Friday, 30 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more readings for today (Fri 30 Nov)

Matthew 4: 18-22
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Then he called them. They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.

Romans 10: 9-18
...because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.” But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.
But I ask, have they not heard? Yes, they have: their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Today's Readings

Yet more of readings for this day (Thu 29 Nov)

Luke 21: 20-28
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it, because these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."
“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth nations will be in distress, anxious over the roaring of the sea and the surging waves. People will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Daniel 6: 12-28
So they approached the king and said to him, “Did you not issue an edict to the effect that for the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human other than to you, O king, would be thrown into a den of lions?” The king replied, “That is correct, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be changed.” Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the captives from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the edict that you issued. Three times daily he offers his prayer.”
When the king heard this, he was very upset and began thinking about how he might rescue Daniel. Until late afternoon he was struggling to find a way to rescue him. Then those men came by collusion to the king and said to him, “Recall, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no edict or decree that the king issues can be changed.” So the king gave the order, and Daniel was brought and thrown into a den of lions. The king consoled Daniel by saying, “Your God whom you continually serve will rescue you!” Then a stone was brought and placed over the opening to the den. The king sealed it with his signet ring and with those of his nobles so that nothing could be changed with regard to Daniel. Then the king departed to his palace. But he spent the night without eating, and no diversions were brought to him. He was unable to sleep.
In the morning, at the earliest sign of daylight, the king got up and rushed to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out to Daniel in a worried voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, was your God whom you continually serve able to rescue you from the lions?” Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not harmed me, because I was found to be innocent before him. Nor have I done any harm to you, O king.” Then the king was delighted and gave an order to haul Daniel up from the den. So Daniel was hauled up out of the den. He had no injury of any kind, because he had trusted in his God. The king gave another order, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den – they, their children, and their wives. They did not even reach the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and language groups who were living in all the land: “Peace and prosperity! I have issued an edict that throughout all the dominion of my kingdom people are to revere and fear the God of Daniel.
“For he is the living God;
he endures forever.
His kingdom will not be destroyed;
his authority is forever.
He rescues and delivers and performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.
He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions!”
So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Today's Readings

Ah some more readings- Wed 28 Nov

Luke 21: 12-19
"...But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will be a time for you to serve as witnesses. Therefore be resolved not to rehearse ahead of time how to make your defense. For I will give you the words along with the wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

Daniel 5
King Belshazzar prepared a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles, and he was drinking wine in front of them all. While under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar issued an order to bring in the gold and silver vessels– the ones that Nebuchadnezzar his father had confiscated from the temple in Jerusalem– so that the king and his nobles, together with his wives and his concubines, could drink from them. So they brought the gold and silver vessels that had been confiscated from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, together with his wives and concubines, drank from them. As they drank wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
At that very moment the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the royal palace wall, opposite the lampstand. As the king watched the back of the hand that was writing, all the color drained from his face and he became alarmed. The joints of his hips gave way, and his knees began knocking together.
...So Daniel was brought in before the king. The king said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives of Judah, whom my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard about you, how there is a spirit of the gods in you, and how you have insight, discernment, and extraordinary wisdom.
...However, I have heard that you are able to provide interpretations and to decipher knotty problems. Now if you are able to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, you will wear purple and have a golden collar around your neck and be third ruler in the kingdom.” But Daniel replied to the king, “Keep your gifts, and give your rewards to someone else! However, I will read the writing for the king and make known its interpretation."
...Instead, you have exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. You brought before you the vessels from his temple, and you and your nobles, together with your wives and concubines, drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone – gods that cannot see or hear or comprehend! But you have not glorified the God who has in his control your very breath and all your ways! Therefore the palm of a hand was sent from him, and this writing was inscribed.
“This is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEQEL, and PHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the words: As for mene – God has numbered your kingdom’s days and brought it to an end. As for teqel– you are weighed on the balances and found to be lacking. As for peres– your kingdom is divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more of today's readings below (Tue 27 Nov):

Luke 21: 5-11
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here– the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying,‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come." Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”

My Reflection: Isn't the above reading a very clear warning against people who proclaim the exact time of Judgment Day? And also against those who proclaim that the world is coming to the end beause of this calamity or that war? Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 tells us that only God the Father knows when Judgment Day will come- and I doubt He shares or will share this information with us common mortals. Judgment Day will come, though- and all the worrying and the preparing (either material or spiritual) in the world will not change its hour by a milisecond. So let's not fear Judgment Day. Instead let's live every day in a manner that ensures that when that day comes, we can present Jesus with a truthfully beautiful account of our spiritual and temporal life.

