Friday, September 25, 2009

Overcoming Anger

Anger We frequently see expressions of anger and sometimes experience flare-up too. We get angry when someone breaks a promise or when we are unable to get what we want. We also get angry because we fail to meet our own expectation or because we do not measure up to perfection. We get frustrated at people when we see them do things we considered as undignified or deviant. We may even be unhappy for being angry with people and sometimes ourselves.

There are many reasons why we get angry but we must always understand that anger in itself is not wrong. What is wrong is dependent on whether we are angry for the right reasons.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said:

"Anyone can be angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - this is not easy."

The Bible talks about an anger that is righteous and holy, such as the holy anger of God:

And they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed. So I have consumed them in My anger. (Ezekiel 43:8b NAS)

In this verse, we know that God has the right to be angry when His holy name is defiled by the sins of Man because our God is a holy and righteous God. Jesus Himself was angry and cast out the people who were buying and selling in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17). God must also have been angry when He sends an angel to strike Herod because he did not give God the glory (Acts 12:21-23).

From the references of the Scriptures mentioned above we can see that anger in itself is NOT sin. Anger can be holy and righteous if it is for the right reasons.

Most of us however are angry not because of holiness or righteousness. We often get angry without first investigating the truth or without considerations for the circumstances of others. As Christians, we must learn to be "quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" (James 1:19 NAS). We may get angry and yet do not sin if we are angry for the right reasons. However, whether it is for the right or wrong reasons, our anger must always be kept in checked and not consume us or be carried forward to another day so that we do not sin. For the Bible says:

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:25-16 NAS)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 NAS)

We possess the power to overcome anger because as Christians we have the Holy Spirit in us and "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS).

Paul in his epistle to the Galatians teaches us to walk by the Spirit so that we will not conform to the desires of the flesh.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16-17 NAS)

Let us therefore not grieve the Holy Spirit in us by being angry unduly, remembering always not to let anger be brought forward to another day. Where forgiveness is necessary, confess and reconcile with the other party within the same day, and DO NOT let anger accumulate, because it can consume us to the point of bitterness. Confess to God and acknowledge our sins if we have been angry for the wrong reason, and let the Spirit of God Who dwells in us mold and change us as we walk in His Word daily.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Age Gap in Marriage

Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. (Ruth 3:10 NAS)

Marriage Many people have reservation about marrying someone much older than the other. The Bible provides several examples of marriage by people with a difference in age gap, and one of them is between Ruth and Boaz. Ruth is one of the few people in the Bible with no recorded sin, and she goes down into history following the genealogical line of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).

The Bible in Ruth 3:9-11 (NAS) records Boaz's evaluation of Ruth and expressed Boaz's willingness to take Ruth in marriage.


He [Boaz] said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative." Then he said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. "Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.

From the verses shown above, it is clear that there is a gap difference between the age of Boaz and Ruth. Boaz called Ruth "my daughter" and commended her for not "going after young men." The honor resulting from this marriage is the recorded history of a couple in our Savior's family line.

Matthew Henry (1706) in his Commentary on the Whole Bible states the following:

"Boaz knew it was not any sinful lust that brought her [Ruth] thither, and therefore bravely maintained both his own honour and hers. He did not put any ill construction upon what she did, did not reproach her as an impudent woman and unfit to make an honest man a wife. She having approved herself well in the fields, and all her conduct having been modest and decent, he would not, from this instance, entertain the least suspicion of her character nor seem to do so, perhaps blaming himself that he had not offered the service of a kinsman to these distressed widows, and saved her this trouble, and ready to say as Judah concerning his daughter-in-law, She is more righteous than I. But on the contrary, he commended her, spoke kindly to her, called her his daughter, and spoke honourably of her, as a woman of eminent virtue."

"She [Ruth] had shown in this instance more kindness to her mother-in-law, and to the family into which she had matched, than in any instance yet. It was very kind to leave her own country and come along with her mother to the land of Israel, to dwell with her, and help to maintain her. For this he had blessed her (Ruth 2:12); but now he says, Thou hast shown more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning (Ruth 3:10), in that she consulted not her own fancy, but her husband’s family, in marrying again. She received not the addresses of young men (much less did she seek them) whether poor or rich, but was willing to marry as the divine law directed, though it was to an old man, because it was for the honour and interest of the family into which she had matched, and for which she had an entire kindness. Young people must aim, in disposing of themselves, not so much to please their own eye as to please God and their parents. He promised her marriage (Ruth 3:11):

"Fear not that I will slight thee, or expose thee; no, I will do all that thou requirest, for it is the same that the law requires, from the next of kin, and I have no reason to decline it, for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman."

