"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." (1 Peter 4:8-10)

Shalom from Melbourne,

I like to start off today's devotional entry with one question:

Is redemption the be all and end all of Christianity?

My first personal encounter with Jesus radically changed the way I perceive the world and people around me. My attitudes changed and so did my overall mood. However, as more of life's problems got in the way and I did not have a consistent and strong habit of dwelling in the Word, this Fire eventually dissipated and I was out-of-sync with what Christ wanted to fulfill in my life. So personally that leaves me with a NO to answer the question above. I hope it should ring true to most of you as well, since God does want us to keep exercising our renewed Spirit so we may live life abundantly (John 10:10).

I once read that our redemption is our ticket to the King's palace. Being saved lands us at the great entrance of the great mansion. We have not entered it yet, simply standing at the front. What lies beyond the door is a mystery. We are clothed with our party robes, and with our validated ticket in hand, we are faced with a choice: to enter the mansion or remain idle and wait at the door. Serious party is going on inside, and yes some of us would insist on staying idle at the door. However, knowing that you've been clothed in righteousness and justified of all wrongdoings, wouldn't you want to step forward, push the door open and walk into the great mansion with full confidence for what Jesus has done? The Lord looks at Jesus who dwells within our hearts, so Jesus is the only way for us to go to the Father. If we have Jesus, and we know that we are guilt-free and totally welcomed to the great feast, wouldn't we chuck away all our priorities, all our worries, all our bad habits, and simply run toward the great feast in joy and thankfulness for what the Master of the Ball has done? Sadly, simply by having this mindset without acting on it does not yield much fruit. I thought the same too...when I realized how great and valuable salvation was, I really wanted to know Christ more. For the first few weeks I deepened my bible study routines, prayed about more things, wrote diaries, continued on with my devotional journals but I missed out on one thing. I forgot to reflect how much God has done in my life, or how much God has blessed and loved me throughout my life. I forgot to keep track of how many blessings He prospered me each morning and how lavishly His providence was to me throughout each season. Soon enough, when problems come, they burdened my heart. This emotional toll got heavier and heavier through time, and because I did not constantly reflect on God's great love or abundant blessings, I took the precious things in life for granted and started to grumble and whine at the face of incoming problems. I was becoming a "sore loser", a complainer in my own terms ha. Who knows that complaining gets you nowhere to solving the problem? If it does something, complaining would only increase the problem, making it bigger and seemingly more impossible for you to handle. My lack of gratitude and sensitivity towards God's lavish grace has made me a weak Christian who is easily swayed by the waves. By that time, I was already saved. A redeemed, saved, justified but weak, sensitive and vulnerable Christian. Surely that's not God's plan in my life. Surely, that's not what God meant by having life full of joy and abundance. Surely there's got to be more.

Love at Willunga by Bipphy Kath.
Then during Wintercamp, the realization hit me. 
God is love and God is the Word. So by understanding the Word, I am learning and walking in His love, and by doing so, I am gaining all of these wisdom, discernment, self-control, patience, endurance, strength, hope and joy, and lots more (you can turn to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 to read up on more of the spiritual gifts). God's great love is the force that binds us, drives and propels us to seek Him further with all of our strength, all of our mind and all of our heart (Deuteronomy 6:5). When the true love of God hits us and changes the way we think, our entire life is within God's love and His Spirit dwells within us. We just need to keep it active and burning to see the results. So I guess the next question is:

How do we keep God's Fire burning within us?

Our senior pastor from Bethany Singapore, Ps. Betty Handojo, emphasized on the significance of speaking in tongues, especially during worship and prayer. Tongues here is different from a prophetic declaration in other tongues/languages such as when the Spirit first came upon the apostles in Jerusalem when they began to prophesy in other languages to Jews and Gentiles.  Prayer and worship in tongues in this case is more on the expression of intimacy and confidentiality, an exclusive two-way communication realm between God and our Spirit. When we pray in the Spirit, only God and the Holy Spirit within us communicate. Now we know that the Spirit of God searches all things, even the deep mysteries of God and similarly, our man spirit is the core of our lives. It contains everything going on in our lives, even the ones we are yet to discover. When we are redeemed, the Holy Spirit dwells within our spirit and overtakes it and when it does, the Holy Spirit renders our life transparent and fully accessible to God. In a way, whenever we pray and worship in spiritual tongues, we are expressing our entire lives, presenting all our burdens and joys before Him and letting Him to introspect our heart (1 Corinthians 14:2-4). The more we let God intercede in our Spirit and work in the innermost of our being, the stronger our faith becomes and the more we are transformed into liken Christ's image. I guess that's the reason why so many writers stressed on the importance of praying in the spirit (Jude 20)? 

