Saturday, September 24, 2016

More like the Master

Christians are supposed to try to be like Jesus—living as He would, acting as He would, speaking as He would, and even thinking as He would. But how do we accomplish that? How can we be more like Him? As in the Persian fable, it comes from living close to Jesus.
Many of us do spend time with Jesus, but how much quality time do we spend with Him, where we shut out the business of the day and give Him our full attention, communing with Him, enjoying Him, and getting to know Him better in order to become more like Him? If we don’t, no matter how many good qualities we possess or how dynamic we are or how dedicated we are, no matter how good we are with people or what else we may have going for us, if we’re not spending time with Jesus, we’re not going to be a very good reflection of Him or His love to others.
The dictionary defines “communion” as “a feeling of emotional or spiritual closeness, a connection.” So communing with Jesus means to make an emotional and spiritual connection with Jesus. Praise, prayer, and reading God’s Word are all ways of making and sustaining that connection. These are the lifeblood of our spiritual lives.
Quality timeMany of us tend to pick up the pace when our workloads increase, and that leads to more stress. Taking time off to relax can help relieve the pressure, but time alone or with friends or family can’t give us what Jesus can.
Hobbies can also be relaxing and fun, but if we’re not careful, they can actually contribute to the problem by taking time away from the essentials, including the most essential—taking time with Jesus. That’s a common mistake people make—filling every spare moment with more “busyness,” when the Lord wants them to take that time with Him.
The surest way to complete and lasting renewal—in fact, the only way—is to spend time with Jesus. We need His love and strength and wisdom, and the only way we can get those is by spending time with Him.
But carving out time from your daily schedule is no guarantee that you’re going to get closer to the Lord; it’s what you do with that time that counts. You need to get still, empty your mind of the business of the day, and let the Lord fill you with positive, encouraging, strengthening, faith-building thoughts from His recorded and living Word.
Jesus said the requirement for a fruitful life is abiding in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you.” That means staying connected with Him by taking time to read His Word and pray and listen to Him.
It’s easy to let prayer become a formality, but one thing that can help you avoid that is to think of Jesus as the Friend, Counselor, and Lover that He wants to be to you. As someone once said, “The more one loves Jesus, the more he delights to be with Jesus alone. Lovers love to be alone.”
But He won’t push you. He waits to see how much you are willing to abandon all other distractions in order to put Him first. If you have Him in first place, then you will see and feel His power and help in your life beyond what you ever imagined.
The nature of Jesus“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”
These are virtues that define Jesus, and if we read His Word and spend time with Him in prayer on a regular basis, we will take on some of His attributes. How can we expect to be changed for the better? Let’s go down the list and see.
Love: God is love. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love. As followers of Jesus, we, too, need to manifest love in every way we can.
Joy: True happiness comes from being close to God and living our lives His way.
Peace: The word in the Old Testament that is translated “peace” actually has a broader meaning: completeness, soundness, and overall well-being. In the New Testament, “peace” often refers to inner tranquility, a combination of hope, trust, and quiet of mind and spirit. Peace comes from faith, and faith comes from reading and believing God’s Word.
Longsuffering: At least one English version of the Bible translates this “patience”—the ability to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. We often need to be patient, either with people or with circumstances, and we need to do so in a spirit of love.
Gentleness: To be gentle is to have a mild and kind nature, a gracious and honorable manner, consideration, and a spirit of fairness and compassion. Jesus sounds like a true gentleman, doesn’t He?
Goodness: My Bible dictionary says that goodness consists of righteousness, holiness, justice, kindness, grace, mercy, and love. Other definitions include having an upright and virtuous character, and having a kind and gentle disposition. Again, these certainly characterize Jesus. If His Spirit abides in us, so they should also characterize us.
Faith, or faithfulness: One of the meanings of faithfulness is unwavering belief. Another is being conscientious, having a sense of responsibility and devotion to duty.
Meekness: I particularly like one definition that says meekness is “an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward men, springing from a recognition that God is in control.”
Temperance, or self-control: This is the ability to control your behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses.
Jesus wants to impart to us these qualities, so they mesh into the core of our being. We will then demonstrate them in our lives, not only for our own benefit by changing our nature and improving our personality, but also for the benefit of others whom He wants to bless and reach through our example.
1 John 4:16 ESV / So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
Ephesians 5:25 ESV / Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Romans 5:8 ESV / But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Better You

