Time Tracking

At one point, I was tracking all my activities with Google Calendar. I use different colours for different parts of my life. At a glance, I knew where time was going.

I no longer do this, as I am familiar with the rhythm of life and ministry, knowing which hour of which day goes to which activity.

Recently, I downloaded an app called “Forest”. It is listed as one of the Top Productivity app in Google store. This app aims to help the user to “stay focused” and “be present”.

Forest app applies the Pomodoro technique: set the timer for 25 minutes, you work on your task. After that, you take a 5 minutes break. After 4 sets of 25 minutes of work, you will get a longer break.

When you first install the app, it will guide you through some instructions. I think the default minutes of Forest app is 25 minutes, but you can adjust it.

What I like about this app is that I can’t up pick my phone for mindless Facebook/Instagram scrolling when I have something to finish up. If I am disciplined enough (not picking up my phone), I can plant virtual trees and earn coins, which can be saved up and used to help plant real trees in Africa: Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda and Tanzania.

As I am writing this blog post, I have this 25 minutes timer on. I get to finish this blog post as well as preparing for a short devotion for the meeting this afternoon.

The message I got after picking up the phone 25 minutes later, “I’ve stayed focused for 25 mins without touching my phone! #forestapp”

The coins I got

Planted a virtual tree today

My forest looks like this

Spiritual Lessons from Manna

Something so small and yet so impactful.

Manna was a provision for the Israelites during their 40 years in the wilderness when they were on their way to the Promised Land— a land flowing with milk and honey which God had promised them (Exodus 3:17).

During these 40 years, God was teaching them and preparing them to be His people, a holy nation He had set apart which would bless the other nations of the world.

‘5“I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot. 6“You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or strong drink, in order that you might know that I am the LORD your God.”’ (Deuteronomy 29:5-6).

In my last post, I talked about God being our Provider. He knows our every need. To the Israelites in the wilderness, manna was one of the provisions from the Lord, and He had specific rules for them. They were to gather it daily, except on the Sabbath day (no manna could be seen on the Sabbath day, as it is a day of rest, and so on the day before Sabbath, the Israelites were to gather the portion they needed for the Sabbath). If the Israelites gathered more than they needed, it would rot.

For us as believers, we are to pray for our daily bread as our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us to pray (Matthew 6:11). However, we can get so busy wanting more and more that we can fall into the temptations of whining, complaining and coveting for the things we do not need but want. This is hard for me too, because I am always yearning and wanting the shiniest and newest things. If I look back at my purchase history, I have wasted a lot on things I want but not necessarily beneficial for me.

In his letter to Timothy, Apostle Paul wrote, “7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1Timothy 6:7-10)

God does provide for our daily needs. We do not need to be over-anxious. At the same time, we are to be wise stewards of all that He has given to us: time, money, talents and gifts.

The providence of manna reminds me to:

  • Be grateful with all that I have
  • Do not hoard things but share with those in need. Be generous!
  • Be a good steward of God’s gifts
  • Rest in God, trust in His goodness and plans for me

May the providence from the Lord brings us joy!

Be Satisfied

In the wilderness, God had supplied the Israelites with all that they had needed. He was with them: in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to give them light so they could travel by day or night (Exodus 13:21). Their clothes and sandals never worn out (Deuteronomy 29:5).

In the wilderness, they did not have lands to plant vegetables for food. God then provided food for them, manna, which He rained down from Heaven. Manna in Hebrew means “what is it?!”.

“4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days” (Exodus 16:4-5).

As time passed, the Israelites were sick of having manna every meal. They began to get upset and frustration got a hold of them. they began to wail, whine and complained that they had lost their appetite because they had (eaten and seen) too much manna.

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4-6) 

They were making comparisons with their old life in Egypt. They would rather be working as slaves in Egypt under the cruel task masters and had fish, and other types of food to eat, than being in freedom with God as their loving Provider. Being in the wilderness meant they had to trust God like never before.

They got what they wanted: meat. God sent them quails but it was not without a price.

It is easy for us to whine and complain. It is easy to find things to complain about. May God have mercy on us. May God help us to see His goodness, mercy, providence, forgiveness and love.

Let us cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. What are the things you can give thanks to God for today? Why not list them down and give thanks to God for His mercy and providence?

