Monday, May 17, 2021
Sunday, May 16, 2021
How long have we been a Christian? It's been years, even from birth I was a Christian. It is not enough just to be a Christian or boast just because we are labeled a Christian if it is not accompanied by real life changes.
As long as we are alive, we will always struggle not with other people but with ourselves. There are many people who can beat others but it is difficult to win our own selves. The challenge that we will face is the challenge between the old man and the new man. What must we do to win?
Putting off the old man
"Therefore I say and affirm this to you in the Lord: Do not live anymore as those who do not know God with their thoughts in vain." (Verse 17). The way of life that God wants from our lives is to leave the old way of life that we did before knowing Christ. "That is, that you, in connection with your former life, must put off the old man, who met his destruction by his perverted passions," (Verse 22). We are encouraged not only to wear new clothes but also to live in new ways. Because we are called not only to believe in Jesus, but also to follow Jesus. And our decision to follow Jesus has the consequences of leaving life with the old, futile ways. Yet many Christians still have old human traits. The evidence is like the biblical description which are fornication, uncleanness, lust, idolatry, witchcraft, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, self-interest, abuse, spirit of division, envy, drunkenness, debauchery and so on.
Putting on the new man
"... and put on the new man, who was created according to the will of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Verse 24). If we want to win against the old humans, we inevitably have to familiarize ourselves with God's ways of getting things done. We must have the courage to say "NO" to the old ways of life and always say "YES" to God's will.
It is not easy to make it happens, but remember we are only required to "put on" - means that The One who provides this new life is God. It means God will also enable us to live that new life as long as we surrender to Him who owns that life. And God will provide victory for everyone who believes and who relies on God in their daily lives. As new humans, we should no longer put on our old human nature; instead we put on the character of Christ and live according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
To grow into a new human being, the step we must take is to get rid of the old man's way of life and turn to Christ-like way and be led by the Holy Spirit. It is clear that sin is a major stumbling block to our fellowship with God. Therefore, never keep past sins that continue to haunt us and hinder our spiritual growth. Confess so that the blood of Christ may work to wash away our sins. Take a lot of time to study the Word and have a fellowship with God so that we get to know His person more deeply and can imitate his life. It also means that we want to be led by the Holy Spirit and no longer indulge in our own desires. GOD BLESS US!
Saturday, May 15, 2021
“…to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” – Ephesians 1:10
In this passage Paul wrote about how we, as the body of Christ, live our daily life in unity and maturity. Each of us is a church. We unite in the body of Christ with Christ as the head. The head moves the body. As Ephesians 1:10 tells about God’s purpose to unify all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Unifying different people is not a simple thing. How do we do it? Let me start with this analogy. When a couple goes to a marriage counsellor to settle conflicts, the counsellor will find the common ground of both parties in the first place. It is the same as the unity of the body of Christ. Paul wrote that if we have any disagreements, disputes or conflicts, as the body of Christ, please focus on 7 things: We are one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God. We are one.
Unity doesn’t mean uniformity. Everybody has a unique gift (Verse 7). This uniqueness builds up the strong body of Christ.
How to build a strong body of Christ? By learning from the right and true leaders and teachers (Verse 12). We can find leaders and teachers in our community, in our support systems, in our family, or maybe, in you.
It is important to ask God to surround us with people who strengthen us in Christ. I called it support systems. They are people who lead and teach us, who pray and support us, who participate in spiritual battle, and vice versa. These activities will lead us to unite in the faith and in the knowledge of Christ and become mature (Verse 13).
Dear brothers and sisters, when you are asking for a support system, Christ as a head joins us together in miraculous way in order to unify all things in heaven and on earth. To God be the glory. God bless you.
Reflection on Ephesians 4:1-16 by Veralin Uneputty(Listen to the Podcast here)
Friday, May 14, 2021
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us," - Ephesians 3:20
In Ephesians 3: 14-21, Paul prays for the church at Ephesus. Paul prays that they may experience the fullness of Christ's love (v. 17-19). In closing, Paul glorifies God "who can do so much more than we pray or think, as it turns out from the power that is at work in us! (v 20).
