The Inerrancy of the Bible

I remember well my first Bible. It was given to me by a good friend when I was in Form Two. It was the Good News Bible in simple English. I was not a Christian, had never been to church nor had I heard much about Jesus. I was, however, asking questions about life’s purpose and meaning, and did read quite a fair bit of the Bible. But it would be a few years later after accepting Jesus as my Saviour that the Word of God completely changed my life. Now I am well acquainted with the authority and power of Scripture. Billions of people over the centuries would likewise be able to testify to the same experience of being transformed by the Word of God.  

According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible “is the most influential book of all-time… The Bible has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating. Even pop culture is deeply influenced by the Bible.” With estimated total sales of over five billion copies, the Bible is widely considered to be the best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually. 

It would certainly be peculiar for an ancient book like the Bible to be so relevant and influential through time and history except that the Bible is no ordinary book. It has as its source divine inspiration and its content the very revelation of God. By revelation, we mean God’s communication to humankind of the truth that we need to know in order to relate properly to him. 

And by inspiration, we mean the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit upon the Scripture writers which rendered their writings the very Word of God.

As the pre-eminent professor of New Testament, Gordon Fee writes, “Historically, the church has understood the nature of Scripture much the same way as it has understood the person of Christ — the Bible is at the same time both human and divine … Because the Bible is God’s word, it has eternal relevance; it speaks to all humankind, in every age and in every culture. Because it is God’s Word, we must listen — and obey. But because God chose to speak his Word through human words in history, every book in the Bible also has historical particularity; each document is conditioned by the language, time, culture in which it was originally written.” 

At Audacity Malaysia, we hold to the full inerrancy of the Bible. By full inerrancy, we mean that the Bible, “when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purpose for which in it was given, is fully truthful in all that it affirms.” 

This means that the Bible’s assertions are fully true when judged in accordance to the culture of its time and for the purpose for which they were written. It is further important to note that no biblical text should be taken as erroneous because of the difficulties we might encounter in understanding or explaining it. 

God has given special revelation of himself and inspired his servants to record it through the enabling of his Holy Spirit. The Bible is a dependable source of God’s revelation and is fully truthful in all its teaching. It is fully accurate, authoritative and applicable to the life of every Christian and must be adhered to as the standard of our Christian faith. 

Scripture is indeed the defining document of the Christian faith. It specifies what we as the followers of Jesus are to believe and how we are to conduct our lives. It is to be used for building us up into maturity so that we may be “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17) according to God’s purpose for us.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV

References:

  1. Biema, David (22 March 2007). “The Case For Teaching The Bible”. Time Magazine.
  2. Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth (Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1993), p.17. 
  3. Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 1997), p.63. 
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The Saviour’s Nail-Scarred Hands

As we commemorate Good Friday this week, we remember a Saviour who willingly suffered and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross. The marks of our Lord’s crucifixion are forever etched onto his nail-scarred hands (John 20:19-20, 27). It was sin that nailed him to the cross and his scars testify to the brokenness of the world. 

We too have scars and they too testify to our brokenness. They tell the stories of things that went wrong in our lives. Whether they were grave mistakes, missed opportunities, broken dreams or unexpected tragedies, they caused us pain and suffering. 

When we view our scars negatively, they become the reasons for our resentment, bitterness or struggles. A failed relationship that remains in our heart, an unfulfilled dream that we refuse to give up, a betrayal that we couldn’t forgive; they continue to inflict pain on us well past their time. 

Seeing our life through our scars, we are tempted to see it as a glass half-emptied, believing that it has been less than what it should be. We live with “if only” and if we are not careful, unhappiness and unforgiveness grip our hearts, constraining the life of God within us. 

This Good Friday, as we shift our eyes from our scars and behold our Saviour’s nail-scarred hands instead, we might realise that scars are part of God’s redemptive work. 

Jesus’ scars tell us that he is our Saviour and our scars tell us why we need a Saviour.

Our scars are part of God’s workings in our life. They are visible reminders that Jesus is our saviour, redeemer and healer. It is when we have experienced deep pain and suffering that we will understand our desperate need for God’s saving grace. 