Time Management

If I don’t manage my time, other people will manage it for me. Time is one of the wonderful gifts from God, I want to make the most out of each day. Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil“. Apostle Paul talked about “redeeming time”, which means, grabbing every opportunity to live in the light of God’s purposes. We should live carefully and wisely, because we are citizens of Heaven. And this includes the use of time. 

Peter Drucker, an American management consultant and author, says, “Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed”.

I am writing this post during the Movement Control Order (MCO), whereby we are to stay home to prevent the spread of Corona virus. It will be somewhat different if this Movement Control is lifted because then I will need to think about the time it will take me to commute to the office.

1. Prioritize

What is most important to you?

I make it a point to look at and reply to text messages only after 8:30am every day because I need to spend time with God before starting the day. In the past, upon waking up, I would be replying to texts I had received from the night before after I had went to bed, or responding to tags on FB. Then I would rush to the office, only giving the “leftover” time for God, instead of reserving the best hour of the day for Him.

Prioritize what is most important and the day will be sorted out well.


2.Schedule No Distractions time

There was a point in my pastoral life where I would need a nap but then, when the phone buzzed, I would hop off my bed to look at and reply messages. A few (many, in fact) minutes went by, and I was robbed out of my nap time; my alarm rang. Had I been more disciplined in the usage of my phone, I would get my nap and would be more energised for ministry in the evening (win-win situation for everybody).

It shocked me when I was rooming with my (pastor) friend during a conference. She would put her phone on the “airplane mode”, so that she could get some quality rest. Since then, I learned not to apologize for needing a nap (after office hours, of course). We all can use a break. Some non-urgent messages can be replied later.



There are many activities clamouring for our attention. It is good to discern which categories each activity belongs to: (1) Non negotiable, (2) important, (3) beneficial, (4) optional, (5) non negotiable necessities.


4. Plan tomorrow, tonight

Before I go to bed each night, I will think about the things I need to do. I will then have a rough idea on what I will be doing the next day. It will be less overwhelming when the sun rises.

On the Monday night of each week, I will take a look at my calendar and see what are the programmes I need to prepare for (Bible studies, Small Group, sermon prepping, etc) and how many (online) visitations/catching up I need to do. I will then put the other categories into empty slots.


5. Set the duration of meetings

Sometimes, I plan meetings back to back. It is my attempt to do similar things in a batch. I will set up my laptop, instead of needing to set it up for every meeting. It is good to remind those at the meeting what is the expected meeting duration, so that we will keep to the time and not get side tracked during the meeting. It is important to have an agenda too, so that everyone will come prepared and during the meeting itself, we will not wander around aimlessly.


6. Time for fun

At one point, I was close to burnt-out because I was so busy and overwhelmed with all that I have to do. Now with the MCO, I have more time to slow down. We can’t go for a walk at the part or play sports, but it is important to schedule in time to have fun for the sake of our sanity.


7. Limit screen time

With the MCO, I work from home. Bible studies, prayer meetings etc are all done online. Sometimes I forgot to look up from the screen and spend time with my parents. Limit screen time and pay attention to our family around us. Make the most out of this MCO period to enjoy our family. 

Easter Sunday Reflection

Praise be to our God!
“4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
1. Jesus Christ is risen! He had conquered sins and death. Some day, He will be coming back to judge the world. Does my life tell others that I am a follower of Jesus Christ? Is my life filled with hope and joy because He is alive and reigns forever more? Am I living in victory and in freedom in Christ because He has freed me from the bondage of sins and shame? 2. Do not be afraid. Jesus is with me. I have my personal struggles as well. Surrender them to Jesus. He is faithful. Do not be afraid. Jesus has calmed the storm and waves. Jesus will also calm my anxieties and fears.3. Jesus has commissioned His followers to tell others about Him. Why am so I afraid to share about His love to those around me? Jesus says, “Do not be afraid”. May God grant us boldness to live in personal and social holiness as we proclaim the Good News so that we will not stumble others.Christ has risen! Praise the Lord!

I See You

About 23 years ago, there is a cross-platform messenger called ICQ (which comes from the English phrase “I Seek You”). I spent 2 hours on Friday nights to chat with my friends on ICQ.