How will reading God’s Word make your life better?
Food for spiritual strength and growthJust as your body needs food to survive and grow strong, your spirit needs spiritual nourishment from God’s Word. This little analogy crops up repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments:
When Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” He was quoting Moses.
Job declared in his time of suffering, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
In Psalm 119, King David said to the Lord, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
The apostle Peter, writing to new Christians, admonished them to “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word.”
Deeper relationships with JesusWhen you received Jesus into your heart, you began a wonderful and fulfilling personal relationship with Him. He wants to be your best friend, counselor, teacher, guide, and much more! The way to get to know Him better is through His Word. The four Gospels, especially, reveal His nature, His personality, His power, and His love.
He wants His relationship with you to be a two-way, give-and-take affair. It is through reading the Word that you will find out not only what He has for you, but also what He would like from you.
Think of His words as personal love letters to you from the one who knows and cares about you more than any other can.
Truth and freedomIt seems that everywhere you look today, someone is marketing “the truth” in the form of some new book, program, or product. Who are you supposed to believe—and how much will it cost you?
Well, Jesus has the real article. “If you abide in My word,” He promises, “you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
You can rest assured that the Bible tells the truth. Become familiar with its precepts, and you will have a standard by which you can measure all things.
FaithFaith isn’t something you can try to have. It comes by taking in the Word of God. If you’re weak in faith, it’s probably because you’re not reading and believing God’s Word enough. But the more you read and study the Word with an open mind and receptive heart, the more your faith will grow. It’s that simple and that sure!
HappinessLasting happiness comes from following Jesus’ loving example, and you know how to do that from His Word. Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. … These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Contentment and peace of mindBy studying God’s Word, you will come to understand His loving ways. This will give you faith that whatever your circumstances may be, He is in control and has your best interests at heart. “Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.” When disappointments, obstacles, and setbacks wear on you, taking a little time to read from God’s Word will put things back in proper perspective.
Answers to your problems and questionsWhen you’ve got questions, the Lord has answers, and when you have problems, He has solutions—and they’re all in His Word. By reading God’s recorded Word or hearing Him speak to your heart personally when you pray for guidance—His spoken Word—you can find the answer to every question and every problem you will ever have. Once you become familiar with the spiritual principles, divine wisdom, and practical counsel that are in the written Word, you will find that the Lord will show you how to apply it to questions and problems that come up in your own life. His Word will be like a light, illuminating the path ahead of you.
Finding God’s willGod has a plan for your life. He knows what’s best for you, so if you can learn to let Him direct your decisions, everything will work out great in the end. It sounds simple enough, but how do you find out what is God’s best for you in a particular situation? How do you find “God’s will”?
The Word is the known, sure, absolute, revealed will of God. So when you’re faced with a decision, look at all He’s said before. Pattern your decision on a similar situation in the Word, or on the foundation principles of God’s Word. You can also ask God to speak to your own heart directly and show you what His will is for you in that particular situation.
God’s Word also has the power to change the way you see life’s problems. It will cause you to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [know] what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Models for godly livingThe Bible is full of stories about otherwise ordinary men and women whose faith and love for God saw them through thick and thin and made them great in His eyes. Much can be learned and much strength can be drawn from their examples. There are also many faith-building accounts of God’s love and care for His children, His protection, and His supply of their every need, as well as examples of what not to do and the consequences of violating His spiritual principles. “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
God’s promises and power at your disposalThe Bible is full of promises that God has made to man—promises that He wants us to apply practically. Some of His promises are universal, like “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Others were originally made to certain individuals or groups, but they are also available to anyone who applies them to their own similar situation and meets whatever conditions may be attached.
As you become more familiar with God’s Word, you will learn to recognize His promises and claim them as your own. When you do that, it shows you have faith. It’s a positive declaration of your faith and knowledge of the Word which pleases God and sets His power in motion to answer your prayers.
More loveIt is difficult to follow Christ’s injunction to “love your neighbor as yourself” when your “neighbors”—those you interact with on a regular basis—are sometimes the most difficult people to get along with, much less love. Where do you find the “Christian grace” to overlook the overbearing boss, the jealous coworker, the noisy partyers next door, or worse? How do you learn to love as Jesus loved? “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” As you read and study God’s Word, you’ll acquire more and more of His Spirit and love, and that will help you be more understanding, compassionate, and tolerant toward others.
1 Peter 2:2 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
John 8:31-32 (NIV) To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Romans 10:17 (NIV) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Five Things I Love About Jesus