Suffering has a way to impel us to embrace a greater purpose. Superficial living can find no thriving ground in a life deeply wounded and powerfully healed. A deeper faith and a stronger hope are born out of accepting our scars as part of our redemption story, our journey into a fuller grace.

Jesus took our brokenness to the cross. This is why Jesus came. Good Friday happened so that God could bring wholeness to brokenness. It is fitting that we surrender our scars and allow Jesus to mend our brokenness. No matter what pieces need to be fixed back again, Jesus makes everything beautiful in his time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  And this is why Good Friday is “good” when it commemorates such a dark day of suffering that ended with the crucifixion of Christ. 

Jesus Heals

Good Friday marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save us from our sins. It had to happen for us to experience the joy of Easter. Without that day of suffering, sorrow and shed blood of the Saviour on the cross, God could not be both “just and justifier” of those who trust in Jesus (Romans 3:26). 

The day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil paradoxically set us free from the power of evil!  

On Good Friday, we find the convergence of our sins and God’s forgiveness. On the cross of Christ, God’s righteousness coincided with his mercy. Jesus took on the brokenness of the world in exchange for our freedom. Where the nails pierced his now scarred hands, our scars find healing.

Because of Good Friday, we don’t have to doubt the love of our Saviour even in the depth of grief or the battles we fight. If we are willing, our surrendered brokenness brings forth new strength for a greater purpose. It doesn’t only bring fuller grace or life to us but to all around us. 

This Good Friday, let us not go through our religious duty of merely remembering or even thanking God for the cross of Christ, but let us allow the blood that was shed to flow over us. Let us allow our bondage to be broken and the balm of God to heal our scars. 

At Calvary, the Saviour surrendered himself so that our freedom could be purchased. On Good Friday, good triumphed over evil and mercy won the ultimate victory. Beholding our Saviour’s nailed-scarred hands, may we see our scars too as part of God’s redemptive story and may we lift higher the cross of Christ! 

Despised

Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

Isaiah 53:3-6, NIV
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The Blessing Of Order

In the beginning, the earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the surface of the deep (Genesis 1:2). When God spoke, creation took shape. Out of chaos came order with each creation in its rightful place, functioning according to its divine purpose. God is a God of order and not only does creation testify to this but throughout Scriptures, we see divine’s admonishments to live an orderly life. 

When God led his people out of Egypt, one of the very first things the people learned in the desert was order. At Mount Sinai, God gave the Israelites the ten commandments (Exodus 20) and divine laws that cover a wide range of activities and relationships. God also gave them the blueprint for the first house of worship, the tabernacle. The instructions for the building and setting up of the tabernacle and everything pertaining to it, including the offerings are given in great details (Exodus 25-30). In the book of Numbers, we find the organisation of the twelve tribes of Israel, with each tribe assigned their respective leader, position and duty (Numbers 1-2).  

Order is the proper or harmonious arrangement or organisation of life. It governs everything that God created. Order creates peace and frees us from confusion, inefficiency and breakdown. The opposite of order is chaos. This happens when things are in disarray, when they are not functioning as they should.  When any part of creation is in disarray, we suffer negative and painful consequences. We see this in the breakdown of the family, society or nature or even our body. 

As part of divine creation, we need to live our lives in an orderly manner.

The need to be orderly applies to every aspect of our lives. It applies to the stewardship of our resources like time, finances, talents and space. It applies to the management of our work and health.  It applies to our priorities in life and it applies to our family, church and relationships.

Whether we realise it or not, much resources are wasted when our lives are disorderly. The disorganised life is often distressing. Whether we work on a messy desk or live in a messy space, our efficiency is affected. We all know people who are constantly misplacing things. They often waste time searching for what they need since they can’t remember where they placed what. Then there are those who are habitually late, miss datelines, or simply forget to do what they need to do. These are all the results of the disorders that we have allowed to overrun our lives. 

It is even worse when we don’t organise our priorities or don’t understand divine order. When we dishonour God or leadership at home, at work or in church, we are out of order. 

