Category: Devotionals

A Changed Heart like Paul the Apostle

A Changed Heart like Paul the Apostle

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Introducing the Humble Apostle Paul

Growing Up

This time approximately 20 years ago, I was introduced by my uncle to the faith of Christianity. At that time, I was still young… very young… focusing on learning how to sing the multiplication song to ensure I could graduate from second grade and collecting Pokemon cards to accomplish one of my biggest achievements at the time. 

As time passed by, Pokemon was still an ongoing obsession (not to mention about the release of Pokemon Go a few years ago). However, I also learned to pick up a few new obsessions, such as being organized (I mean like all the time!) and reading fanfiction and the Bible. All thanks to my uncle for introducing the Bible to me. Although it took me a few slow years to enjoy reading the Bible, I am glad that I eventually learned to fall in love with it.

Paul the Apostle is a great leader

Difference between Fanfiction and the Bible

The world of fanfiction and the Bible are very colorful. Writers of fanfiction consumed their minds with much creativity and imaginations that they could even come up with cool characters just by putting on their thinking cap for 72 hours. However, do you know what’s cooler about the Bible? It’s not that the air conditioning is on, but it’s because whatever God plans, He will speak of them and make them come true. What’s so amazing is that not only God has this kind of personality; Jesus possesses it too. And, who else? They are the many hard-working disciples and apostles with one of them, for instance, being Apostle Paul.

So, who was Apostle Paul?

Apostle Paul was a very hard-working person, who was an important figure in the Bible. He was not only someone who was greatly educated and fervent at what he did, but he was someone who put his passion into practice. In Acts Chapter 22 of the Bible, Apostle Paul described himself as a Jew who could speak in Aramaic. However, what made him interesting was that he was born in Tarsus of Cilicia as a Roman citizen who was trained under his teacher, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel.

Furthermore, in Philippians Chapter 3, Apostle Paul boasted about himself as someone who was circumcised in the flesh when he was an eighth day-old infant, a Hebrew of Hebrews from a tribe in Israel called the tribe of Benjamin, and a hard-working, zealous Pharisee who threatened, imprisoned, and persecuted the early Christians. Who could boast about themselves better than Apostle Paul about himself? I believe this is none, except for Apostle Paul himself.

Apostle Paul’s Change

The other name of Apostle Paul wash Saul, which was his Hebrew name.

Did anyone know that Apostle Paul’s other name was Saul? Saul was not only a name of a king in Israel in the Old Testament, but it was also Apostle Paul’s other name (Acts 13:9). Saul was his Hebrew name, and Paul was his Roman name. After he was chosen by Jesus mentioned in Acts Chapters 9, 22, and 26 and received the revelation of Jesus Christ mentioned in Galatians Chapter 1, he was still very hard-working and zealous about what he did. However, he was no longer someone who mistreated and persecuted the early Christians. He became one with Christ, fervently and diligently testifying to the words of Jesus Christ so that the people who he testified to could have a chance to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.

In 2 Corinthians Chapter 11, Apostle Paul boasted about himself again but as a fool. The reason why Apostle Paul boasted about his weaknesses was to show the glory of Christ and how Christ changed him and worked through him as his messenger as mentioned in 2 Corinthians Chapter 12. Although Apostle received much persecutions and went through much sufferings while he was carrying out his ministry work, he gladly accepted them just to show how Jesus was the one working through him to make all his work possible. 

How Significant was Apostle Paul?

Apostle Paul was a very influential figure in the past. Today, there is no difference. In fact, he is still very influential and impactful in so many ways, especially in the lives of Christians. Apostle Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. Today, as the Bible is the best-selling book of all times, many people are still reading his writing. 

Reason Why I am writing about Apostle Paul

He was a scholar and a leader of chritians.

I am writing about Apostle Paul not because how smart and educated he was in the perspective of the world, but it was because he considered everything he possessed in the past before meeting Christ as rubbish in order to gain Christ in him through the true knowledge and faith in Christ as mentioned in Philippians Chapter 3. Regardless of how small and humble or how big and boastful the flesh could be, Apostle Paul had a lot to throw away about himself. Although it was difficult, he was eventually able to throw his past away, especially the wrongdoings that he did and the wrong teachings he believed in. Compared to him, we don’t have much to throw away in order to gain Christ. Besides, Apostle Paul was not saying to throw away our bank accounts, our college degrees, or our good-looking boyfriends.

We are very blessed to not have to live a life like how Apostle Paul or any other disciples and apostles did. Let’s learn the heart and mentality of Apostle Paul by gaining the true knowledge and faith in Christ inside of us. Let’s walk with God and Christ together. In Matthew Chapter 7, it says that this road is a narrow road but is a road that leads to life. Disciple Peter confessed that Jesus has the words of eternal life in John 6:68. Jesus mentioned in his prayer to God that eternal life can be obtained by knowing the true God and His one and only beloved son, Jesus Christ. God has desired “all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Let’s share the same desire as God and Jesus Christ! What’s so bad about it?

Capturing the Heart

Just like how I would like to capture all of my readers’ hearts right now, the Bible has captured mine. Have I captured yours?  