Randomness: Jesus has an intricate plan for the whole universe, but I love how He seems to be perfectly random about lots of things that don’t have much bearing on that plan. Like the irregular texture of tree bark, or where the next branch will pop out. Either that, or it’s not random at all and that branch needs to be exactly where it is for the universe to run right. If that’s the case, I love how He makes it look random to me.
Intricacy: The flip side of random. I love how He makes seemingly random things happen, but then they all come together at the end and make perfect sense, and I realize it wasn’t haphazard at all, but pure genius.
Color: He seems almost obsessed with color, but it’s not like He splatters psychedelic fluorescent everywhere. He adds just enough khakis and grays so that when something bright comes along, it wows me.
Passion: His way of being passionate about everything He does. For instance, if I was going to create an insect I’d pick a head, a body, a few legs, and maybe a stinger or something. But He can’t stop at that. “Oh, here I could add some antennae with trillions of little hairs on them that will act as sensors, then maybe some fold-up wings to hide inside its shell, a compound eye, a trochanter here, mesothorax there, and a subesophageal ganglion.” He’s crazy!
When I “create” a cloud, I take a blank piece of paper, draw a straight line, add three humps above it, and I’m done. When He creates a cloud, He starts with an insanely complex background of atmosphere, then bunches together millions of microscopic icy crystals, each with six perfectly symmetrical sides but its own unique form. Then He sends light to render it in full 3-D and air currents to make it dance. It seems He can’t get involved in a project without giving it His best.
Care: Boy, does He care! He cares about everything! I mean every single little tiny microscopic itsy bitsy thing. Imagine how much importance He puts on you and me, or the detail, care, and planning that went into each of the 6.8 billion of us now living, as well as the billions before and after. It wears me out just thinking about it. I am so lucky to have Him!
Hebrews 11:6 ESV / And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
2. Thessalonians 1:8 ESV / In flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 ESV / There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Getting to Know Jesus

I was 21 when I read from the Bible for the first time. Someone had suggested I read the Gospel of John first, but I knew so little about the Bible at the time that I didn’t understand the Gospels were four separate accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. So I started at what seemed the more logical place, at the beginning of the New Testament, with the Gospel of Matthew.
By the time I got to the Gospel of John, I was fascinated with Jesus. He had the perfect answer to every question and always knew exactly what to do. But more than that, He seemed to understand me and know exactly what I needed. His words were powerful and alive. He was alive! His words reached across nearly 2000 years and touched me in a way I had never experienced before. When I finally came to John 15:15—“I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you”—I felt He was speaking directly to me. Jesus called me His friend! I got so excited I couldn’t sit still. I wanted to tell the whole world.
I had prayed to receive Him as my Savior a few months before, but nothing much changed until I began reading His words with an open, receptive heart. His words were powerful and alive and, best of all, personal. And it got even better. Some time later, I discovered that Jesus still speaks directly and personally to His followers today, just as wonderfully as He spoke to His first disciples.
Hebrews 4:15 ESV / For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
John 3:16 ESV / For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Luke 2:34 ESV / And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thirsty No More

A retelling of John Chapter 4
Susannah sighed as she draped her head-covering over her long raven hair. Picking up an empty clay urn, she set out on the long, hot, dusty walk to fetch water from the communal well near Sychar, the Samaritan village where she lived.
She approached the well warily, because there sat a stranger—a Jew, judging by appearance. She was astonished when the man asked her for a drink of water, because the Jews’ religious customs forbade them any interaction with the Samaritans, whom they considered “unclean.”
“You’re a Jew and I’m a Samaritan!” she exclaimed. “Why do you ask me for a drink?”
“If you knew who I was,” the stranger replied, “you would be the one asking for water.”
Susannah was mystified. How could this man get water out of the well? He had nothing to pull it out with.
The stranger answered with words that she would later repeat until they were imprinted upon her memory—words that millions after her would draw hope from.
“Everyone who drinks water from this well will get thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again. The water I give comes from the fountain of eternal life.”
“Go on then, give me a drink of that water. Then I won’t ever get thirsty or need to come here anymore!”
“Go and bring your husband,” the stranger told her.
She hesitated, then lowered her eyes. “I don’t have a husband,” she conceded.
“That much is the truth. You have been married five times, but the man you are living with now isn’t your husband.”
Susannah was astonished. “You’re a prophet, I see,” she began. “You might be able to settle a certain dispute then. My people have always worshiped on Mount Gerizim, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the only place to worship.” The fact that a Jewish ruler had destroyed the Samaritans’ temple on their holy mountain 200 years earlier went unspoken, but clearly it was on her mind.
“Believe me,” the stranger replied, “the time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. God is a Spirit, and those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and truth.”
She marveled at this answer. God—a Spirit who she could worship anywhere? Her race, religion, gender, age, background—could none of that matter? She felt warmed by the idea of God’s love being inclusive of all people, even herself.
There was something else she wanted to ask. “I know that the Messiah will come—the one called Christ—and explain everything to us.”
The stranger gazed into her eyes, and her heart beat faster. “I am that one!”
Her eyes widened and her thoughts raced. “I must tell my friends and family! Wait here for me!”
Susannah rushed back to Sychar, her still-empty urn forgotten.
The midday heat had passed, and people were milling around the market square. She excitedly told all those she could about the man she had met and their conversation. “He must be the Christ!” she exclaimed. “He had never seen me before, yet he knew everything about me.”
Soon Susannah returned to the well at the head of a small crowd. The stranger was still there, now accompanied by several men, and from them she learned that the stranger’s name was Jesus.
He did not stay a stranger, because the people were captivated by what He told them. Some of them invited Him and His companions to stay with them, so Jesus spent two days in Sychar, explaining the Holy Scriptures.
Some days later, Susannah made her way back through town with a full water pot. Her load was heavy, but her steps were light. She still needed to fetch water daily, but her inner emptiness was gone.
One of the townsmen who noticed her walking by said, “You tried to convince us that this man Jesus was the promised Messiah. Well, now we believe—no longer just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves and are certain that He is the Savior!”
Susannah smiled as she went on her way. She was not the only one who had found the living water!
John 7:38 (NIV)  He who believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
Revelation 22:17 (NIV) Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
John 6:51 (ESV) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Action Through Prayer

