Tuesday, August 4, 2015

GREEDY NO MORE


Jericho:  Zacchaeus, an evil tax collector received a wonderful guest to stay in his place. It was a talk of the town. The guest was no ordinary person. Everybody considered this fellow a very righteous person and some worshipped him as God. His name was Jesus. The biggest puzzle they had was that how a righteous man like Jesus wanted to come and stay in the home of this wicked man. Everybody knew that Zacchaues was a greedy man who liked to threaten people. He cheated people of their money and had a band of thieves with them, all tax collectors.

But deep inside of Zacchaeus’ heart, he knew he had done wrong. Especially so when he heard of Jesus doing so many marvellous things for the people. Being a greedy person, Zacchaeus did some very bad things. He could not bear the guilt anymore but didn’t know who to turn to so that he could change into a better person. He was shattered and devastated.

Suddenly, Jesus came into his mind. He heard of Jesus forgiving the sins of the people and of the many who worshiped Him as the Son of God. He thought that if he could get hold of Jesus, he would be set free from sins of greed. Furthermore, this will stop people from grumbling and gossiping about him once and for all. So, he resolved in his mind to find Jesus.

Zacchaeus was a short man. When he knew Jesus was coming into the part of the town, he was extremely delighted. But when he saw that Jesus was surrounded by a sea of people, he could not see nor reach Him. He promised himself that no matter how he had to see Jesus that day. Nothing stopped him from meeting Jesus. He found a tree nearby and straight away climbed up just to get a glimpse of Him.

With so many people clamouring over the Son of God, he was glad that he could at least see Jesus’ face. Then something happened that day that changed Zacchaeus’ life forever. Jesus noticed him up on that tree. He was stunned and couldn’t utter a thing. “He’s seen me! He’s seen me!”, the thought kept ringing in his mind. But then a marvellous thing happened which completely took the tax collector by surprise.

Jesus spoke. He not only spoke but He spoke to Zacchaeus. This was too good to be true. Jesus asked him to come down from the tree for He wanted to stay in his house.

“The Son of God wants to stay at this short, wicked, and greedy tax collector’s place,” he thought to himself, completely surprised!

Yes! It was true. Immediately, he reached out his hands towards Jesus and hugged Him, oblivious of people who cursed him and gossiped about him. They were also annoyed with Jesus for making friends with this sinner.

With tears in his eyes, he told Jesus that he would be a better person. He promised the Son of God that half of his possessions will be given to the poor. Furthermore, he would give back four times as much as those whom he had cheated.

Jesus forgave him because he genuinely repented of his sins. The greatest thrill of  Zacchaeus ‘ life was when his sins were forgiven and the second greatest must have been to have had Jesus staying in his house. “WOW!” – PSBIBLE News

REFLECTION

This story is found in Luke 19:1-10. Jesus said “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Are you lost in your sins of greediness, or grumbling or gossiping? Call on Jesus and He will come into your heart and forgive all your sins. Your heart is like Zacchaeus’ house which Jesus can come in and be a friend to you even though you are a sinner. Hallelujah!



Monday, August 3, 2015

UNFORGIVEN


Middle East:  Today, a king sentenced a man to prison to be tortured for owing him millions of dollars. At first glance perhaps, many would think that the king was harsh in his judgement. Actually the king was a gracious king.

Initially he wanted the servant to pay everything he owed. If he couldn’t pay, he had to sell off his wife and children and everything that he owed. This punishment was in accordance with the law in the country. After the servant pleaded earnestly with the king to spare him, the king forgave him and cancelled his debt.

Relief and joy were apparent all over his face as he hugged his wife and children tightly. He bowed low and thanked the king for his mercy. The next day, he went about his usual work in the palace. Then he saw a fellow servant who owed him a few dollars. Quickly, he took hold of his garments and demanded he pay every cent. The man was very afraid of him because he had no money to pay him back. According to the law, he could be jailed for that. Unless he could plead him to cancel the debt, he would have to go to jail since the first servant, who himself had been forgiven the other day, refused to forgive his fellow servant and cancel his debt.

