward those who had lost their way. Jesus also first proclaimed this before he started his ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus never said, i have come to convict the sinners of their sin or i have come to enforce the rules of how to live a sinless life. But painfully, this is what some of the church today is doing. Painfully, this is what good intentioned and God loving Christians are doing. Someone once said, it is our job to love and God’s job to judge. Many believe that loving without discretion is tantamount to ignoring the truth and neglecting the need to guide someone toward the truth. I beg to differ. Not only is it our job to love and show loving kindness, but it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict and allow true repentance to flow from the heart. Loving kindness leads to true repentance. Whilst there is a time to guide and correct, we need not worry about whether someone will or will not repent or come to Jesus. That is in God’s complete sovereignty and we will only end up frustrating and interfering with the work of the Holy Spirit. That is his specialty and that is his domain. No one has ever been able to do a better job than the Holy Spirit and no one ever will – so we can hang up our boxing gloves in this area – and fight the real battle that is raging within our own hearts at times.

Lord Jesus, lead me in the way of loving kindness. Lead me away from judgement and asserting myself on other people. I acknowledge and affirm that you are the one who draws people with your loving kindness and it is your loving kindness that leads people toward you. Let me not be a stumbling block to another. 

Creator and created things

24 May 2014

I was looking at all the skyscrapers and new building works going on in the city. The glitz and glamour of new shopping malls, the sights of beautifully crafted and engineering sports cars. The luxury that we have surrounded our lives with is intoxicating and breathtaking sometimes.

Yet Jesus told us to worship the Creator and not the created things. In the past people used to worship their own gods made from statutes and in temples made with human hands. And Jesus would rebuke them by asking if such idols made out of wood and metal had life or could talk to them or save them. Jesus asked them to worship the living God but man loved to worship the things they created with their own hands.

Today, we haven’t progressed much away from this direction. Created things still remain an idol in our hearts and are often seen as more attractive and coveted than God himself. Even if we know in our minds and hearts that God is the true creator and there is nothing we can create that can surpass His greatness and beauty, we are still attracted to the created things man has built.

If only i would stop and acknowledge for a moment each day, how wonderful it is that the Creator of everything there was and is and ever will be, has already given me the keys to himself. That the words, “I am rich in Jesus” is not just a saying or verse, but i something that i am going to intentionally let ring true in my heart.

Lord, I want to give you the glory and praise for all that is created in awesome wonder. Whether the mountains or the sea, whether the other created things of this world, it is you and you alone who is the beginning source of everything. And you tell me, “No eye has seen and no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”. May my heart acknowledge and confirm that this is true and there is nothing here on earth that can surpass the majesty and splendor of being with you.

Wounds

23 May 2014

Wounds need to be healed. If they don’t heal, we know there is a problem. Wounds also need time to heal. I believe there are physical wounds as well as spiritual wounds.

It isn’t difficult to discover a physical wound, but discovering a spiritual wound or psychological wound is not always easy.

This is especially important when it comes to faith. Without healing deep spiritual or psychological wounds, it is difficult for faith to take root and grow. All of us struggle to different degrees with different types of spiritual and psychological wounds. Some more than others.

But the importance of asking God for healing in these areas of our lives is crucial to our faith. Ignoring such wounds can be tantamount and compared to ignoring the enemy of our faith. Just as there is no need to over emphasize the existence of the enemy or accounting every difficulty or trouble to the enemy, we also do not need to place disproportionate importance in the matter of spiritual healing.

But today, i think many Christians are neglecting the reality of spiritual and psychological wounds. These can be formed early in childhood or picked up later in adult life. And we need to be reminded to take a look in this department of our lives every now and then and ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal areas that need healing. Often, it’s not the healing that takes a long time, it’s the discovery of that wound which is hidden from us.

Holy Spirit, i pray that you would reveal to me the areas in my life that i need healing in. Bring light to those areas of darkness in my life and faith which need to be exposed to the truth and to your love. Search my heart and show me what is wrong and where i need to remove weeds and thorns that are stunting my growth. Heal me, prune me and grow me.