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06.03 A checklist for spiritual lethargy

Having read about spiritual lethargy, do you think that you are spiritually lethargic?

Quiet time

  • Does my heart long for God’s Word, such that I must set aside time each day to spend reading God’s Word? Or is it a mere routine that I follow for duty’s sake? (Ps 42:1-2)
  • Do I do my quiet time regularly? How much time do I spend on it?
  • Do I just skim through reading God’s word because I feel tired?

Service

  • Do I take time to prepare my heart before going to God’s house? Do I come to church or YF just to fall asleep during service? (Eccl 5:1-2)
  • What do I learn from messages? Can I remember what I’ve learnt after the service or YF has ended?
  • Do I take time to prepare for my duty when my group is chairing?
  • Do I serve reluctantly? (2 Co 9:7)

Relationships

  • Do I lose my temper easily when I talk to my family members? (1 John 4:12)
  • Am I forgiving to the people around me? (Matt 18:21-22)
  • Do I try to share the gospel to my unbelieving friends around me?
  • Do I show a good testimony to the people around me?

(Written by Hadassah Chew)

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05.04 When was Jesus born?

Today, we are living in the period called AD (ie, Anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord [Jesus Christ]). The period before AD is called BD (“Before Christ”). On the basis of the terms BC and AD, people think that Christ must be born in AD 1. This is wrong. Christ could not have been born in AD 1. Matt 2:1 tells us that Christ was born at the time when Herod was king. But by AD 1, Herod the Great was no longer living; he died in 4 BC. Moreover, Luke 2:2 tells us that Christ was born at the time when a census was being conducted by Cyrenius. This census occurred in 5 BC. Jesus thus was not and could not be born in AD 1!

Christ was born in 5 BC, and not AD 1. How did this discrepancy come about? This discrepancy was due to Dionysius’ (a Scythian monk) miscalculation when he prepared a standard calendar for the Western Church. In Dionysius’ calendar, Jan 1, 754 AUC (Anno Urbis Conditae, ie, “from the foundation of the city of Rome”) became AD 1. This became a problem because later research showed that Herod the Great (cf Matt 2:1) died in 750 AUC, ie, 4 BC. How could Jesus be born at at time when Herod was already dead? This contradicts the historical records of Scripture which tell us that Jesus was born when Herod was still alive. Thus, Jesus could not have been born in AD 1 (so Dionysius), but sometime before Herod’s death (ie, 4 BC) according to the Scriptures.

Now, exactly when was Jesus born? Jesus must have been born within 2 years prior to Herod’s death. This we gather from Matt 2:7 which tells us that after Herod had ascertained the time of the star’s appearance, he commanded the execution of all the baby boys 2 years old and below (Matt 2:16). Thus, Jesus must have been born sometime between 6-4 BC. We know that John the Baptist was conceived in the womb of Elizabeth 6 months before Mary became pregnant with Jesus (Luke 1:36). The difference in age between John and Jesus was only 6 months. Luke 3:1 tells us that John began his ministry in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius became ruler in AD 11. The 15th year would bring us to AD 26 as the inaugural year of John’s baptismal ministry when he reached the age of 30. In keeping with Luke 3:23, Jesus would also be about 30 years old that year since he was only 6 months younger than John. This would thus make 5 BC the year of Christ’s birth. (Note: there is no BC or AD 0.)

(Taken from Rev. Jeffrey Khoo, The Life of Christ Part 1 (Singapore: FEBC), pg 25-6.) 

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02.02 What does it mean to fellowship with a Christian?

The Greek word for “fellowship” is “koinonia”. It has an idea of sharing or participating in something which is common. When it comes to the Christian context, this participation in something common is the sharing of ourselves as God’s children with one another as we walk in the light  (1 John 1:6-7). The Lord Jesus Christi is the basis of our fellowship with one another. So it is not possible to have fellowship with sinning brethren or with unbelievers. Phi 2:1-2 teaches that fellowship is the coming together of Christians who have the same purpose, mind and spirit for spiritual things.

Thus, when a group of Christians gather for the main purpose of playing soccer or drinking bubble tea, it is more like a social gathering. Christian fellowship is also not merely talking and chit-chatting.  In the NT church, the Christians fellowshipped together in very practical and tangible ways so as to share Christ.  In Acts 2:42, the Christians learnt God’s word, prayed for one another and ministered to one another by their giving and service.

When we meet one another in Room 03-08 to sing hymns, listen to messages and share about our week, we are fellowshipping. However, when the meeting ends, everyone scrambles to his/her own little world again. If you want to experience sweet fellowship, start by exiting your comfort zone and think how you can be a blessing to someone else, whether it be just listening, saying an encouraging word or doing a kind deed. Yes, even arranging tables and chairs and clearing up after refreshments are acts of fellowship!

In this time of holidays, consider meeting up with another Yfer, praying for the YF or doing something good for another Christian friend such as giving free tuition, running errands etc. During fellowship time,  think of what you can give of yourself (such as your time, energy or a part of your heart) to others, and not what others can give to you. Enjoy one another’s company!

(Written by Eileen Chee)

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01.02 Why do we have to give thanks before eating?

We give thanks for the food before us because this was what Jesus did. In the miracle of the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus gave thanks before the multitudes before distributing the food (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41). He did the same at the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:22-23) and when he was with the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30).  Jesus was teaching the multitudes by his example- that He as the Son of God thanked God the Father for taking care of Him on earth. What more us?

Besides, whatever Jesus did, He backed up with His teachings. In Matt 6:31, He told the people to “take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink…”. Why are we told not to worry? Because our Heavenly Father knows that we have need of all these things (v32). Think about it. We humans need to eat at least 3 meals a day, or whenever our stomach growls. If we were to constantly plan and get our next meal, we will never have the time to do anything else. Thus, when we could eat our meals so conveniently, it is really a sign of our Father’s love and care over our very basic, physical needs, so that we can focus on our service for Christ wherever He places us in. When we give thanks, we must sincerely thank God for maintaining our bodily needs, giving us health and strength. We must never take all these for granted.

Giving thanks at least 3 times a day helps us to remember God and cultivates in us a spirit of thanksgiving. We do not despise or scorn whatever is set before us, for they have being lovingly provided by God. 1 Timothy 4 say that there were false teachers who commanded the abstinence of meats but Paul refuted this teaching in v3-5 that meats “God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” This does not mean we can eat like a glutton or without any wisdom. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” How we eat, drink and speak during meal times is a testimony to others. Hence, when we give thanks, let us also add the petition that God will help us to remember Him as we enjoy the delicious food!

In conclusion, there is nothing to feel shy about! It is our privilege and honour to give thanks to God for our food in the presence of others as it tells them about our Loving Father, and that we have a relationship with the God of heaven and earth.

(Written by Eileen Chee)