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!

几度花落时 (When do the flowers fall)

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When do the flowers fall

Lingering in the flower fields,
my lover didn’t come,
foolishly I waited,
could it be you forgot me?

That year when the flowers fell,
Our meeting was today,
but you didn’t come.

I have asked those flowers my heart’s trouble,
they know my sorrows,
following that flowing stream back to you,
again I ask when do the flowers fall.

Preaching like Bishop Dale Bronner

As part of my personal skill upgrading, I decided to study and learn why some preachers are better able to capture my attention. How is it that some preachers speak for an hour but feels like a few minutes while others speak for a few minutes but feels like an hour? That’s what I would like to highlight key points. Once you’ve learnt the various methods, incorporate some of them and it becomes your style. I would not critique their biblical content but only on their styles of preaching. We know that good content when delivered poorly is just as ineffective.

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Bishop Dale Bronner is a black preacher who is part of the Word of Faith family. Some of you might disagree with his theology but he is nonetheless an excellent presenter. After watching several of his sermons (here’s a good sample: Be still and know), here are some key points of his preaching style.

1. Repeat the title at the start.

At the start of the sermon, Bronner begins in the pulpit. He repeats the title slowly and clearly several times in a row so that the congregation knows it.

2. Be dynamic. Have two (or more) modes: Normal and Excited.

Bronner is a dynamic speaker. When he stands behind the pulpit, he speaks calmly and confidently. His posture is erect and often speaks with a gentle cadence. That’s his Normal mode. Sometimes, he steps out from the pulpit and walks around the platform. In his Excited mode, he speaks with more expression, actions and exhortations. Often, he expands the same point that he made at the pulpit in a personal way and returns to the pulpit to continue his sermon.

Halfway or near the 3/4 mark, he steps out of the pulpit for an extended period of time to exhort the congregation. This is a longer Excited mode. He gives applications and encourages his listeners to apply the truths he spoke on. He uses “you” many times (e.g. “God says to you…”). His voice raises in intensity over time and he begins to shout loudly. At the climax, background organ music begins to play while he keeps on yelling with intensity and passion. Many congregants clap and stand up in agreement. Some term this as the “whooping/celebration” mode especially used by black preachers to inject excitement into the sermon. (Since I’m Singaporean, can I do a Singlish/Hokkien mode? I got to try it one day)

After this climax, Bronner returns to the pulpit and reverts to his Normal mode. He speaks softly and ties up his sermon. It might be even softer than normal. If you analyse the time stamp for his mode switches, it paces nicely with a narrative arc in a storybook or movie. The arc looks like this:Image result for narrative arc

We see from this diagram that intensity rises and falls as the story progresses. This is good storytelling. Intensity might rise and fall like crests of waves in the beginning but it always increases till the climax. That’s why Bronner comes out from his pulpit for a short time in the earlier part of his sermon to build some excitement but only near the end does he build up to the climax. He then relieves the tension built up in the climax with a short and soft ending.

3. Display key lessons on slides for note-taking. 

Bronner includes Bishop’s Notes which lists out questions for reflections, Greek words with explanations or key points. The congregation must understand what you’re talking about or they’ll tune out. He rarely uses it, which makes it more powerful. When preachers rely too much on powerpoint, their points lose power! Sermon outlines in church bulletins work well too but may distract them from looking at the speaker. Once the point is covered, blank the slides.

If there are other preachers whom you enjoy listening, please comment and I will take a look at them.

Book Summary: Does your tongue need healing? (Derek Prince, 1993)

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For me, I have often misused my tongue to insult, tear down, profane and speak failure. I did not realise how powerful the tongue is until I read this book. I’ll like to highlight key lessons from this short book to bless those who like me, need God’s help to heal our tongue.

  • Our tongues are an indicator of the condition of our hearts.
  • Do we keep a tight rein on our tongue? If not, our religion is worthless.
  • Our words determine our destiny. Do we believe God’s promise to us or do we say otherwise?
  • Diseases of our tongues:
  1. Excessive talking
  2. Idle or careless words
  3. Gossip
  4. Lying
  5. Flattery
  6. Hastiness of Speech
  • The root of the problem of our tongues is our heart (Matt 12:33-35; James 3:9-12).
  • 3 Steps to healing of our tongue:
    1. Call your problem by its right name – sin.
    “I have a problem with my tongue. It is sin.”
    2. Confess your sin and receive forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:7-9)
    3. Refuse sin and yield to God
    Say “No” to sin and “Yes” to God. When sin challenges you, say, “No, I will not yield to you; I will not yield the parts of my body. Above all, I will not yield that member which causes most of the trouble: my tongue. Sin, you cannot control my tongue any longer.” The turn to God and say, “God, I yield my tongue to You, and I ask You to control the member which I cannot control.” You need the Holy Spirit to control your tongue.
  • God gave us a tongue to glorify Him. Either our tongue leads to hell fire or Holy Spirit fire.

