​The Thin Line Between Calling and Desire (Part I)

“There’s a thin line between calling and desire.”

My supervisor’s words rang in my ear. In my heart. In my spirit. Just because I want to do something for God doesn’t mean that it is what God wants me to do for him. Will you do out of desire or out of calling. Desire is what I choose to do. Calling is what God chooses me to do. That’s a tough decision you need to ask yourself. It might clarify your heart’s motivation and life direction.

Desire cannot be sustained forever. Calling can sustain you through dark times when you question God, “Did You really call me?”

A passage in Mark 5 shows us the difference. Jesus had cast a legion of demons from a man. Naturally, this man desired to follow Jesus. Isn’t that logical? This man would need time to go through Alpha, join a Bible Study and hear some good sermons. That was his desire. But Jesus was calling him elsewhere. Check it out:

Mark 5:18-19 

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Jesus wanted him to go home! Why? To share how much Jesus had done for him. He “begged” to follow Jesus but was instead sent back on a mission. You might have certain ideas on what you want to do for God. Be a missionary? Be a pastor? Start a bible school? I’m not saying these are wrong, often they are good! But is it a desire or a calling? Take note: A good thing is not always a God thing. Has God called you to do that? If not, would you reconsider seeking God’s face?

I’m not sure whether this man struggled with this decision. I certainly would have. But he obeyed Jesus at once. It says:

Mark 5:20 

So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

The man simply did what Jesus told him to do. Was it a success? Yes! The Bible says “all the people were amazed.” They were amazed at the power and mercy of Jesus because of this man’s testimony. You might desire to go full-time ministry, but like the man who was sent back to the Decapolis, Jesus might be sending you to the marketplace. Jesus would have said, “Tell your friends, your collegues, your clients how much I’ve done for you.” Who knows what might have happened if he followed his desire rather than his calling?

If you are unsure if it is a desire or a calling, I advise you to seek God. Ask him to confirm it for you. Don’t lean on your human understanding. Just because you want it doesn’t mean it is what God wants you to do. He might be leading you in a direction you never imagined. 


How to Find a Good Wife

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I like Jim Henson’s quote. Do you need a black eye too? Maybe. But read this post first before punching yourself silly. What do you look for in a girl? Beauty? Body? Babe? I wrote about this in a previous post.  God views beauty quite different from us guys. Instead of Physical Attractiveness, God is looking at Spiritual Attractiveness. It’s not about whether the girl is pretty, smart or athletic. A Christian guy should find a spiritual girl irresistibly attractive.

The mother of King Lemuel tells him how to find a good wife. After a list of great qualities (e.g. hardworking, wise, generous), King Lemuel might be impatiently waiting to interrupt, “What about beauty, mum?” But she doesn’t forget. She lowers her voice to a hush, leans in close and tells him:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

Excellent advice, don’t you think? Mum is always right. Imagine her whispering these words to you right now. Let me break it down.

1. Charm is deceptive

Charm is a quality that is used to attract or make someone interested in you. Charm always shows the best side of the person. It is meant to conceal or deceive. It alters our perception of reality. We don’t really know what the girl is really like inside. Don’t be charmed by charm. Find out more about the person in many situations.

2. Beauty is fleeting

Girls want to be beautiful. Just look at the cosmetics and clothing industry. Ladies will rush to a 50% discount sale. Why? They desire beauty. But guess what – we all grow old, no one is exempt! Our skin sags, our hair becomes white (if we have still have hair) and we become less “beautiful”. Indeed, beauty is fleeting. It lasts for a while and then it is gone. Do you want to bank your future on fleeting beauty? No way!

3. Look for a woman who fears the Lord

That’s the conclusion. Let’s move beyond charm or beauty and look for a woman who fears the Lord. She is to be praised. She is worth far more than rubies (Prov 31:10). A spiritual guy will find a spiritual girl attractive. Find one that fears the Lord. I’ve listed five criteria that I look for in an old post. Make your own list if you like.

Just a side-note: You better be a guy who fears the Lord too or she won’t be attracted to you.