Daniel 2: 31-45
“You, O king, were watching as a great statue – one of impressive size and extraordinary brightness – was standing before you. Its appearance caused alarm. As for that statue, its head was of fine gold, its chest and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs were of bronze. Its legs were of iron; its feet were partly of iron and partly of clay. You were watching as a stone was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its iron and clay feet, breaking them in pieces. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were broken in pieces without distinction and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors that the wind carries away. Not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain that filled the entire earth. This was the dream. Now we will set forth before the king its interpretation.
“You, O king, are the king of kings. The God of heaven has granted you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. Wherever human beings, wild animals, and birds of the sky live – he has given them into your power. He has given you authority over them all. You are the head of gold. Now after you another kingdom will arise, one inferior to yours. Then a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule in all the earth. Then there will be a fourth kingdom, one strong like iron. Just like iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything, and as iron breaks in pieces all of these metals, so it will break in pieces and crush the others. In that you were seeing feet and toes partly of wet clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom. Some of the strength of iron will be in it, for you saw iron mixed with wet clay. In that the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, the latter stages of this kingdom will be partly strong and partly fragile. And in that you saw iron mixed with wet clay, so people will be mixed with one another without adhering to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay. In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever. You saw that a stone was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands; it smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold into pieces. The great God has made known to the king what will occur in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable.”

MyReflection: King Nebuchadnezzar's reaction to his prophetic dream is typical of people's reaction to such prophecies. Instead of repenting of his sins and becoming righteous in God's eyes, he sought to prevent the prophecy from coming true by building the statue of his dream and worshipping it. Did Daniel tell him the statue was that of a god? No. Did Daniel tell him that this is a way which the prophecy can be adverted. I extremely doubt it. Then why did he do it? Probabaly it's easier to do that than repent and seek forgiveness. Especially if you consider his opinion of him being the most powerful person around. So lesson of the story: pride can lead one into strange places. It's easier in the long run to let go of one's pride and come before God as a nobody begging for forgiveness.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Today's Readings

Yet more readings- today's, that is (Mon 26 Nov):

Luke 21: 1-4
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”

MyReflection: True love doesn't calculate- it spends lavishly. It's not the value of the gift that matters, but the generous and loving sacrifice that goes into and along with it. It's easy to give when one has a lot, but try giving one's all, especially when that 'all' is of gigantic cost to the giver. The poor widow's offering (which I bet she could use to buy food for herself) is reckless and foolish in the eyes of the world, but in Jesus' eyes (and thus God's eyes) is of immesurable value to her and others.

Daniel 1: 1-20
In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon advanced against Jerusalem and laid it under siege. Now the Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, along with some of the vessels of the temple of God. He brought them to the land of Babylonia to the temple of his god and put the vessels in the treasury of his god. The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent – young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service – and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego. But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!” Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.” So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead.
Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom – and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams. When the time appointed by the king arrived the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.

MyRelection: How many of us, when life gets easy, start to take life easy? It's easy to turn to God and His laws when the going gets tough, but do we do so or stay so when the going gets easier? Daniel didn't. He didn't put the king's favour or his personal ambition above the laws of his God. Neither did he pretend to eat the king's food just to not offend the king or refuse totally to eat the food and thus court the king's anger. Do we often take these roads in our life? Either we break God's laws, or lie our way out of breaking God's laws, or simply get angry with whoever or whatever seems to put us in the way of breaking God's laws. None of these ways help God's plan for us and for others. What Daniel did in this reading is worth emulating- stand up for God's laws, but not in a in-your-face way.

Something I wrote...

A friend recently asked me to rewrite her letter talking about Catholic prayer to her Buddhist friend. Here is the rewritten letter (with names deleted for privacy reasons):

Dearest _____,

How are you? _____ here. I’m writing this letter to tell you about some common Catholic prayers. It’s my hope that you will find them beautiful and worthy of learning.

Catholic common prayer 1#: Our Father

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the test,
but deliver us from evil. Amen

In Mandarin it sounds like this:

我們的天父,
願祢的名受顯揚,
願祢的國降臨,
願祢的旨意奉行在人間,
如同在天上。
求祢今天賞給我們日用的食糧,
求祢寬恕我們的罪惡,如同我們寬恕別人一樣,
不要讓我們陷於誘惑,
但救我們免於兇惡,

In Bahasa Melayu it sounds like this:

Bapa kami yang ada di syurga
Dimuliakanlah nama-Mu
Datanglah Kerajaan-Mu
Jadilah kehendak-Mu
Di atas bumi seperti di dalam surga
Berilah kami rezeki pada hari ini
Dan ampunilah kesalahan kami
seperti kami pun mengampuni yang bersalah kepada kami
Dan janganlah masukkan kami ke dalam percubaan
Tetapi bebaskanlah kami dari yang jahat. Amin

Catholic common prayer 2#: Hail Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

In Mandarin it sounds like this:

萬福馬利亞,你充滿聖寵,
主與你同在,你在婦女中受讚頌,
你的親生子耶穌同受讚頌。
天主聖母馬利亞,
求你現在和我們臨終時,
為我們罪人祈求天主。亞孟。

In Bahasa Melayu it sounds like this:

Salam Maria, penuh rahmat.
Tuhan sertamu.
Terpujilah Engkau di antara wanita,
dan terpujilah buah tubuh-Mu, Yesus.
Santa Maria bonda Allah,
doakanlah kami yang berdosa ini,
sekarang dan waktu kami mati. Amin.