Commentary on the Didache

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The Didache (Greek: teaching) is a short manual for early Christians in the first century AD. The closer date of the document is to Jesus’ time, the more reliable. Thus, the didache provides a earlier window into the past. Why was it written? Some believe it was written after the Acts Council (Acts 15) as a guide for Gentile believers. The church introduced many pagan elements after the time of Emperor Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion (roughly 300 AD). I shall comment on some of the earlier practices that differ from ours today. We might learn some practices that would be beneficial to adopt again today.

Chapter 1 to 5 outlines the way of life and death. The way to life is to obey the Great Commandment: Love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.

Chapter 6. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to Idols. See that no one causes you to err from this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able. And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods.

The issue of food sacrificed to idols is not so common in the West. It was common in the Greco-Roman empire and still is today in Asia. Here, just like Paul in 1 Corinthians 8, warns against eating food offered to idols unless our conscience is clear.

Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

This is the common invocation that pastors use in baptism. If your church doesn’t, something is wrong! Running water is specified, maybe referring to conducting baptism in a river or stream. It is fascinating that they even indicate the temperature of the water used for baptism. Cold water is preferred over warm (maybe according to the weather). There is flexibility in the procedure but the main thing is that baptism should be carried out without being legalistic. There is a concession if running water is not available. The Pastor can pour water over the head of the person being baptised (I don’t think sprinkling is meant). This might have taken place with the head over a container. Three times is needed for the invocation of the trinity with each pour. The requirement to fast before baptism is lost today. The baptiser and the person to be baptised are to fast for one or two days before the event. Others observing the baptism are invited to fast too. This underscores the sanctity and purity involved in the act of baptism.

Chapter 8. Fasting and Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer). But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. Rather, fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); for Thine is the power and the glory for ever..

Pray this three times each day.

Early Christian fasted twice a week. They purposely chose a different day from the “hypocrites”. Who are these hypocrites? A guess would be religious Jews who attempted to show everyone that they were fasting and thus holier. Christians were to fast on different days to prevent identification with these hypocrites. I’m not sure exactly what kind of fasts these Christians did. Whatever it was, meal time was replaced with prayer. Fasting without prayer is meaningless. Here, Christians are asked again not to pray like the hypocrites who babble (Matt 6). Instead, they prayed the Lord’s prayer. When we are at a loss of what to pray, we can easily repeat the words our Lord taught us. They prayed the Lord’s prayer three times a day. That’s a great discipline to incorporate into our lives. When we wake, midday and before we retire for the night.

Chapter 9. The Eucharist. Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup:

We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever..

And concerning the broken bread:

We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever..

But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.”

It seems that the Lord’s supper was quite established by that time and thus instructions are provided for the early church. The Cup, representing the blood shed for us by Jesus, is presented first. Here God is thanked for the ” Holy Vine of David”, meaning the blood ancestry that traced itself from David to Jesus. This blood was shed for us on the cross. Next the broken Bread, symbolising the body of Jesus that was broken for us is presented. Here God is thanked for “life and knowledge”. God became human flesh (Incarnation) to give us life and a knowledge of who God is. What is the “scattered over the hills” talking about? Possibly, it was referred to Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 (Matt 14:13-21). After people ate the Bread (Jesus’ body), the remaining pieces were collected. This is related to the unity of Christ’s Church. As Christ has fed every church around the world with spiritual food, may we all be gathered together again at the end of time.

Suddenly there is a warning. Only those who have been baptised can partake of the Eucharist. This means that the Eucharist is open to Christians who have been baptised from any church. The main thing is if the person is baptised in the Lord or not. What is the reason for this strictness? Jesus said that holy things must not be given to the dogs (Matt 7:6). I agree with this fully. There is a practice of open table in some Methodist churches where unbaptised persons are allowed to take the Lord’s Supper. They may be eating and drinking judgement. If they really desire to partake, why can’t they wait and go for baptism first? Let us not fall into judgement for giving what is holy to dogs or pearls to swine.