Happy New Year

How was 2017? Terrific, Tough, or Terrible? However it went, if you end it with God, it is a terrific year! I pray that 2018 will make you draw closer to Him. May you do god-works, instead of merely good works. This means that you surrender your life to God and ask Him to show you how he wants you to spend it. It’s not about what you want to do but what God wants you to do.

I love this verse. Make it your personal verse for 2018.

You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip [with] abundance.

Psalms 65:11

The imagery is striking. Crown indicates kingship. God has crowned your head with goodness! God wants to show you how good he is. It doesn’t stop there. 

God will make your paths drip with abundance. That’s amazing, isn’t it? Imagine a road filled with all kinds of goodies you can’t even move through it. That’s how much God wants to bless your upcoming year 2018. The condition is that you have to stick with God.

Keep on praising the Lord for his goodness and salvation. David thanks God for his forgiveness:

Iniquities prevail against me; [As for] our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.

Psalms 65:3

God has forgiven your sins! May you continue to walk faithfully with Him into 2018. Happy New Year!

Book Summary: On Being the Antioch of Asia (W M Syn)

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Singapore has been labelled by Billy Graham as the Antioch of Asia. Have we lived up to our calling? Syn analyses how local churches and mission agencies can be properly related to each other for greater effectiveness. The recent trend is for Singapore local churches to directly send missionaries to the field and bypass the agencies. Why? Churches nowadays are well-informed about missions and have the funding to carry out work themselves. But is this the best option? Syn interviews many church and agency leaders to get their opinion. It must be stated that he is a director of a mission agency so there is conflict of interest. Since the book contains unnecessarily long-winded interviews, I shall highlight key findings that struck me.

Two key trends in missions:

1. Decrease in the availability of people for long-term missions service.

2. Direct sending by local churches.

…leads to two Symptoms:

1. Singapore missions system lacks cultural intelligence.

2. Missionaries and missions programmes are not venturing to the hard places (Unreached People Groups).

Local churches need to recognise that agencies are specialists in certain mission fields. For example, agencies have cultural intelligence, networks and crisis preparations to assist missionaries on the ground. However, many churches see agencies as competing for their own missionaries. This should not be the case as most pioneer mission work (even in Singapore) were started by agencies first. Think of the London Missionary Society (LMS) that started many Methodist schools in Singapore. The mission agency usually sends missionaries to plant churches in a new place. How can we overcome this break in relationship?

Syn proposes that mission agencies must adapt their roles drastically in order to partner with churches. There are two possible models:

1. Code Sharing Model

Code sharing has been used by the airline industry with great effectiveness. It is a model that finds ways for churches and agencies to share and collaborate without losing their own identity. He highlights the 25 Elements Model as a framework to delegate the responsibilities of a church or agency. The responsibilities are not split in an either-or fashion (church or agency) but differing degrees of responsibility.  This allows the local church to remain engaged on many levels.

2. Consultancy Model

The agency has specialised information that the church could tap on: crisis training etc. There is a need for formal consulting service by agency staff much like a consultant in the corporate world. Churches would pay the agency for the cost of their service. Normally, we think that ministry should be freely given but in many parts of the church, there is already fee-for-service! For example, training programmes, Chrsitian entertainers or Christian speakers. Why not missions consulting services.

Syn lists several characteristics of a mission consultant:

  • Facilitation skills and the ability to help the church develop their missions vision and programme.
  • Some preaching and teaching skills to inspire and impart knowledge.
  • An understanding of the needs and workings of the local church.
  • Some good missiology and theology of missions to help lay foundations.
  • Some strategic thinking skills to help missions committees think through their plans.
  • First-hand field experience which would be an advantage to share as a practitioner.

Agencies need a dedicated strategy to priorities consultancy service to churches.

Overall, this book provides a good overview of missions in Singapore and how we as a nation can truly fulfill our calling to be the Antioch of Asia by working together.