There were no face to face interactions then, we only exchanged words. My heart could easily be absent when I was chatting. I hid behind a string of colon and semi-colon, colon and a capital D, to sound more enthusiastic than I really was. We chatted to pass time.

With the recent MCO, I have been using apps like Zoom and WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and do church ministries. Through video calls, we can see each other, and say to each other “I see you”. In the midst of the pandemic, we check in on each other.

We can get through this Pandemic together.

Principles for Discipleship Mark 9:38-50

What are some of the things that other Christians do that drive you crazy? One day, the disciples of Jesus were getting agitated by a man who was using Jesus’ Name to drive out demons. They disciples could not bear with him.

The disciples of Jesus were given the authority and power to use His Name. They had been empowered to preach, to teach, to heal and to chase away the evil spirits in His Name. They saw people being freed from bondages and being healed. When the disciples noticed that there was someone outside of their group of 12 doing what they were doing, they got agitated and stopped Him.

Jesus told them not to stop the man. There are a few things we can learn from Jesus’ response. These can be applied in our lives as His disciples.

1. Uphold unity (v 40)
The disciples judged the man for not worthy enough to use the Name of Jesus because he was not one of them.
The original audiences of the Gospel of Mark would see themselves behaving like the disciples. There were conflicts over Jewish-gentile relations. The church was a young church and yet, the Christians were quarreling and having disagreements with each other.
Much harm is done when Christians fight among each other, when we behaving self-righteously and condemning others. Jesus wanted His disciples to look at themselves first, and not be to judge others. Similarly, today, let us not be so quick to find faults in others or judge others lest we hinder others from knowing Jesus and experiencing His love.

2. No actions are forgotten by Jesus (v 41)
The second principle of discipleship is that no action is unseen by Jesus. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward”.
What Jesus means is that everything that we do in His Name will not be forgotten. Think about the missionaries who obeyed Jesus and went to foreign lands for Jesus. They left everything behind for Jesus: their homes, their comforts, their possessions, their cultures and for some, even their lives. Jim Elliot lost his life reaching out to a group of tribal people. He left behind his wife and an 8-month-old daughter, who later on went back to minister to the people who killed Jim.
Think about Mother Teresa, who left behind her homeland to serve the sick, forgotten, rejected and dying in India. Think about the many ordinary everyday people who served in Jesus’ Name, who prayed in Jesus’ Name, who ministered in Jesus’ Name, who are making differences in people’s lives because they love Jesus.
All that they have done in Jesus’ Name is not forgotten by Jesus.
May be right now, you don’t always see the results of serving in the church ministries. You wonder are all these worth it.
But the ripple effects will always be there. As what Jesus said, giving someone a cup of water has its life changing effect. Sometimes, the person who received kindness will be changed. We have all experienced kindness and love from someone: our parents, our Sunday School teachers, our school teachers, our pastors and so on. They may not even know how they have touched us and impacted us with their actions and love, but we remember their acts of kindness and we passed it on to others around us.
One day, we will be surprised to see the impacts of the little actions which we have done in Jesus’ Name. So, don’t be discouraged. Keep doing good to glorify Jesus. May He be exalted in your life.

The next 3 principles is the warning of Jesus about the way we live our lives:
3. Don’t stumble others (v 42)
Jesus said in verse 42, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
Jesus said it would be dangerous if His disciples make people fall down, especially the children and the weak. Jesus said for those who stumble others, it would be better if they were to be thrown into sea with a millstone around the neck than do harm to the children and the weak.
As disciples of Jesus, we are to live out the teachings of Jesus. If we are careless, it will bring irreparable damage to the body of Christ. We have heard of stories of Christians living in such a way that repel people from Christ. May God grant us grace so that we will be watchful and not stumble people or prevent them from knowing and enjoying the love of Christ.

4. Live in purity (vv 43-48)
Jesus very bluntly tells us about the realities of life after death, and we will either enter Heaven or Hell. To those who believe in Jesus by faith, we will go to Heaven. On the other hand, Hell is the destination for those who sin against God, who rebel against God, who are not obedient.
We have to be watchful. Guard the way we live. Jesus specifically mentioned the three body parts: hand, foot and eyes. Pay attention to how we use our hands, our feet and our eyes. Are we doing things, taking things not ours, going to places that are displeasing to God? As we seeing things with our eyes that cause us to stumble and sin? May God help us to live in holiness.

