Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Life’s Reversals

The evening of December 9, 1914, an explosion set fire to a large scientific laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey. At least ten buildings were destroyed, along with years of research and development. Property loss alone was estimated at $7 million ($148 million in today’s dollars). “There go all our mistakes,” the laboratory’s founder and CEO said as he watched the blaze. “Although I am 67 years old,” he told a New York Times reporter who was at the scene, “I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” The next morning’s newspaper included a notice that all 7,000 of the lab’s employees were to report for work immediately, to begin rebuilding. A disaster of lesser proportions would have demoralized just about anyone else, but years of trial and error had conditioned Thomas Edison to see disasters as opportunities.
Most of the reversals you and I face aren’t nearly as catastrophic, but they have two things in common with Edison’s inferno. First, regardless of their nature, they present us with a choice: How will we react to our change of circumstances? Second, depending on how we react, such changes inevitably change us for better or for worse.
On the first score, positive thinking and determination are powerful forces for making the most of difficult circumstances, but when we also enlist the help of all-powerful God, our chances for a positive outcome increase exponentially. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are [right] toward Him.”
On the second score, if we ask God to use every challenge we face to help make us better people, He will. In fact, “Make me better” is one of His favorite prayers to answer.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ESV – We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Philippians 4:12-13 ESV – I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
1 Peter 5:10 ESV – And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Who Needs Prayer?

Who needs your prayers? Lots of people do. Among those closest to you, there are probably at least a few who aren’t in good health, or have suffered some personal loss, or are depressed or stressed. And then there are those you hear about in the news and those you pass on the road of life.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own concerns that we neglect to look around at the needs of others. This exercise is a remedy to such self-involvement, but it’s more than that; it’s a vehicle for you to reach out and help others.
It starts with a simple premise: God answers prayers.
There are many accounts in the Bible of prayer bringing outstanding results—when Elisha prayed for a sun-stricken child and the boy revived, for example. And Jesus told us, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” The prophet Samuel recognized that neglecting to pray for others is a sin, and Paul set an example by praying often for his coworkers.
Begin this exercise by picturing yourself in the center of a set of concentric circles. You’re in the center, but the focus isn’t on you. Within the first circle are your family and closest friends. It’s probably easy to identify the needs of at least two or three. Make a note. Now picture the next circle, your colleagues and acquaintances. Make a note of their names and needs. Now picture the widest circle, people whom you don’t know personally, but whose needs you are aware of—the woman in a wheelchair who you passed on the street, the homeless family you read about. Make a note.
At this point you probably have a list of about ten people. Pray for these people throughout the coming week. Keep the list where you will notice it, perhaps next to your bed or over the kitchen sink or on your desk.
Take five or ten minutes every day to pray for them. Even a few moments of meaningful, heartfelt prayer can make a big difference in someone’s life. “When a believing person prays, great things happen.”
1 Timothy 2:1 ESV – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
Ephesians 6:18 ESV – Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Romans 8:26-27 ESV – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Working with God

The workplace is becoming an increasingly nasty and competitive arena. Too often, honesty and hard work seem to lose out to the pursuit of a quick buck and me-first politicking. But there is another way. The idea that the Bible contains specific guidance for the modern work life is not as incongruous as it might seem. As Joseph and Daniel proved, integrity and diligence can help us succeed and stand out from the crowd.
Have a strong work ethic. Give it your best shot. Instead of doing the minimum, put your all into your responsibilities. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” “The soul of the diligent shall be made rich.”
Be a self-starter. “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.”
Be honest. Bending the rules doesn’t pay in the long run. “Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people.”
Don’t dwell on negatives. No job is perfect. “If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
As for that hard-to-get-along-with coworker, the Bible admonishes, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Contentions? “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.”
Feeling restless and bored? God will refresh your spirit. “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Feeling stressed and spent? “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Be patient. God blesses those who do things His way, but not always immediately and not only in dollars and cents. Bible figures Joseph and Daniel both rose to top positions, but neither was an overnight success. “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich.” “Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
2 Peter 3:18 ESV – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
James 2:14 ESV – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Winning friends

Question: I want to get along well with others and be liked, but often I don’t know where to begin. How can I build strong connections with people?
Answer: Here are some tips to get you started. The point is not to pretend to be something you’re not, but to make a conscious effort to cultivate qualities that will make people feel at ease and be happy to be around you.
Be polite and courteous. As St. Basil observed, “He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness, gathers love.”
Smile. A sincere smile disarms the guarded, soothes the argumentative, calms the angry, and encourages the downhearted. It sets a positive tone.
Be optimistic. Everyone has enough problems already. People are drawn to upbeat, solution-oriented people.
Be sociable. If you’re shy or withdrawn, focusing on making the other person feel accepted and at ease will help you be less self-conscious.
Be respectful. It’s easy to respect people who you have a lot in common with, but respecting others’ right to think and be different is even more important, as well as more endearing.
Look for the good in others. Everyone has at least a few admirable qualities. Focus on finding those, not finding fault.
Be vocal about others’ good qualities. Everyone needs to know that his or her good qualities are noticed and appreciated. Be generous, sincere, and specific with your compliments.
Lighten up. A person with a good sense of humor is fun to be around. Just be sure your humor doesn’t come at someone else’s expense.
Keep an open mind. Everyone has a right to an opinion. Few arguments are worth winning at the cost of a friendship.
Be humble. Proud, self-promoting people are a pain to be around. Humility is winsome; pride is woeful.
Be a good listener. One of the best ways to show people you care about them is by taking an interest in what they have to say and making an effort to understand and empathize.
Be gracious when others make mistakes. Everybody messes up sometimes. Remember the Golden Rule. What goes around comes around.
Proverbs 17:17 ESV – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 18:24 ESV – A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 27:17 ESV – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Prayer Points

1. Please intercede for our Corps family
Bro John, Sis Shirley, Sis Cheryl, bro Robin and Sis Michelle Lee

2. Please intercede for Major Geoffrey Friend as he travels around ministering to the multitudes.
Pray for God's strength and protection be upon him.

