Monday, February 29, 2016

God Created Us in His Own Image: No Ordinary People (Genesis 1:26-28; 31)

Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground’… God saw all that he had made, and it was very good!
(Genesis 1:26-27; 31,

To err is human,” according to the old saying. Maybe so. But there’s lot more to being human than making mistakes and errors. We have all been made in the image of God. That urge to create, to bring order out of chaos, to make our mark on the world; the anger we feel in the face of the injustice, the pleasure we feel in the face of beauty, the hope we feel for a better future – all of that is the image of God finding expression in us, human beings.

It is true that the image of God we expressed is distorted, even fractured. But there it is nevertheless, glimmering in this interaction, shining in that choice, bursting forth in our longings. God’s image in us forever calls us back to the One who is its original.

That realization changes the way we look at ourselves. It also changes the way we look at others. “There are no ordinary people,” C.S. Lewis wrote. “You have never met a mere mortal.” Once you start seeing the image of God in yourself and others, the world never looks the same again.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

God and the Word was in the Beginning (Genesis 1:1-5)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night’
(Genesis 1:1-5, NIV).

There was only darkness, chaos, and emptiness. There was only nothing. And then there was everything, spoken into existence by the voice of God: “Let there be…” With those words, light shone out of the darkness, order arose out of chaos, and the emptiness was filled with good things, beautiful things – things that gave God pleasure and put a smile upon His face.

It was good, God said. It wouldn’t be long before the perfection of the natural order would be wrecked, but this first chapter of the Book of Genesis reminds us of something we all feel in our hearts already: the way things are is not the way things were supposed to be. The Creation story tells us that everything in this universe – every single things – is of supernatural origin. Every event is an echo, however distorted, of God’s voice speaking, “Let there be…

It was the Word that set things in motion, and that Word still speaks. For the Word is Christ. He was with God before the beginning; indeed, he was God, shining in the darkness. The Word still speaks. The Light still shines: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:1-5, NIV).

Regardless of what the scientists, philosophers, historians and astronomers told us;
First, in the beginning… God! Amen.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Jesus welcomes Us to His' Apostolic Theological Seminary (Mark 9:30-37 Enrol Now!)

Study tools: Towels and jar of water
[Jesus and his disciples] left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.’ But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it
(Mark 9:30-33, NIV, bracket mine).

It was about three years Jesus spent time with His disciples to teach them. These men to whom Jesus said, “Follow Me,” journeyed with the Master throughout Palestine land and all the way and personal encounters was a learning experience for them. This is amazing! Do we need to go to seminary school to study theology? Perhaps, but as for Jesus’ twelve apostles, their Apostolic Theological Seminary was outside classrooms. In the Gospel according to Mark, the writer emphasis on Jesus’ actions. Mark saw Jesus’ seminary as a school that taught by action more than by words. No classrooms and projection screen, just real life situations and on the road teachings. Here in chapter 9:30-37, Mark recorded a mini-lecture Jesus delivered to his twelve disciples…

Doctrine of Future Things 101. Jesus told in plain terms that He would be – delivered into the hands of men – will be killed – but after three days will rise again. Jesus, for the second time, explained the three steps climax to His earthly ministry. But the disciples, amazingly, “did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.” Not just they don’t understand and didn’t ask for explanations, they were arguing with one another! Jesus knew that they were arguing about “who was the greatest” among them (Mark 9:33-34). To me, the disciples – like us – we so blinded by their own notion of what the Messiah was supposed to be like. The idea that Jesus could be rejected and killed was unthinkable. Perhaps the thought frightened them to the point that they were unable to ask Him what He meant.

Doctrine of Greatness 2.0. Jesus’ taught his disciples: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all”; and “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (read Mark 9:34-37). Because Jesus selected them personally and because they studied at the Apostolic Theological Seminary, they become proud, boastful and self-centred. As for today you can almost hear people say, “I studied at the Methodist Theological School in Sibu!”; “I have Master of Divinity from Sabah Theological Seminary…”; “Ehemmm… I’m a graduate from Malaysia Theological Seminar.” These are just examples of how we can become proud because our distinctions from everyone else. We sometime forget that for us be spiritually great (Yes, Jesus encourages our pursuit to be great in God) is through choosing the lowest position and serving others. To enter the Kingdom of God we must have the humility of a child. Today – even in Christianity – we called someone great because of their educational background and those who great in public speaking automatically become our leaders. This is not so for Jesus’ followers! Greatness in God’s definition is to serve one another and to care about the little ones.

These and many more lesson Jesus taught His disciples one by one, through personal encounters and first-hand experience, by words and practically by His own actions. Do you want to enrol in Jesus’ Apostolic Theological Seminary? If you do, then take heed the Master’s words: “Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me” (8:34); and “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Welcome to Jesus’ school!

