Category Archives: Devotions

Neh 10:30 – Be not unequally yoked…

We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons. Neh 10:30

2 Cor 6:14 exhorts us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This reinforces the principle of Pro 13:20 – “..he who walks with wise men will be wise…“. Whoever we associate ourselves with will have their values influence ours. If our inner circle of friends are unbelievers, unwittingly, our minds will be influenced by their values, priorities, words & actions without our realisation.

Here in Neh 10:30, the principle is extended to marriage. The people of God should not be united in marriage with unbelievers. Who you choose as your life partner will determine the course of your life. Take heed!

What should you look for when seeking a life partner?

1 Pet 3:3-4 exhorts wives – “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

If this is what scriptural wives ought to be like, it means that the scriptures are directing us not to seek the external appearances, but the inner traits of character & grace in a prospective life partner. Why? Because external appearances will fade away. But character & grace are what pleases God & will last for life. These are the traits that you must find compatibility in when you seek your prospective spouse. Do read this short article from Desiring God on the 6 traits to look out for in a spouse!

Advertisements

John 4:23-24 – What does it mean to worship Him in spirit & truth?

‘But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”’ John 4:23-24  

What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth? 

In spirit – because God is is spirit. He is omnipresent & omniscient. You need not be at Jerusalem or any specific place on earth in order to worship Him. You call out to Him in your spirit and He is right there. God is also not to be worshiped in any shape or form of an object. In fact, He specifically reminded us about this in the 2nd commandment – “You shall not make any image of God or bow down to it.” God is spirit. He is to be worshiped in spirit.

In truth – the truth as He has reviewed Himself in His word, the Bible. I was once acquainted with  a follower of the cult group called the Moonies. I heard this friend pray – “my father, hallowed be your name“. Was he praying and addressing the same Father of my Lord Jesus Christ whom I believe? Obviously not! But what differentiated our prayers? It was the body of truth that we individually believed in. The body of truth that he held to was based on the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. This was totally different from the truths that I believed and understood from the bible. Hence, the body of truth that we believed in our spirit distinguished whom we were addressing our prayers to. And if the body of spiritual doctrines that you hold to is different from the essential ones in the bible, you are probably worshiping a different person altogether.  This is a reminder to us that we should never belittle the importance of doctrines.

The bible teaches us that Jesus laid down His life for His sheep so that through Him, His redeemed people may approach God. If you believe this truth, your prayers are “directed” to the God of the Bible. It is this truth that distinguishes us as His children even as we obey Him to worship God in spirit and truth. May God help us worship Him in the way He prescribed.

1 Kings 21:25 – stirred to do evil by his wife

1 Kings 21:25 “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.” 

Ahab was an evil king. The bible says he “sold himself to do wickedness..”. And he did this because “Jezebel his wife stirred him up”. There is no excuse for Ahab. He had to take ownership for his evil actions. He cannot blame his sins on Jezebel. We may be enticed to sin, but we are all responsible for our own sins. Eze 18:4 reminds us that “..the soul who sins shall die.” 

But notice the influence that Ahab’s wife Jezebel had on him. The verse tells us that Ahab was “stirred up” by Jezebel to do evil. How could this happen? Isn’t the husband suppose to lead and rule? Was it simply because Jezebel had a domineering character? Let’s consider other parts of the bible that may give us clues to this matter.

Gen 3:16 says of the women “…your desire shall be for your husband,..” – NKJV. The innate meaning of this phrase is brought out in the NLT version which translates it as – “..you will desire to control your husband..“. In other words, while the husband is to rule & lead the relationship, there will be a desire by the wife to prescribe how she likes things to be. We see this manifested in the relationship between Abraham & Sarah. While Sarah was hailed as a submissive wife in 1 Pet 3:6, there were instances where this desire to “control” Abraham played up.

God had specifically promised that Abraham will have as many descendants as the stars in the sky. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 but they still did not have any children. Perhaps Sarah was getting impatient. Perhaps she was simply feeling insecure. She probably didn’t like the feeling of being the cause of Abraham not having any children. Hence, she suggested that Abraham have a child with her maidservant Hagar (Gen 16:2). Why would any woman ever make such a suggestion? Some historians suggested that this was the practice & culture at that point in time. But this was clearly against the revealed will of God. I am inclined to think that it was because she felt insecure and wanted to maintain control of the situation. She wanted her family to appear complete – with children as God had promised. And there was no way she could make that happened. Hence, she directed her husband Abraham to have a child with Hagar.

And as in all situations when we fail to obey God’s revealed will, there were consequences. So, after Hagar conceived, she despised Sarah. And in reaction to this, Sarah blamed everything on Abraham – Gen 16:5 “Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.” And we were told in Gen 16:6 that Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar – who was pregnant. How evil of Sarai and how very unreasonable! Wasn’t she the one who suggested this plan in the first place? What could have invoked such cruel behaviour from her? Once again, I am inclined to believe that it was because she felt she was losing control. When a woman goes into such frenzy, we are reminded of the truths in Prov 21:9; 21:19; 25:24 – that it is “better to dwell in the corner of a housetop or wilderness than in a house with a contentious woman“.

When we read of such things in the scriptures, we are sad and reminded of how terrible a state sin has brought about in us. There are important lessons we can learn here:

1) As partners in life, a wife can be a blessing or a curse to husbands. John Wesley had a wife known to be unhelpful to his ministry. She was apparently suspicious of every woman he spoke to, thereby limiting his ministry in so many ways. Why did she do that? I can only think of the truth conveyed in Gen 3:16 that she felt insecure and wanted absolute control of her husband. Hence, it is important that young men do not seek wives based on their appearances or capabilities. These may become snares to them later in their life and relationship. Character & grace should be the most important criteria for what young men seek in their prospective life partners. These are the traits that will last. Similarly, young women should seek such traits in their prospective life partners. Otherwise, they will lack the spiritual leadership that they desire.

