Category Archives: Lent Devotions

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Our attitude towards healing (Part 1)

Category:Lent Devotions

Luke 13:10-13

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

Who of us doesn’t want to be healthy? While some illnesses take time to heal with some good eating, sleeping, and exercising habits, others require more attention through dedicated medical treatment. In these times, our attention turns to prayer asking the Lord to comfort us, to help us, possibly to perform a miracle, but yes ultimately to heal us.

As we read this story of Jesus healing the crippled woman who had been suffering for eighteen years, I can’t help but ponder the following: Did the woman ask Jesus for healing? Did she know who he was? What had she been thinking for the last eighteen years in her predicament? Did she pray for healing?

We all know people who have suffered with illnesses for a long time, and we have been praying for them. Perhaps we have ourselves been physically ill for a long time and have yet to see a full breakthrough despite our persistent prayers. Is God hearing me? What we know for sure is that he sees us, just like he saw this woman. But his watchful care is one of those mysteries that through my illnesses in life have shown that the act of “long suffering” is not indicative of God’s unwillingness, powerlessness, unresponsiveness to our prayers, or even uncaring attitude towards us.

If anything, his watchful care has been in motion from Creation, throughout Scripture with the ultimate climax at the cross. What kind of suffering did Christ endure for the greatest ailment of my life – that is my own separation from him? How greater the suffering if I were to be eternally separated from God! Yet Jesus took it all, some 2000 years ago at the cross so that ultimately, whatever physical suffering I may have now, would be fully restored when I am with him one day in Heaven.

So while we continue to pray for physical healing in this lifetime, we can be fully assured that we will have complete restoration when seated with him. In the meantime, the reaction of the healed woman in this short passage leaves me once again pondering as she “immediately straightens up and praises God”: How often do I praise God for his healing or continue to praise him in the midst of my circumstances?

Father we want to thank you for healing this crippled woman. We thank you for all those you have healed since then in history. I also want to learn to be a patient sufferer for you Lord. And so strengthen me Jesus as you carry me through this difficult time. Thank you for taking my pain at the cross. May my heart be turned daily to praise whatever the circumstances. My current suffering shows me how much you love me to have suffered the ultimate pain. Because of this, I now have eternal life. Thank you Jesus. Amen.


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COMFORT IN GRIEF

Category:Lent Devotions

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

There is an illusion in the minds of many believers that being a Christian exempts us from affliction, suffering and even loss. However God doesn’t promise us a pain-free life when we come to Him, but rather a life of hope in the midst of pain.

Being a Christian doesn’t change what we go through, but it should change how we go through the situation in life. It changes our attitude and mindset such that our question isn’t “Lord, why all this affliction?” but “Lord, what is the purpose of this affliction?”

After the loss of my dad, God taught me a few lessons which I believe could be helpful for us when facing grief and sorrow:

1. Nothing happens to God’s children without His permission. He is never taken unawares by what is happening in our lives because He absolutely controls the universe. Therefore, this understanding in times of grief can bring us to a state of unconditional surrender to God’s sovereignty where we’re challenged to say along with Job, “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21) and… “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

2. God truly fills every void in us. He takes care of us practically and guides us lovingly when we fully trust in Him. Sometimes we may not truly experience the fatherly nature of God simply because we depend too much on our earthly father, but when we go through such loss we are able to experience a deeper dimension of God as our loving Father.

3. God redefines our priorities in life. He makes us realise that the true value of life isn’t in longevity but in fruitfulness; not in the wealth and property procured but in fulfilling His purpose on the earth. We learn to be more focused on eternal things and to invest more in the wellbeing of our soul and the souls of others.

In conclusion, seasons of grief may last a long time, the pain can be excruciating, but when we allow God to carry us through these seasons in His loving arms, then they could turn out to be landmarks in our journey with God.

Lord, in times of grief, help me to find comfort in your sovereignty and to be strengthened by your unfailing love. Amen.


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Resurrection Power in Christ

Category:Lent Devotions

Matthew 20:17-19

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Jeremiah 32:27

27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”

Certain events in our lives happens in order to fulfil God’s purpose and plan for our lives. It’s no doubt that He chooses the weak to display His strength. Even in our brokenness, God uses it for His glory to draw us closer to Him.