First assignment: Read the Word

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jesus, I Do Believe; Help Me Overcome My Unbelief (Mark 9:14-29)

Jesus, Peter, James and John were coming down the mountain…
When they come to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked. A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ ‘You unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.’ So they bought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, ‘How long has he been like this?
(Mark 9:14-21,

From childhood,” the father cries helplessly. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus then encourages the man to have faith, to believe in Him. “Everything is possible for one who believes” (9:23). But the confused father cries the words that describe the state of faith in most Christians: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (9:24). When I first read it, it sounds like a contradictory statement. But I personally identify with that man as I heard myself once prayed, “Lord, I believe in You and Your power. But I’m having trouble believing in You for a particular situation. Help me in this area of my faith.” The statement is not contradictory – it’s reality! So, Jesus responded the desperate father by delivering his son from the evil spirit (read Mark 9:25-27).

Faith, in simple terms, is the ability to see and act upon what God can do in a certain situation. For example, Oliver can “see” his friend Khai coming to Christ in the future, so he prays for Khai and invites him often to a campus Bible Study. Supang “see” God active in her life as a result of her personal quite time, so she spends 10-15 minutes each morning before she go to work reading the Word and praying to God. Faith look ahead to see what God wants to do and then acts on what it sees. The Bible uses strong words to describe the role of faith in the Christian life: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6); “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17); “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the apostle Paul said faith was one of the three great qualities in the Christian life – the others being hope and love. In Christian life, faith is indispensable.

But in reality, there are times when our faiths can look ahead and see God at work; but there are also times when doubt, worry and spiritual ignorance can blinded us to what God wants to do. The father in Mark 9 could see God doing somethings, but he couldn’t see his son being delivered from the evil spirit. Oliver can see Khai becoming a Christian, but he has difficulty seeing God at work in his studies, so he worries about CGPAs constantly. Supang sees God at work as a result of her quite time, but sometimes she is unable to see God’s provision for her financial needs, so she seldom gives any generous gift to the church. Yes, faith is sometimes like Kit Kat: now you see, now you don’t. Sometimes I’m able to exclaim, “I do believe!” But at other times I beg God to “help me overcome my unbelief.” And if you feel that way too, take heart. It’s a confession that is common to all hopeful Christians.

Two encouraging messages about faith from God’s Word in Mark 9:14-27 that I learned at this moment. First, God is the One who distributes faith to me (read Romans 12:3). I can’t earn it or buy it – God gives it. Second, faith grows in proportion to my relationship with Jesus and the Word of God (see Romans 10:17). I can expect my faith to grow toward “I do believe” and away from “unbelief” as I relate myself to Jesus and His Word through reading, studying, obeying and sharing the truths in the Bible. It assures me to know that even Jesus’ disciples, though they watched Him minister for three years, were often short of faith (see Mark 9:28-29). Perhaps you, like me, are convinced of your need to grow as men and women of faith. Let us recite the disciple’s prayer for more faith: Lord, Jesus “increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). Amen.

Everything is possible for one who believes

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Jesus is Here-and-Now, Not Just during Camp Experience... (Mark 9:2-9)

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking to Jesus
(Mark 9:2-4,

If we could just stay up here at camp site, it would be so easy to be a Christian. The beautiful surroundings, inspiring speakers, good Christian friends, good food and none of the hassles of living at home and campus. Jesus is so real here. Why can’t Christian life always be like camp experience?” In other word, why can’t Christian living be a ‘mountaintop experience’? If you’ve attended Christian camps as often as I have, response like wishful paragraph above is a very familiar one. After a week of fun, where praise and worship, quiet time and Christian friendships come so easily, who wants to go back home to the tests, trials and temptations of real life? It’s so much easier to live on the mountaintop.

So it seems like Peter, James and John got a taste of the Christian camp, only in a much more graphic way than you and I. As Jesus’ three closest disciples looked on in trembling amazement, Jesus’ appearance was drastically changed. Jesus “was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” It was a touch of heaven, just like our typical Christian camps experience, only less. Then two Old Testament “stars” – Elijah and Moses – mysteriously appeared and began talking with Jesus as the three disciples stared and “were so frightened” (9:6). The Jews believed that both Elijah (representing the prophets) and Moses (representing the law) were noteworthy among their ancestors because of their great departure from earth (see 2 Kings 2:11 and Deuteronomy 34:5-6). With this knowledge, I think, perhaps Peter, James and John expected God to bring them from the mountaintop into heaven. What a way to go!