You Were Made For Such a Time as This


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The book of Esther is one filled with irony and divine coincidences. A quick background: Esther, a Jew, becomes a Persian queen with the help of her uncle Mordecai. Haman, an enemy of the Jews, seeks to exterminate the whole race. But Esther saves them all through her courage. Although God is not mentioned, we see his invisible hand orchestrating events. We all know the ending of the story, but let’s imagine how Esther felt the moment she was given a choice. She had a choice whether to speak up for her own people, the Jews. She didn’t know whether the king would kill her if she appeared. She could just keep quiet and hope no one finds out her real identity. It was a tough choice.

Her uncle Mordecai gravely told her:

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:13-14

Esther had the unique position to approach the king. No other Jew had the same amount of favour as her. God had allowed her to win the Queen of Persia beauty contest for a reason that she may not have known – till now. This is a powerful reminder for all of us. God may have led you to the position where you are today for a certain reason. The day of reckoning might not have come yet. The question is: Are you willing to speak up for God? Are you willing to seek first the kingdom and his righteousness in a hostile environment? Are you willing to lose your job or even your life for the Jesus?

That’s the struggle Esther faced and she courageously put her life in God’s hand. She knew that even if she kept quiet, there would be no guarantee of escape. Is there a situation that you need to speak up in your school, workplace or community? Maybe an employee is using underhanded methods to earn profits for the company – will you expose it? Maybe the voice of the LGBT community threatens the Christian definition of marriage – will you speak up? Maybe your government is pushing for pro-abortion laws – will you fight against it?

Who knows? Maybe God has placed you where you are for a time such as this?

A Model for Inner Healing and Deliverance

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This is an inner healing and deliverance model that I learnt from Pastor Peter Koh during my internship. Obviously, this is just one of many possible models so it is up to you to decide if you agree with it. The model is roughly based on Jeremiah 1:10 that mentions the process of “breaking down” and “building up”. In this prayer ministry, we attempt to 1) Break Down strongholds and 2) Build Up the person. Let me outline the steps briefly.

1. Determine Salvation

The first step is to ensure that the person is saved. Why? Because when we break down the strongholds and evict any evil spirits, we want to make sure that the person is filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus warns of this danger:

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.

Matt 12:43-45

Thus, our first role is to determine if the person is a believer in Jesus. If the person is not willing to accept Jesus, we end the session because we might be doing more damage in the process.

2. Breaking Down (Their Part)

In this step, we interview the person for any issues that they are facing in their lives that need to be dealt with – sexual sin, occultic participation, demonic oppression, unforgiveness, anger, addictions, sicknesses. After we determine the issue, we lead them in a prayer to break down Satan’s strongholds in their lives. If it is a foothold, the process will be easier as the sin is not so deep-seated. The verbal process that we lead them through is F.C.R.R:

  • Forgive (F): We ask them to forgive the person for their sin. It could be someone who introduced them to pornography or abused them when they were young. Forgiveness is key to breaking down Satan’s grip on our lives. If forgiveness seems to be especially hard for this person, check out my other post for in-depth instructions. The sin has to be specific. “I forgive [name] for [action towards you].”
  • Confess (C): Confession is agreeing with God that what we did was wrong. The person needs to confess to God that this sin in his life is not according to God’s standards. “I confess that [sin] is wrong.”
  • Repent (R): Repentance is turning away from sin. After confessing that it is wrong, we choose not to do it anymore.
  • Renounce (R): Now that the person has forgiven, confessed and repented, he needs to renounce all rights from the devil over his life.

3. Building Up/In (Our Part)

This is the prayer counselor’s part. We ask the person we’re praying for to sit back and receive from the Lord. The process is called B.C.C.E.

  • Often we can reassure them that God has indeed forgiven our sins (1 John 1:9)
  • Break, Cut, Cancel (B.C.C.): An example is “I break all shame over you, I cut all ungodly soul ties between…, I cancel all contracts/vows made in the name of Jesus”. This depends on what the person is dealing with. If it was a sexual sin, we need to break any ungodly soul ties between the person and the other party.
  • Eviction (E): Once the stronghold has been broken down, we have bound the strong man (Mk 3:27) and now can evict any demons or spirits from the person. We should address them by their functions and not use the word “spirit” – “I command lust to come up and out now.” Using the word “spirit” might make the person afraid that he is possessed.
  • We now build in scripture truths from the Bible to build up their lives. We can pray: “I set the cross of Jesus between [the sin] and you and your family. I speak blessings…”

4. Lordship Prayer

We now lead them in making Jesus lord over their lives. Ask him to repeat after you and then say “Do you know what it means?”. Then explain what it means.