Praying for others is a powerful way to put love into action. You’re not only thinking of them and wanting to help, but you’re doing something about it. Prayer, as millions of people worldwide will attest, does change things. Prayer moves God’s hand and heart to do the things we ask. It doesn’t always happen right away, but eventually those prayers are answered in the way God knows is best for everyone involved.
Praying for others not only benefits those people, but you too. It brings a spirit of faith, a positive spirit, because you’re focusing on God’s goodness and power and expecting Him to answer. When you manifest faith by praying, it pleases God and He goes to work in the situation or in the person’s life. He loves you and the one you’re praying for, and He wants to effect positive change. Your prayers set His power in motion.
Start by writing a list of people you’re concerned about, who need God’s help. Perhaps they’re sick or have had an accident, or are lonely, or are in a financial bind, or are in danger, or have suffered loss. Include both those you know personally and those whom you have heard about in the news or from others.
Say a prayer for each in turn, claiming an appropriate promise of God from the Bible. Work your way down your list for 10 or 15 minutes, spending a minute or so praying for each person.
Add people to your list daily as their needs come to your attention. As your list grows, you probably won’t be able to pray for every person in the time you have allotted. Pray for the most serious and urgent situations first, and as many of the others as you have time for. Whenever you reach the bottom of your list, start again at the top.
When God answers one of your prayers, thank Him for doing so, and then drop that entry from your daily prayer list. You may want to keep a separate list of answered prayers and take a moment to review it at the beginning of your prayer time to boost your faith that He will also meet the needs still on your prayer list.
Make praying for others a daily habit, and you will not only help make their lives better, but your faith will grow and your spiritual life will be enriched as you see God work.
Colossians 4:2 ESV / Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Matthew 6:9-13 ESV / Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Psalm 34:17 ESV / When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Another Kind of Healing

Some people have long-term illnesses that don’t go away instantly when prayed for. I’m someone whom God has not seen fit to heal right away.
There are medications to relieve the worst symptoms of the immune system disorders and other chronic conditions I suffer from, but no actual cure. The miracle for me is having God’s help and comfort in my ongoing condition. He’s giving me a happy, fruitful life, even though I’m still quite sick.
There are times when He intervenes to take away an illness completely, but there is the other kind of healing—the kind that continues on and shapes and matures, that teaches deeper lessons and engenders more compassion for others.
I am very grateful for the way God has given me a very happy life in spite of my condition. Happier than before I was sick, I would say.
Of course, I am blessed with close family and friends who have given incredible help and support. My illnesses brought their amazing qualities of love and self-sacrifice to the fore.
So that’s a miracle too—that God can allow some of us to suffer sicknesses which in the long run can both improve the quality of our lives and bring out the best in others. That can be His better plan, rather than granting instant healing.
Being sick has made me more compassionate. It has made me more thoughtful and reflective. It has made me examine my motives for doing things, whereas before I was so focused on just “doing” that I often didn’t think about why. It has given me immense gratitude for things that I took for granted before. It has brought simple peace and greater faith. It has made my life more beautiful.
James 5:16 ESV / Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
3 John 1:2 ESV / Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
Matthew 10:1 ESV / And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

Annoucement

1. Senior Citizen Fellowship
Date: 24 Sept 2016
Time: 8:30am
Venue: Dim Sum - Abu Siti Lane

2. Speak Out Give Hope!
Date: 25 Sept 2016
Annual day for prayer for victims of Human Trafficking.
For more information: http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/antitrfficking

3. Launch of Self Denial 2016
Date: 2nd Oct 2016

4. Children Camp 2016
Date: 6-9 December 2016 / Age: 7-12 year old
Venue: Sufes Campsite Kg Batu 5,Jalan Pahang 35000 Tapah, Perak
Cost: RM100
Closing Date: 1st Nov 2016.