Peter, a man who was never at a loss for something to say, stepped forward to suggest that they “put up three shelters” (9:5) or build three shrines to commemorate the glorious event. He wanted the event to last as much as we want our camp to last forever! But Peter was interrupted by “a cloud [that] appeared and covered” the heavenly trio. Then “a voice came from the cloud” boldly announced: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (9:7). Then Elijah, Moses and the cloud disappeared leaving Jesus and his three disciples standing alone on the mountain. Sadly, the mountaintop experience ended.

Friends, isn’t that the way it is at camp? Great music, inspiring speakers, prayerful atmosphere – Christianity couldn’t be easier! On the way to camp we sing songs until our lungs out. Then on the last day we give a glowing testimony of our fresh commitment to Christ. Everything is rosy and bright – heavenly! But then, here is Monday morning. The thrill is gone! Camp is over! Life with all its disgusting realities and complexities is back. No! But that’s the way it is after a spiritual high like camp. It’s happened to me and almost every students I’ve ever known. We come back to the nasty here-and-now.

But wait a second! Take a look back up on the mountain in Mark 9:9. “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus…” There are four of them who went back to the valley from the mountaintop experience. Peter, James, John – and Jesus! It’s not Jesus in shining cloth, accompanied by Elijah and Moses, and surround by cloud of heaven. No, it’s Jesus in everyday clothes, walking closely to His disciples as He accompanies them back to the nasty here-and-now. I think that’s what we tend to forget when coming back from camp, church, prayer meeting or any other mountaintop experience. Jesus is not confined to a mountaintop chapel, sanctuary or campsite. Jesus journeys with us into everyday life to help us with difficulties, temptations and trails.

No doubt, it is a great journey to a mountaintop and get a glimpse of a gloriously glowing Jesus. These occasional experiences with Christ help charge our spiritual batteries (Thus, I promote Christian camps). But everyday life is in the valleys and on the land, not on the mountaintop. And that’s where Jesus is today – right here in the valleys with us, helping us to live out the mountaintop glow. Life after camp is where we spend most of our time. Friends, do you see Him in the ordinary?

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus…
I love Jesus. He is surely with us on the mountaintop,
and definitely – in everyday life.
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Jesus, the One Who Kept His Focus

One of the incredible abilities of Jesus was to stay on target. His life never got off track. Not once do we find Him walking down the wrong side of the fairway. He had no money, no computers, no jets, no administrative assistants or staffs; yet Jesus did what many of us fail to do. He kept His life on course.

As Jesus looked across the horizon of His future, He could see many targets. Many flags were flapping in the wind, each of which He could have pursued. He could have been a political revolutionary. He could have been a national leader. He could have been content to be a teacher and educate minds or to be a physician and heal bodies. But in the end He chose to be a Saviour and save souls.

Anyone near Christ for any length of time heard it from Jesus Himself. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “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).

The heart of Christ was relentlessly focused on one task. The day He left the carpentry shop of Nazareth He had one ultimate aim – the Cross of Calvary. He was so focused that His final words were, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

How could Jesus say He was finished? There were still the hungry to feed, the sick to heal, the untaught to instruct, and the unloved to love. How could He say He was finished? Simple. He had completed His designated task. His commission was fulfilled. The painter could set aside his brush, the sculptor lay down his chisel, the writer put away his pen. The job was done.
[Taken from Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado]

How focus are we as Christians to be Christ-like?
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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Jesus' Success Principle: The Way to Up is Down (Mark 8:31-38)

[After Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’
(Mark 8:31-33,
NIV, bracket mine).

Jesus, the Son of God gave up His life in order to save the world. To some, Jesus’ death on the cross looks like an unnecessary surrender, a ‘loser’. But we now realize that without His death and subsequent resurrection we would be “unredeemed” and the daily personal guidance of His Spirit would not be available to us (see John 16:7). That’s why it is necessary for Jesus to take up His cross…

Now, Jesus began to tell His disciples of His coming death. But these men, particularly Peter, refused to hear of it. They have misconceptions and misunderstanding of what the Messiah first came to do. “You’re the Saviour, you’re great,” they were thinking. “You’re going to smash our enemies and we’re all going to ride to glory with you.” They were rightly concerned, but they were wrongly concluded Jesus’ mission. That’s where Jesus had to cut Peter short and introduce one of the most important principles Christians must learn: the way to up is down. In other words, the way to success in God’s plan is not to rely upon our own intelligence or strength to push to the top. That’s the pattern of the Satan-influenced human nature – “Get behind me, Satan!” “…merely human concerns” – smash and grab, look out for yourself first, do unto others before they get a chance to do unto you.

But Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Roughly translated, that means to set aside the primary goal of pleasing yourself first, to accept willingly the unpleasant or uncomfortable situation that may result from denying yourself, and then leave the outcome to God. That’s Jesus’ pattern for success in the Kingdom of God. I love Jesus’ honestly; it hurts, but it is sweet and necessary. Jesus doesn’t promise any easy way. True discipleship is costly, but worth it. David Hewitt writes, “Jesus is very honest about things; he does not hide the unwelcome demands in small print. Neither does he ask anything of us that he is not prepared to give himself. He has the right to ask us to take up our cross because he has carried his own. The call to follow Jesus is not a call to give up certain things, but to die. In this way, Jesus sifts out the true disciples from those who are merely camp followers.

On the surface, Peter’s way of success looks like more fun and happier, but remember: after Jesus’ cross came His resurrection. After His resurrection Jesus was more glorious and victorious than before. But it would not have been so without the Crucifixion. If we follow Jesus through the Crucifixion (deny self, take up the cross) we are also privileged to “follow” Him in the glory of Resurrection. In the early Book of Acts, Peter eventually experienced Jesus’ style of success. After received the power of the resurrected Christ, Peter committed to deny self, take up his cross and follow Jesus wholeheartedly. According to tradition, Peter was crucified upside-down for his faith.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:35-37). Jesus challenges our values. Do we want to follow Him or not? If we cling on to life selfishly, worry too much on our rights and privileges, we lose out in the end. That kind of life is not worth having. It is foolish to sacrifice eternity for a moment. Jim Elliot, a Christian martyr, says, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Think about it.

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words… the Son of Man will be ashamed of them
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
Have you been ashamed to identify with a ‘loser’?
When Jesus returns, who will be the loser?
Take your stand for Jesus now – deny yourself, take up the cross and follow me.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

John R. W. Stott on Jesus as Teacher and Lord

Looking ‘round at his disciples, Jesus said,
You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right:
That is what I am” (John 13:13)

The Christian is under both instruction and authority.

He looks to Jesus as his Teacher to instruct him,
And as his Lord to command him.

He believes what he believes
Because Jesus taught it;
And he does what he does
Because Jesus said to do it.

He is our Teacher to instruct us,
And we learn to submit
And to subordinate
Our minds to his mind.

We do not presume to have views or ideas or opinions
which contradiction to the views and ideas of Jesus Christ.

Our view of Scripture
Is derived from Christ’s view of Scripture,
Just as our view of discipleship,
Of heaven and hell,
Of the Christian life,
And of everything else,
Is derived from Jesus Christ.

Any question about the inspiration of Scripture
And its authority
Therefore resolves itself to:

What did Jesus Christ teach about these points?

We would say,
Without any doubt,
That he gave reverent assent to the authority
And inspiration of the Old Testament.

There is no indication anywhere in his teachings
That he disagreed with the Old Testament writers.

He regarded the words of the Old Testament writings
As being the words of God.

He submitted to them in his own life,
He believed them,
He accepted their statements,
And sought to apply their principles.

He regarded Scripture as the great arbiter in dispute.

He said to his contemporaries,
You make many mistakes,
Because you don’t know the Scriptures.”

We find in the New Testament
That he invested the apostles with authority
To teach in his name.

He said that the Holy Spirit
Would lead them into all truth,
Would bring to their remembrance
What he had spoken to them,
And would show them things to come.
He evidently expected
That in the providence of God
There would be others to interpret,
And bear witness
To the revelation given in himself,
Just as there were prophets raised up by God
And inspired to bear witness
To what he did in Old Testament days.

To sum it up,
The authority of Scripture
Is due to the inspiration of Scripture.

The Old and New Testaments
Are authoritative in our lives,
Because they are in fact inspired.

And therefore,
Since Jesus Christ is our Teacher
As well as our Lord,
The authority of Christ and the authority of Scripture
Stand or fall together.

(by John R. W. Stott, from Decision magazine @ 1965)

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Jesus, Anak Allah Taala: Antu Sitan Besugang di Mua Iya (Mark 5:1-20)

Lebuh Jesus angkat ari perau lalu niki ke tebing, siku orang ke dirasuk antu lalu tekala nya pansut ari pendam lalu mansang ngagai Iya. Orang nya diau ba sebelah pendam, lalu nadai orang ulih masung iya; ngena rantai pen enda meh ulih, laban iya suah udah ditanchang ngena rantai lalu dikunchi, tang iya mutuska rantai lalu mechahka kunchi nya, lalu nadai orang ulih merekuhka iya. Siang malam iya bejalai segau-segau ba sebelah pendam, enggau ba sebelah bukit, rauh-rauh sereta ngurik diri ngena batu. Lebuh iya tepedaka Jesus ari jauh, iya belanda lalu meremi di mua Jesus, lalu manjung enggau pengabis penginggar nyawa iya. Ku iya, ‘Nama utai ti deka dikereja Nuan ba aku, Jesus, Anak Allah Taala ti Pemadu Tinggi? Dalam nama Allah Taala, anang merinsaka aku!
(Mark 5:1-7, Bup Kudus Baru).