  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my spirit.” This means you will worship God and God alone.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my mind.” This means you will have godly thinking.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my emotions.” This means you will have godly emotions.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my will.” This means you choose to follow God.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my body.” This means you will honour God with your body.

Some cases are more difficult to deal with and need several sessions: Emptying pain, Memory healing or Father ministry. As we do the session, we keep our eyes open and observe the person’s facial expression. There may be demonic manifestations during the renouncing step and we need to be alert if the person tries to harm us or run away. Remaining calm, we use Jesus’ name to stop the demon’s activity. Then we bind their activity so that we can speak to the person directly. I hope this is a helpful introduction to this powerful ministry.

The Most Powerful Prayer on Earth (Peter Horrobin, 2004)

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Key Points

  • Jesus prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
  • If we choose not to forgive those who have hurt us, we put ourselves under their control. If we are under their control, we cannot be free for God to heal us and set us free.
  • There is a relationship between forgiving others and being forgiven by God.
  • Forgiveness has nothing to do with whether someone deserves to be
    forgiven—it is an act of love, not of justice.
  • Forgiveness nothing to do with trust. Trust has to be re-earned.
  • When we are open to receive God’s love for us and express our own in
    return, God begins to heal us from the inside out!
  • The shocking truth is that if there is a limit on the number of times we are willing to forgive others, then there will also have to be a limit on the number of times God is able to forgive us—the consequences of which none of us would ever wish to contemplate!

7 Steps to Freedom

Step 1 – Make a Decision

Look back at every difficult situation there has ever been in your life and make a choice to forgive, without condition, everyone who was involved. This is your decision and yours alone. No one else can do it for you!

Step 2 – Make a List

If you have now made the choice to forgive, it is time to get out a piece of paper and start making a list. Before you get to work, pray a short prayer. You can use your own words or say something like this:

“Thank You, Jesus, for teaching me the importance of forgiving others. Please help me to remember all the people who have hurt me so that I can forgive them from my heart.”

Write the name and reason for which you need to forgive that person. Here are some areas we can examine:

1. Forgiving our parents

Thank God for all the good things that came to you through them.
Forgive them and all your ancestors for everything they’ve said or done that has had a negative effect on your life.

2. Forgiving those who have stolen part of our lives

Those who stole our money, reputation, sexuality, time, health.

3. Forgiving ourselves

Refusing to forgive yourself is choosing to punish yourself for what has happened. You don’t actually believe you deserve to be forgiven, so you hold yourself in personal condemnation.

Step 3 – Start to Forgive

Begin by praying this:

“Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross that I might be forgiven. I am sorry for my own sins, and I ask You to be my Savior and the Lord of my life. And now please forgive me for the things that I have done wrong. Please help me to forgive from my heart all the people on my list.”

Then as you go down the list pray carefully over each name. Remind yourself for a moment about what it was they did to you, and then pray something like this:

“I now choose to forgive [insert the name of the person you are forgiving] for [insert a brief description of what was done to you], and I release [insert the person’s name] into the freedom of my forgiveness. I will not hold these things against [insert the person’s name] anymore.”

Step 4 – Ask God to Set You Free

You can pray this after each person or after everyone you’ve forgiven.

“Thank You, Lord, for helping me forgive [insert the name of the person you are forgiving]. I ask now that You set me free from every ungodly influence that [insert the person’s name] has had on my life and that You cut the ropes that have held me tightly to the pain of the past.”

Step 5 – Say You’re Sorry for Blaming God

“I’m sorry, God, for blaming You for the bad things that have happened in my life. I now know You did not want these things to happen either. Please forgive me.”

Step 6 – Pray the Most Powerful Prayer on Earth

So ask Jesus now to give you His love for all those who have hurt you and quietly pray:

“Father, forgive them.”