Instead he forcefully put him to jail and kept him there until he paid his debt in full. This was only a few dollars. He had forgotten that the king, his master cancelled his debt for few million dollars.

When all of this was happening, some fellow servants of the king saw everything this ungrateful servant did. They quickly ran to the king and told him everything he had done.

The king was furious. He sent his guards to bring the wicked servant knelt before the king and pleaded once again for his forgiveness.

“You wicked servant. I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” the king growled angrily. This is how the king turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he could pay back all he owed. – PSBIBLE News

REFLECTION


This story was told by Jesus in Matthew chapter 18 verses 23 to 34. God wants to teach us that we need to forgive others. Why? Simple. God gave His only Son to save us from going to hell. Jesus died on our behalf. In other words, he cancelled our debt which we could never pay at all like the few million dollars the servant owed the king. What is a few million dollars compared to a few dollars people owed you? Therefore, forgive them because God forgave you. Jesus sums up this lesson on forgiveness when He said in verse 35, “This is how my Heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

BE BORN, AGAIN?


Judea:  Born again? This phrase was made famous by Jesus through Nicodemus, a well-known figure from a political party called the Pharisees. He confronted Jesus late one night when he was afraid to let others see him with Jesus, because the other Pharisees hated Jesus. Deep inside him, he knew that Jesus was not just a man. “Is He God?” he often asked himself for he saw all the miracles He did. That day, the meeting with Jesus Himself changed him forever.

He was taken aback when Jesus uttered this statement, “I tell you the truth, no one can see kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The last two words, especially, created a great curiosity in him. He had never heard of such a phrase before in his entire life. Impossible! He knew in his own life he had done many bad things and if he could go back to his mother’s womb and be born again, that would be great. Probably, he would try to be a better person.

Jesus then began to teach him what “born again” really meant. It was indeed impossible for Nicodemus to be born again through the human help of his mother.

There was a greater meaning in those two words awaiting him. It was more powerful than he could ever imagine.

God, the Creator was waiting to recreate him and make him into a new person. He could now become a new creation or be “born again”.

“Born again” here meant being born of God and that was far better than being born by human descent. In other words, he could be saved from going to hell and instead, would be on the way to Heaven where he can live forever and ever with God.

Jesus led Nicodemus to focus on the heavenly things when He said that he must be born again. That’s why Jesus told him that He Himself came from Heaven and He could be trusted.

Then Jesus uttered the greatest statement and the most beautiful one for the entire world to hear.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

From then on, Nicodemus knew that God offered hope to every man who needed to come near to God. The hope of eternal life. That hope was in Jesus.

Tears began to well up in his eyes as he knew that God had finally revealed the truth to him and was giving him the chance to be born again. He understood it all. He had to believe in the Son of God, who was just standing right in front of him.

That night, Nicodemus thanked God over and over again that he was able to meet Jesus. “What if I hadn’t met him?” or “What if I had been so afraid of my friends that I missed the greatest appointment of my life?” He didn’t dare to imagine the consequences. He went back home reiterating the same words, “I need to be born again”

He was also committed to tell others too. “You need to be born again,” he told others confidently. – PS BIBLE News

REFLECTION

Everyone needs to be born again! The good news is everyone can be born again. This story was found in John chapter 3. God said in His Word that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life. The word ‘whoever’ includes you and me. God is always waiting for us to call upon Him because He loves us very much. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Have you called upon Jesus to save you? If not, why don’t you do it today?


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

HOPE REKINDLED: THE RISEN SAVIOUR APPEARS TO HIS DISCIPLES!


Galilee:  Peter, a strong disciple of Jesus was extremely sad. When his Master was cruelly hung on a cross, he ran away from the scene. His mind couldn’t take anymore the anguish of being so helpless. He had already denied Jesus three times when He was put on trial. Moreover, he was thinking real hard about why Jesus as God could have been so easily and humbly captured by mere men. He was confused and frustrated.

Peter and the rest of the disciples of Jesus were shocked when their Master appeared in front of them even though the doors were locked. When Jesus had calmed them down, they were all overjoyed, especially Peter. He had every reason to rejoice because he wanted to turn away from God after failing many times to be a good disciple. Now, his hope had been rekindled once more.