"Note, exemplary virtue ought to have its due praise (Philemon 4:8), and it will recommend both men and women to the esteem of "the wisest and best. Ruth was a poor woman, and poverty often obscures the lustre of virtue; yet Ruth’s virtues, even in a mean condition, were generally taken notice of and could not be hid; nay, her virtues took away the reproach of her poverty. If poor people be but good people, they shall have honour from God and man. Ruth had been remarkable for her humility, which paved the way to this honour. The less she proclaimed her own goodness the more did her neighbours take notice of it. In the choice of yoke-fellows, virtue should especially be regarded, known approved virtue."

As can be seen from the commentary, Ruth chose “to please God” rather than self, and in so doing, pleases God. Marriage in the real world is not about age differences, it is about honoring God. There is no failed marriage if we do all things to honor God!

Dear Lord, help us to realize that a lasting relationship is not dependent on age or anything else, but on Your will for us. Cause us Lord not to make decisions according to the practices of societal norms, nor according to our own emotions. Still our hearts Lord that we may know clearly and calmly the one whom You have chosen for us. Thank You Lord for Your guidance and blessing as we continue to put You first above all else in every area of our lives, and especially when making such important decisions.


Adapted from article 'Age Gap in Marriage' by Edmond Ng.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall Leaves

Those who depend on their wealth will fall like the leaves of autumn, but the righteous will prosper like the leaves of summer. (Proverbs 11:28 GNT)

Fall LeavesMany people think tree leaves fall and die during the fall season because of weather changes, but studies have shown the real reason for leaves falling is drought. This is because the primary function of leaves is photosynthesis, and photosynthesis requires the use of water, carbon dioxide and light to create food in the leaves to generate organic compounds and oxygen. In order to induce a suction force, however, the leaves will need to constantly sweat, and in winter season shed them so as not to get dried. As daylight gets shorter during fall, however, the leaves will gradually suffer thirst because of the reducing absorption of water with the shrinking daylight. This means even when trees live in wet climate with abundant snowfall and rainfall or even when in the warmest of falls, the trees will still lose their leaves, triggered by the shorten length of daylight.

Many changes occur in the leaves before they finally fall from the branch. According to Joe Lamp’L of DIY Network who wrote an article on ‘Why do leaves fall in autumn?’ at ScrippsNews.com, changing colors of leaves during fall is part of an important and complicated process which ends in the leaves being shed at the end of each growing season. The trees, in protecting themselves, purge diseased, damaged or dead leaves, while they seal the point where the petiole connects to it. As the climate and light conditions of autumn evolve, tree hormones change as well, the most notable of which is auxin, a hormone in trees that promotes root formation and bud growth. The balance of auxin levels between leaves and branches is the key to determining if and when the leaves drop.

Much like the processes that end in the fall of tree leaves during the autumn season, Christian living also draws a parallel equivalence in the way we live our lives. Like the leaves of autumn, we often fall under the dry spell of keeping ourselves connected to God, resulting in spiritual drought because of over reliance and dependency on our own ability and wealth (Proverbs 11:28). Spiritual drought can happen when we are too caught up with the entanglements of this world and if we are not careful, we may, like the ‘photosynthesis,’ gradually fail to absorb the necessary energy from the light of the sun to produce food from water and carbon dioxide. When that happens, we will eventually lose our ‘leaves’ of a close relationship with God, triggered by the shorten length of ‘daylight’ absorption from the Light of the world (John 8:12), the Son of the living God.

Many changes can occur in our lives if we spend too much time in the entanglements of this world which can lead us to finally fall from the ‘branch’ that connects us to God. Jesus, in teaching us about the need for us to live in Him said, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5 GNT). Like the trees that protect themselves and purge diseased, damaged or dead leaves to seal off the point where the leaves connect, we as the leaves and the branches must also be wise not to be caught walking away from the narrow way or be unprepared to receive the Lord when He returns as the bridegroom (Luke 13:24-28; Matthew 25). We must therefore balance our ‘auxin’ levels to ensure a deeply rooted formation to the Vine in ensuring bud growth.