What is our attitude when we pray? When we pray, we often let our experiences limit our prayers. We are often trapped in situations that we think cannot change such as being bound by our bad habits that we think cannot be changed, or by a bad character of other people we cannot change. As time goes by and as more and more of our prayers unanswered, we think that the situations can no longer be changed. But Paul says that this idea is completely untrue. By the power of His power that is at work in us, God is able to do much more than we could ever imagine or expect.
Let's allow ourselves to take some moments in the presence of God who is so much greater than what we can imagine or comprehend. Believing that God can accomplish more than we ask or imagine. We take care not to let God's work be limited by any narrow boundaries that we set.
Reflection on Ephesians 3:14-21 by Fr. Fransiskus M.Diaz, SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)
Thursday, May 13, 2021
“Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me… which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” - Ephesians 3:8-9
Growing up in a Taoist/Buddhist tradition, I was a sickly child, and in order to shield me from illnesses, my mom had brought me to a Chinese temple, to be dedicated as a godchild to one of the temple gods. I was indeed protected from harm and did exceedingly well in my Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) to qualify for Dunman High School (DHS). As per temple traditions, I was brought to the temple to release my vows to this unknown god when I was 12 years old.
High school was a huge struggle as I experienced what is now known as Dysthymia (undiagnosed), and my parents, being busy with their small fish mongering stall, were clueless about the "demons" that I was battling in my young mind. I dreaded school, had zero friends and was perpetually late to the point that I was hauled into the Discipline Master's room more than once as he lectured me on Confucian principles while I zoned out and stared blankly. I felt utterly alone and spent many lonely recesses in a secluded corner of the school, contemplating if I should jump from the 4th level, as I witnessed the chatter and the laughter of the other kids on the basketball courts below.
My grades suffered as I turned from a student who scored As easily in primary school into a troubled teenager who failed from Sec 1 to Sec 3, and was almost expelled by the principal who wanted to protect the reputation of Dunman High as an elite school with academic excellence. My mom begged him through tears on bended knees and I was given the ultimatum to pass my final year in high school or get booted out before the 'O' Levels.
Thanks be to God, I managed to buck up in the final 12 months of high school and scraped through with a passing grade, and passed my 'O' Levels to qualify for a local junior college. Even though I was still a pre-believer, it was God's Grace which enabled me to pass my 'A' Levels, and qualify for the local university too. Truly, God's Grace had started working in my life even though I was a very broken human with low self-esteem and deep-set loathing of myself. It took me another 20 odd years of rebelling against God, and living a fast life as a successful young sales manager, a habitual smoker, and an almost weekly clubbing ritual with friends. Back then I was pursuing what many young people today would call YOLO (You Only Live Once) values, but deep inside I was still broken and deeply angry with my own parents and angry towards myself, while wearing an outwardly happy smile and outgoing personality.
My worldly treasures crashed in 2005, after suffering an acute right-brain stroke. It was God's Grace that brought me to my knees to recognize that everything that I had been chasing up to my early 30s was merely "Chasing after the wind" – as King Solomon had wisely pointed out. As a result of the stroke, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and 2 years later I hit rock bottom again when my marriage fell apart and I lost my job in the same year.
However, God's Grace kept me going even though I railed at God and raised an angry fist to Heaven for the unfairness of everything that was crashing or falling apart around me, including my sanity. Like the father in the familiar Parable of the Prodigal Son, God the Father had always kept His Arms open to receive me and kept looking into the distance with loving eyes to see if I would run back to Him. Eventually, I did come back into His Arms through the loving community in the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Christian Peers Support Community in PSALT Care.
Today, I want to echo what St. Paul wrote to the young church in Ephesus, "Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me… which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things."
I will close my reflections with this timeless hymn of God's Grace, penned by a former slave trader, who was touched by the Holy Spirit to immortalize these beautiful reminders of His Amazing Grace.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.
Reflection on Ephesians 3:1-13 by Chris Tan
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
“For He is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh” - Ephesians 2:14.
