Tag Archives: expectations

29 November, Thursday – Faithful Always

29 November

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Apocalypse 18:1-2,21-23,19:1-3,9

I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven, with great authority given to him; the earth was lit up with his glory. At the top of his voice he shouted, ‘Babylon has fallen, Babylon the Great has fallen, and has become the haunt of devils and a lodging for every foul spirit and dirty, loathsome bird. Then a powerful angel picked up a boulder like a great millstone, and as he hurled it into the sea, he said, ‘That is how the great city of Babylon is going to be hurled down, never to be seen again.

Never again in you, Babylon,
will be heard the song of harpists and minstrels,
the music of flute and trumpet;
never again will craftsmen of every skill be found
or the sound of the mill be heard;
never again will shine the light of the lamp,
never again will be heard
the voices of bridegroom and bride.
Your traders were the princes of the earth,
all the nations were under your spell.

After this I seemed to hear the great sound of a huge crowd in heaven, singing, ‘Alleluia! Victory and glory and power to our God! He judges fairly, he punishes justly, and he has condemned the famous prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication; he has avenged his servants that she killed.’ They sang again, ‘Alleluia! The smoke of her will go up for ever and ever.’ The angel said, ‘Write this: Happy are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb’, and he added, ‘All the things you have written are true messages from God.’

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Luke 21:20-28

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate. Then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains, those inside the city must leave it, and those in country districts must not take refuge in it. For this is the time of vengeance when all that scripture says must be fulfilled. Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come!

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive to every pagan country; and Jerusalem will be trampled down by the pagans until the age of the pagans is completely over.

‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.’

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He is faithful from age to age.

This is one of the verses that gives me so much comfort during my morning prayer. With one phrase, I am reminded of how God has been so good and loving to me ever since I was young.

Around July this year, I started going for counselling in the hope of unloading myself of the baggages I had since I was a child. You see, I didn’t realize how affected I was after my parents separated when I was seven. The counsellor told me that I was traumatized and I didn’t even know it. During those times, all I could see was how sad it had been for me.

I was blessed that my counsellor was also a Catholic. God was always included in our discussions. She helped me rediscover how God has been so faithful to me even through the brokenness of my childhood. I shared with her how one day, while I was on my bed staring at the ceiling, a beautiful thought crossed my mind. Though many people will abandon me, God will always stay by my side. I think I was 10 then. That one thought really helped me through the many emotional moments in my life.

Recently, I have been fighting a lot with God, too. I guess it’s because I am not getting everything I want, so I just allowed myself to be like a kid and throw tantrums to God. Anyway, at the end of the conversations I have with God, I always felt myself telling God that no matter how frustrated I am with His timing and plans, ‘…where else can I go? You have the message of eternal life.’

I have this confidence in God that he can take my anger and frustration, and I can vent as much as I want to him, because he is always faithful. He will always be beside me, and if I go away, he will always be the father waiting for his prodigal daughter to come back.

We are all in different stages of our lives, but let us always remember that there is nothing that we can do to make God love us less, to make God less faithful to us.

“We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self.”

– 2 Timothy 2:13

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please give us the grace we need to be always faithful to you, to always run to you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for your love and patience. And for always being there for us.

30 October, Monday – Giving Life

30 October 2017

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Romans 8:12-17

My brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.

Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.

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Luke 13:10-17

One sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that left her enfeebled; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright. When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, ‘Woman, you are rid of your infirmity’ and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.

But the synagogue official was indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, and he addressed the people present. ‘There are six days’ he said ‘when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the sabbath.’ But the Lord answered him. ‘Hypocrites!’ he said ‘Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the sabbath and take it out for watering? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years – was it not right to untie her bonds on the sabbath day?’ When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at all the wonders he worked.

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“The Spirit Himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God. … provided that we share his suffering, so as to share in his glory”

Building from the Gospel reading yesterday, today we read in the Gospel how Jesus was again put to the ‘test’ of healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath.

I think that many times in our lives, we are so caught up with what we need to do, what we need to plan for — the future, all the possible uncertainties and the need to have a solution/answer for everything — that we overlook why we do it in the first place. Example, could we remember clearly, when was the first time we fell in love with God, that we experienced Him tangibly? How then did respond to Him? Why are we not responding now?

For most of us, even myself, we have experienced many instances where we are simply caught up in a routine. So much so that we lose the passion we once had, the love of Christ that we once had, all being reduced to simply following instructions/rules and keeping to a structure or routine of work. We fail to serve with love. We fail to respond with love. We don’t feel loved or, quite simply, we haven’t opened up our hearts to receive His love.

What Christ is trying to tell us today is not that the commandments/observances of our faith is secondary to love, but rather, they both go hand in hand. In love, we should be able to carry out all those ‘requirements’ or ‘expectations’, which should eventually help us to love better. These too can help us to live our own lives to the fullest and in that, we realise we can also give life to others. While it may be a reverse for some, where in giving life to others, we find that we too are able to live ours to the fullest.

For Christ, it was not just about keeping to the observances of our faith, but really understanding our faith and who God is and who we are all created to be.

Maybe, instead of continuing to struggle with sin, we can also understand our sins and why we fall. Hence, it may be more possible to overcome them when temptations arise again in the future. Let it not be because it is what God says, but may it be because we have chosen to love the people around us, that we have chosen to love God and that we realise how sin prevents us from living our lives to the fullest.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we see our faith as more than a subject or a course but our very nature, your very nature. For our faith not to be reduced to a burden or load, but a blessing, and one that can allow us to live our lives to the full. We pray for perseverance, courage to overcome sin and to love all. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your spirit, our constant empowerment, hope and refuge. Thank you for accepting us and loving us as we are. Thank you for your wisdom and grace.