Order

If you are struggling with disarray, you need to bring order into your life. Creating order is all about managing your priorities, relationships, time, tasks, finances, space, stuffs properly. It will save you tons of wasted energy and time. It will relieve you from a lot of unnecessary stress. It will help you to stop fighting fires and break you out of the cycle of similar problems and crisis. And it will make working and living with you less stressful for other people!

Beginning with your priorities, create order in your life. As Christians, our lives should be organised properly into four areas — relationships, work/study, ministry/service, rest/recreation. This does not mean that we spend equal amount of time or resources on each area. It means that we need to manage our time and resources (finance, energy, talents) in all four areas appropriately. 

When we neglect any area or overdo any area, our lives become disorderly. Overdoing work and neglecting our family for example create disarray in our family. Overdoing personal recreation and neglecting ministry creates disconnection with God while overdoing ministry and neglecting rest creates burnout. 

Organise your time by setting a calendar so that you can manage all the four areas of your life. A calendar is the best way to help us minimise the wastage of time. And if you do it well, it can help you cure your unpunctuality. Many Christians neglect ministry/service, because they mistakenly believe that they don’t have enough time to serve God. No wonder so many believers are apathetic and feel no genuine intimacy or excitement about God.  

Serving

If you are not serving, ask yourself why. You are likely to find that you have overspent your resources in at least one area of your life.

Not only must time be organised, our finances, energy and space need to be orderly. Learn the basic principles of order. For example the simple rule for organising finance is budgeting, and for organising space is “A Place For Everything.” 

Order does not mean we don’t enjoy creativity or even the bursts of spontaneity. All of creation is simultaneously orderly and creative. Rather order is aligning ourselves to the divine design for us.

As you create order in your life, you will find fiction easing as life comes together in an easier rhythm and greater harmony. But more importantly, order helps us to fulfil God’s purpose for us so that God can be glorified in our lives. 

But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

1 Corinthians 14:40 (NIV)
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Loving Unconditionally

If you judge people, you have no time to love them,” said Mother Teresa. It is one of my favourite quotes and one that I have to remind myself often when relationships are difficult.

It contains in it a powerful transforming truth. It is easy enough to understand but hard to practice. However, if we take it to heart and pursue it sincerely, it is able to change our struggling relationships at home, in our church and with our friends to more positive and happier ones. It can be the antidote to much of our negativity about people.

Judging people is evaluating people by our standards and expectations. And somehow judging and loving people don’t go together, no matter how much we want to believe otherwise.

That is why when God decides to love us, he gives up judging us. I know Scriptures say God is the eternal judge who will ultimately judge humanity for how we live on earth. But if we are the recipients of God’s love, we have been spared of judgement. We have to choose between God’s love and judgement. And if we choose love, we will not be judged for our sins and failures. We will only be judged for reward.

Romans 8:1

Likewise, when we choose to love someone, we have to give up on judging them. Often when we are judging people, we try to convince ourselves that we are doing it for their good. In other words, our very judgement is an act of love. With that logic, we judge the people we are supposed to love. This is simply not true.

Judging the people we are supposed to love is not loving them.


When we judge someone, we inevitably come up with a list of things that we don’t like about them or we are upset with. At that moment, they seem undeserving of our acceptance, and to communicate our disapproval, we change our behaviour towards them.

Judging has no meaning in itself unless it is empowered through our actions. So we withhold love. To withhold love, we suspend our kindness, patience, gentleness, trust and perseverance. We become self-seeking, easily angered and dishonouring, and often we say unkind words. But by withholding love, we inflict pain in our relationships. Parent-child, husband-wife, friendships, and many more relationships are often victims of this.

There is great pain in relationships when love is withheld. People we truly care about suffer hurt when we cut them off from our love even for a while. For love to achieve what God created it to do, it cannot expand and shrink according to whether people are meeting our expectations. Love has to be unconditional.

There is nothing wrong with expectations. It is natural to have expectations in relationships. The closer people are to us, the more expectations we have of them. But people closest to us often don’t meet our expectations. Our natural feeling is one of disappointment when this happens. But disappointment must not lead to the withholding of love.