5. Do it (vv49-50)
Therefore, live out your lives as Christians. In the Old Testament, the burnt offerings and sacrificed were offered to God. Salt preserve the sacrifices which were to be offered up to God.
Apostle Paul also mentioned being holy living sacrifices for God as our spiritual act of worship in Romans 12:1. “Therefore, i urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship”.

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
When Jesus said, “Be salted with fire” (v 49), it means, “to be empowered with the Holy Spirit”. Jesus was saying to offer ourselves as living sacrifices for God. Live in purity and holiness. When we renewed our hearts and mind, we want to live in ways that are pleasing to God.

Don’t underestimate the power of Christ in you. The power of the Name of Christ that sets you free from bondages and give you victory over temptations. As children of God, we have been given the authority to use the Name of Jesus. We pray in the Name of Jesus to cast away evil thoughts. When we are traveling, we pray protection and cleansing of the room in the name of Jesus. We also surrender our emotional and physical pains to Jesus in His Name and to receive healing. May our lives tell others the joy, the blessings, the peace and the unity we have as disciples of Jesus.

Sleep to glorify God :)

“30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. (Mark 6:30-34)

When I was younger, I was shocked to find out my older friends needed 8 hours of sleep each night. I was thinking: why waste so much time on sleeping! The younger me could survive with only a few hours of sleep, and I did enjoy the excitement of not sleeping the whole night to finish up my assignments.

  I thought that sleeping less = being productive.

And I was so wrong.

Doctors recommended that we get about 7-8 hours of sleep every night for our well beings.

More importantly, the Bible teaches us that sleep is important.

Firstly, God created us to need to sleep. After God created Adam, the first human being, God made Adam to fall asleep. And God did His work during Adam’s sleep. When Adam was sleeping, God took a rib bone of out him and made a woman—a life partner for Adam.

When we sleep, God is doing something in us. Our cells are rejuvenating. Our organs are resting. God refreshes us in our sleep.

Secondly, sleep is surrendering to God. Sleep means we admit our own frailty as human beings. We can’t work all the time. We don’t have everything in control all the time. We never will. But God is in complete control over the universe. We sleep at night knowing that our God is watching over us. We can trust in Him.

For the Israelites, the Sabbath started when the sun set. Their day and night started and ended at sunsets. They started their day not by working, but by going to sleep. It means, total surrender to God. We can’t do anything apart from God.

Thirdly, sleep is a gift from God.

Psalm 127 tells us, sleep is a gift from God. We need sleep and rest from our work, regardless how much we enjoy our work.

1Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves”.

For God grants sleep to those He loves. It is a reminder that we should not be worry or anxious, but we should rest in Him like little babies, trusting in Him.

It is interesting how many times in Psalm 121 that we are reminded that God doesn’t sleep. It is His job to protect us. This Psalm tells us, God who watches over us does not slumber or sleep, therefore, nothing can harm us. He watches over from all harm. He watches over our life.

We can trust in Him and sleep in peace.

We read in Psalm 3:5–6, I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” Then we read in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

When we sleep and when we rest, we are surrendering everything to God. He gives us rest and peace, and sleep.

The Bible is not asking us to rest and sleep and rest and sleep. There should be a balance.

In Mark 6: 7-13, Jesus sent out His disciples 2 by 2 to tell others the Good News. Jesus also gave them authority to cast out evil spirits. The disciples went out to teach, drove out evil spirits and also to heal many sick people.

When they regroup with Jesus again, they were so excited to tell Jesus everything they had done and taught. About that time, a big group of people in need came to Jesus and His disciples for healing and to hear the teachings of Jesus. The crowd kept pressing in until Jesus and disciples did not have a chance to eat. So, Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”.

Jesus invited His disciples to come with Him to get some rest. Come with Jesus for a time of quietness and be recharged.

Soon, the crowd caught up with them. Jesus saw them and had compassion on them. Jesus demonstrated to us the balance between rest and work.

Jesus rested, and He worked hard too. In rest, Jesus glorified God, in His work, Jesus glorified God too.