One of Jesus’ disciples named Thomas did not want to believe this extraordinary occurrence unless he could touch Jesus himself. The next day, Jesus appeared to Thomas and asked him to touch His hands. After realising Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, he went down on his knees and worshipped Jesus as his Lord and his God. Jesus forgave his disciples for running away when He needed them to stand by Him at the cross. All of them repented from their cowardice. Peter was the one with most hurt when he saw his Saviour alive again. His heart broke into many pieces when he renounced Jesus. In his mind, he did not want to see Jesus at all. He was too ashamed.

One day Jesus took him aside and forgave him personally. He asked Peter three times whether he still loved Him. This triggered off the memory that he had renounced Jesus three times, too. Peter felt his heavy guilt lifted away from within him. In tears, he understood now that Jesus had known everything about him all along. His nagging question of whether he could still serve and follow Jesus was answered in a remarkable way. Jesus asked him to tend to all His people and to glorify Him. Peter was overjoyed and made a commitment to follow Him all the way even if it meant dying on the cross.

(After having served the Lord for many years, Peter died for his faith in Jesus on a cross hung upside down. He died as a martyr. He was happy to die for His Master as he knew He would take him home to Heaven to live forever!) – PS BIBLE News

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand that He may lift you up in due time. CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM BECAUSE HE CARES FOR YOU - 1 Peter 5:6-7


REFLECTION

This story is found in the book of John chapter 20 and 21. It tells us that Jesus is indeed risen from the dead. What does that mean to you? To Jesus’ disciple, it was a hope rekindled after He left them. They were a confused lot when their Master died on the cross. They were so delighted to know that Jesus’ words had come to pass when He said that He would rise again from the dead when they literally saw Him alive again.

What about you? Does Jesus rising from the dead mean anything to you? Absolutely yes! In fact, to you and everyone who lives on the earth. All the other founders of different religions in this world died. Their graves are still here on earth. Jesus is the only Person who claimed that He was God and proved it by rising from the dead. And He really did it! Nobody ever found Jesus’ body and nobody ever will because He is risen. Therefore, Christians are not believing in a dead man’s testimony but words right from the mouth of a living Saviour!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SAUL SEES THE LIGHT: THE PERSECUTOR OF THE CHURCH BLINDED BY A GREAT LIGHT!


Damascus:  An amazing thing happened to a nasty man named Saul. He was greatly feared for his atrocities toward the people from the church. Back in Jerusalem, he used to beat them and drag them to prisons to be tortured. His heart cared for no one except for his pride in obeying the laws of his religion. He was very close to the high priest of his religion. Once, Saul asked him to grant an approval for him to capture the Christians who fled to Damascus, a city far away from Jerusalem. He was very persistent in persecuting them. More amazingly, the Christians were not angry with him. Instead they prayed for him. they believed the Creator God is stronger than anyone in this world.

While Saul was travelling to Damascus to persecute them, he saw a powerful glaring light. It was so magnificent, shining form above the clouds that Saul and his companions were thrown off their horses. Then a powerful voice started to thunder from where the light came. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” the voice said. Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Saul was spellbound and sat on the ground in utter disbelief. Was he wrong in turning against the people who believed in Jesus? Was Jesus alive as the Christians claimed Him to be? Question after question pounded in his confused mind.

He wanted to look at the light again just to see if it was still there but he could not see a thing. He realised then that he was blind!

His companion did not know the meaning of the light and the voice. They led him to a house in Straight Street near here and quickly ran off.

One of the disciples of Jesus named Ananias was called by God to go to him. He was a bit hesitant due to this notorious man and his fervour in persecuting the Christians.

He obeyed the Lord Jesus. He went to the house where Saul stayed and prayed for him. Instantly, Saul was healed of his blindness. He then told Saul what Jesus had done for him.

Finally, the truth was revealed to Saul in a miraculous way. Today, he knows that Jesus is his risen Saviour and Lord. He is still shaking his head at the wonderful mercy of Jesus for giving him a chance even though he was murderous in dealing with God’s people.

