Devotionals

Devotionals: Thought of the Day <<FIRST  <PREVshowing 6-10 of 15 NEXT>  LAST>>
How do I become Christian?
Date: 04.20.2008
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Are you a believer? Where will you go if you die today? Are you born again? Prior to 1978, such questions were very strange to me. Neither I dared to clarify these questions nor anyone explained them to me. I presumed that they were asking me if I was a Christian. But I would wonder why not ask a simple question, “Are you a Christian?”

The question of initiation in Christian faith is not as simplistic as that. We read in Jonn 3, Nikodemus, a pious religious person who was sincerely committed to the practice of the rituals (the Karma/Deeds) in his religion, needed a long discourse with Jesus.

Christian faith is more than a practice of religion. It is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ, which develops in a person when one realizes one’s wretched sinful nature and the gravity of its consequences in relation to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. This relationship is initiated as one repents and gives the rest of one’s entire life to Jesus.

To allow the initiation of Christian faith in our life, one must be willing to release oneself completely into the hands of Jesus through faith in him. One must be sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, humbling oneself with an egoless, broken, and contrite heart. On the one hand, one needs the work of Holy Spirit to cause it. On the other hand, one also needs to overcome the inbuilt human resistance (the sin of ego and self) against the work of God in one’s life. One must allow one’s heart to be filled with an absolute love and devotion for Jesus. This can happen to you if you pray today.
Palm Sunday
Date: 03.16.2008
What is there in the palm leaves? In John 12:13, people used palm (Phoenix dactylifera) leaves to welcome Jesus. Why not banana (Musaceae) leaves? The history of palm tree is as old as human civilization in the Ancient Near East (ANE). Five thousand years older inscription found in Mesopotamia describes about how to grow palm tree. In fact, the other name of the city of Jericho was the city of palm trees (Judg 1:16). In the ANE society, the Palm was a symbol of both beauty (Song of Solo 7:7) and prosperity (Ps 92:12). The palms were used in decoration of the Temple (1 Kings 6:29, 35; 7:36) and construction of booths for religious purposes (Lev 23:40; Neh 8:15). In Rev 7:9, the palm leaves are used as symbol of victory. St. Cyril, a bishop in the city of Jerusalem in the fourth century, writes about the traditional use of palm leaves for welcoming guests. All these explanations might describe why palm leaves were used to welcome Jesus. However, the most convincing fact is about its botanical feature and the morphology that allowed the palm to grow even in the difficult topography of ANE. It grows sturdy without branching out in different directions. It shoots up straight to the terminal tuft. It has thick bark to protect itself from the heat. It would store enough water in its root and trunk to survive the draught. It bears fruit best even in hot conditions of the Dead Sea oases. In dry desert, where no other tree could grow, the palm would grow and become blessing to travellers. Indeed, the palm tree deserved to be chosen for such an honor to welcome Jesus. May we be like palm tree!
Is Tithing Biblical?
Date: 11.25.2007
Text: Malachi 3:6-15

Is tithing biblical? Dr. D. A. Carson says, “A simple yes or no to this question would be horribly misleading.” The general tendency of a Pastor is to give a simplistic answer that instantly increases the income of the Church.

The evidence from the period prior to the Mosaic Law suggests that no system of tithing was in place. Second, not all the commandments given in the Old Testament were meant to become a timeless universal moral code.
Third, it also appears that the annual tithe of the Israelites surpassed ten percent of their income, actually totaling more than twenty percent.

Therefore, we cannot actually conclude that those who followed the Old Testament gave only ten percent of their income in a strict sense. In fact, they gave more than ten percent.

The actual emphasis in Malachi 3:6-15 is not meant to promote tithing as a legal code of religious conduct that activates blessings from God.

The nation of Israel was delivered from slavery in Egypt and then from their misery in exile to become YHWH’s possession, but they were no longer YHWH’s treasured possessions. Thus, the purpose of the prophet’s message was to rekindle the fires of faith in the hearts and minds of a people who had forgotten their calling and as result it had affected their tithing and offerings as well. The message of Malachi 3:6-15 is a call to repentance, rather than promotion of tithing.

Is tithing biblical? The answer does not lie in its forms but the attitude that motivates it. Why are we doing what we are doing? God is able to read our minds and see what is in our hearts that prompts the giving.