We too, rest in Him to be energised to serve Him. We serve God and others to glorify Him.

Following the Lord with All Your Heart (Mark 10:35-45)

The word “heart” is the most common anthropological term in the Bible. It was mentioned over a thousand times.

The Bible dictionary tells us the heart is a person’s centre for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities. The heart encompasses everything that we think, say and do (Proverbs 4:23). It is the birthplace of our every motive.

Righteousness comes from the heart (Psalm 97:11), and yet, from our heart also comes evil thoughts, wickedness, lies, and all sins (Isaiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19)
As followers of Jesus, we do the will of God from our hearts (Ephesians 6:6). Our submission to God comes from our hearts. Christ lives in our hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17)

The heart is where God searches and looks at (1 Sam 16:7).

John and James had it in their hearts to be at glorious positions in the kingdom that Jesus would establish. They came to Jesus, and said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?

They said, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory”. In teaching His disciples, Jesus did teach them to ask God for things. Jesus taught them. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7). In John 14:13, Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name…” (John 14:13)

James and John did just that.

As far as they knew, Jesus would be setting up His Kingdom in Jerusalem. He would then overthrow the Roman empire. James and John predicted there would be a fight with the Roman authorities but they would surely be loyal to Jesus until the end. So, to them, it was only right to ask for the second and third most important positions in Jesus’ Kingdom.

Jesus replied James and John, “You do not know what you are asking”.

Jesus then used 2 metaphors in His question to them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

The cup Jesus was about to drink is a cup of suffering and pain which Jesus would drink (Mark 14:35-36). It referred to His suffering and death. Moments before His death, Jesus prayed, “Lord, take this cup away from me”. It was such a huge, unbearable weight upon Jesus which caused Jesus to pray until He dripped blood instead of sweat. The medical world tells us this is a rare but very real medical condition that when a person sweats blood, he is under enormous stress, anguish and pain.

Jesus drank the cup to rescue humanity from the anger of God (Romans 2:4-11, 5:9; Revelation 14:10, 16:19). God is holy and He has to punish sins.
The baptism that Jesus was baptised with referred to full immersion in humiliation, pain and suffering through His betrayal, trial and death (Mark 14:43-15:37).

Jesus had to go through an immersion in suffering and then He had victory over sin and death, to save us into God’s Kingdom. Therefore, as His followers, we need to get baptised. We also immersed in water for forgiveness of our sins so that in His name, we will experience a spiritual death and resurrection out of sin into righteousness and the light (Romans 6:1-3, 8:1-4, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

After being baptised, we need to partake in the Holy Communion to be reminded of what He had done for us on the Cross. The cup represents the blood of Jesus, shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins (Mark 14:23-25).

Without the Cup and Baptism, there would be no salvation for us. We will perish in eternal death. There will be no Kingdom, if Jesus did not drink from the Cup of Suffering, and be immersed in pain and suffering for us.

Jesus was telling James and John that they too, had to drink the cup He drank and be baptised with His baptism. This goes for everyone who follows Jesus (Acts 14:22, 2 Tim 3:12). There is a cup and a baptism of suffering and pain we have to endure to gain the victory through Jesus (Romans 8:17-18)

What was James and John’s response? They replied, “We are able”.

They said they were able. They were not afraid of the suffering and pain that they had to go through. They were willing to go through them with Jesus. Hearing their response, Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with…”

And that was what they did.

The book of Acts tells us the ending of James. He was the first to be martyred (killed for their religious beliefs). “King Herod had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword” (Acts 12:2). James was put to death by Herod Agrippa 1 just before the day of Passover about 11 years after the death of Jesus.

The Bible and church history also tells us a little about John. Most probably he died a natural death from old age. But still, he had gone through persecutions and exile. John was sent into exile onto the Island of Patmos after having been tortured by the Caesar at the time. At the island of Patmos, he wrote the last book of the New Testament: the Revelation.

Instead of receiving what they asked for, from Jesus, to sit on the left and right in His glory, they received suffering and persecution too, as Jesus did.
This is an important reminder for us about the condition of our hearts. Do not think of having such a “big heart” for ourselves that we feel entitled to certain privileges for serving the Lord.