Tying love to meeting expectations is problematic.

God also has great expectations of us. He has put a lot of potential within us and is heavily invested in our wellbeing and success. We often fail to meet God’s expectations; sometimes to be who we are created to be, sometimes to do what we are called to do. Sometimes our failures are harmful to us, they hurt us or set us back in life. I am sure it breaks the heart of God when this happens. Yet, God does not judge us nor withhold his love from us when we don’t meet his expectations.

For better relationships, we need to manage our expectations. We may even need to change our expectations. We need to give people the freedom to be who they are and to choose how they live. And yes, even the people closest to us like our spouse and children have that right. They too have the right to decide who they are. Our role is to love them unconditionally.

We will struggle with unconditional love unless we truly believe in its power for good.

For us to appreciate the goodness of unconditional love, we need to meditate on God’s love for us. Unconditional love is truly transforming. It is the healing balm for wounded souls. In a world that is increasingly exhausting emotionally and gruelling mentally, unconditional love is the fresh air that we are all gasping for. It gives us courage and emboldens us to continue dreaming and working towards the better version of ourselves.

So as we seek happier and more positive relationships, let’s work harder to love more unconditionally!

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Emotional Resilience

Reading the Book of Proverbs recently, I stopped at one verse that is more relevant than ever today.

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

– Proverbs 24:10 (NKJV)

It is a verse not just for those who are seeking to thrive in life but for everyone who does not want to spiral downward in these tough days.

We are indeed in the day of adversity as the current global situation prolongs. More and more, the toil on our mental and emotional wellbeing is piling up. For many, the days are becoming increasingly burdensome as they continue to struggle to adjust to the “new normal.” How well we fare in this unusual season is a true test of our emotional resilience.

Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt and manage stressful situations or causes. It is an innate ability that some seem to be born with. But it can also be developed by anyone who desires it.

As Christians, we believe that God has designed us to thrive no matter what life throws at us. As the Apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Living our best life in hard times is challenging but with Jesus on our side, we can choose to be overcomers. And to do that, we need to be emotionally resilient.

So here are four important traits that if we cultivate well, can help us to build emotional resilience.

1. Spirituality
look to jesus

As Christians, we begin with spirituality. Spirituality, in fact, is the number one trait that researchers found when studying people who overcame tragedies. More than any other qualities, spirituality was identified as the most critical source of strength that enabled people to triumph over adversities.

People who believe in God do better in difficult times.

If we want to be emotionally resilient, we need to make the effort to build a strong relationship with Jesus. Ironically, making the effort in our relationship with God can be challenging during a stressful period.

When we are facing life head-on, we try to conserve our energy from “unnecessary” things. So we put God on hold as we press in to the urgent. When life gets tough, the tough gets going, so we try to “bulldoze” our way through. But this eventually leads to breakdown and we suffer mental, emotional and health issues due to great stress accumulated over a prolonged period.

Jesus invites us to rest in him when we are weary.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

If you are willing to do that you will notice that the stronger your relationship with God, the greater your inner strength.

2. Positive Relationships

Studies reveal that to function at its best, our brain needs positive social support. This is because good relationships release oxytocin which calms our minds and reduces stress. In fact, it has been found that we do not only need to receive support from others, we also need to give support to others

In other words, we need others and we need to be needed by others.

Studies found that children who grew up in impoverished circumstances but had great role models who supported them, often triumphed over great difficulties and went on to live productive, healthy lives.

Without doubt, our relationships play a critical part in our emotional resilience. It is not surprising that the New Testament contains many exhortations for us to love and support each other.

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

Romans 13:8 (NIV)

If we follow the biblical admonitions in cultivating positive relationships, we are bound to grow more resilient emotionally.

3. Positive Mindset
Optimistic

Resilient people are generally more optimistic. They are able to see the positives even in dire situations. They also have a sense of control and more confidence in their abilities to handle challenges.

Resilient people believe that they do not have to be at the mercy of outside forces.

They are flexible and adaptable, and often see obstacles as challenges to overcome. They learn quickly from mistakes and allow adversity to make them stronger instead of weaker.