Catholic common prayer 3#: Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 4#: I Believe

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 4#: Prayer before eating

Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts,
which we are about to receive from your generosity,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 5#: Prayer after eating

We give you thanks, almighty God, for all your gifts,
you who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic common prayer 6#: Prayer before sleeping

Dear Lord I ask you to protect me against all harm and evil that may attack me tonight.
Into Your hands dear Lord I commend my body, mind, soul and spirit. Amen.


Catholic common prayer 6#: Prayer after sleeping

Good morning Lord, it's great to be with You again today.
I'm glad You are going to walk with me today.
Help me in all I do and say today, bring a smile to my lips for everyone I meet today,
place on my tongue kind and gentle words for everyone I speak with today.
And when my work is over grant me a safe journey home. Amen.

You may ask who is this Lord I’m taking about. Basically Lord means ‘boss’ and one of the ways of naming God. Like we call our parents Pa or Ma, so we Catholics call our God Lord.

You can also create your own prayer. After all, God wants to be our friend, so we should talk to him like we talk to our friends. Here is the formula:

1. Stop thinking of other things. One way to do this is to close your eyes and think of God.
2. Present yourself to God by bowing your head, putting your hands together, and/or making the sign of the cross
3. Talk to God- you can thank him for something, talk about how good he is, and/or ask him for something.
4. Invoking the name, glory or life of Jesus, e.g. “in the most holy and precious name of Jesus I pray”
5. Closing your prayer, often with ‘Amen’ (which means ‘Let it be so’)

It’s good to pray for your friends and family. This way you not only help them by asking God to do something for them but also allow God to work through you and in this way helping you too. Why don’t you start by praying for me? And don’t worry: I’ll pray for you too.

Please do visit me anytime. Take care of yourself. I miss you and can’t wait to see you.
May God bless you always.
Love,

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Today's Readings

Yet more of the readings 4 dis day (Sun 25 Nov):

Luke 23: 35-43
The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the king of the Jews.” One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

2 Samuel 5: 1-3
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron saying, “Look, we are your very flesh and blood! In the past, when Saul was our king, you were the real leader in Israel. The Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel; you will rule over Israel.’” When all the leaders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, King David made an agreement with them in Hebron before the Lord. They designated David as king over Israel.

Colossians 1 :12-20
...giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Today's Readings

Today is Sat 24 Nov & the readings are as below:

Luke 27: 20-40
Now some Sadducees (who contend that there is no resurrection) came to him. They asked him, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no children, that man must marry the widow and father children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died without children. The second and then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children. Finally the woman died too. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had married her.” So Jesus said to them, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are regarded as worthy to share in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, they can no longer die, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection. But even Moses revealed that the dead are raised in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before him.” Then some of the experts in the law answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well!” For they did not dare any longer to ask him anything.

1 Maccabees 6: 1-13
King Antiochus was going through the upper provinces when he heard that Elymais in Persia was a city famed for its wealth in silver and gold. Its temple was very rich, containing golden shields, breastplates, and weapons left there by Alexander, the son of Philip, the Macedonian who first reigned over the Greeks. So he [Antiochus] came and tried to take the city and plunder it, but he could not, because his plan became known to the men of the city and they withstood him in battle. So he fled and in great grief departed from there to return to Babylon. Then some one came to him in Persia and reported that the armies which had gone into the land of Judah had been routed; that Lysias had gone first with a strong force, but had turned and fled before the Jews; that the Jews had grown strong from the arms, supplies, and abundant spoils which they had taken from the armies they had cut down; that they had torn down the abomination which he had erected upon the altar in Jerusalem; and that they had surrounded the sanctuary with high walls as before, and also Beth-Zur, his city. When the king heard this news, he was astounded and badly shaken. He took to his bed and became sick from grief, because things had not turned out for him as he had planned. He lay there for many days, because deep grief continually gripped him, and he concluded that he was dying. So he called all his friends and said to them, "Sleep departs from my eyes and I am downhearted with worry. I said to myself, 'To what distress I have come! And into what a great flood I now am plunged! For I was kind and beloved in my power.' But now I remember the evils I did in Jerusalem. I seized all her vessels of silver and gold; and I sent to destroy the inhabitants of Judah without good reason. I know that it is because of this that these evils have come upon me; and behold, I am perishing of deep grief in a strange land."

Friday, 23 November 2007

Today's Reading

Some more readings just 4 U (Fri 23 Nov):

Luke 19: 45-48 (Cleansing the Temple)
Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of robbers!” Jesus was teaching daily in the temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him, but they could not find a way to do it, for all the people hung on his words.

1 Chronicles 29: 10-12
David praised the Lord before the entire assembly: “O Lord God of our father Israel, you deserve praise forevermore! O Lord, you are great, mighty, majestic, magnificent, glorious, and sovereign over all the sky and earth! You have dominion and exalt yourself as the ruler of all. You are the source of wealth and honor; you rule over all. You possess strength and might to magnify and give strength to all."