Step 7 – Expect Your Resurrection Morning

As you speak out your forgiveness to all those people whose names are on your list and then pray, “Father, forgive them,” your life will begin to be changed forever. There is a Resurrection morning coming for you as well!

The Bondage Breaker (Neil T. Anderson)

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The Bondage Breaker is a must-read for all Christians who want to experience freedom in Christ. Many Christians assume that accepting Jesus is enough. We need to deal with past issues: abuse, sexual sin, occult practices, false religions and unforgiveness. Here, Anderson has outlined  7 Steps to Freedom in Christ that provides inner healing and deliverance. Do use them in your counseling sessions.

Beginning Prayer

At the beginning of the counseling, pray this prayer to communicate with the person, not the demon. The demon belongs to the father of lies, Satan, and we cannot believe anything it says.

“Dear heavenly Father, I come to You in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of His shed blood. I acknowledge Your presence in this room and in our lives. I declare my absolute dependence on You, for apart from Christ I can do nothing. I take my position with Christ, seated with Him in the heavenlies. Because all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, I now claim that authority over all enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ in and around this room and especially in (name). You have told us that where two or three are gathered in Your name You are in our midst, and that whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven. We agree that every evil spirit that is in or around (name) be bound to silence. They cannot inflict any pain, speak to (name)’s mind, or prevent (name) from hearing, seeing, or speaking. Now in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command you, Satan, and all your hosts to release (name) and remain bound and gagged so that (name) will be able to obey God. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.”

Ask them to share any inner opposition they are experiencing throughout the session. It is best to have an assistant for prayer support. Do have a third party present if you are counseling the opposite sex.

Step 1: Counterfeit vs Real
This addresses occult practices or false religions.

“Dear heavenly Father, I ask You to reveal to me all the occultic practices, false religions, and false teachers with which I have knowingly or unknowingly been involved.”

Write down everything God brings to mind. After you are sure your list is complete, pray the following for each practice, religion, and teacher:

“Lord, I confess that I have participated in. I ask Your forgiveness, and I renounce___ as a counterfeit to true Christianity.”

Step 2: Deception vs Truth

“Dear heavenly Father, I know that You desire truth in the inner self and that facing this truth is the way of liberation (John 8:32). I acknowledge that I have been deceived by the father of lies (John 8:44) and that I have deceived myself (1 John 1:8). I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that You, heavenly Father, will rebuke all deceiving spirits by virtue of the shed blood and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And since by faith I have received You into my life and am now seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6), I command all deceiving spirits to depart from me. I now ask the Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth (John 16:13). I ask You to “search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23,24).  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

Read aloud the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed. You might face mental opposition but gently correct the lies with truth.

Step 3: Bitterness vs Forgiveness

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for the riches of Your kindness, forbearance, and patience, knowing that Your kindness has led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). I confess that I have not extended that same patience and kindness toward others who have offended me, but instead I have harbored bitterness and resentment. I pray that during this time of self-examination You would bring to mind only those people that I have not forgiven in order that I may do so (Matthew 18:35). I also pray that if I have offended others You would bring to mind only those people from whom I need to seek forgiveness and the extent to which I need to seek it (Matthew 5:23,24). I ask this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.”

95% of first two names are parents. Yourself and God is important too. Ask them if these two are not present. This can be an emotional and difficult step.For each person on your list, say:

“Lord, I forgive (name) for (offenses).”

Keep praying till all the pain has been surfaced and dealt with.

Step 4: Rebellion vs Submission
Confess your willful rebellion to God and to human authority.

“Dear heavenly Father, You have said that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23). I know that in action and attitude I have sinned against You with a rebellious heart. I ask Your forgiveness for my rebellion and pray that by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ all ground gained by evil spirits because of my rebelliousness would be canceled. I pray that You will shed light on all my ways that I may know the full extent of my rebelliousness and choose to adopt a submissive spirit and a servant’s heart. In the name of Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.”