We’ve read about many miracles which Jesus performed in different places alongside His disciples. An extraordinary example in the Bible was the encounter with Lazarus and Jesus’s disciples. We all know the story of Lazarus and the great loss experienced by Mary and Martha when their brother passed away. The family was in great despair; for them it seemed too late for a miracle as Jesus came to meet them four days after Lazarus’s burial.

Another loss but glorious victory in the end was also seen when Jesus was crucified. His disciples were all in great fear and brokenness with the news that their master was no longer with them. Nevertheless, these two remarkable events contained a similar promise – a promise and hope of resurrection. This promise turned their great misery into an extraordinary testimony to display the glory of God.

It is never too late for God to change your situation. God’s message for us is clear that He alone has promised the hope of resurrection. This hope is not a worldly hope but a living Hope. A Hope that brings restoration to life. A Hope that raises the dead to life. There is indeed nothing too hard for God to do, including raising the dead back to life. The power of resurrection has not only defeated death forever but has also taken off the veil of blindness from our lives. This same resurrection power changed the spiritual life of Jesus’s Disciples, the Pharisees, the Roman soldier. That same power is at work in us and is still changing and transforming millions of lives around the world. There is nothing too hard for God; it’s never too late to let in the power of resurrection to transform your life. Christ’s resurrection power can break the yoke of bondage, anxiety, depression, fear and impossibility in your life. Irrespective of your past mistakes, unrepented sins, pride, unbelief, dishonesty, I am here to tell you that there is HOPE – a living HOPE that can give restoration to all the dead situations in your life – and His name is JESUS.

38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

Luke 11:38-44

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell zmy brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:5-10

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”

John 11:25

God open my eyes as you start to work in restoring my life, my relationship, my weakness, my faith, my household, my past, my business, my health, my blindness, my finances, and every impossibility I am facing. Amen.


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Trusting God In Uncertain Times

Category:Lent Devotions

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

In early 2017, my husband lost his job. I was self-employed at the time and lost a customer weeks later. Spring 2017 was an anxious time for me and I wondered why God had taken that little bit of financial security away from us. With apparently nothing left to lose, I could only look to God and ask Him to show me the way. By autumn 2017, I was back at university to do my MA and a few weeks later we found out that I was pregnant with our son, a gift which made us feel incredibly blessed at the end of that tough year. God had led us on a completely new path – one which still lacks man-made security, but which taught me to trust God in a way I have never trusted Him before.

Four years later, Covid-19 has robbed us all of a lot of security we used to take for granted: jobs, school, most of our social lives, health and even have loved ones who died from the virus. Life has become incredibly unpredictable, defined by weeks of lockdown, and news on vaccinations and numbers of infections per day. We are blind, stumbling through the darkness, living in uncertainty. It is painfully obvious that we are not in control.

Sometimes this is what it takes for us to really trust the Lord. It is easier to trust Him completely when that is the only choice we have left because there is nothing (and nobody) else to rely on. That was my experience in 2017. I had been clinging to shreds of imagined security, even though that meant a lack of progress in many ways. Only when I had no choice but to trust God, was I ready to let Him guide me, even into uncertainty, and He is always there, always providing for us. In the middle of this pandemic, we can only rely on God – He will guide us through this uncertain time and never leave us. Even when we feel helpless and lost, God is in control and that is enough.

Lord, please help us to remember to trust you and to keep our eyes on you. Thank you that we can rely on you even when we feel lost. Amen.


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The Lord God Is Our Helper

Category:Lent Devotions

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Sometimes it’s good to lift up our heads and focus on the LORD. God sees us. He knows our pain. Our struggles. Our loneliness. Our weakness. Our sin. But as the resurrected King, he has a different perspective:

He knows the end of the story. He died for us and overcame death for us. He is our righteousness! He is forever God and forever good. He knows that the best is yet to come for those who are with him. He is and will forever be our victory.