1 Maccabees 4: 36-37, 52-59
Then said Judas and his brothers, "Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it." So all the army assembled and they went up to Mount Zion.
...Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Kislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year [Seleucid Era; 15/12/164], they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals.All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. There was much celebration among the people, as the shame which the Gentiles had brought they had removed. Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Today's Readings

More of today's readings below (Thu 22 Nov):

Luke 19: 41-44
Now when Jesus approached and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. They will demolish you – you and your children within your walls – and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

1 Maccabees 2: 15-29
Then the king's officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Mode'in to make them offer sacrifice. Many from Israel came to them; and Mattathias and his sons were assembled. Then the king's officers spoke to Mattathias as follows: "You are a leader, honored and great in this city, and supported by sons and brothers. Now be the first to come and do what the king commands, as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah and those that are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons will be numbered among the friends of the king, and you and your sons will be honored with silver and gold and many gifts." But Mattathias answered and said in a loud voice: "Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers. Far be it from us to desert the law and the ordinances. We will not obey the king's words by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left." When he had finished speaking these words, a Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice upon the altar in Mode'in, according to the king's command. When Mattathias saw it, be burned with zeal and his heart was stirred. He gave vent to righteous anger; he ran and killed him upon the altar. At the same time he killed the king's officer who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he burned with zeal for the law, as Phinehas did against Zimri the son of Salu. Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: "Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!" And he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the city. Then many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to dwell there..."

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Today's Readings

Ah more of this day's readings (Wed 21 Nov):

Matthew 12: 46-50
While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers came and stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside wanting to speak to you.” To the one who had said this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” And pointing toward his disciples he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Luke 19: 11-28
While the people were listening to these things, Jesus proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. Therefore he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. And he summoned ten of his slaves, gave them ten minas [1 mina = 50 shekels], and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to be king over us!’ When he returned after receiving the kingdom, he summoned these slaves to whom he had given the money. He wanted to know how much they had earned by trading. So the first one came before him and said, ‘Sir, your mina [50 shekels] has made ten minas more.’ And the king said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.’ Then the second one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina [50 shekels] has made five minas.’ So the king said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another slave came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina [50 shekels] that I put away for safekeeping in a piece of cloth. For I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You withdraw what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow.’ The king said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! So you knew, did you, that I was a severe man, withdrawing what I didn’t deposit and reaping what I didn’t sow? Why then didn’t you put my money in the bank, so that when I returned I could have collected it with interest?’ And he said to his attendants, ‘Take the mina [50 shekels] from him, and give it to the one who has ten.’ But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten minas already!’ ‘I tell you that everyone who has will be given more, but from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be their king, bring them here and slaughter them in front of me!’” After Jesus had said this, he continued on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

2 Maccabees 7: 1, 20-31
It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and compelled by the king [Antiochus IV Epiphanes], under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful pig's flesh. ...The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Though she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them in the language of their fathers. Filled with a noble spirit, she combined her womanly reasoning with manly courage, and said to them, "I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, Who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in His mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws." Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt, and he was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his fathers, and that he would take him for his friend and entrust him with public affairs. Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him and urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native tongue [Aramaic] as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant: "My son, have pity on me. I carried you nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you. I beseech you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being. Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God's mercy I may get you back again with your brothers." While she was still speaking, the young man said, "What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king's command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our fathers through Moses. But you, who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the hands of God."

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Today's Readings

B'low u can c some > readin's 4 2day Tue 20 Nov:

Luke 19: 1-10
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not beacuase of the crowd, as he was short of stature. And he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto Zacchaeus, "Make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at your house." And Zacchaeus made haste, and came down, and received Jesus joyfully. And when the crowd saw this, they all murmured, saying, "He has gone to be a guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore it to him fourfold." And Jesus said unto him, "This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

2 Maccabees 6: 18-31
Eleazar, one of the scribes in high position, a man now advanced in age and of noble presence, was being forced to open his mouth to eat pig's flesh. But he, welcoming death with honor rather than life with pollution, went up to the the rack of his own accord, spitting out the flesh, as men ought to who have the courage to refuse things that it is not right to taste, even for the natural love of life. Those who were in charge of that unlawful sacrifice took the man aside, because of their long acquaintance with him, and privately urged him to bring meat of his own providing, proper for him to use, and pretend that he was eating the flesh of the sacrificial meal which had been commanded by the king, so that by doing this he might be saved from death, and be treated kindly on account of his old friendship with them. But making a high resolve, worthy of his years and the dignity of his old age and the gray hairs which he had reached with distinction and his excellent life even from childhood, and moreover according to the holy God-given law, he replied, "Such pretense is not worthy of our time of life," he said, "lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to an alien religion, and through my pretense, for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray because of me, while I defile and disgrace my old age. For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws." When he had said this, he went at once to the rack. And those who a few minutes before had acted toward him with good will now turned against him, because the words he had uttered were in their opinion sheer madness. When he was about to die under the blows, he groaned aloud and said: "It is clear to the Lord in His holy knowledge that, though I might have been saved from death and terrible sufferings to my body under this beating, but in my soul I am glad to suffer these things because I fear him." So in this way he died, leaving in his death an example of nobility and a memorial of courage, not only to the young but to the great body of his nation.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Today's Readings

Here's some more readings 4 2day Mon 19 Nov:

Luke 18: 35-43
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was going on. They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is passing by.” So he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stopped and ordered the beggar to be brought to him. When the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” And immediately he regained his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they too gave praise to God.