Nyelai amat cherita tu, pasal Jesus ngeraika orang ke dirasuk antu. Amat kering serta bekuasa antu nya; bala antu ti diketuai antu Sitan! Bakani gamal antu Sitan? Kati Allah Taala ngaga antu? Lapa Iya ngaga utai ti jai baka nya? Ukai Allah Taala ngaga sida jai baka nya. Terubah iya, Tuhan ngaga mayoh amat roh ti badas serta besai agi kuasa ari mensia. Roh tu dikumbai Bup Kudus – Melikat. Allah Taala nya pengerindu, nya alai Iya enggai maksa sida rindu ka Iya lalu ngasi ka Iya. Iya meri ka sida peneka diri empu awak ka sida rindu ka Iya ari peneka diri empu. Tang sekeda bala melikat dulu kelia nyau besai ati lalu enggai ngasi ka jaku Allah Taala. Sida deka nyadi besai agi ari Tuhan, lalu ketegal nya sida nyadi antu-antu jai ti diketuai Antu Sitan. Baka melikat, sida udu pintar lalu besai kuasa, tang kelalu jai.

Maya Tuhan Jesus diau di dunya, sida antu tu udu ngachau mensia laban Jesus bedau parai ngelepaska kitai ari dosa serta kuasa Sitan. Enggau pemarai Iya (lalu angkat ari mati) Jesus “nanchang [Sitan] ke kering nya” (Mark 3:27). Amat jarang mensia dirasuk antu abis lengis baka orang dalam Mark 5:1-20 tu. Dalam cherita tu, pengawa antu Sitan dipeda kitai suka ngachau serta ngerusak mensia. Macham-macham ti digaga sida ngagai kitai mensia: 1) Iya ngiga peluang ngachau untak serta penemu kitai awakka kitai charut serta enda nemu jalai Allah Taala agi tang gila ka utai didunya tu aja; 2) Iya ka ngachau ati, ngasoh kitai badu lantang lalu takut aja; 3) Iya ka ngachau semengat, awakka kitai slalu ngenangka penyalah serta dosa diri lalu enda ingat ka penebus darah Tuhan Jesus ka kitai; 4) Iya ka ngachau tuboh, ngasoh kitai sakit baka orang ti dirasuk antu tu. Iya “ngurik diri ngena batu” (Mark 5:5); 5) Iya ka ngachau semoa utai didunya tu mega baka iya tama ngagai babi “lalu belanda nurun tingkah ngagai danau, lalu lemas” (5:13).

Taja pan kuasa iya udah dialahka Tuhan Jesus di kayu regang, bala antu Sitan agi megai dunya tu. Sida agi bekuasa sampai Tuhan Jesus datai ke dunya ke dua kali iya, baru sida antu Sitan dibuai ke api neraka belama-lama iya. Nyak alai maya sida di mua Tuhan Jesus, sida enda tau enda besugang di mua Iya! Sida nemu siapa Tuhan Jesus tu, iya nya: “Anak Allah Taala ti Pemadu Tinggi!Jesus jauh besai agi lalu tinggi agi kuasa ari sida semoa. Semoa rantai didunya tu enda ulih nanchang Sitan; tang seleka jaku Jesus umbas ngasoh Sitan ngasika Iya lalu pansut ari orang ti dirasuk antu [Jesus bejaku ngagai antu nya, “Pansut nuan ari orang tu, nuan roh ti jai!” (Mark 5:8)]. Jesus meh Tuhan atas penyakit; Tuhan atas hari Sabat; Tuhan atas kabut serta gelumbang; Tuhan atas semoa roh-roh didunya, serga serta neraka (semoa tu ulih dibacha kitai ari Injil St. Mark).

Enti kitai arap amat ka Iya, kuasa Iya enggi kitai mega. Antu Sitan nadai kuasa ngagai kitai; kitai ulih ngalahka iya enggau pengarap serta kuasa Tuhan Jesus. Kitai udah menang laban Tuhan Jesus Kristus dalam pengidup kitai!