Many of us craved for recognition and for praises when we do something for the Lord, forgetting what a beautiful privilege it is to serve the Lord—the King of kings and Lord of lords.

I can’t think of anyone, in the past or present, who did not have to give up something for following Jesus.

Jesus also said, “but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared”. It was not for Jesus to grant where they should sit in His Kingdom. Discipleship is a journey. We do not do it just for the rewards, but it is the best relationship we can have.

We should serve Jesus with all our hearts because we know He is worthy. He is worthy of all of our time, all of our energy, all of our talents, all of our hearts.

Out of our hearts flow our thoughts, words and desire. May our hearts truly flow with joy and gratitude as we serve our Lord.

Fruitfulness and Fruitlessness (Mark 11:12-14; 20-21)

Just this morning, I was peering out the window to enjoy the plants in the garden that my dad had been faithfully tending for about 20 years. Shocked, I saw some broken branches and flowers on the ground. My mum explained that dad had pruned the shrub just yesterday.

Not a gardener myself, I couldn’t understand the concept of cutting the branches away but I found out that pruning is essential for the health and growth of the plant. Even Jesus taught about pruning.

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

And He prunes us so that we can grow spiritually.

After Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went into the temple courts, and they left for Bethany that night. The next morning, Jesus and His disciples left Bethany. Jesus was hungry and He saw from a distance a fig tree in leaf.
Surprisingly, the fig tree was one of the most important trees in the Bible. Its sweet taste was even described in the Bible (Judges 9:11).

In the Old Testament, prophets used the fig tree as a sign of judgment (Isa. 34:4; Jer. 29:17; Hos. 2:12, 9:10; Joel 1:7; Micah 7:1). The good figs were used to describe faithful believers (Jer. 24:2-3); while rotten figs were used to describe wicked men (Jer. 24:2-8).

Jesus was hungry but as He examined the fig tree, He could not find any fruits, though it was full of leaves. Verse 13 tells us that it was not the season for figs yet, but the main concept here is that if the tree had leaves, it means, the tree should also be producing fruits.

Jesus was angry at the tree because it was not producing fruits when it promised it could. Jesus then cursed the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. His disciples heard Him. The tree was not bearing any fruits as it was supposed to do, so Jesus removed it.
This is a reminder for us today that Jesus is not just a friendly, gentle, humble, loving person. He is loving and gentle and humble and He also expects His disciples to be committed and faithful to Him. He expects us to bear much fruit for the glory of our Father in Heaven.

If Jesus is examining you right now, what will He see? Will He see that you are faithful and fruitful? Will He see that you are bearing good fruits for God? Or He can only find leaves, and no fruits?

Today, we have received so many spiritual blessings. We have a church to help us to grow and to serve God and one another, we have friends here to journey with us in our spiritual journey, we are also blessed with such a rich spiritual legacy handed down to us by our Methodist forefathers, John Wesley and Charles Wesley.

There should not be any excuse for not bearing good fruits for God, unless we choose not to bear fruits, like the fig tree.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Jesus said we can bear much good fruits only in Him. “A good tree can not bear bad fruit, and a bad tree can not bear good fruit” (Matt 7:18)

For those who are in Jesus, we bear good fruit. The good fruit include transformation in our lives: there is a new sense of purpose and deepest joy in our daily lives, knowing that we have been reconciled with our Creator (2 Cor. 5:17), we continue to grow to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23) and we are excited to tell others about what Jesus has done in our lives (Acts 1:8)

However, Jesus also warns if we are slacking in bearing good fruit in John 15: 6, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into fire and burned.
This was what happened to the fig tree. It was not producing fruits. So, Jesus cursed it not to bear any more fruits. And the next day when Jesus and His disciples passed by, Peter noticed that the fig tree had withered (Mark 11:20-21) from the roots up. This was something unusual as trees usually withered from the top to bottom. There was total destruction to this fig tree.
However, there is hope for every one of us to start afresh. When we are not fruitful, Jesus will come and prune us by teaching us, disciplining us so that we can be spiritually healthy and fruitful. We will then bear good fruits for His glory (Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 3:19).

John 15:8, Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”. When we bear good fruits, it shows to other people that we are the disciples of Jesus.

Let us abide in Jesus and may He come and prune us, so that our lives will glorify Him.