1 Maccabees 1
From them [the officers of Alexander the Great] came forth a sinful root, Antiochus Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king; he had been a hostage in Rome. He began to reign in the one hundred and thirty-seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks [the Seleucid Era- 175@174]. In those days lawless men came forth from Israel, and misled many, saying, "Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us." This proposal pleased them, and some of the people eagerly went to the king. He authorized them to observe the ordinances of the Gentiles. So they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, according to Gentile custom, and removed the marks of circumcision, and abandoned the holy covenant. They joined with the Gentiles and did all sorts of other evil things.
...Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each should give up his customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted the king's religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath.
...Now on the fifteenth day of Kislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year [the Seleucid Era- 6/12/167], they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the Law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the Law, the decree of the king condemned him to death.
...But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. And thus did Israel suffer greatly.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Today's Readings

Here's some more of today's readings (Sun 18 Nov):

Luke 21: 5-19
Now while some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and offerings, Jesus said, “As for these things that you are gazing at, the days will come when not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!” So they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that these things are about to take place?” He said, “Watch out that you are not misled. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them! And when you hear of wars and rebellions, do not be afraid. For these things must happen first, but the end will not come at once.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven. But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will be a time for you to serve as witnesses. Therefore be resolved not to rehearse ahead of time how to make your defense. For I will give you the words along with the wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

2 Thessalonians 3: 7-12
For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you, and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this command: “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.” For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their own work but meddling in the work of others. Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat.

Malachi 4: 1-2
“For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch. But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall."

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more of the readings 4 2day (Sat 17 Nov):

Luke 18: 1-8 (Prayer and the Parable of the Persistent Widow)
Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. There was also a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but later on he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor have regard for people, yet because this widow keeps on bothering me, I will give her justice, or in the end she will wear me out by her unending pleas.’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Wisdom 18: 14-16, 19: 6-9
For while all things were in quiet silence and night in the midst of her swift course your Almighty judgment sped from your royal throne in heaven, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, and brought your firm commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death; and standing on the earth, reached even to heaven.
...For the universe was fashioned again as from the beginning, obeying your commandments, that your children might be kept without hurt. For a cloud overshadowed their camps; and where water was before, dry land appeared; and out of the Red Sea appeared a way without hindrance, and out of the violent stream a green field; through which all the nation passed while defended by your hand, seeing your miracles and wonders. They fed on their food like horses, and they skipped like lambs, praising you, O Lord, who had delivered them.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Today's Readings

More of today's readings (Fri 16 Nov)

Luke 17: 26-37
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage – right up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot, people were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; but on the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be the same on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone who is on the roof, with his goods in the house, must not come down to take them away, and likewise the person in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then the disciples said to him, “Where, Lord?” He replied to them, “Where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather.”

Wisdom 13: 1-9
But all men are vain, in whom there is not the knowledge of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know Him that is: neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the Workmaster; but deemed either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven, to be the gods which govern the world. Let them know how much better the Lord of these beautiful and delightful things is: for the first Author of beauty had created them. If men were astonished at the power and virtue of these things, let them understand how much mightier He is that made them. For by the greatness of the beauty and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen and known. But yet as to these they are less to be blamed. For they perhaps err, seeking God, and desirous to find him. For being conversant in his works they search him diligently, and believe their sight: because the things are beautiful that are seen. But then again they are not to be pardoned. For if they were able to know so much that they could aim at the world, how did they not sooner find out the Lord who created it?

P.S. This reminds me of something I read about the difference between cats and dogs:
Dog- This man feeds me, houses me and loves me: he must be God!
Cat- This man feeds me, houses me and loves me: I must be God!
Aren't we human beings the same? Either we put Nature above us or under our feet (i.e. treat Nature as a god or consider ourselves possessing godly authority over Nature)

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Today's Readings

Today I didn't forget, for here are today's readings (Thu 15 Nov):

Luke 17: 20-25
Now at one point the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming, so he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. Then people will say to you, ‘Look, there he is!’ or ‘Look, here he is!’ Do not go out or chase after them. For just like the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

Wisom 7:22 - 8:1
For wisdom, which is the worker of all things, taught me- in her is the spirit of understanding, holy, of one nature but reveals itself in many ways, not made of any material substance, moves about freely, clear, undefiled, sure, not subject to hurt, loving that which is good, quick and unconquerable, ready to do good, kind to man, steadfast, sure, free from care, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all intelligent and pure spirits. For wisdom is more moving than any motion: she passes and goes through all things by reason of her pureness. For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty: therefore no defiled thing comes into her. For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness. And though she acts alone, she can do all things. She makes all things new, and in all ages entering into holy souls, making them friends of God and prophets. For God loves none but him that is at home with wisdom. She is more beautiful than the sun and all the constellations. She is better than light itself- for though night always follows day, evil shall not prevail against wisdom. Wisdom reaches into every part of the world mightily, and she sets all things in useful order.

