Tag Archives: annette

22 April, Saturday – Witnessing

22 April 2017

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Acts 4:13-21

The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen; and they recognised them as associates of Jesus; but when they saw the man who had been cured standing by their side, they could find no answer.

So they ordered them to stand outside while the Sanhedrin had a private discussion. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘It is obvious to everybody in Jerusalem that a miracle has been worked through them in public, and we cannot deny it. But to stop the whole thing spreading any further among the people, let us caution them never to speak to anyone in this name again.’

So they called them in and gave them a warning on no account to make statements or to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John retorted, ‘You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God. We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard.’ The court repeated the warnings and then released them; they could not think of any way to punish them, since all the people were giving glory to God for what had happened.

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Mark 16:9-15

Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them.

But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him. After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.

Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’

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It is impossible not to speak about what we have seen and heard

Recently, United Airlines came under fire for the way it had manhandled one of its paying passengers, when the airline tried to bump him off the plane due to their overbooking the flight. Videos taken by the other passengers showed the man, limp and impassive, being dragged down the aisle by enforcement officers, with his clothes disheveled and glasses askew and later on, images surfaced of the same man with a bloodied mouth. The news spread like wildfire on social media, and became a PR nightmare (no less also from the way the airline initially responded).

The appalling treatment of this passenger resonated so strongly with our moral compass that it became hard for us not to speak up about it, to stand in solidarity with what was right and just. It need not be a negative occurrence — we love sharing light-hearted stories too. Remember the BBC interview when the interviewee’s two children video-bombed his interview?

The point is that when something that we have seen and heard interests us, we feel the need to share it. Likewise with Peter and John, who said it was impossible not to share what they had seen and heard. This was, however, something much bigger than just gossip or hearsay. This was about the Messiah, that had been described for so long in scripture, which was now actually happening; in their lifetime! Not to mention all the miracles that Jesus had performed and how he had resurrected from the dead. Why would they not share such a wondrous event?

Peter had also pointed out that we are witnesses. As witnesses, we are called to give testimony on what transpires. We affirm things that have taken place, and our account puts to rest any speculation or rumour since we have seen and heard it ourselves. Peter and the disciples aren’t the only witnesses — we too are witnesses of God’s love and mercy in this day. Our own acceptance of our Saviour and the death of our old self is testimony that God is merciful and gives us a new life in Christ. The very things that God does in our lives, be it in the smallest of ways, are proof that God is present everywhere. We are not called to doubt and question when these events happen; we are called to give testimony of God’s great power so that through us, others may believe. When others believe, God is able to work more through their lives. Not sharing our faith means that we turn off the tap, and God, who is the water of life, is not able to flow and work through us.

When we accept Christ, we are called to be witnesses of Christ. Let us renew our testimony this Easter,  that God may continue to work His miracles through us.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for courage to give testimony on the works You have done in our lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for all the miracles that You work in our lives, small or big. We appreciate all the little miracles that you bring forth, and we pray for wisdom to recognize them.

19 April, Wednesday – Fire and Fear

19 April 2017

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Acts 3:1-10

Once, when Peter and John were going up to the Temple for the prayers at the ninth hour, it happened that there was a man being carried past. He was a cripple from birth; and they used to put him down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg from the people going in. When this man saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple he begged from them. Both Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’ He turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up. Instantly his feet and ankles became firm, he jumped up, stood, and began to walk, and he went with them into the Temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone could see him walking and praising God, and they recognised him as the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were all astonished and unable to explain what had happened to him.

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They recognised him at the breaking of bread

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’

Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

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Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?

I have a little calendar that sits on my desk about God-sized dreams. It is about finding and fulfilling your purpose, the purpose that God put you on this good Earth, no matter what the odds are. I look forward to turning each page, eager to read the phrase of the day. I find that it touches a lot on determining if that dream within us is a God-sized dream — it fills your whole being with a mixture of yearning and fear; yearning to learn and lean towards God for guidance and strength, and fear of not knowing where the road leads but trusting anyway that God will take us by the hand.

When Jesus came into the world to preach, he offered nothing but the Truth. Just as Peter said to the crippled man, “I have neither silver or gold but what I have I give to you”, Jesus is saying to us “I am offering you the Truth”. As humans, our natural instinct is to question if this is ‘the real deal’. How do we know if this is indeed the Truth and not some scam? Do we even believe what Jesus has to say? We think we know everything, and we are so good at being skeptics; indeed, how would we know?

The old adage ‘the truth shall set you free’ rings true. When something is explained to us and we learn of the facts, there is a dawn of realisation that descends upon us. Suddenly, we see things in a different light and we understand; and what we were afraid of before because we didn’t understand, we are now no longer afraid of anymore. The truth releases us from our own shackles of myopia and fear. The disciples going to Emmaus were downcast over the events that had happened, until Jesus came and interpreted the Scriptures to them, showing them that the things that had occured had to occur for God’s glory to come into being.

Understanding the bigger picture and God’s plan, they were released from their sadness. The cripple in the first reading accepted the Truth of Christ and was released from his deformity. How many more examples in the Bible of people accepting Christ and were released from what was holding them back! How about when we accept Christ in our daily lives, be it accepting Him for the first time or just accepting that we should surrender our problems, ailments, sickness, fears and worries to Him wholeheartedly, because He truly wants to save us. God’s glory will come into being if we lift our lives to Him.

Secondly, once we set our lives free, our human fear no longer has control of our hearts. God does, and He fills it with a gush of life, where fear once ruled. “Were not our hearts burning within us?” asked the disciples. It consumes us and makes us want to exclaim out loud! The fire that God sets alight in our hearts not only burns out the old doubts but warms our entire being. This is an everlasting flame, it cannot be extinguished so long as we take care of it through obedience to God. Yes, there is a fear of not knowing, but it is a good fear in that I am trusting God with this purpose that He has put in me, and I am nervous because it is so much bigger than I am. It is not a fear of failure but a fear of God in us, just like Moses was filled with terror at what God wanted him to do. But if we accept this, then God will always be with us. That fire will keep on burning for as long as we love God with all our hearts. That fire is a holy fire, it will fill us like nothing we have ever experienced. It will warm us and guide us, like a flame that will extinguish the darkness in our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, I pray that my heart will never be shackled by my human fear, that I will learn to trust more in Your complete plan for me, even though I may not see or understand it fully.

Thanksgiving: Lord, thank you for setting our hearts on fire with your Word, and for setting us free from fear!