Studies have also revealed an interesting common trait of people with high emotional resilience — they are humorous! They have the ability to laugh at life’s difficulties and their humour often allow them to manage stress more intelligently.

4. Life Purpose
Purpose

Highly resilient people have a deep sense of purpose in life. When times are hard, their purpose carries them forward. They are also found to have a strong moral compass and genuine concern for the wellbeing of others, not just themselves.

They also tend to be more discipline. For example, most resilient people have good exercise habits. They are often lifelong learners that keep growing their mind and adapting to new information about the world. Their commitment to their life purpose generates great inner strength to triumph over challenges.

As Christians, these are certainly traits that we should aspire to. As we become more resilient through hard times, we will not only inherit the promises that God has for us but we will be shining testimonies for the glory of God. Remember we are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37)!

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV)

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Precept By Precept

A young boy was given the chore of carrying a pail of water from a well to his house every afternoon. It was truly a frustrating task for him as the pail he had to use had holes on it. By the time he reached the door of his home, half the water in his pail would have been wasted on the pathway. No matter how he persuaded his father, he could not change his father’s mind about this tedious task. As the days unfolded, the young boy found an interesting development. Plants had sprouted on the pathway that he treaded daily carrying the pail of water. When he told his father of the happy surprise, he discovered that his father had planted seeds on the pathway and that he was in fact watering the seeds without knowing it.

The Word of God is indeed like the water that grows the seeds that God has planted within us. It is given to us to teach, rebuke, correct and train us in righteousness.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

What this means is that the Word is given to help us build a godly life. The Word teaches us about God and the Christian life. Without the Word, it is not possible to grow as a Christian.

Timothy

The Bible rebukes and corrects us.

When we check our behaviours against the Bible, we will know when we are wrong, and how to correct ourselves.

I remember how I learned to speak wisely. It wasn’t taught to me by anybody. I was rebuked and corrected by the Word. It happened during my devotion when I was a relatively young believer. I was reading the Book of James, and as I came to James 3:1-12, I just couldn’t move on from these verses on taming the tongue. I began to reflect on them, repented and decided to watch my words from that day on.

While I didn’t understand everything about the Book of James, I certainly did understand enough for it to change my life! Do not be discouraged if you cannot understand Scriptures very well. I believe that God designed his Word in such a way that we can spend our whole life discovering more of it! Even Bible scholars continue to try to understand more of Scriptures!

In fact, we should not be in a great hurry to know everything in the Bible. Just like it takes time to know a person deeply, it takes time to discover the depths of Scriptures. Layer by layer, the Bible opens up to us as we take time to read and meditate. Cramping in too much knowledge in a great hurry — we sometimes do this because we mistakenly find our sense of superiority as a Christian in our knowledge of the Bible — can lead to a puff up head and indigestion!

precept by precept

If you keep reading the Bible, God will always give you sufficient gems in the Word to grow you and direct your path. You do not have to worry about missing out on God’s promises and directions.

When I began sensing God leading me into the ministry, there was a great struggle within me. Even when my spiritual leaders ‘confirmed’ my calling, I continued to struggle. One night, as I was praying, I heard the Holy Spirit said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45, NKJV) Immediately, I fell on my knees and cried. The Word of God broke my resistance and directed my path.

I certainly didn’t know much Scriptures at that time but God used what I did know to direct me. Loving the Word and applying it — precept by precept — continuously is the best way to grow as a believer.

If you would like to grow in your love for the Word, I recommend reading Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and contains 179 verses extolling the greatness of Scriptures. It is a beautiful acrostic poem comprising 22 units of 8 verses. Each unit begins with a letter in the Hebrew alphabets. In this wonderful Psalm, eight words are used to describe Scriptures — law, word (dabar), judgments, testimonies, commandments, statutes, precepts and word (imrah). That so many verses and words are used to describe Scriptures should alert us to its extraordinary breath!

Reading one verse of Psalm 119 every day would enable you to read through the entire Psalm twice a year. And when you have read one verse of Psalm 119, go ahead and read another passage of Scriptures. Precept by precept, the Word of God waters the seeds into full bloom, bearing the fruits God desires in your life!