First of all, St. Paul wanted to remind us that the Gentiles lacked Israel’s messianic expectation, lacked the covenants God made with Israel, lacked the hope of salvation and knowledge of the true God. But through Christ, all these religious barriers between Jews and Gentiles had been transcended by the abolition of the mosaic covenant-law, for the sake of uniting Jews and Gentiles into a single religious community – who was imbued with the same Holy Spirit and worshiping the same Father. The Gentiles are now included in God's household. It arises upon the foundation of the Apostles, assisted by those endowed with the prophetic gifts, the preachers of Christ, and with Christ as the capstone.
It is a proof that God united all mankind through his Son who came into the world to bear witness that only in him we found peace and joy. It is the peace that the world cannot offer.
Being a follower of Christ is not easy. It means that we must be bold to testify when spreading the peace. We must be able to bring peace instead of division. Sometimes, we are insulted, ridiculed, ostracized. However, we must never retaliate - not because we're scared, but all we want is tolerance and peace with everyone.
Let us be witnesses of peace by praying for one another, strengthening and sustaining one another. The sign of people who can bring peace is those who are able to make peace with themselves and with their past. A person who is always at peace will always rejoice, be generous, be patient, be forgiving, accept others for who they are and even give his life for others.
Reflection on Ephesians 2:11-22 by Sr. M. Venidora, SND.
(Listen to the Podcast here)
"In his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" - Ephesians 2:7.
Bad news spreads all around the world. The evil spirit seems to be winning. So many mortal sins, abortion, euthanasia, diseases, etc. We are involved in this reality and even sometimes add our own sins. This situation in the world looks very sad and depressing.
But there is always hope. According to Apostle Paul, our hope is placed in Christ Jesus. For God "shows his kindness to us in him" (2:7). So simple and so powerful. God's kindness and grace can overcome all the darkness in the world and in our hearts. God's love is much stronger than our weaknesses and sins. God wins us through the power of love in his beloved Son - Jesus Christ. He "makes us alive with Christ" (2:5) and always is ready to grant us his mercy. How great is God's love towards the whole world. We are not able to count all his miracles in our life from the moment of birth until now.
How many times I could stand up after falling down thanks to Jesus Christ. I testify that it was not from myself but from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I cannot boast of my achievements but rather I need to be thankful. All my good deeds and ideas come from the Lord. Only in Christ Jesus, I can do good works which God prepared in advance (2:10).
For that reasons, I am full of trust in the Good News of Jesus Christ. In the love of divine Word, I keep my faith. I am not afraid of facing the difficulties and struggles of this age. Eventually, the truth and kindness of merciful God will win the darkness of sins in the world.
Reflection on Ephesians 2:1-10 by Fr. Józef K. Trzebuniak SVD
(Listen to the Podcast here)
Monday, May 10, 2021
“...I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people” – Ephesians 1:15
There are two basic things in the life of Ephesians community which Paul is grateful for; they are "faithfulness in the Lord Jesus" and about "the love of the community" for all the saints. Paul's gratitude for these two things confirms that the true church is a community that maintains loyalty to Jesus Christ, as well as shows love for others. These two things must go together, because loyalty to Jesus Christ without being accompanied by love for others is really useless. The proof that Ephesians Community has shown loyalty to God is their love for others. On that basis, Paul then prayed expressing his hope for the church so that their knowledge of Christ would be deeper and truer.
First, Paul prayed that the Lord's community in Ephesus would be given the Spirit of wisdom, that is, the Spirit who helps the community to know God more properly and experience the great power of God in their lives. Paul's prayer at the same time shows his hope that God's people will see and fend for themselves according to God's wisdom, opening themselves to be guided by the power of God's Spirit. This point is contrary to our people today. There are Christian people who claim to know a lot about Jesus; it's a shame they don't know Him completely. Many people are searching and investigating many things about Jesus, but are unknowable and with inexperience of Him fully by their heart.
The second, Paul knew that life is plagued by problems, and those may well cause the faith and love of Ephesians Community to decline. Paul himself was in prison when he wrote this epistle to the Ephesians. This proved that knowing the Lord properly, even serving him wholeheartedly, can lead to problems or difficulties. When this is not properly followed, it can lead to disappointment, unrelenting despair, and the community can become pessimistic about fending or standing up for themselves.