And so is Ananias. He cannot comprehend how God is so compassionate and loving in saving Saul.

No matter how bad a person may be, God is able to change him. – PS BIBLE News

REFLECTION

Another powerful story from the Bible! It is found in the book of Acts chapter nine. God can change a murderous and unmerciful man into a beautiful saint. How true! After Saul was saved by the Lord Jesus, he went to his own people, who once were together with him persecuting the Christians, to tell them about the Saviour, Jesus. What an amazing turnaround! Have you experienced it yourself? If not, why not let Jesus add colour to your life?

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” John 10:10b

The main reason for Jesus to come to this earth is to save mankind from their sins. Sin in this world has clouded mankind from seeing the true colours of life through God’s eyes. Jesus loves us so much and he could not bear to see us going through life in doubts, disappointments, despair and finally towards destruction. He came so that our life could be full of happiness, hope and love. We can see clearly now the way that leads us to Heaven and towards ultimate joy with Jesus as our living Saviour.


Therefore, let us walk in His way and follow His commands. Some people do not have joy in God because they choose not to follow Jesus and do what He says. That’s why there are still millions of people living in darkness and despair. The good news is that many people too, have taken the right step to follow Jesus. They have found the joy that they never had before in Jesus. Have you?

GOD'S WORD IS VICTORIOUS!



Jordan: On the hill of Jordan while most of the people still sleeping, a tremendous fight took place. It was a fight of different nature. PS BIBLE News called it ‘The Duel Between Light and Darkness’.

Jesus Christ, claimed that He is God who came as a Man, went there to pray when he met Satan, nicknamed ‘The devil’. The devil had been very active lately trying to deceive the villagers to turn away from God. He wanted to disrupt Jesus from doing God’s will and so decided to tempt him. Satan wanted the Son of God to bow down and worship him as he had done so to many villagers before. The first subtle attack came!

Thus, the fight began! The Tempter said, “If you are really the Son of God, turn these stones to bread” He knew that Jesus was hungry. Satan was shocked when Jesus refused to yield to him. Instead Jesus challenged him with the Word of God. He said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” Jesus followed His heavenly Father instead of listening to Satan.


The devil was dejected at the defeat. As usual, he did not quit. As they were walking towards the highest point of a temple, he dared Jesus to jump down. This time, Satan too quoted God’s Words but he was merely saying it to suit his own desire.

Jesus did not jump. He was angry at Satan using God’s Word for a wrong purpose. Then he jabbed the evil one with another round of God’s Word. He refused him by saying “God says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’ ” With these powerful words, he again foiled Satan’s attempt to make Him Satan’s servant. Satan was devastated! The Word of God used by Jesus is too strong for the devil to withstand.

Satan was desperate! He led Jesus to a high mountain and showed him the beautiful kingdom below.


This time he was willing to give everything away to Jesus. Everything the devil ever had was gained through deception. All these would be given to Jesus with one condition: that he must bow and worship him alone. Satan laughed and thought surely this time, Jesus would agree to his proposal. But “Away from me, Satan! God says, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’,” Jesus rejected him.
“What!” The devil screamed in anger. He covered his face and fled like one chased by a hungry, fierce wolf.

The fight was over!

The infallible word of God triumphed over evil. Truly, darkness has to flee when light comes! – PS BIBLE News

REFLECTION

In this simple story of the Bible, Jesus showed us the example of using God’s Word in times of difficulties and temptation. This true story is found in Matthew 4:1-11. in Hebrew 4:12, it says that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates deep inside us and judges our thoughts and the attitude of our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says that the Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It simply means the Word of God guides us through this life!

God’s Word is like a sword! It is used to counter Satan’s temptations. Ephesians 6:17

God’s Word is like fire and a hammer! It consumes and crushes falsehood. Jeremiah 23:29

God’s Word is like water, washing away unrighteousness from us. Ephesians 5:26; see also John 15:3



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WE ARE LIVING IN A SICK WORLD


The rise of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Shabaz, dictators and extremists of all kinds, including shootings in schools all over the USA have made this world a sicker place to live. Violence is now not only confined to movies and television shows but acted out everywhere and often in front of young children. Many have taken religion as a front to kill, maim, sexually assault, oppress and subdue. Jesus predicted this will happen, two thousand years ago and we live to see more of it today than ever before. 