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
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Jehovah Shalom – The Lord Is Peace

I remember vividly when God taught me about not worrying. It was a normal devotional time where I was reading the Bible and praying but my mind was filled with worries that day. We were still a young church then and the future was uncertain. I was concern about many things. My mind would run off as I tried to pray. Eventually, I turned my Bible to Philippians 4:6-8.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)

This was exactly what I was trying to do. Yet after praying I found my mind still anxious. As I meditated on these verses, I had an important realisation. It had to do with where my mind was focused. As long as my mind was focused on my worries, there would be no peace. 

The peace of God transcends understanding because it is supernatural.

If we use natural reasoning, we can’t receive the peace of God. The peace of God is the result of a mind that is focused on Jesus.

At this realisation, I began thinking about Jesus. A while later, I found my worries and anxious thoughts gone. My situation hadn’t changed but my mind was no longer occupied by them. Instead a deep peace filled my heart. To this day, when I am worried, I think about Jesus.

Our mind is given to us by God so that we can have understanding. It processes information, reflects, interprets, judges, evaluates and makes decisions. All these activities happen unceasingly, often at a subconscious level. But unless our mind has been trained through a relationship with God from a young age, it functions without much regard to God. The Bible calls this the “natural” or “worldly” mind. This by the way is why Christian parents are exhorted to train their child in God’s way while they are young (Proverbs 22:6 ).

The mind is wired to find the path of less resistance. This is the familiar pathway or pattern that we use the most. You will notice that when you are driving say from your office to your home, you can do it without much mental engagement. In fact, your mind often wander and you could even be day dreaming as you drive! You might also find yourself subconsciously driving home when you have a colleague in your car that you have to drop off! Your mind functions subconsciously on familiar pathway.

This is why many of us even after becoming a Christian for many years would slide back into the familiar pattern of the natural mind. Because we function subconsciously from the natural mind, the Bible tells us to “renew our mind” (Romans 12:2).

The natural mind has an inclination to focus on the negatives — what we don’t have, what is not right, why we are not good enough, what can go wrong. This tendency could be linked to our survival instinct after the fall of man.

We feel burdened and anxious. The responsibilities of life overwhelm us. Our body becomes tense and stressed, making us susceptible to sickness. Worrying drains us. But as long as our mind is stayed on our problems and fears, we will remain anxious. We can’t stop worrying.

Just recently, out of the blue, I caught myself worrying about how the current pandemic is affecting the church. As long as I function from my natural mind, I will remain anxious. But as so many of us know, worrying will not change the situation.

So I stilled my anxious mind and reminded myself that God is on his throne. I filled my mind with the thoughts of Jesus, prayed and laid my concerns at Jesus’ feet. I asked Him to lead me and bless me. Then I proceeded to do what I can do. Again the peace of God that is greater than my natural mind filled my heart.

What about you? I wonder if you find yourself anxious. Are you worried about what is happening and how it is impacting you? Perhaps something unexpected happened and worrying is keeping you up at night.

One of God’s name is Jehovah Shalom — the Lord is peace. Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).

Jesus wants to be your peace.

look to jesus

He understands your worries. Turn your mind towards Jesus. Think about who He is, what He has done, how much He loves you. Pray with faith.

You can’t change your world by focusing on your worries. Worrying is like rocking a stationary chair. It uses your energy but gets you nowhere.

However, you can change your world if you shift your focus to Jesus. Pray and do your very best. Choose trust over worry. Not only will you experience God’s transcending peace, you will realise that there is no situation where God’s love cannot reach.

Shalom!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)
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Fast and Pray Devotions

Fast and Pray Devotion: Day 1

“The soul and the body make a man; the spirit and discipline make a Christian.” – John Wesley Spiritual discipline is an incredibly significant key to a powerful, steadfast, fruitful and meaningful journey with Christ. As such, we would like to urge you, encourage you and invite you to join us in fasting and praying for the next 14 days. Our senior pastor, Ps Felina Bany will be sharing a short devotion with us every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during these 14 days on AM’s IGTV, beginning today.