Dear Lord, help us always to remember that like the leaves of the fall season, we cannot survive without living in You and staying connected to You, because You O God are the Light of the world that shines to give us life and sustenance. Keep us Lord from the entanglements of this world and from self-reliance and dependency on our own wealth. Keep us deeply rooted in You, Lord, that we may always be prepared for Your coming and not walk away from the narrow way, for You alone Lord is our strength and source of sustenance.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Infancy First Weeks

As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth, She writhes and cries out in her labor pains, Thus were we before You, O LORD. (Isaiah 26:17 NAS)

Infancy By the time a woman realizes she is pregnant, she is probably already one to two months into pregnancy, and by the time she sees a doctor, the baby is usually two or three months along. According to Glade Curtis and Judith Schuler, authors of the childcare advisory book, Your Pregnancy Week by Week (2004), many important things can happen before a mother realizes she is pregnant or before she sees her doctor. Getting in shape for pregnancy therefore means physical and mental preparations. The first 12 weeks of pregnancy is the most important period because this is when the baby forms its major organ systems.

Preparing for the coming of a newborn is important, and as parents, we must first understand what goes on during the period when life is being formed within the mother's womb at infancy. Infancy, from the perspective of medical science, begins from the point when a newborn baby passes from the watery dark environment of the womb to an existence outside the mother's body, cut off from the former dependency on the blood supply of the mother. According to Michael Meyerhoof, Ed.D, executive director of The Education for Parenthood Information Center in Illinois who wrote on 'Understanding Cognitive and Social Development in a Newborn' at HowStuffWorks.com, the first days of the infant are spent on recovering from the mother's labor by first stabilizing the breathing, digestion, circulation, elimination, body temperature regulation and hormonal secretion before the baby’s new independent life can begin. While these adjustments are taking place, the infant is at the mercy of its own reflexes.

As the days and weeks progress, the baby will gradually begin to differentiate shapes, see colors, and distinguish taste and smell. The next stages in the baby’s development is dependent on the child’s environment, which as parents, we must play our part in controlling and composing the aspects of nature or nurture to build trust and bond by spending time with the newborn. The child during this period will acquire knowledge which will include everything from the baby recognizing the mother to learning to sing the alphabet song.

Many of us, as parents, have experienced the joy of welcoming our newborn into this world. Before this overwhelming joy can come to realization, however, every mother must first go through the pain and labor. The Bible, in describing the events preceding childbirth, said of the pregnant woman that when the time to give birth approaches, the mother writhes and cries out in labor pains (Isaiah 26:17). What goes on in the mother’s womb for the months before the delivery of the child and what goes on after the child is born into the world, however, are not all about the mother and child’s relationship alone, but also about the mercies of God and His sustenance. As the baby adjusts to the new environment to develop an independent life, it is during this period that the infant will be at the mercy of its own reflexes. This is the time when what is not mentioned in science is mentioned in the Bible about how the baby’s life is sustained from birth by God who took the infant from the mother’s womb (Psalm 71:6).

As Christian parents, therefore, we must always be thankful to God in praising Him for His sustenance on our children’s lives, for without God, we as parents can only play our roles in fulfilling the natural. It is God who does the supernatural to take care of our children’s breathing, digestion, circulation, adaptation, body temperature regulation and hormonal secretion in stabilizing the infancy of a fresh new life. The days, weeks and months after that in the development of our children’s first years are in our hands to create the environment necessary to lead our children in the right path to balance nature and nurture in cultivating our children’s independence, yet depending on God for sustenance.

Our responsibilities as parents will certainly not be easy, because every child born of a mother is conceived in iniquity and sin from birth (Psalm 51:5). We must, therefore, do our part and play our roles in living godly lives for our children to exemplify us as we build greater trust and bonding by spending time with them so that they may acquire the right knowledge and direction toward knowing God (Proverbs 22:6).

Help us therefore dear God, as parents, to know when to allow nature takes its own course and when to nurture. Thank you, God, for giving us our children and for sustaining them in the early years of their infancy. Grant us wisdom LORD to lead our children in the right path. Lead us and teach us O God to live exemplary lives that our children may grow in Your loving grace to desire more of You each day.

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