May our practice of giving be a natural overflow of our spirituality and our devotion to God. May it reflect truly the strength of our intimate relationship with him. So that when we give, it will come with the purity of our heart and the sincerity of our love for the coming of Kingdom of God.
How Can I Excel in the Grace of Giving?
Date: 11.18.2007
Text: 2 Cor 8:1-15

The following data on the financial giving in the Church is quite alarming. The Gallup survey reports, 17% of churchgoers claim to tithe but only 3% actually do it, while 40% give nothing in a year. 71% of pastors believe that their church members are mostly consumers.

The reality is that giving is not a natural phenomenon. It does not happen. There are many struggles between our desire to give and actual giving. This is why Paul exhorts the Church at Corinth to excel in the grace of giving. In verse 9, Paul defines grace. According to him, grace is a powerful and sacrificial act in which our Lord Jesus Christ, though he was rich yet for our sakes he became poor. It is that aspect of grace in which Jesus Christ did not regard equality with God but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. This is the underlying principle of the grace of giving. The Bible teaches us to become a gift of God, a blessing of God sacrificially to others. Like Abraham, we are blessed to become a blessing to others.

Just as the Church at Macedonia gave in the midst of severe trial (v.2), out of extreme poverty, and with joy and generosity; just as they gave beyond their ability, entirely on their own (v. 3), and even pleaded for the privilege of sharing in the service (v. 4), we are called to practice the grace of giving.

So what should the Church at Corinth do now? Paul challenges the Church with five thought provoking suggestions. In verse 8, he says give according to the sincerity of your love. In verses 10-11, he says do not simply desire but do it and complete it. In verse 12, he says do it willingly and not mechanically lest your giving may not be accepted. In verses 11-12, he says, give consistently, not impulsively but systematically and according to the income. In verses 13-14, he says, give in a way that your plenty may supply the needs of others who have less. Give so that your plenty may not perish.

God of the Bible is not interested in our money simply but our theology. Right theology enables us to see our lives from eternal perspective. It helps us to remember the ephemeral nature of our life, the temporality of our wealth and the glory. It helps us to be wise in trusting God and his goodness, and enable us to gladly participate in the eternal and divine works of God. Right theology leads us to right doxology (right worship). The right doxology leads us to right ethics (right practice of religion) of money and finance—how we manage our money. May the good Lord help us to be good stewards of all that God has given us.
Why Should we Emphasize Teaching?
Date: 11.11.2007
Can we not just have time of devotional singing, worshipping, praying, and fellowship? Why should we emphasize so much on teaching in the Church?

The answer to these questions is found in the history of the Sunday school movement and what the Bible has to say about the teaching ministry of the Church.

An overview of the history of the Sunday Schools movement through the Churches in England, United States, Scotland, Ireland, and other continent, suggests a remarkable impact on the society. Robert Raikes, the founding father of the movement, primarily intended to prevent vice and to encourage good work habits and cheerful submission to God, the law, and the life situation of child laborers, but the movement had an impact much greater than he originally intended.

The God of the Bible is a teacher. He is a God who is interested in pedagogy. He is a teacher, an instructor, and an educator. In the Bible, we see whole Godhead, the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is engaged in this pedagogy.

The pursuit of God in Christianity includes the use of intellect. Christians are called to be the People of the Book. They are expected to dig deep into the Holy Scripture. They are not supposed to seek a religion apart from the teaching of the Bible. Unfortunately, anti-intellectualism is haunting Christianity in three different forms: traditionalism, ritualism, and subjectivism.

In some religions, one can pursue God in one of the four following ways: the path of knowledge, the path of action, the path of renunciation of action, and the path of devotion. However, the God of the Bible expects us to pursue all the four ways simultaneously. God expects us to use our heart and mind together. The primacy of the teaching of the Word of God and its obedience is non-negotiable.

Therefore, what should we do as a Church? Firs and foremost, we should recognize that we are people of the Book. We need to read, meditate study, memorize, and apply the Word of God on a daily basis. We must teach it to our children. We must find out time to read good Christian books. We must encourage our children to read good books and discuss them. We must inculcate in them the good habit of using their mind.

Let us leave behind a legacy: our journal, our devotion, and our thoughts in writing that God has revealed to us in the light of the Scripture for the benefit of others. We as a people of the Book are called to be the thinkers and leaders of our society. This is why we emphasize teaching in our Church.

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