Previous Day's Readings

Sorry forgot to post yesterday's readings (Wed 14 Nov) here they are:

Luke 17: 11-19 (The Grateful Leper)
Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Wisdom 6: 1-11
Wisdom is better than strength, and a wise man is better than a strong man. Hear therefore, you kings, and understand; learn, you judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule the people, and please yourselves in the multitude of nations. For power is given you of the Lord, and sovereignty from the Highest. He shall examine your works, and search your thoughts. If, being ministers of his kingdom, you have not judged rightly, nor kept the law of justice, nor walked according to the will of God, horribly and speedily shall he come upon you: for a most severe judgment shall be on them that rule from high places. For to him that is little, mercy is granted: but the mighty shall be mightily tormented.. For he which is Lord over all shall fear no person, neither shall he stand in awe of anyone's greatness: for he hath made the small and great, and cares for all alike. But a greater punishment is ready for the more mighty. Unto you therefore, O kings, do I speak, that you may learn wisdom, and not fall away. For they that keep holiness holily shall be judged holy: and they that have learned these things shall know how to answer for his own conduct. Therefore treasure my words; desire them, and you shall be well instructed.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more readings for Tue 13 Nov (which is today):

Luke 17: 7-10
Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, ‘Come at once and sit down for a meal’? Won’t the master instead say to him, ‘Get my dinner ready, and make yourself ready to serve me while I eat and drink. Then you may eat and drink’? He won’t thank the slave because he did what he was told, will he? So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, ‘We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Wisdom 2:23 - 3:9
For God created man incorruptible, and in the image of His own likeness. But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world, and they that follow the Devil are doomed to die. But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die, and their departure was considered terrible evil. They leave us, but it is not a disaster, as they are in peace. And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God has tested them, and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace he has proved them, and like sacrifices offered to him he has received them, and found them worthy to be with him. The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. They that trust in the Lord shall understand the truth, and they that are faithful in love shall rest in him: for grace and peace is to his chosen people.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more readings for today Mon 12 Nov:

Luke 17: 1-6
Jesus said to his disciples, “Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” So the Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this black mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled out by the roots and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Wisdom 1: 1-7
Love justice, you rulers of the earth. Think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in simplicity of heart. For he is found by them that do not test him: and he shows himself to them that have faith in him. For dishonest thoughts separate people from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproves the unwise. For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when injustice is done. Though the spirit of wisdom is benevolent, but she will not acquit the evil speaker from his lips: for God knows his feelings and thoughts, and He is a true searcher of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue. For the Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world: and that which contains all things, has knowledge of everything that is said.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Today's Readings

Below are some readings for the day Sun 11 Nov:

Luke 20: 27-38 (Marriage and the Resurrection)
Now some Sadducees (who contend that there is no resurrection) came to him. They asked him, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a wife but no children, that man must marry the widow and father children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died without children. The second and then the third married her, and in this same way all seven died, leaving no children. Finally the woman died too. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For all seven had married her.” So Jesus said to them, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are regarded as worthy to share in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, they can no longer die, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection. But even Moses revealed that the dead are raised in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live before him.”

2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say. Finally, pray for us, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be honored as in fact it was among you, and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. And we are confident about you in the Lord that you are both doing – and will do – what we are commanding. Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.

2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14
It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king [Antiochus IV Epiphanes], under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine's flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, "What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers." And when he was at his last breath, he said, "You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws." After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, and said nobly, "I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again." As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man's spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing. When he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. And when he was near death, he said, "One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!"

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some readings for today Sat 10 Nov as below:

Luke 16: 9-15
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by how you use worldly wealth, so that when it runs out you will be welcomed into the eternal homes. “The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and the one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you haven’t been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with the true riches? And if you haven’t been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The Pharisees (who loved money) heard all this and ridiculed him. But Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in men’s eyes, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in God’s sight.

Romans 16
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Also greet the church in their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my compatriots and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my good friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
...Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
...I, Tertius, who am writing this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus the city treasurer and our brother Quartus greet you. Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.

Separation of Church and State

Let's look at what Romans 13 has to say: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Since the Father has placed Jesus "at his right hand in heaven, far above every principality, authority, power and dominion...", clearly the state does not have ultimate authority. It receives its authority from God - but final authority belongs to Jesus. A couple of conclusions follow.

First, as we honor Christ, Christians must honor all legitimate authority. St. Paul was writing to people who resided at the heart of a powerful empire. They saw first hand the arrogance and venality of Roman rulers. Nevertheless, he tells the Roman Christians to respect and obey those who govern. In addition, St. Paul knew that a Roman official had carried out the most unjust act in human history: the gruesome execution of the one completely innocent man. Still, St. Paul instructs us to not rebel against those in authority.