....the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God (John 16:2).

Then there is narcissism all over the world where people just couldn't care less about all that is happening around them. "What's in it for Me?" is their battle cry!

In the last days...People will be lovers of themselves.... (2 Timothy 3:1-2).

Is this the beginning of the end where the world will get worse culminating to God's final wrath? Or is God telling us that the greatest opportunity for the Gospel is now?

What can followers of Jesus do?

1. Do not add doom to the gloom.

Do not go around sulking and whining about the condition of the world. The world is broken and can never get back to its original position until Christ comes again. It will not help at all to add fire to the already raging bush fire. Your world does not need one more problem but a solution, any solution - however small.

2. Pray and lay everything in God's Hand.

Psalm 73 speaks of a leader who was about to backslide over sinners gaining greater notoriety without repercussions at all from God. Then he went into God's presence, his eyes were opened to see the final destruction of evil wicked men. 

"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).

God sees the biggest picture from above while we see things with our little puny cluttered earthly minds. God answers prayers and will release all our sincere tear-filled, heart-broken prayers for justice, when the time is right. (Revelation 5:8; 8:4-5).

3. Alter the authoritative figure's mindset with God's wisdom.

Convince one person at a time of the need for Jesus, particularly authoritative figures which hold the final word in a family, a department, a company, a constituency or even a province or state. Pray for God to change these hearts. The greatest example of an authoritative turn-around guy in history is Paul in the Bible. He went from persecuting the church to being the greatest missionary and church planter for Jesus Christ!

In my many experiences of sharing the Gospel, many held back their confession of Christ because they were afraid of some authoritative figures at home, male or female. On the brighter side, I also encountered whole family saved due to the salvation of an authoritative figure.

4. Be patient with the 'patients' of God.

I must confess I did ask God to do 'zappy' things to these 'sick' people. And often God reminded me that I was also a 'sicko' once. Although the degree is different, sin is still sin. God's grace of salvation had reached and touched me and I am forever grateful. Imagine the unimaginable sufferings that will befall these sinners if they do not repent and respond to the Gospel of God. That's why God's patience can out-stretched all of us. He sees the intense darkness for the godless in the future while we want everything to end, send all 'sickos' to hell and close the case.

5. Do a good deed to people in need.

Action-oriented servings are much better than perfectly-crafted sermons. The Bible is filled with teachings of daily life examples, doing on-the-ground works and reaching the grassroots by deeds. Jesus taught His disciples through personally involved in people's lives, loving, caring and healing them. Many times He was moved with deep compassion and on one occasion, He cried. Jesus did not only preach, he also healed and not only He healed and went away, He changed lives! He believed in the future of all those He saved! For God so loved the world (that includes extremists of all kinds) that He gave His one and only Son... (John 3:16).

6. Love the Unlovable.

Hate the sin and not the sinner. The spew of hatred fuels greater hate. Never in my life will I be able to understand the victims and their families who are deeply affected by all the senseless violence. Perhaps it is more comfortable to hate than to do otherwise, I don't know. But hate is never the answer. Bear with me as I offer my two cents' opinion. In my little suffering and pain, I usually use the Gethsemane prayer principle, "I disliked it. I even hated it. But God, let Your will be done."

The greatest example I believe that left an indelible mark on Jesus' disciples was forgiving the unforgivable, those who ridiculed and mocked Him, those who lashed at Him and spitted on Him and those who crucified Him. He taught it first at the Sermon on the Mount and He did it for all to see. Today, only true followers of Christ love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that....But love your enemies, do good to them...Then you reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:33-37).

Yes, we are living in a sick world. Yet the remedy is with the true followers of Christ and that remedy is the God-given Good News! It is like a cure for cancer in a cancerous world!