Tuhan Jesus ti besai kuasa, Sitan agi mayoh jalai ngachau tuboh, ati enggau runding aku awakka charut lalu enda mikirka Nuan. Aku besampi awakka aku tetap arap ka Nuan aja. Jesus, nyadi meh Tuhan dalam tuboh serta semengat aku. Nuan idup lalu merintah dalam aku belama-lama iya. Amen.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Jesus is the Real Apologist and - the Messiah (Mark 8:27-30)

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, ‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’ Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him
(Mark 8:27-30,

Whether you ask or read what people write about Jesus, most people have an opinion of Him. Jesus is been called a philosopher, teacher, rebel, revolutionary, con man, legend, magician, prophet, lunatic and many other things since He first visit to our planet. Trouble is, most people give their opinion of Jesus Christ based upon what other people say about Him – historical writings, fiction, religious teachers, etc. They are answering Jesus’ first question to His disciples – “Who do people say I am?

Then Jesus asked the disciples another question – similar to the first one, but much more personal: “Who do you say I am?” In other words, Jesus wasn’t satisfied in knowing how well His followers had listened to sermons at the synagogue (for us, church) or rumours from the marketplaces. Jesus wanted their personal opinion based on their exposure to and experience with Himself first-hand. Peter, like always, speaks for the others when he answers: “You are the Messiah” – the Promised One! In this brief confession I hear Peter saying, “Jesus I’ve witnessed your authority over sick bodies, demon-possessed minds, over wind and wave, your selfless love for people and most of all, your love for me. You’ve got to be the Saviour of the world we’ve been waiting for!” Amazingly, but truly, Jesus makes no attempt to deny Peter’s declaration, but accepts his confession as true. Jesus is the Messiah. Months of patient teaching and friendship have borne fruit, the disciples have discovered the truth about Him. Jesus stands alone, unprecedented, unparalleled, unrivalled, unique Son of God!

Peter’s declaration was right on! Even though he may misunderstood much of what the Messiah came to do (I’ll get to that in a later post), Peter and his fellow disciples formed a correct opinion of Jesus based on their experience with Him. So, if Peter’s confession is the truth, then why Jesus “warned them not to tell anyone about him”? As I read commentaries on this, there are two main reasons: First, there were many popular ideas of Messiah being a military or political leader, which Jesus did not fit into. Secondly, Jesus always wanted people to discover the truth for themselves. Jesus was not in the business of making bold statements that gave people no choice. Jesus’ way was always: “Look at the evidence, what do you think?” Jesus is the real apologist!  

Have you ever played the game “telephone line” (we called it “radio buruk” or whatever you call it)? One person makes up a story and whispers it to the first person in a line. The listener then whispers it to the next person in line and so on until the story passes to the other end of the line. The last person tells the story out loud as he heard it, and it’s always funny to hear how the story get distorted from one end of the line to the other. I think, that’s the trouble with listening to other people about who Jesus is. The story gets distorted. To form a true opinion of Jesus, you must meet Him personally through the Bible especially the Gospel stories, pray for the Holy Spirit illumination and interaction with other strong and mature believers [If you’re not-yet-believer, what I mean is: read the Bible, pray to God and ask knowledgeable and matured Christians]. Like Peter, you will confess, “Jesus, You’ve got to be the Messiah!”

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Jesus Challenges Us to a Deeper Level of Understanding (Mark 8:22-26)

[Jesus and His disciples] came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around’
(Mark 8:22-24,
NIV, bracket mine).

The healing miracle of a blind man at Bethsaida is only recorded by Mark. In this case, Jesus took the man away from the crowd before performing the miracle. Why Jesus “took the blind man by the hand”? Why Jesus “led him outside the village”? Why Jesus “spit on the man’s eyes”? I’m not sure what’s really going on here. But for sure this miracle remind me that Jesus is always responded with compassion to people’s need; and based on the context of this text, Jesus wanted to show to his disciples that spiritual insight (they were lack of it, Mark 8:14-21) is similar to the man’s physical insight – it will be restore gradually and fully by faith (as in Mark 8:27-30).

Again, I don’t know why Jesus “took the blind man by the hand” personally, when one of His disciples could have done it. But like spiritual blindness, Jesus wanted to lead us because only He can show us “the way” (John 14:6) to all spiritual truth. Jesus “led him outside the village” probably because He desires the blind man – and even us – to have a more personal one-to-one relationship with Him. In Christianity, spiritual insight and truth will not be reveal in the form of doctrine or theology but in a Person – Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6). When Jesus “spit on the man’s eyes”, it shows to me that Jesus doesn’t have a fix method of healing. In the same way, Jesus can use whatever method He wills to open our spiritual insight in order for us to see and to realize that He is “the life” (John 14:6).