Speaking in tongues have been one of those edgy little controversial topics most Christians, old and new face today. When I first started out in my devotionals, my thoughts on this topic were not so broad. I was quite headstrong in thinking that speaking in tongues is a made-up thing. Although there are sufficient biblical verses to prove that worshipping in foreign tongues is an expression of our innermost self, I still found it pretty difficult to believe. In-fact, I was really skeptical on this whole issue. I asked several youth leaders regarding this controversial thought, and although some of them did not dismiss the chance that people could be faking it, most of them believed that it evokes powerful spiritual communication if done truthfully. Some even believed that it is not possible to mimic spiritual tongues (aka. you can never fake 'speaking in tongues'...) Regardless of faking or not faking, my unbelief made it really difficult for me to experience a spiritual breakthrough and revelation. I really wanted to receive the gift of speaking in tongues but it just would not happen. I earnestly prayed to Jesus for months before I first received the gift during one of those weekly prayer sessions we hold at our church. I believe it was on a Monday (as usual) and I could strongly sense the Holy Spirit's presence in the room. It was overwhelming, all absorbing and there was no way I could control what I was about to say next. All I remembered was how the Spirit made me feel so connected to Him, so intimate, so relevant, so cherished and then with little or no control I found myself praying to God in unintelligible, incomprehensible utterances. 

Beloved, we should yearn an awakening in our prayer lives. I say that with much confidence because I know how hard it is to maintain a strong prayer lifestyle, especially in the midst of rising work demands, examinations, work time clashes, schedule or work overload. Spiritual growth happens when we edify and build our faith by praying in tongues.God created us with three layers, body-soul-spirit, and if the spirit is edified, our entire soul and body are also refreshed, and that is how we can live life and serve Him to the fullest and in the best state - when our spirit is happy, our heart is content, our mind is good and our body is willing. 

Secondly, since we receive this precious spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, we should expect to also see changes in the way we naturally express ourselves. Speaking in tongues is a spiritual act of communication but utterances are still done through our tongue, right? Thus, when we receive this gift, our tongues become anointed. Our tongues, our words, our verbal expressions hold power in what they say. It has been hard for me too, but I believe we should strive to use all parts of our body to declare God's peace and harmony over our environments, and the best place to start is...our tongue. Our tongue holds the power to make or break lives. It can praise, encourage, exhort or devalue, embarrass, and offend others. Some of you may be going through tough moments of social enmity, and when I say that, I mean receiving lots of negative comebacks from people, put-downs, embarrassment, disappointments, or social rejection When I first arrived in Australia, I was a nobody. The environment was not just different, but the way people interact socially was also different. I was caught in the midst of an awkward new environment and was trying my best to adapt. However, being the "odd-one-out" easily defined me as a vulnerable target for social put downs. I don't know about boys, but I can say, as a girl, women have always faced serious issues with relational hostility. In that I mean situations where verbal expression is used to derogate or break the hearts of others. 

Would we want to use our precious tongues, our precious mouths and our precious minds to poison or even weaken others' self-esteem and self-image? I know it is tough and sometimes you just can't control those regretful expressions that accidentally slipped through your mouth in provoking situations, but it is God's commandment to be steadfastly guarding our hearts and the words we speak through our mouths. Words are a powerful weapon in the spiritual realm, just as God's Word is a light unto our paths. With our words, we can initiate healing. However, with the same tongue, we can speak death into another's life. Once we are anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are at a crossroads. Choosing to follow God's commandment to speak life may make us vulnerable to future social rejection, discrimination and put-downs (as they say doing the right thing does not always make your life better~) but if we hold fast to His Word, then our actions will never be in vain. Every single act of obedience to God's Word matures our baby spirit, leading us into a season of greater revelations and breakthrough. Always remember that every single trial we face, e.g. holding back against bouts of impatience, anger or frustration, equals to a whole heap of eternal rewards lavishly given to us by our Father in Heaven. The choice is ours. Let's start making wise decisions empowered in the Spirit together ♥

Lots of love,


Maira Gall