Tag Archives: growing in faith

12 January, Saturday – Size is relative

12 January 2019

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1 John 5:14-21

We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything,
and it is in accordance with his will,
he will hear us;
and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us,
we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him.
If anybody sees his brother commit a sin
that is not a deadly sin,
he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner
– not those who commit a deadly sin;
for there is a sin that is death,
and I will not say that you must pray about that.
Every kind of wrong-doing is sin,
but not all sin is deadly.

We know that anyone who has been begotten by God
does not sin,
because the begotten Son of God protects him,
and the Evil One does not touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.
We know, too, that the Son of God has come,
and has given us the power
to know the true God.
We are in the true God,
as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the true God,
this is eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against false gods

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John 3:22-30

Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. At the same time John was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there to be baptised. This was before John had been put in prison.
Now some of John’s disciples had opened a discussion with a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, ‘Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now; and everyone is going to him.’
John replied:

‘A man can lay claim
only to what is given him from heaven.

‘You yourselves can bear me out: I said: I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him.

‘The bride is only for the bridegroom;
and yet the bridegroom’s friend,
who stands there and listens,
is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.
This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.
He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’

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“He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.”

How do you get through to someone who always limits his potential by not thinking big, by not having the courage to look at the big picture but somehow always withdrawing into the ‘comfort zone’ of ‘I know this will get your approval’ or ‘I know this doing this will not create any ripples’? Coming from an industry where every day was about pushing boundaries, I have been trying hard to get one or two around me to stop limiting themselves by what they think they can achieve.

It can get frustrating, especially when you have been working with these people over the past few years. You’d think that some of my values would have rubbed off on them and they were a bit more daring or would attempt to think out of the box more often. More boss always shrugs his shoulders and tells me, “You are the one who hired them.”

I just wonder if Jesus ever felt the same frustrations about His chosen apostles. Nowhere in the gospels does it ever say that Jesus went away and banged his head against a wall or shredded his garments in frustration. He always went away to a quiet place to pray. Perhaps to allow God the Father to increase in Him, and for Jesus to decrease. So that the next time he faced Peter and his crew, they would be able to receive God’s love; provided, of course, they themselves decreased to allow Jesus to increase in them.

I am no mathematician but it seems as if this is a zero sum game. That the only way for us to increase in holiness is to slowly decrease. Do we eventually decrease to the point where God takes over? Is that when we cross over from being mere mortals to becoming the saints that we are destined to be? In the same manner, when a ministry is faced with a crisis of renewal, is it time for those in charge to decrease and fade so that newer, fresher blood can be injected into the core leadership to effect real change? A real leader knows when he or she should step away and let go. But here’s the rub, what if there is no one to let go to?

Brothers and sisters, to let go and let God, we must acknowledge that we have to deflate our egos and realise that only then, can God increase within us.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for the grace to humble ourselves in order that you can work within us and grow in us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for loving us as your children and for your constant love and protection.

7 March, Wednesday – The Truth In Scripture

7 Mar – Memorial for Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs

Perpetua (d. 203) was a lay woman born to a noble pagan family. She was a convert, a wife and a mother. She was martyred with her maid, friend, and fellow convert Felicitas. In centuries past, their story was so popular that St. Augustine of Hippo warned against giving it the weight of scripture.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9

Moses said to the people:

‘Now, Israel, take notice of the laws and customs that I teach you today, and observe them, that you may have life and may enter and take possession of the land that the Lord the God of your fathers is giving you.

‘See, as the Lord my God has commanded me, I teach you the laws and customs that you are to observe in the land you are to enter and make your own. Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, “No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.” And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?

‘But take care what you do and be on your guard. Do not forget the things your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather, tell them to your children and to your children’s children.’

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Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

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“…the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven”

I was not born into the Catholic faith. One of the things I learned when I started attending the Church was the concept of abstinence on Fridays. At first, I was troubled to learn that I could not eat meat, but was totally elated that I could eat fish! I began to seek out tasty recipes to cook fish so I could ‘abstain’ enjoyably!

It was later that I learned that the rationale behind eating fish was that it was seen as a poor quality meat in the West, unlike the fresh fish we have here in Singapore. Over time, I understood that abstinence is an important part of repentance and helps us in our efforts to turn away from sin and to reconnect with God.

As Christians, we need to understand what God’s laws for us mean and have to be careful that we do not undermine the essence of what these laws mean. I began to understand what this meant when I trained as an accountant.

One of the tenets I learned was the importance of ‘substance over form’.

In interpreting any accountancy principle, one had to look at the substance of what that principle was meant to cover, rather than just the wording. I have seen many instances where many fail to understand the underlying meaning and still end up violating the principle in its essence.

In my journey of faith, I learned many ‘do’s and don’ts’ in the Old Testament. Often, I found these challenging (and numerous!). As a new Christian previously attending a Protestant church, I spent much time mulling and debating over what I was supposed, and not supposed, to do.

In the New Testament, however, I found my answer. It is the ‘substance’ of my faith and drives my understanding of the Old Testament. The two greatest commandments our Lord Jesus taught us completes my grasp of my faith.

Now, when I look at the circumstances I face in my life, I ask myself if I am loving my God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. Next, I ask myself if I have loved my neighbour as myself.

Let us pray that we may continue to always turn to these 2 basic principles in trying to grow in our faith.

(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)

Prayer: Father God, we pray that we may always be ‘plugged in’ to Your promptings. Help us to always head towards You.

Thanksgiving: We praise and thank You, Father, for teaching us what is it You want us to be and to learn.