From “blind” to seeing people “look like trees walking around” to see “everything clearly” (Mark 8:25), the man’s eyes were gradually healed. Why Jesus did the healing in two stages? It may have been because of the man’s lack of faith. His faith was there but it’s not enough; our sight was there but it was not complete. And just as there would be complete healing for the blind man, there is hope for us too. It’s not that Jesus is unable to heal our spiritual insight thoroughly the first time, but Jesus wants us to experience the process of learning the truth of God.

I wonder why after Jesus had done this great miracle, He said to the man, “Don’t even go into the village” (Mark 8:26)? Why not? Most commentaries explained that Jesus didn’t want people to know Him as merely a healer or miracle worker. He don’t want an immediate out pouring of sick people coming to Him for healing and hinder His ultimate mission which is the healing of people’s souls. This explanation is valid and reasonable. But I would like to suggest another additional reason, namely, Jesus wants the man to go home to his family members first and tell them how much He has done for him, and how He has had mercy on him (just like in Mark 5:19). After all, the most important people we want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ after we’re given spiritual insight are those who closest to us!


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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Jesus doesn't Wants Us to Hide Behind Masks of Religious Piety (Mark 8:14-21)

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.’ They discussed this with one another and said, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? …He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’
(Mark 8:14-18, 21, NIV).

Have pity on Jesus’ disciples. They are like us sometimes. They misunderstood Jesus’ teaching altogether. When Jesus said, “Be careful. Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod,” their minds are still taken up with everyday physical matters like food, but Jesus was talking about spiritual matters. They could’ve ask Jesus further about what He meant, but instead they discussed the fact that they hadn’t brought enough bread to eat on their trip! But Jesus was warning them against something much more serious than forgetting their picnic basket. Luke, another Gospel writer, gave a more complete account of Jesus’ statement when He said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). Matthew on the other hand, write that Jesus was talking about “the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12). So, Jesus was talking about their hypocrisy in conducts and teachings! [Note: Many “that of Herod” or Herodians were also Sadducees]

From my reading of the Scriptures, Jesus hate extremely these two things: unbelieve and hypocrisy. What is hypocrisy? Simply stated, it is pretending to be something or someone you’re not – putting up a front in order to conceal your true identity. The Greek word actually means, “playacting,” originally referred to the Greek dramatists who were famous for their masks (they act using masks). By the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were such accomplished hypocrites that they could have won Malaysia’s Anugerah Drama Festival! Remember what Jesus’ statement about them? “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6). They concentrated on appearing righteous and religious in front of people, but it was only playacting. They were really far from God in their hearts.

Jesus compared hypocrisy to “yeast” or leaven. Why? Because when yeast is added to bread dough, it causes the bread to rise beyond its normal size. Thus, if you study a slice of bread, you’ll find that it is full of holes and empty inside. In the same way, like hypocrisy, even though they appear full and perfect looking on the outside, but in the inside it is full of holes and lots of empty spaces. Jesus had stronger words for the Pharisees and their hypocrisy than any other human condition. Because of their hypocrisy, they become unbelieve to what is obviously true, namely, Jesus’ divinity shows through His miracle (Mark 8:1-13).

If God does not want His people hiding behind masks of religious piety, then, what does He want? Let me suggest, how about being transparent. A transparent Christian is one who is completely honest about him or herself to others and especially to God. People can see right through them – they are not wearing any hypocritical masks. They not trying to act out a role which is different from what they really are. When they are fine, they are fine. But when they sinned against God or against others, they are ready to say, “Forgive me, I’ve done you wrongly” (See how a hypocrite and a transparent-person respond to their sin in Luke 18:9-14). Being transparent is important for Christians. We all blow it on occasion – angry words, hateful deeds, failure and sin. The key to recovery in such situations is not hypocrisy such as think positive thoughts, positive confessions, etc. Don’t pretending! Admitting to God and to your Christian brothers and sisters that you are less than perfect and that you are in need of forgiveness and restoration.

Being a transparent person isn’t easy. That’s for sure. Jesus was the most transparent person who ever walked the earth and He was treated rather badly for it. But it’s the kind of life-style God is looking for in His people. For some of you that might mean humiliation as you apologize to a group of friends for show-off hypocritically and judgmental attitude. Or it might mean embarrassment as you confess to your pastor or friends in the church that you’re still struggle with some particular sins and in need of prayers. Don’t be too concern with what people think of you, what God think about you is all that matter eternally. Be transparent. Don’t “play the role” but “live it like it is.” If you’re transparent and be honest to God, He can do something great in you. Do you understand now?