3. Please intercede for one another for good health, spiritual life and families.

Annoucement

1. Cell Group
Date: 01 July 2016 (Fri), Time: 8:00pm
Venue: Penang Children's Home Chapel

2. Penang Open Day Coupons
Date: 10th September 2016
Time: 9am - 2pm
Venue: Penang Children's Home

Once again your help and support is needed in selling the coupons. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. Please look for Captain Fiona for the coupons. Thank you.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Drunk at My Window

It was nearly midnight and I was brushing my teeth, already half asleep, when I heard him. He was shouting and mumbling at the same time. Probably a drunk calling to his drinking buddy, I decided.
Half an hour later, I could still hear the man shouting, though I couldn’t make out anything he was saying. Enough was enough! I decided to call the police.
As I passed a window, I saw that the man was standing under a streetlight. He was older than I had imagined, bare-chested in the cold, and yelling right in my direction.
A young man stopped to talk with him. A moment later he took off his jacket and put it on the old man. I was astonished. The two hugged, and I could tell that the young man was praying for the drunk. A couple passed and did a double take, but the young man didn’t seem to care what they were thinking. Eventually the modern-day Good Samaritan put his arm around the old man, as if to say “I’ll get you home,” and with that the two were gone.
I stood at the window awhile longer, thinking about my own Christianity. I had to admit that my reaction to the annoying drunk had fallen far short of what Jesus’ would have been. Jesus wouldn’t have called the police. He would have stopped. He would have talked with the man. He would have given him His coat. He would have listened to him, comforted him, and prayed for him. And it might have changed the old man’s life.
When I eventually went back to bed, I thanked God for sending that young man to help both the drunk and me. And I prayed to do better next time God sends a needy person my way.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. … Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
— Jesus, Matthew 25:34–36, 40
Luke 10:30-37 ESV – Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
Luke 10:27 ESV – And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Christian Profile

The Epistle to Diognetus was written by an unnamed Christian to a high-ranking pagan, probably in the late second century. Perhaps the earliest preserved explanation and defense of the Christian faith to a nonbeliever, it provides insight as to how early Christians viewed the world and their place in it. The attributes the author lists in chapter 5, “The Manners of Christians,” provide food for thought for us today. Excerpts from the J.B. Lightfoot translation:
Christians are not distinguished from the rest of humanity by country, language, or custom. For nowhere do they live in cities of their own, nor do they speak some unusual dialect, nor do they practice an eccentric lifestyle. … While they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each one’s lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own spiritual citizenship.
They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is their fatherland, and every fatherland is foreign. … They are “in the flesh,” but do not live “according to the flesh.” They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws.
They love everyone. … They are put to death, yet they are brought to life. … They are in need of everything, yet they abound in everything. … They are dishonored, yet they are glorified in their dishonor. They are slandered, yet they are vindicated. They are cursed, yet they bless. They are insulted, yet they offer respect. … When they are punished, they rejoice as though brought to life. … Those who hate them are unable to give a reason for their hostility.
In a word, what the soul is to the body, Christians are to the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians throughout the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but is not of the body; likewise Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, which is invisible, is confined in the body, which is visible; in the same way, Christians are recognized as being in the world, and yet their religion remains invisible.
Acts 22:16 KJV – And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Acts 2:38 KJV – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Ephesians 4:29 KJV – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

“All Things to All People”

The Bible tells us, “Do not be shaped by this world.” It also tells us to “become all things to all people.” At first glance these instructions may seem contradictory, but they can actually complement each other. God does not want us to conform to ungodly attitudes, no matter how prevalent they may be, but He does want us to be attuned to society in ways that allow us to better show His love to others, that we might bring them closer to Him.
The apostle Paul was a good example of this kind of flexibility as he related to and reached a great variety of people. When addressing a predominantly Jewish audience in Antioch, for example, he reminded them of the history of Israel from the time of Moses to the time of David, and then he showed how Jesus had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. But when Paul spoke to the Areopagus council in Athens, sophisticated Greeks who would not have been interested in hearing a history of the Jewish people, he began by referring to an altar he had seen in the city, which bore the inscription “To an Unknown God.” Then he quoted Greek poets to show that the attributes of this god—creation, providence, and judgment—were fulfilled in Jesus.
Francis Xavier (1506–1552) also lived the “all things to all men” principle. In order to relate to the Indian people who considered humility a virtue, he wore shabby attire and traveled on foot. When he later visited Japan, however, he found that humility was not considered a virtue and that poverty was despised. So Xavier dressed in fine clothing, brought expensive gifts to the emperor, and traveled at all times with an impressive entourage. He did whatever it took to present Jesus in the best possible light to the people he wanted to reach.
Jesus Himself “became all things to all people” when He left the grand halls of heaven and the intimate fellowship that He shared with His heavenly Father to come to earth in human form. He did this so that He could better relate to us, better understand our problems and weaknesses, and better intercede for us before the throne of God. Jesus wants us to follow His example. He wants us to manifest our love for others by reaching people on their level.
Philippians 2:5-7 KJV – Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.
1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV – To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
Hebrews 2:17 NIV – For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.