When facing problems and failures in their life, hope in the Lord must be constantly played. It is true that there are many phenomena of life in this world that tend to corrupt and destroy, but Paul, in his prayer, invited the community to view the situation as a scourge to place their hope in the Lord while crying out and presenting that hope through their faithfulness to the Lord and their love for others as they had begun to do so long.
It is undeniable that we are living a life with uncertainty, obscurity, and despair now. That is why there are a growing number of people who are pessimistic, and even not a few who turn to false reasoning simply because of problems that disappoint them.
In the world with situation like this, we are called upon to hold fast to our hope in Jesus Christ, and raise that hope in the world where we are. That is the tangible manifestation of our loyalty to our Lord and our love for others. The essence of all this is the greatness and glory of the name of the Lord that can be seen in our reality of life as the believers.
Reflection on by Ephesians 1: 15-23 by Paulus Renggo(Listen to the Podcast here)
Saturday, May 8, 2021
My brothers and sisters, what makes you joyful in your life? Paul, the apostle, sent his letter to the Philippians that he rejoiced greatly in the Lord. There are two reasons why Paul rejoiced in the Lord. They are Paul’s relationship with the Philippians and his gratitude in every life condition.
Feeling acceptable by people surround us raises joy in our life. Paul experienced this when The Philippians accepted him. It means that the Philippians received his presence and understood what he was spreading out even though it needed a long time to believe. It happens because Paul established good communication with the Philippians. In our life, we live together with our family, community, friends and so on. To establish a relationship with one another, we need good communication.
Besides feeling acceptable, Paul was a grateful person. He accepted his life in every circumstance. He knew to thank God in all situations both of lack or abundance. This avoided Paul from complaining about his task. It is why Paul was joyful when he ran his job as an apostle.
In our life, we are invited to be a grateful person. For example, every morning when we wake up, give thanks to God and the nature He provides that give us good sleep and life. Gratitude brings positive emotions on the day we are getting through.
May today bring us closer to God and others. God bless you.
Friday, May 7, 2021
“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” - Philippians 4: 2 (NLT)
Disagreement is common. We might brag about our relationship or friendship with some people which is free from arguments, as if any dissensions indicate a red flag – that we are dealing with some bad people. But in the passage today, it happened between Apostle Paul’s fellow workers, Euodia and Syntyche, who undoubtedly had worked hard together with him spreading the Good News (Verses 2-3). Some say disagreement is actually healthy to bring a different perspective and thus enriches one another towards a goal.
The problem here is that when it is too strong, it could cause a division and damage the testimony we bear as Christians in public eyes. And it seems like that was what happened here. Paul even had to mention their names and in Verse 5 Paul said, “Let your gentleness be evident to all”.
Disagreement is sometimes inevitable between true fellow Christians. We learn from this passage that Paul addressed this matter using his heart. He made a serious request but in a loving way. “Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement” (Verse 2). He also did not forget these women’s great contribution in his ministry that he asked his very close partner in Philippi to help them - to help them sort things out (Verse 3).
It is also interesting to see that although this case involves women, it applies to all. Euodia and Syntyche were definitely not kinds of women in 1 Timothy 5:13 who were idle, going about from house to house and became busybodies who talked nonsense or liked gossiping. Otherwise Paul would have told them to be quiet. They must have possessed theological reasons or scripture-based arguments of the problem that was not easy to solve. Somehow it is a kind of relief for us all who face different views on a ministry. That it happens. It’s normal.
I believe, only with a good sincere heart that we are able to settle any disagreements among us. Besides, what we think matters a lot. It becomes our inner drive. So, let’s follow what Apostle Paul said, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Verse 8). May God help us all. Amen.
Reflection on Philippians 4: 1-9 by Desire Litaay
Thursday, May 6, 2021
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Today’s verse for reflection from the book of Philippians is an amazing reminder how everything else pales compare to having Jesus in our lives. It has been said that we can gain the whole world, but without the peace that comes only from resting in God’s love, then we gain nothing. And yet still, if we have nothing, but just the love of God and the peace that comes when we are in His presence, then we would have had all that we ever needed.