Come follow us on our Instagram and Facebook and turn on post notifications to stay updated and connected.

 
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Fast and Pray Devotion: Day 4

It is Day 4 of our churchwide 14-Day Fast & Pray and we hope the journey has been great for you.

Perhaps you may be fighting some of life’s battles this season; a health battle, financial battle, career battle, relationship battle, mental or emotional battle.

As your spiritual discipline releases God’s greater grace upon your life, God can and wants to intervene and take over your battles too.

Take heart in this: Your battle belongs to God!

If you have yet to fast and pray, we would like to urge you, encourage you and invite you to join us in fasting and praying for the next 10 days. Take a chance, take a step of faith, to see the transformative power and love of God in you and your life.

Here’s a devotion, in hope and prayer, that you will receive encouragement and empowerment to press in and press on in Christ as you fast and pray today.

 
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Fast and Pray Devotion: Day 6

 
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Fast and Pray Devotion: Day 8


Fast and Pray Devotion: Day 11


Fast and Pray Devotion: Day 13

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A Better You, A Better Year

When I was a young pastor, I had an earnest desire to see everyone grow in Jesus. I thought that if everyone would allow Jesus to work His love and power in their lives, they would be a better person and live a better life. 

After working with hundreds of people in the last 25 years, I realise now that not everyone wants to grow. Growth involves change. And change is uncomfortable and even painful. One thing became evident to me through the years. Some people do not grow. Time, experiences and even education do not make us better.

Becoming a better person is a choice that we must make.

Many people want a better life. Yet they lack awareness that the better life is a result of being a better person.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year! A common wish we all share is that this would be a great year. While we can’t predict how this year will unfold, we can right at the onset, decide to grow as a person. A better us will give us a greater chance for a better year!

So here are 3 things you can do to be a better person in this new year.

1. Create Positive Relationships
Relationships

We start with relationships because relationships are really the best measurement of who we are. Career, status and physical look cannot reveal whether we are a good human or not.

But if we are a blessing to people or if we are a pain, it shows up in our relationships either way. Nothing is as transforming as relationships and if we challenge ourselves to create positive relationships, we will become a better us.

As a start, let go off past hurt. If people have unintentionally hurt us, forgive them just as God forgives us. Choose to be a blessing to them in the new year.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

However, there might be people who we find impossible to cultivate positive relationships. They might be insecure, envious or just cruel people who intentionally hurt us, and will continue to do so if we allow them. In the new year, let us not give foothold in our lives to people who will take advantage of us and mistaken our kindness as weakness.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not what we have but who we have that make us better people. I am truly grateful for my family, friends and church. My relationships with them have been instrumental in my growth.

Who do you have in your life that make you a better person?

Are you surrounded by people who challenge you to be a better version of yourself? They are truly the keys to a better you.

2. Cultivate Productive Habits
Habits

There are productive habits that make us and unproductive habits that break us. We will not have a greater year without cultivating productive habits.

Productive habits empower us to be a better us and live a higher quality of life. They are simple daily-stuff such as time management, punctuality, good manners, sufficient rest, proper work ethics, competence and spirituality.

What are the habits that if you would do consistently would make you more successful?

Choose one to begin cultivating and add more as the year progresses. If you are unclear about what you need to cultivate, ask your family or friends. Believe me, they know!

It is impossible to be a better us without changing our habits. Same habits will mean the same us in the new year!

3. Choose Personal Happiness
Happiness

Have you noticed that you are a better person when you are happy? You treat people better and you produce better work.

On the other hand, your soul is crushed when you are unhappy and life becomes a burden. You become judgemental and easily offended when you do not like yourself or your life.

To be a better you, choose happiness.

Yes, happiness is a choice. Choose faith and hope in tiring circumstances. Choose patience and trust when good things are slow in coming. Choose to believe what God says about you so that you are not dragged down by people’s malicious opinions.

Find happiness in the simple things — a walk in the park, conversations with friends, your favourite music. Most of all, remember happiness is found in giving and serving because that is truly our greatest purpose in life.