He is alive and well. He is all-loving and all-powerful. He is in control and He is not and will never be in lockdown. And if this Jesus is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

It is this God who says to us: Do not fear – I’m with you – and I will help you.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

– Isaiah 41:10 & 14

God, how great you are! I worship you! God, here I am. I need you. Please help me. Amen.


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Our Victory In Christ

Category:Lent Devotions

Colossians 2:13-15

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

For much of the time, as we get on with our day to day lives, we’re not so directly aware of the spiritual battle that is raging in the heavenlies, between truth and error, holiness and godlessness, light and darkness, righteousness and sin, love and hate, kindness and selfishness, life and death, good and evil, God and Satan.

But to those who know God, it sometimes – or even – often becomes more obvious. For example, when we are gripped by fear that a situation or a person we must face seems too much for us to cope with, so that we either lose our freedom to express ourselves or we lose control of our temper. Or lust that feels like it must be satisfied, even though its outcome would not be in keeping with God’s pure best for us. Or perhaps it’s the feeling that we’re just not good enough to be accepted by others. Or it could even be an essentially good desire to speak God’s needed challenge into someone’s life, which is then corrupted by self-righteousness with us thinking we’re better than them because we’re not doing what they are. In the end we push them further away from God rather than drawing them closer.

As C.S. Lewis so ably and humorously depicts in his classic “The Screwtape Letters”, demonic forces are still very much at work, seeking to distract us from our true lives and witness in Christ and to bring destruction into our relationships and society.

Thankfully our verse today (v15) reminds us that on the cross Jesus won the decisive victory over these forces.
His “disarming” them means he stripped them of their power to accuse Christians (those alive in Christ) before God.
His “putting them [the evil forces] to open shame” means exposing their inability to prevent God’s plan of salvation for those in Christ, to forgive our sin, deliver us from evil, and make us more like Jesus.

His “triumphing over them” conjures up images of military conquests where the defeated armies were “paraded, straggling behind the conquering army. Shamed, and exposed to public gaze, everyone can see that there is nothing to fear from these once proud soldiers” (R.C. Lucas).

Dear Lord Jesus, I praise you that on the cross you have defeated Satan and all his forces, so as to be able to forgive me my sin and give me your new life. I gladly and confidently pray ’lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil`’. Please teach me to discern when these enemy forces are causing me to lose perspective on who I am in you. In any such case today, I declare and trust, from the bottom of my heart, that you are the sovereign Lord over me and the whole situation. In the name of Jesus. Amen.


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The Restful Burden Of Jesus

Category:Lent Devotions

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The title of this devotion might be confusing to many – Is there such thing as a burden, which is restful?

What is a yoke? The Collins Dictionary of English defines it as “a long piece of wood which is tied across the necks of two animals such as oxen, in order to make them walk close together when they are pulling a plough.” Usually a young, untrained ox is yoked together with a stronger, more experienced ox to train it in doing its job, which means that the young ox is restricted from doing what it wants to do and has to follow the guidance of the trained ox.

This Bible passage states that many of us are tired from the burdens we face regularly (perhaps difficult work expectations, family problems or issues with self-identity) and only Jesus can give us rest. But here Jesus does not say that he will make the problems gone instantly. Instead he calls us to take on his burden. His yoke. To put on Jesus’ yoke means that in faith, we take up the commitment to give up on our self-sufficiency, acknowledge his wisdom and our weakness, come to him and let him take full control of our life. In exchange, just like the stronger ox, he will walk and bear the burden along with us and help us every step of the way as we work to fulfil our duties.

The process will surely be challenging. Similar to the restricted, young ox, we also have to surrender our own sinful desires and obey Jesus’ commands. And along the way, maybe there are times when we are brought to despair as we fail repeatedly. However, there is no reason for us to give up, as he is “gentle and humble in heart”. He is The Great Teacher himself – the holy, powerful, all-knowing Son of God, yet full of love, grace and mercy. He never gives up on those who truly seek him. Therefore, even in the middle of troubles and failures, we can safely find rest in him, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Thank you, Lord, that you patiently walk along with me in times of joy and difficulties. Please help me to surrender my life to you and faithfully commit to follow you. Amen.