Step 5: Pride vs Humility

“Dear heavenly Father, You have said that pride goes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before stumbling (Proverbs 16:18). I confess that I have not denied myself, picked up my cross daily, and followed You (Matthew 16:24). In so doing I have given ground to the enemy in my life. I have believed that I could be successful and live victoriously by my own strength and resources. I now confess that I have sinned against You by placing my will before Yours and by centering my life around self instead of You. I now renounce the self life and by so doing cancel all the ground that has been gained in my members by the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that You will guide me so that I will do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but that with humility of mind I will regard others as more important than myself (Philippians 2:3). Enable me through love to serve others and in honor prefer others (Romans 12:10). I ask this in the name of Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.”

Step 6: Bondage vs Freedom

For habitual sin, you need accountability with a righteous person.

“Dear heavenly Father, You have told us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:14). I acknowledge that I have given in to fleshly lusts which wage war against my soul (1 Peter 2:11). I thank You that in Christ my sins are forgiven, but I have transgressed Your holy law and given the enemy an opportunity to wage war in my members (Ephesians 4:27; James 4:1; 1 Peter 5:8). I come before Your presence to acknowledge these sins and to seek Your cleansing (1 John 1:9) that I may be freed from the bondage of sin (Galatians 5:1). I now ask You to reveal to my mind the ways that I have transgressed Your moral law and grieved the Holy Spirit.”

After you have confessed all known sin, pray:

“I now confess these sins to You and claim through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ my forgiveness and cleansing. I cancel all ground that evil spirits have gained through my willful involvement in sin. I ask this in the wonderful name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Step 7: Acquiescence vs Renunciation

Renounce sin of ancestors and curses. Expect resistance at this step.

“Dear heavenly Father, I come to You as Your child, purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I here and now reject and disown all the sins of my ancestors. As one who has been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, I cancel out all demonic working that has been passed on to me from my ancestors. As one who has been crucified and raised with Christ and who sits with Him in heavenly places, I reject any and every way in which Satan may claim ownership of me. I declare myself to be eternally and completely signed over and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. I now command every familiar spirit and every enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ that is in or around me to flee my presence and never to return. I now ask You, heavenly Father, to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I submit my body as an instrument of righteousness, a living sacrifice, that I may glorify You in my body. All this I do in the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Ask them to sit quietly with eyes closed:”What do you hear?” Are they at peace? Ask those who struggled to read doctrinal statements in Step 2 again. It might seem easy now. Their face might change after finding freedom. Teach them to maintain their freedom.

List of Online Christian Devotionals

Related imageIt’s good to feed on the word of God daily, whether it be 30 mins or just 5 mins. I’ve compiled various online Christian devotionals and will offer my comments. There are a few key elements that I consider when I look at a devotional:

  • Scripture passage: Preferably a short passage and not just one verse as it can often be taken out of context.
  • Sharing: This should analyse the verse/passage and carefully draw out the lessons from it. It should end with application, something simple that we can put into practice.
  • Closing Prayer: This doesn’t need to be long but prayer is important. Even if a devotion doesn’t have a prayer, you can reflect and pray the devotional lesson
  • Bible reading plan: It’s important to cover the whole Bible. Feeding off just one verse keeps you spiritually malnourished.

1. Our Daily Bread (ODB)

Scripture: Covers a short passage. ✓ 

Sharing: Simple sharing that always starts with a story. I find ODB too shallow for me and caters mostly to younger Christians. Pretty short and sweet. It has online audio too for those who prefer to listen. ✓ 

Prayer: Yes ✓ 

Reading Plan: Yes ✓ 

Overall Rating: 3.5/4

2. Nicky Gumbel’s Bible In One Year (BIOY)

Scripture: Covers three passages (Psalms, OT and NT). Might be too long for some but it covers the Bible in one year if you follow the plan. ✓ 

Sharing: I enjoy Gumbel’s expository style that analyses the passage very thoroughly and accurate. He comes out with new devotionals every year so the devotions is not repeated. He has online audio where he reads the devotion in his warm British accent! ✓ 

Prayer: He has a short prayer that borders on meager. ✓ 

Reading Plan: Yes. ✓ 

Overall Rating: 4/4

3. Rick Warren’s Daily Hope

Scripture: It mostly looks at one or two verses. 