3 September, Sunday – By Whose Standards

3 Sept

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Jeremiah 20:7-9

You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced;
you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.
I am a daily laughing-stock,
everybody’s butt.
Each time I speak the word, I have to howl
and proclaim: ‘Violence and ruin!’
The word of the Lord has meant for me
insult, derision, all day long.
I used to say, ‘I will not think about him,
I will not speak in his name any more.’
Then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones.
The effort to restrain it wearied me,
I could not bear it.

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Romans 12:1-2

Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.

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Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord;’ he said ‘this must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.’

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You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

When growing up, my parents had pretty high expectations for my siblings and me when it came to education. I will always recall a particular incident while in elementary school, when I was about eight years old. After getting a 95 out of a 100 score in a math quiz (which was one of the top grades in the class), I proudly called my dad at work to tell him the good news. His response was “what happened to the other five points?” Quite a defeating blow to the ego at the time!

With hindsight and time, I now understand why my parents set such high expectations. They were the typical first generation immigrant parents who believed that in order to get ahead (or more like escape one’s despairing position) – they placed their hopes in the success of their kids and their education. Good grades meant good schools. Good schools meant good jobs and hence financial stability.

In the Gospel reading today, when Jesus foretells His death to the disciples, it must have been a very difficult thing for them to accept. Peter, in particular, seemed quite bothered with the idea that Jesus was to be tortured and killed by His enemies. Out of concern and love for Jesus’ “well-being”, but without the right standards to evaluate from, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him for saying such things. That should have entitled Peter a perfect score – if that was an exam being administered based on our earthly standards. Instead of praising Peter for his concern and kind words, Jesus responds with – “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.” Jesus knew that Peter’s understanding of the way of the Lord was myopic, at the time. As Peter was still relying on his own values and not that of God’s to dictate his beliefs and actions.

How often do we act and behave from our own worldly standards – rather than being guided by God’s code? Way too often – if I were to answer that question for myself. One could argue that His benchmarks are way too high – how will we ever expect to achieve them? But we need to remember that God’s standards are lofty because He is: a Holy Father (John 17:11), a Righteous Father (John 17.25), the just and mighty One (Job 34:17) and most importantly our Loving Father (John 3:16). Rather than feel defeated each time we come up short, maybe we should remember that the only way we can ever meet His expectations is through Jesus.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Steven Su)

Prayer – Lord, we pray for the children around the world who do not have access to basic education – the great equalizer to all. May you show your grace and mercy and enable them to learn Your Word.

Thanksgiving – Heavenly Father, we give thanks to you for giving us goals in life. Help us to focus our ambitions on You, through Your Son Jesus Christ.

11 May, Wednesday – Happiness

11 May

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Acts 20:28-38

Paul addressed these words to the elders of the church of Ephesus:

‘Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the overseers, to feed the Church of God which he bought with his own blood. I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never failed to keep you right, shedding tears over each one of you. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace that has power to build you up and to give you your inheritance among all the sanctified.

‘I have never asked anyone for money or clothes; you know for yourselves that the work I did earned enough to meet my needs and those of my companions. I did this to show you that this is how we must exert ourselves to support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”’

When he had finished speaking he knelt down with them all and prayed. By now they were all in tears; they put their arms round Paul’s neck and kissed him; what saddened them most was his saying they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.

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John 17:11-19

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:

‘Holy Father,
keep those you have given me true to your name,
so that they may be one like us.
While I was with them,
I kept those you had given me true to your name.
I have watched over them
and not one is lost
except the one who chose to be lost,
and this was to fulfil the scriptures.
But now I am coming to you
and while still in the world I say these things
to share my joy with them to the full.
I passed your word on to them,
and the world hated them,
because they belong to the world
no more than I belong to the world.
I am not asking you to remove them from the world,
but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth;
your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
I have sent them into the world,
and for their sake I consecrate myself
so that they too may be consecrated in truth.’

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“There is more happiness in giving than in receiving”

Reflecting upon the readings from today, the phrase above just really stood out for me. This especially in a world that has become so transactional – even when it comes to love. Before “investing” in something or a relationship, we need to ensure we are able to benefit. We need to be able to receive far more and be better off than without.

We also see this in our communities, whether we give feedback or even complain when our expectations/standards are not met. But how many of us have even contributed before we shoot away about how we haven’t received enough? Society has influenced us in such a way where giving can only happen after we have received.

Only when I have enough money, life is stable, and so I will then start supporting charities. Only when I’m the best in my field will I then consider helping others in their work. Unless you trust me, I won’t trust you. Unless I’ve seen a sign will I then believe that You are real?

Those are some of the things we might have thought of before or even mentioned to others. But the reality is if everyone simply just waits to receive, we are not going to receive anything if no one actually gives.

I am a firm believer of the statement above that giving in itself is a blessing. In order to give, we are already given. A change in mind set but a whole new different outlook on our own lives as a whole. Happiness can’t be bought. Happiness in a way is a choice. What we want versus what we need. If we already have what we need, why aren’t we happy? If we have attained what we wanted, why aren’t we happy? We desire more. The happiness that we have experienced may have only been temporary. Hence we continue to go on this search to find a happiness, but not yet realise what is the eternal happiness that we are searching for.

For me, it’s about making others happy. Knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of others. Giving. Not for anything in return but because I have already been given to. There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Are we ready to give?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see by Your example, by the giving of Your son, Jesus Christ. Give us the wisdom to see beyond materialism and to realise what is it we are in search of. Give us courage to be givers, not just of money and material goods, but givers of life and love. Amen.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to You for giving Jesus’ life for us on the cross and eventually by Your giving of the Holy Spirit. In that, we have already been given.