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Friday, February 5, 2016

Jesus enggau Nuan Maya Ribut Nyadi ba Pengidup Nuan (Mark 4:35-41)

Lemai nya Jesus bejaku ngagai sida murid Iya, ‘Aram kitai ngelayang ke seberai.’ Sida lalu ninggalka orang mayuh, mai Iya enggau sida dalam perau. Perau bukai mega mupuk enggau Iya. Kabut besai nyadi, lalu gelumbang mangka ngagai perau sida datai ke perau nya nyau deka karam. Iya tinduk di kemudi, gali ba panggal. Sida ngerak Iya, lalu bejaku, ‘Pengajar, kati Nuan enda ibuhka kitai nyau deka mati?’ Jesus dani lalu ngerara ribut, lalu bejaku ngagai gelumbang, ‘Teduh! Diau jenuh!’ Ribut lalu teduh, lalu ia nadai agi berumbak. Ku Iya bejaku ngagai sida, ‘Nama kebuah kita takut? Kati kita mengkang enda arap?’ Lalu sida balat takut, sereta belabuh bejaku enggau pangan diri, ‘Sapa orang tu datai ke ribut enggau gelumbang ngasika Iya?’”
(Mark 4:35-41, Bup Kudus Baru).

Sapa orang tu datai ke ribut enggau gelumbang ngasika Iya?” Pia ko bala rasul dalam perau bejaku tentang Tuhan Jesus Kristus. Mula ya sida takut ngagai kabut seta gelumbang, tang udah kabut teduh, sida balat takut ngagai Jesus. Amai besai kuasa Iya. Tu kitai semoa mesti nemu; Jesus tu mensia, iya mega lemi lalu alah laban panas enggau ujan, laban kabut serta gelumbang; tang Iya mega Anak Allah Taala ti ngaga langit enggau bumi, panas enggau ujan, kabut enggau tasik. “Semua utai ti di serega enggau di dunya udah digaga ulih Kristus… ke Kristus” (Kolosi 1:16). Laban Iya mensia, Iya “tinduk di kemudi, gali ba panggal”; laban Iya mega Anak Allah Iya ulih “ngerara rIbut, lalu bejaku ngagai gelumbang.”

Mayuh utai ti kitai ulih blajar ari jaku Tuhan tu. Tu sigi: Perau nya ulih dibandingka enggau pengidup kitai orang Kristian. Bala rasul nya ulih disamaka enggau kitai semoa. “Kabut” tentu bisi, baka utai ti slalu ngacau pengarap kitai ngagai Kristus. Engka “ribut” tu baka orang ti deka nyimpang pengarap kitai ke ugama bukai; baka orang ti enda ngasoh kitai ngajar pengarap Kristian ngagai anak sekolah kitai empu; tauka baka orang politik tik enda peduli ngagai kitai laban pengarap kitai ngagai Kristus. Engka “gelumbang” tu baka orang ti ngajar adat ti enda setipak enggau ajar Injil ti amai lalu mai mayoh orang limping; baka orang Kristian ti enda peduli ka Jako Tuhan agi taja pan sida slalu ngagai gereja; tauka baka apai-indai ti nganuk kitai begulai fellowship enggau gereja bukai. Semua penanggul seta pengirau kitai (lebih-lebih agi pengawa sitan) tu meh baka “kabut” ti deka ngerusakka pengarap kitai.

Dalam semoa tu, anang kitai kurang pengarap! Ingat, Tuhan Jesus Kristus bisi mega dalam “perau” taja pan Iya suah dipeda kitai tinduk (Jesus enggau kitai dalam semoa penusah. Uji kitak perati dalam Jaku Tuhan tu: “Perau bukai mega mupuk enggau Iya.” Sida kebukai sama mega dalam perau serta kabut ngacau sida, tang sida ba perau bukai. Semina orang Kristian aja bisi Tuhan Kristus sama enggau kitai dalam perau). Jesus bekuasa dalam semua pengirau enggau penanggul. “Ribut lalu teduh, lalu ia nadai agi berumbak.” Ko Jesus dalam Injil Matius: “Semua kuasa di serega enggau di dunya udah diberi magang ngagai Aku… Aku deka seruran enggau kita nyentuk ngagai pengujung dunya” (28:18, 20). Anang lelak ngereja ka pengawa Iya. Intu badas mengarap kitai ngagai Iya! Enti kitai didalam Iya ngau Iya didalam kitai, taja pan bisi “kabut besai”, Tuhan Jesus tetap enggau kitai lalu kitai enda nemu karam.

O Tuhan Jesus, suah kami kena mayoh macham kabut enggau gelumbang ba pengidup kami. Lalu suah kami kurang amat pengarap, ngumbai Nuan enda peduli, meda – baka Nuan agi ‘tinduk.’ Tambah ka pengarap kami ngagai Nuan, ngambi ka kami badu kakang ngau takut. Nuan ti bekuasa belama-lama iya. Amen.

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