After acknowledging our duty to legitimate authority, we must immediately add something else: human authority for us can never have the last word. That belongs to Jesus. He is the one who has taken his place at the Father's right hand. When the authorities in Jerusalem attempted to silence the apostles, Peter replied, "We must obey God rather than men."

Thus, as Christians, we must obey legitimate authority - unless it goes against the law of God. While we always show respect for civil officials (even the corrupt ones), we do not give them first place. That belongs to the One who sits at the right hand of the Father above every power and authority. We pray for those who govern us - even if we did not vote for them - and we honor them. But we save the greatest honor and joy for the Lord. Along with the psalmist we say: He mounts his throne to shouts of joy, a blare of trumpets for the Lord.

How does this apply to us as citizens? I believe we must let the government does its job. No government can do their job well if they must always step carefully. They will end up taking the safest route (i.e. the politically-correct route)- which may not always entail doing the right thing enthusiastically. We must also realise that the government is made up of ordinary people as capable of doing great things and committing great sins as you and I. They should have our benefit of the doubt, and if they realy do something wrong it is up to the judiciary system to do something about it. The best thing we can do as citizens is to let politicians and bureaucrats know if they do something we don't approve of, and if worse comes to the worst just don't elect them (or their bosses).

(Adapted and adopted from http://geocities.com/Heartland/2964/homilyascension-c.html )

Friday, 9 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more of today's readings (Fri 9 Nov) below:

John 2: 13-22 (Cleansing the Temple)
Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”
So then the Jewish leaders responded, “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken.

1 Corinthians 3: 9-11, 16-17
We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. ...Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

Ezekiel 47
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple. I noticed that water was flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from under the right side of the temple, from south of the altar. He led me out by way of the north gate and brought me around the outside of the outer gate that faces toward the east; I noticed that the water was trickling out from the south side. ...He said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and flow down into the Arabah; when they enter the Dead Sea, where the sea is stagnant, the waters become fresh. Every living creature which swarms where the river flows will live; there will be many fish, for these waters flow there. It will become fresh and everything will live where the river flows. ...On both sides of the river’s banks, every kind of tree will grow for food. Their leaves will not wither nor will their fruit fail, but they will bear fruit every month, because their water source flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

How the Catholic Church view non-Catholic denominations and non-Christian faiths

Dominus Iesus (taken from http://www.religioustolerance.org/rcc_othe4.htm )
Dominus Iesus was published internally on 06/08/2000 by Cardinal Ratzinger who was at the time the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was released to the public on 05/09/2000. The document had been ratified and confirmed by the Pope John Paul II on 16/06/2000 "with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority."

Cardinal Ratzinger quotes a variety of documents to reemphasize that:
- "The full revelation of divine truth is given" in the "mystery of Jesus Christ."
- The Church does not expect any additional, future, public revelation.
- Nothing needs to be taken from other religions and added to Jesus' message in order to make it complete.
- Only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments are inspired by the Holy Spirit and are without error.
- It is the Holy Spirit who has sown the "seeds of the word" in diverse customs, cultures and religions around the world, preparing them for future "full maturity in Christ."
- Jesus is the only savior of mankind.

He divides Christian denominations into three groups:
- The Roman Catholic Church, the only faith group established by Jesus Christ: "he himself is in the Church and the Church is in him...."
- Eastern Orthodox Churches which are united with the RCC by the:
- "Apostolic succession..." (Christ's disciples consecrated the first bishops of the Church, who subsequently consecrated other bishops down to the present day), and
- "a valid Eucharist" (a valid celebration of the Mass).
(These are "true particular Churches." The Church of Christ is "present and operative" in these churches even though they do not, at this time, accept the primacy of the pope.)
- The remaining Christian denominations which have not preserved the Apostolic succession. (They are not "churches in the proper sense." However, their members are "incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church." Members of the RCC are told to not look upon Christianity as a collection of Christian denominations. The Church of Christ does exist today in the form of the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches. It is not to be considered a some type of future goal to which all denominations "must strive to reach.")

Cardinal Ratzinger describes the status of non-Christian religions:
- The Church of Christ is the instrument by which all humans are saved.
- Salvation is accessible to some people who are not members of the "Church" i.e. not Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox Christians. It comes through grace which originates with Christ and "enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation."
- The prayers and rituals of other religions may help or hinder their believers. Some practices may prepare their membership to absorb the Gospel. However, those rituals which "depend on superstitions or other errors... constitute an obstacle to salvation."
- Members of other religions are "gravely deficient" relative to members of the Church of Christ who already have "the fullness of the means of salvation."

He discusses inter-religious dialog:
- Dialog with other branches of Christianity and with other religions is part of the RCC's mission of evangelizing the world.
- Dialog implies the equality of the dignity of the individuals taking part -- not the equality of their various beliefs and practices.

What is modesty?