Truly the pandemic has brought so much changes in all of our lives. For some sadly, it even brought sickness, suffering and even death to the family. For others still, it brought death in other forms - to their jobs, businesses and their livelihood. But I think for the most of us, what the pandemic has done for us is that it has cut off all our usual routines, entertainments and distractions. Initially, it all devastated us. We all miss our usual morning run and commute, the hustle at the office, the dinner with friends after work, and maybe our occasional trips to the beach or other countries.
It has emptied us of our worldly attachments. We were all cut off from what we thought we needed and we were stripped down to what only is essential. It actually gave us a new meaning to what is essential. We were locked up in our homes, and we suddenly see how we didn’t really need all the things we thought we needed back then. We did not even had to go out of our own homes. And yet, life went on.
In the face of loss, we knew what was truly important – our family, closest friends, and our faith in God. In the absence of all our activities, we found ourselves turning to God more and more and realizing we can lose the world, and still be ok if we have Christ in our hearts. In the face of instability of everything we thought we had, we had the chance to only hold on to what is true, what never changes, and what will always be with us – the love of Christ. In Philippians chapter 3 verse 7, it is written “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” This resonated to me so well, because now, more than a year into the pandemic, I know more than ever that everything I had before all this, everything seemingly good thing I had, was actually distracting me and taking my attention away from Christ – the only one that truly, truly matters. The past year or so have shown us that we can lose everything else, and yet if we find peace in the love of Christ, then we would have gained everything we needed. Now we know, truly, that if Christ is all I have, then I have all I need.
In closing, let this reflection be a reminder to us to rest in Christ in the midst of uncertainty during this pandemic. Let us rest in His unfailing love. It is also a good reminder for us that when the time comes when we start to open our economies again, and we start to fill our calendars with our activities again, that we may always find the time for Christ and remember what peace we had when all we had was Him.
Monday, May 3, 2021
As a parent, we take all precautions to safeguard our children. "Don't play by the stove!", "Stay away from that sharp knife!" or "Don't talk to strangers!". We do all of those to protect our children from something that might hurt them. Apostle Paul in our text this morning did the same thing.
He began by saying to church to rejoice in the Lord, a theme that we find throughout this epistle. Then, he proceeded by giving them a warning for their safety. "Beware," he said. Beware of who?
Beware of the Judaizers. We might ask what was so big deal about these Judaizers that Paul warned the church as if some evil persons wanted to kill them. He even called them, dogs (to be exact feral dogs), evil workers, and concision ( a term which meant mutilators which refers to a circumcision).
Wow, Paul, why are you so angry at these people? In Verse 3, Paul said that he himself WAS a Judaizer. He gave his credential as a Judaizer in Verse 4-6.
What is so bad about Judaizer and their belief? The Judaizers believe that in order for someone to get salvation from their sins, one must be circumcised and must follow the law of Moses. And when they came to any church, they would tell the believers that it was not enough for the faith in Christ to save you, but you must also be circumcised and be the rigid follower of the law of Moses, of which Paul was one.
In Verse 3, Paul said important things for us as a believer. We worship God in the spirit which refers to our connection to God - not based on location, we rejoice in Christ Jesus which refers to our daily joy as the result of obeying and following Jesus and that our confidence is not on our work of righteousness but rests on the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
This morning, the Holy Scripture is calling us to be careful and be mindful of our faith in Jesus Christ. Our salvation is based on our faith to the finished work of Jesus Christ. Our faith is not on anything that we do, but what Christ has done for us. And that is the reason for us to rejoice today!!!
God bless all of us today, Amen.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Through this parable, Jesus invites us to abide in Him. Jesus is the true vine, so if we abide in Him, we will bear abundant fruit. In our weakness, vulnerability, and sins, the Lord invites us not to avoid Him. Even though we have committed great sins, we are to remember that the Lord always seeks us.
If we are not with Him, then as branches of the vine we will slowly wither and dry up. In various life experiences, we experience how each person becomes a healthy branch and also bears abundant fruit in the name of Jesus. All that He needs from us is our faith. In any difficulties, we must remain united with Jesus as the true Vine. Thus, we will flourish and bear abundant fruit in our work and ministry. Our life will be more meaningful when we produce good quality fruit for others.