Chapter 10. Prayer after Communion. But after you are filled, give thanks this way:

We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name’s sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; to Thee be the glory for ever. Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! If any one is holy, let him come; if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.

But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as much as they desire.

We are to thank God for the body and blood of Jesus that was given for us. The meaning of tabernacle means to stay or reside. When Jesus took on human form, he tabernacled among us. When we accepted Christ, he tabernacled in us. Check out my post on an expanded explanation of God dwelling with us.  We thank God for physical food but much more for spiritual food that God graciously gave us. We pray for the protection, purification and unity of the church. We need to be forward looking towards Christ’s second coming. The Lord’s Supper not only looks backwards to what Jesus did, but proclaims that Jesus is coming back again. We desire that he speed his coming back to establish his kingdom. Because of Jesus’ impending return, we are to live holy lives. If not, we must repent. What a wonderful prayer.

I believe with all my heart that all the offices and spiritual gifts have not ceased. There are still apostles, prophets, gift of tongues, healing and prophecy. I believe the office or role of a prophet or apostle is still active today.

Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets. Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there’s a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not every one who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it, unless he is indeed a false prophet. And every prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for others’ sake who are in need, let no one judge him.

In regard to teachers, check their doctrine. If it is a different gospel and does not line up with the word of God, reject it. There are many false teachers in our churches today that claim to speak from God but are teaching an entirely different gospel. We need to know the Word in order to discern the truth. In regard to acknowledging apostles and prophets, there seems to be an allusion to the “decree of the Gospel”. At that time, and still today, there are many who claim to be apostles and prophets. How do we test them? See if they desire money and material items from the church. The church is to warmly receive them but give only a simple meal and lodging. Also, these visitors should not stay more than one or two days! If they desire to have a good meal or money for himself, he is a false apostle and prophet. There are many prophets that I have met in churches who are money hungry. They think that being a prophet entitles them to good food and luxury. However, this proves that their motivations and calling are wrong. Their prophecies are false and often sugar-coated to make listeners happy. We need to be discerning and firm. Their behaviour speaks volumes and we are to watch their actions carefully.

Chapter 12. Reception of Christians. But receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, and prove and know him afterward; for you shall have understanding right and left. If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far as you are able; but he shall not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be. But if he wants to stay with you, and is an artisan, let him work and eat. But if he has no trade, according to your understanding, see to it that, as a Christian, he shall not live with you idle. But if he wills not to do, he is a Christ-monger. Watch that you keep away from such.

We are to give Christians the benefit of the doubt first, and get to know them better. If they are in urgent need of money, we can help them for a start to tide this difficult time but they need to eventually work and self-support. No one must be idle and free-load off the Christian community (2 Thess 3:6-13). Some go to church to look for hand-outs and the church gladly gives them. But more effort is needed to find a way for them to earn a living.

Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord’s Day. But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: “In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.”

Early Christians did various activities on Sunday: They gathered together, had Lord’s Supper, confessed their sins and reconciled broken relationships. I think it is important to have confession of sins weekly and that forgiveness must be a part of our lives. If not, our sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, money are all impure. God is worthy of pure sacrifices. I think many in the churches have forgotten that God is “a great King” and that his name is “wonderful among the nations”. Church members come in late, wearing shorts or caps as if the service was so informal. The holiness and sanctity of the the service is lost. We must reclaim the right view of God so that God will accept our sacrifices. Forgiveness and reconciliation must be sought after quickly and not left to fester. If not, God will not be pleased.

Chapter 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof. Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers. And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. But to anyone that acts amiss against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord.

There are two roles: Bishops (Pastor/Presbyters/Pastor/Elder) and Deacons that are to be appointed to shepherd God’s flock (similar to Paul’s instructions to Timothy and Titus). The word “therefore” links back to the previous section on meeting on Sunday to offer God a pure sacrifice. In order to offer God a pure sacrifice, bishops and deacons are needed to lead the flock. Another point to note is “meek men“, meaning that these two roles must be filled by males. I disagree with many denominations (Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran) that allow women ordination and preaching. Why? Not because I think that woman can’t lead or teach well, but because that’s the way God ordained the church to operate. If God says it, I believe it. To read more, check out my post on Reclaiming Patriarchy.  These men are to be honoured for their role as prophet and teacher. A prophet not only fore-tells (tells the future) but forth-tells (tells the reality of the present). He speaks against sin and injustice today. There is also a need to discipline for repentance in our churches today. Many pastors glide over sensitive topics for fear of upsetting them. In contrast, we must target these points! That’s how revivals start. Revival starts with calling out sin and asking for repentance.

Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord. Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.

The early Christian understood the end times very simply. No pre-tribulation, amillennial or rapture. They understood it as things on earth will get worse and worse while more false prophets and Christs appear to lead Christians astray. Then the “fire of trial” or tribulation will come. Only those who “endure in their faith” will be saved. This means that we need to keep our faith and not get enticed by false gospels and Christs. We can lose our salvation if we do not endure! That is the resounding theme of the book of Hebrews.

Being Generous Pleases God

We all like to be around generous people. But are we generous ourselves? How do we instill a culture of giving rather than one of receiving? The passage I want to look at addresses this issue. After all the wars were ended, King David wanted to build a permanent temple for God but he was stopped. Instead, his son Solomon would be the one to build it. David, like any good father would, prepared the blueprints and materials needed for the temple in advance. After collecting some of the materials, David donated more from his personal bank account. He said:

Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God…

1 Chronicles 29:3 ESV

A leader sets the example by giving first. He cannot ask his people to give if he does not do it himself. This is an important leadership principle: Never ask someone to do what you are not willing to do yourself. If you want your people to love, you need to be loving first. If you desire honesty, you got to display honesty first. After David donated freely, he appealed to the leaders of his people to give. What was their response?

Then the leaders of fathers’ houses made their freewill offerings, as did also the leaders of the tribes, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officers over the king’s work.

1 Chronicles 29:6 ESV

Note the word “then”. After the leader (David) gave, then his people willingly gave. Leadership guru, John Maxwell, taught the Law of The Lid. The law says in essence, “A follower can only rise up to the leadership level of the leader, not higher.” Since David’s leadership lid was high, the people were able to raise their personal level too. I know a church where the members are generous in their giving, whether contributing to missions, buying lunch, or driving someone home. Why? Their pastor is extremely generous. People learn from their leader. What is the result of generosity?

Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord . David the king also rejoiced greatly.

1 Chronicles 29:9 ESV

Everyone rejoiced. Generosity by leaders and his people leads to joy because they gave willingly and freely to the Lord. God loves a cheerful giver. St. Paul says:

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:6‭-‬7 ESV

If you’re not cheerful, don’t give! God won’t be pleased. Examine if your love of money is more than your love of God and people. Why should we be generous? David provides the answer in his magnificent prayer:

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

1 Chronicles 29:14 ESV

David realised everything he has doesn’t belong to him. It all came from God and belongs to God. We are stewards of God’s money. It isn’t ours to spend! You are a steward, and God wants you to be faithful with his money. Faithfulness doesn’t mean stinginess but generosity to bless others in need. I’m still learning this powerful lesson by missionary Oswald J. Smith – God is no man’s debtor. You can’t outgive God. Be generous today!

Spiritual Myopia

Myopia is a condition where people are short-sighted. They can’t see far objects clearly without the aid of glasses. Many Christians suffer from spiritual myopia too. They only focus on building their kingdom or their local church. They do not consider the wider kingdom of God that exists. 
When I decided to do my internship in another church rather than my home church, some were not too pleased. One cut off their financial support since I was not serving back home. Had I given up the faith? Had I stopped serving the universal church of Jesus? No.

I think spiritual myopia is common in many churches. They only consider how their local church can be benefitted. If it doesn’t benefit them, they aren’t interested. But it doesn’t make sense. Isn’t the whole body of Christ one? The apostle Paul says:

If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:26‭-‬27 ESV

If I help build up another member of the body, the whole body should rejoice! An expanded kingdom mindset says, “As long as you’re serving the body of Christ, I’m happy.” Lines cannot be drawn between churches, conferences, denominations, or countries. We are the body of Christ.

A similar example happened during Jesus’s ministry:

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.  For the one who is not against us is for us.  For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”

Mark 9:38‭-‬41 ESV

John was worried when someone was carrying out an exorcism ministry without being part of “The Twelve”. He had spiritual myopia. He wanted to stop that person from casting out demons. Jesus ordered John not to stop him but to let him continue. He was saying, “He’s on our side John!” Jesus even gives a promise: If we bless a fellow brother in Christ, we will be rewarded. That’s Kingdom mindset. Loving your fellow Christians even if they are not part of your clique. Even if they go to another church.  Even if they go another conference. Even if they go another denomination. Can we adopt a kingdom mindset and ensure we build the body of Christ?