Traditionally, adults in our society sought to protect young women from male sexual exploitation in two ways. First, they made rules: Decent boys treat girls like ladies; college students live in single-sex dorms. Second, they respected and encouraged girls' natural modesty. In their view, modesty -- the quality which leads human beings to avoid sexual displays -- acts as a kind of armor to protect girls' sexual vulnerability. Modesty provides a crucial counterweight to girls' desire to please boys, and their tendency to place great importance on personal relationships. Far from oppressing girls, modesty puts them on equal footing with boys, by prompting them to avoid casual sex while they search for a suitable lifelong partner.

Let me elaborate further on this. Most girls yearn to find a man who will respect and love them forever, while most boys just want to have fun (sexual fun, that is) so long as they can find a willing partner. Thus a difference between boys and girls is that, the day after sex, the girls wait for the boys to call. The boys have got what they wanted, and to get more may not be as much fun as moving on to other girls.

This is not to say that boys are incapable of commitment and true, long-lasting love. Just don't look for these things in boys chock-filled with testosterone. Also this doesn't mean girls are not as capable of fun-searching and betrayal. In some cases it's even worse. Some girls may use sex to fulfil their emotional needs alone or to gain power over men. But I digress.

Though modesty may not stop boys from sexually desiring a girl, immodesty will definitely increase the chances and frequency. Girls being who they are (they laugh at naked men. Can you find me a man who laughs at naked girls?) cannot imagine the power of a fine female body on the eyes, mind, heart and penis of a staright man. If they do, they would be more tolerant of oogling. They would dress modestly so they wouldn't cause the poor fella they come across to entertain lustful thoughts. They wouldn't go for men who are attracted solely by their female form and then complain when those men prove untrustworthy.

(Some of the above content is taken from http://www.goodmorals.org/kersten.htm )

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Home Beyond The Sun

I watched this movie tonite with a (unfortunately small) group of church friends. This movie's basically about a little Chinese girl's journey to becoming a part of an American family, which is "beyond the sun" (i.e. to the east- America is to the east of China). Which reminds me- remember Mahathir's policy of Look East, which basically involves M'sians emulating cultures to the east of Malaysia (like Japan)? Well, USA is to the east of Malaysia, yet I doubt Dr M. wanted M'sians to emulate them.
Anyway, here's a synopsis taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Beyond_the_Sun:

Home Beyond the Sun is the story of persecution, faith, and freedom escaping a world of fear. A bible college student, Jenna goes to teach in an area of China where her faith is forbidden. She discovers an orphanage and befriends a Chinese orphan, Chu Lee. Jenna helps with the adoption to a family in the United States. However, the Chinese Police are strictly preventing this when they find out that they are Christians.

But don't make conclusions based on the synopsis, cause it's inaccurate. A more accurate synopsis would be like below:

Home Beyond the Sun is the story of love (the brotherly kind) triumphing over religious persecution and bureaucratic corruption. A bible college student, Jenna goes to teach in an area of China where her faith is forbidden (Sound like she went there to proselytize her Christian faith right? Wrong). She discovers an orphanage and befriends a Chinese orphan, Chu Lee (More than befriend if you ask me. More like sisterize if there's such a word). Jenna helps with the girl's adoption to a family in the United States. This is where the religious prosecution and bureaucratic corruption comes in: the manager of the orphanage was removed for teaching her wards the Christian faith, and a much-more-strict manageress was put in charge. But Jenna managed to get Chu Lee to US of A through the intervention of a certain officer- and there discovers a truth that will rock her world.

Home Beyond The Sun is basically a story of faith in God's will. And also of the power of prayer. The story's a bit cheesy (your classic chick flick minus romantic love), but what can you expect of a movie where the majority of the characters are female? At least they didn't portray all the men as bad, bad people and all the women as goody-goodies.

Today's Readings

Ah some more readings for Thu 8th of Nov:

Luke 15: 1-10 (The Parable of the Lost Sheep and Coin)
Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? Then when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”

Romans 14: 7-12
For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living. But you who eat vegetables only – why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything – why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Today's Readings

Here's more of the readings for today Wed 7 Nov:

Luke 14: 25-33
Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to make fun of him. They will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down first and determine whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot succeed, he will send a representative while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions.

Romans 13: 8-10
Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Today's Readings

Here's some readings for today Tue 6 Nov:

Luke 14: 15-24 (The Parable of the Great Banquet)

When one of those at the meal with Jesus heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will feast in the kingdom of God!” But Jesus said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time for the banquet he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ But one after another they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, and I cannot come.’ So the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the master of the household was furious and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ Then the slave said, ‘Sir, what you instructed has been done, and there is still room.’ So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and country roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled. For I tell you, not one of those individuals who were invited will taste my banquet!’”

Romans 12: 5-16

...so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.
Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Today's Readings

Some more of today's readings (Mon 5 Nov):

Luke 14: 12-14
He [Jesus] said also to the man who had invited him, “When you host a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors so you can be invited by them in return and get repaid. But when you host an elaborate meal, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Romans 11: 29-36
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!For who has known the mind of the Lord,or who has been his counselor?Or who has first given to God,that God needs to repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

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