How to Grow in Faith, Especially During this Pandemic

How to Grow in Faith, Especially During this Pandemic

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Walking in a life of faith, when walking itself can be difficult

Since this pandemic has started, most people are now staying at home and having a lot of free time or more flexible schedules. People could automatically think that now that they have free time, they can actually start reading the Bible and be more devoted to God. From personal experience, that statement couldn’t be even more wrong.

What I’ve come to realize in these past few months of the pandemic is that when people now have more time for themselves, their own thinking can get in the way. For example, for myself, I catch myself in deep thought, asking questions that seem to have no answer or end. Those questions could range from something surface-level such as “what do I cook today?” into deep questions, like “does God really exist? Why is He allowing such a pandemic to happen?”

Because of questions like these, it becomes hard to stand firm in the faith. After all, faith, by Google’s definition, is a “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” And how do you come to a complete trust in this “someone” or “something”? The next definition says that one is able to believe “…based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof,” meaning that one is able to believe based on feelings. Does that mean I just have to “feel something” in order to believe that God really is out there, watching out for me? Sixteen year old me would believe that, but now, I beg to differ.

So, how do we grow in faith, especially in moments of doubt? Rather than trying to feel something out there, and use that feeling as “proof” of God’s existence, I would like to try to see through scripture as to how God proves Himself to be existing, and in turn, be able to build a stronger faith in Him. After all, it says in Romans 10:17 that faith comes from hearing the message. So let’s look through scriptures to help us grow in our faith.

In moment of doubt, grow faith in god.

Look at the Bible

Simple, right? The reason why we have biblical questions in the first place is because there are gaps within our knowledge. In order to find biblical answers to our biblical questions, the best one to consult is the Bible. And when we open our Bibles and take a look, our perspectives have to change as well. It’s not just a text that we are reading, but it’s actually God whom we are listening to.

In Jn 1:1, it states that God is the word. So if we have questions about God, the best way to get to know Him is by asking Him directly. And the way He responds to us? Yes, it is through His word. Some people may think that the best way is through listening to different people’s faith walks or listening to podcasts. Although those are good sources, they are usually not the best. The reason why they are not the best is because God can be skewed according to different people’s perspective towards Him.

For example, a close friend of mine used to be a strong believer, but when she experienced first-hand a death of a loved one, that was when she decided to leave the faith because she couldn’t comprehend how God works. The words she shares to me now is how God is unfaithful and unfair, despite her faithful devotion to Him. Although she prayed and begged God everyday to heal her loved one, He did not answer. But, is that the complete picture of God?

Another example is when a friend of mine had a loved one diagnosed with cancer. He prayed, and thankfully, his loved one survived. And he shares to me how he is still thankful to God to this day for hearing his prayers. Is that a complete picture of God then?

So different people have different perspectives towards God, but the best way to get to know Him is by knowing Him directly through His word.

The best way to know your god is through his  own words.

Grow in understanding of the Bible

Again, another simple concept, right? The more we read the Bible, the more we are supposed to understand, right? Again, coming from personal experience, that was not the case. I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation for over 3 times in a row. Although I would like to say that it was helpful, it did not lead me to a deeper understanding. You can’t just read the Bible, but you must understand it. The interesting thing is, understanding and faith is dependent on each other.

Mt 16:8-12 shows how little understanding leads to little faith, while more understanding leads to more faith. In this short scene, when the 12 misunderstood Jesus, they were quickly rebuked by him, saying that they had little faith. Because they had their own interpretation of what Jesus said, it led to them misunderstanding him. However, Jesus wants them to understand, so he explains what he said to them. And after receiving an explanation, they were able to understand, and as a result, they were able to continue on with a stronger faith walk with him.

In Jn 6:60, Jesus once again is teaching a hard lesson, which resulted in his disciples being unable to understand, and because it was of great difficulty, they decided to leave him instead. We could be this group of disciples, where when we do not understand, the easier route is to just give up and leave. After all, giving up requires less effort than trying to understand. Or, we could be the other group of disciples who chose to stick by him.

In verse 66-68, we see that the 12 disciples continue to hold onto him because they understood what Jesus was saying. Although in the past, they did not understand, they still stood by him and were hungry to learn. And to those who are hungry and constantly seeking, God promises to provide understanding to them (Jer 29:13). This shows that the more we understand, the more our faith can grow, and the more we can continue in our walk with Jesus.

So reading the bible is one thing, and understanding is another. How can we be sure that we are understanding Jesus and God for what they say, and not just interpreting or leaving when the teaching is hard to comprehend?

How to grow faith

Join a bible study

Mt 18:20 states that if two or three are gathered, God will be together with them, giving them the understanding of scriptures. So the best way to grow in understanding is by gathering as believers together to deepen our knowledge of God’s word. We are called to be sheep-like believers, and a characteristic of sheep is that they gather in herds together, they do not do things on their own. Although theology programs can be costly (around $20,000 per year), the Word of God should be free of cost (Is 55:1-2). Like the saying goes, “the best things in life are free.” So join a Bible study today.