It takes 66 days to form a new habit. Creating positive relationships, cultivating productive habits or choosing personal happiness might be difficult at the start. But there are 365 days in the new year to keep trying! Say to yourself every day, “I am becoming a better human.”

A better you is well worth it. Remember, your Heavenly Father has called you to live a life worthy of Him and His great love for you.

… live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, …

Colossians 1:10 (NIV)
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Summoning Happiness

Surely one of the great struggles of humans is our inability to summon happiness. This state that ranges from great delight to pure bliss or intense pleasure is THE ONE that so many of us believe to be the most important pursuit of life.

In fact, happiness has often been named the goal of life. After all, we begin every new year wishing each other, “Happy New Year!”

For me personally, there are days when I find happiness arduous. And I wake up missing that elated state of being. On mornings like that, I pause for a few minutes before getting up. In that short pause, I go through my schedule. And then I drink my coffee slowly and remind myself who I belong to and why I do what I do.

Indeed if we are honest, we will acknowledge that we often find happiness challenging. It is somewhat elusive and momentary. As a pastor, I hear more about the opposite state and find unhappiness a more frequent companion for many.

Solomon has much to say about this in his musing in Ecclesiastes. He too couldn’t make happiness a permanent companion despite having immense power, wealth, pleasure, accomplishment and knowledge (Ecc. 1:2, 14; 2:1, 11, 17; 4:4; 5:10). After savouring life to the best of his abilities, he surmised that everything was meaningless.

So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Ecclesiastes 2:17 (NIV)

Perhaps you find yourself echoing Solomon’s sentiment as you come to the end of another year. You might even be engaging in a mad struggle to capture ‘enough’ happiness to make life worth living.

If you are feeling trapped in a dark tunnel of despair struggling to find a beam of happiness, it might comfort you to know that the psalmist found himself in the same place. However, he didn’t allow himself to stay downcast. Instead, he placed his hope in God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

Psalm 42:5 (NKJV)

Likewise, Solomon despite his desperation with life conceded that ultimately it is our relationship with God that fuels our happiness.

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, …

Ecclesiastes 2:26a (NIV)
Keeping Our Eyes On God
look to jesus

Happiness is to be had if we are willing to keep our eyes on God.

This happiness has little to do with the temporary feeling of elation that we desperately seek. This happiness is not always boisterous. It is not necessarily a display of fireworks or painting the town red.

This inner delight is much more substantial than the good feeling that comes and goes. It is more than fleeting moments of pleasure. It is not based on circumstances or people.

This happiness is founded on the knowledge of the goodness of God. It is the awe of participating in God’s purpose. It is the deep satisfaction that our life has meaning. It is the unexplainable joy that we experience when we do good to others.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

Ecclesiastes 3:12 (NIV)

This is the happiness that God has for us! This is the happiness that God has for you!

A Deep Satisfaction Of Purpose
He Promises Us

The days will attempt to bring us down for sure. And we will be tempted to believe that if we could have what we want or gain the accolades of others, we will be truly happy. Yet Solomon and scores of high achievers, and indeed many more to come will prove this a blatant deception. So often it is at the height of having it all, that the deepest despair besets the greatest of man.

God does not expect us to be in cloud nine unceasingly! But as we keep our eyes on God and intentionally live out God’s purpose, we will experience deep delight that overwhelms our soul.

If our heart is taken by the presence and power of God working out his purpose in our life, we will find happiness a more consistent companion.

If we redefine happiness from a temporal mood to a deep satisfaction of purpose in God, happiness does not have to be elusive or momentary.

With our heart rested solidly on God’s goodness, we can beam with positive intention even when we find things or people difficult. We can triumph over troubled emotions.

We can summon happiness when we are willing to acknowledge that our purpose far outweighs our momentary emotions.

So on days when you find yourself downcast emotionally, don’t give up on happiness. Pause and look to God. His banner over you is love. His purpose for you is worth living for. Remind yourself who you belong to, declare your purpose and summon happiness!

May God and his purpose be your happiness. And here’s to a Happier New Year!

Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!

Psalm 144:15b (NKJV)
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