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Meeting God In The Storm

Category:Lent Devotions

Isaiah 40:31

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

When I look back in time since my twenties, I have suffered cancer, left my parents’ home to start a family across the ocean, lost my dad in my early thirties, and continue to suffer many health issues. My life has been filled with many difficulties and setbacks. Life can happen to us like a storm or tornado sometimes. It can make us lose our bearings and sense of direction and can leave us in chaos.

Where do you run to when you are facing the storms of your life? Who do you put your hope in when your health is failing? Do you feel forgotten in your suffering? I have learnt through all the hard times that we never go through this life alone (God is always there) and we can always put our hope in the Lord. I can always run to the Lord and not be afraid. God renews my strength and makes me feel so strong. He is our helper when facing the storms of our life. That is good news because Isaiah 40:31 does not say He will make the storms of life go away.

Remember also 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

I continue to learn more and more to leave all my worries to God. What about you? Is it God you think of immediately when bad news hits?

Psalm 91:1 reminds us: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

I choose to put my hope, trust and faith in you, Lord.

Dear Lord, thank you that you are a mighty, loving God. Show me not to be afraid but to trust you in my daily life. Thank you for your continuous guidance in my life. Amen.


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Wilderness

Category:Lent Devotions

Mark 1:13

And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Comfort is a lovely feeling where I feel amazing just kicking it back to my favourite shows, doing my favourite activities, listening to my favourite music or eating my favourite food. It is a place where we go to after a long day or when you just want to destress. It can also be a state of mind when everything is going according to your plans. Comfort is a place where you feel great and what most people aspire to. However, is it always great to be comfortable? Let’s take an example of an athlete who is only comfortable lifting weights lower than fifty kilograms or a kid who is only comfortable eating ice cream. How will the athlete become strong and how will the kid be healthy?

As Ecclesiastes 3, says there is a time for everything and sometimes being in uncomfortable seasons (wilderness) is a times necessary for growth. Jesus needed to be in the wilderness in order to prepare for His next steps. Some of us may be in a season of wilderness with great discomfort, however there are great lessons we can learn from this season that will make us much stronger. When an athlete goes through the pains of running an extra mile or sticking to the right diet he or she is rewarded at the end. As Christians we may not know why we are going through such times of difficulty, but what we know is that God has good plans for us. Sometimes we have to be in the fire, but there is Another there with you. Wilderness is a place of thorns and wild beasts, but in our wilderness we can find comfort in Christ.

Thank you Lord for being with me in the wilderness – although I do not understand why, I know that it is important for my growth. Amen.


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Reacting To The News

Category:Lent Devotions

Nehemiah 1:3-4

3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
Nehemiah’s Prayer
4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

The book of Nehemiah opens with a news report from a far away country. Nehemiah, working at the court of the king of the Persian Empire, hears about the sorry state of affairs in Jerusalem, where some of the Jews had returned from the exile several decades ago. The report is of “great trouble and shame”. The news is distressing for Nehemiah.

I wonder if you still watch or read the news, a year into the pandemic. Last year, when the first gloomy reports emerged from Wuhan of a rapidly spreading disease, I was greatly distressed, with all sorts of gloomy scenarios going around my head. God thankfully lifted me out of that distress by reminding me that Jesus is the sovereign king, and that he rules even at a time such as this, with justice and mercy. But I could have learned from Nehemiah to take a more active approach when bad news comes. Nehemiah is distressed, as we all are when truly bad news comes. But he does not stop there, he prays and fasts. We can read the gist of his prayer in Nehemiah chapter 1. It’s a prayer of confession and petition for the Jews, reminding God of his promises given through Moses. Nehemiah fasts as well, expressing his desire for and expectation of an answer and a solution for the “bad news”.

Through this time of prayer and fasting, Nehemiah is stirred into action and God greatly blesses his efforts to restore the walls of Jerusalem. What an impact this bad news had! Let us not be afraid of hearing bad news, let’s bring them before God with prayer and fasting!

Lord, God of heaven and earth, steady our hearts when we hear bad news, and teach us to earnestly seek a response from you. Amen.