Sharing: The writing style is simple and engaging. Application questions are excellent. ✓ 

Prayer: None 

Reading Plan: None 

Overall Rating: 1/4

4. Ray Stedman’s Devotional

Scripture: Passage of scripture that progresses through the Bible orderly. ✓ 

Sharing: The sharing is deep and thoughtful. However his vocabulary might be difficult for some. ✓ 

Prayer: Yes ✓ 

Reading Plan: None 

Overall Rating: 3/4

5. Joseph Prince’s Daily Grace Inspirations

Scripture: Just one or two verses.  

Sharing: Simple sharing with application. ✓ 

Prayer: None  

Reading Plan: None  

Overall Rating: 1/4

6. Chuck Swindoll’s Devotional

Scripture: Short passage.  ✓ 

Sharing: Swindoll’s sharing is excellent but rather lengthy. This could be due to the adaptation of his article into a devotional. Thus, it might be truncated.  ✓ 

Prayer: None 

Reading Plan: None 

Overall Rating: 2/4

If you use other Christian devotionals that you find enriching, do share it with us.

Praise Leads to Victory

Image result for praising with trumpet jehoshaphatKing Jehoshaphat was stuck in a bad situation. Several nations had united to attack him and it was insurmountable. But he quickly led a fast and sought to inquire the Lord. Fasting is a sign of humility and dependence on God. It creates a spiritual climate where God’s presence can permeate your situation. You position yourself for God to act. Every one from Judah (men, wives, children and little ones) stood before the Lord while Jehoshaphat prayed and pleaded for deliverance. It was an anxious time. Have you ever been faced with a situation that threatened to tear your life apart? Do what Jehoshaphat did. Bring your whole family before the Lord in humility. Fast if you can and seek God’s help. God was pleased with Jehoshaphat and a prophet relayed a message to Judah:

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

2 Chronicles 20:17

Can you imagine that? God told Judah to take up positions but no fighting would be required. I think it would have made me tremble. “You mean go out there and face them? Why can’t I stay at home?” God wanted to test Judah’s faith in God’s promise. They still needed to come out and take their stand. Even while they were afraid, God promised to be with them. How do you face your problems? Do you run away? Do you nurse yourself with a bottle of hard liquor? Do you distract yourself with television or food? Or do you face your problems head-on? God is with you! Do not be afraid or discouraged! God wants to give you the victory but you need to confront your problems directly.

King Jehoshaphat then did the most amazing thing. He focused on praising the Lord as part of his battle strategy!

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:  “Give thanks to the Lordfor his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:21

He appointed singers to praise God. Where did he place them? In front of the army! What kind of battle strategy is that? Putting musicians and singers at the front line must be the craziest strategy ever – at least in the world’s eyes. Thankfully, we have the eyes of faith. Eyes that see God’s provision and hand to win the battle for us. Jehoshaphat was so confident in the Lord. What about you? Can you sing praises to him in the midst of trials and danger? Will you give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever? You might see miracles happen right before your very eyes when you start praising the Lord for seeing you through the difficulties. Praise is a weapon that can annihilate Satan’s schemes. When a depressing thought enters your mind such as “I am unlovable or ugly or stupid…”, start praising the Lord by thanking him for his constant love for you. Praise negates the devil’s lies.

What was the result of Judah’s praise? God fought for them and they had so much spoils that it took three days to collect them.

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. …When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day.

2 Chronicles 20:22, 24-26

It says “the Lord set ambushes” against the enemy. It does not elaborate what God did but we know that God induced a mass confusion that made the enemies destroy each other. God fulfilled his promise – no fighting from Judah. God is a warrior and he will fight for us. He even gave Judah alot of spoils from the enemy. After God defeats your problems in your life, he can gave back much more than what Satan took away from you. After this monumental battle, Judah praised the Lord again at the Valley of Berakah (praise). After you have defeated your problems, write it down. Celebrate it. Share it with friends and family. Make it a Berakah event where you can be reminded of God’s deliverance. Victory starts with praise and it ends with praise!