2) The challenge laid out for the husband is a tough one. He is to love his wife sacrificially, just like how Christ loved the Church and gave Himself to redeem her. The husband is not to submit to the wife. Instead, he is to lovingly influence her and stir up in her love and good works. This can only be done with great wisdom in handling the various situations that will be encountered in the life together. And this wisdom can only come about with much prayer and devotion to God.

3) When made aware of this truth conveyed in Gen 3:16, a couple ought to prayerfully submit themselves to God for protection. Wives in particular ought to resist the temptation of desiring to “control” their husbands. Husbands ought to protect their wives by not letting them feel any sense of “losing” control, lest they get tempted to manifest irrational behaviour.

We should note that in spite of what Sarah had done, she was hailed as an example of faith in Heb 11:11. She was also commended for her submission to Abraham in 1 Pet 3:6. How can this be for all the apparent evil she committed in the saga with Hagar? Unless her sins are erased by a Saviour who gave Himself to redeem her. And this is the hope that all of us have when we confess our sins to Jesus – the promised Seed in Gen 3:15 who bruised the serpent’s head.

Let us be instructed by the lesson of the scriptures here.

 

1 Kings 19:2-3 – Plunging from victory to fear

1 Kings 19:2-3

2. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”

 3. And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (‭NKJV)

Elijah just had a tremendous victory over the prophets of Baal. Next moment, fear came upon him and he was fleeing for his life. What triggered this? A threat from the evil queen Jezebel. Didn’t Elijah earlier say in 1 Kings 18:15, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand….”? Is he now no longer conscious that God is present with him?

Let us be instructed that this is the reality of the Christian life. Abraham had a tremendous victory over 4 middle-eastern kings. And he rescued his nephew Lot in Gen 14. Next moment, he was plunged into depression and fear in Gen 15. Jonah had such great success preaching to the people of Nineveh. Next moment, he was in such a depressed state that he asked to die. It is the experience of many Christians that they often face great temptations after a spiritual “high”. Perhaps this is meant to keep them humble and reminded that their true source of joy and help comes from God.

Are you discouraged today? Be assured that this is designed to keep you seeking God. Draw near to Him in such moments for He says in 1 Cor 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (‭NKJV)”. What you are encountering had been experienced by many who have gone before you. If God had been faithful to them, He would be faithful to you. Seek Him earnestly today.

Questions for meditation:

1) Knowing the constant possibility of temptation following a great spiritual experience, what am I doing to keep myself from falling into sin?

What you can pray for:

1) Lord, let me constantly have the joy of salvation and keep me away from sin.

1 Kings 18:21 – Wavering between 2 positions

1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (NKJV)

Elijah was speaking to the Israelites. They had the privilege of knowing the true God of heaven and earth. They had a God-given heritage of being the descendants of Abraham. Yet, they pursued idol worship. Why was idol worship so attractive to them? What did it offer that the people were willing to give their lives to it? Perhaps it provided a tangible view and association to the object of worship. But God, the Creator of the heavens & the earth tell us that we should “not make any image of God and bow down to it”. This is because God is Spirit. When Moses met God on Mt Sinai, he saw no form of God. We are therefore not to imagine or constrain God to be of a particular form.

In the new testament, we are taught that the Son of God (the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity) came in the form of a Man. While we know that He came in the form of a Man, we are not to imagine His face or features because these were not recorded for us. The only instruction we have is to worship God in Spirit & truth. In other words, the object of our worship is the truth He has reviewed about Himself in His word alone. Anything aside from that would be idolatry.

Who is your God today? It has to be the God reviewed to us in the Bible. Any other thing would constitute idolatry. And you can’t straddle between opinions or “sit on the fence”. The prophets of Baal learnt their lesson when they did not choose the God of the Bible. You will likewise perish unless you have the God of Elijah as your God. Seek Him today in the scriptures!

Questions for meditation:

1) If the God reviewed in the bible is real, how much do you know about Him? What actions are you taking to know more about Him?

What you can pray for:

1) Lord, please reveal yourself to me in your word. Help me understand it. Open my eyes to see great and wonderful things.

1 Kings 18:28 – Ancient practices not for emulation

1 Kings 18:28 

So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. (‭NKJV)

Ancient practices of idol worship included cutting oneself, walking through fire, body piercing and other peculiar rituals. Some of these are still practiced by certain cults and religions today. Do these practices have any semblance to what some people deemed as “cool” and fashionable today – namely, tattooing, the wearing of rings pierced through different parts of the body, doning peculiar hairdo, etc. In fact, these seem to be the vogue today. Most of these actions leave permanent marks on our bodies, much like what those idol worship practices would do. But more importantly, what is the purpose of such practices? To draw attention to oneself? To be associated with others who do the same?

The call of the gospel is to newness of life. Our desires ought to be God-centred and not self-centred. Hence, we should desire to exhibit behaviours that would direct the attention of people to Christ, rather than to ourselves. We should desire to be associated with Christians. We should disassociate ourselves from questionable practices. While some may appeal to Christian liberty in such practices, there are weightier matters such as, eg. stumbling others, that we need to consider. The ultimate question to answer would be: does what I do glory God or does it glorify myself? Very often, external behaviours are symptoms & reflections of what is really in the heart. Let us examine ourselves before God.

Questions for meditation:

1) Is God pleased with how I adorn myself?

What you can pray for:

1) Lord, help me be ever conscious of your presence with me & let this create a fear in me that will help me shun sin.