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There’s Something About Mary

No. It’s not about a show. It’s not about Cameron Diaz. But there’s something about Mary we all should know.

Did you notice that every time when Mary of Bethany – whose act Jesus specifically ordered be recorded in all the Gospels (Mat 26:6-13; Mar 14:3-9; John 12:1-8; *Luk 7:37-39) – was seen together with Jesus, she was ALWAYS at His feet (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:31-32; John 12:1-8)? And on top of that, she also had the privilege of being the first to see our Lord in His resurrected form! (Mar 16:9; John 20:14-16)

Did Mary know something that we don’t, but should know?

As Christians, we are told to bear fruit. I know many of us are trying to bear the fruit mentioned in Gal 5: 22-23 and 2 Pet 1:5-7, albeit with much anguish and frustrations.

First things first, let me digress a little. Why do we need to bear fruit? We bear fruit not for ourselves. We bear fruit so that others who are in need of it can ‘eat’ of it. For example, do you know of anyone who’s in need of some brotherly kindness as mentioned in 2 Peter? Do you have that ‘fruit’ for that person to ‘eat’ and consequently glorify Jesus?

Ok, let’s get back to Mary. Do apple trees have to strive to bear fruit? Have you heard any fruit tree telling another, “You know, I’m really sick and tired of working so hard and yet my fruit doesn’t come out!”? Fruit trees just bear fruits, don’t they?

Then why do we Christians have to strive so hard to do it?

I believe the ‘secret’ lies in the ability to do the Mary thing in a Martha world; the ability to resist to be Martha when we’re supposed to be Mary. In a world where efficiency is lauded and doing nothing is scorned, it’s no wonder why many Christians are worn out trying to bear fruit or to serve God. Being Mary seems so ‘weird’ in a Martha world.

But this is exactly what our Lord wants us to do! Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” How can we have life in abundance when we are highly strung like Martha?

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not for those sit-down-and-do-nothing-and-wait-for-Kingdom-come kind of faith. And I’m not promoting laziness either. But I’m for those seat-at-Jesus’-feet-and-wait-for-His-Spirit-to-lead kind of works. To quote Martin Luther, “Faith must never be useless, deaf, dead, or in a state of decay. But it must be a living tree that bursts forth with fruit. Where there is true faith, it will show itself in a person’s life.

Jesus says in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” I believe as long as our works are not done according to His spoken and/or written Word, they’re all useless. In fact, they’ll do nothing but wear us down.

Yes, we are supposed to bear fruit and be Christ-like. But as Mark Buchanan says in his book, ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’, “There is no way to do Christ-like acts except by way of intimacy with Christ Himself. I must live in Jesus, and let His Word live in me. I must listen to Him, be heedful of Him. If ever I’m to do Martha-like acts with real effect, I must do it with Mary-like submissiveness and attentiveness to Jesus.

Yes. There’s really something about Mary…

And Martha too!

God bless,
Melvin Neo
* There’s some debate that the lady in Luke 7 was not Mary. But this is not the point of my post here.


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Why did Jesus curse when He could have Blessed?

Have you ever wondered why did Jesus curse the fig tree for its barrenness when He could have just blessed it and caused it to produce fruit? (Please read Mark 11:12-14, 2-21 before you proceed.) What made it worse was it wasn’t even the season for figs yet! Was our Lord being unreasonable?

This is the answer from “The Wiersbe Bible Commentary” by Warren Wiersbe:

The fig tree produces leaves in March or April and then starts to bear fruit in June, with another crop in August and possibly a third crop in December. The presence of leaves could mean the presence of fruit, even though that fruit was “left over” from the previous season. It is significant that in this instance Jesus did not have special knowledge to guide Him; He had to go to the tree and examine things for Himself.

If He had power to kill the tree, why didn’t He use that power to restore the tree and make it produce fruit? Apart from the drowning of the pigs (Mark 5:13), this is the only instance of our Lord using His miraculous power to destroy something in nature. He did it because He wanted to teach us *two important lessons.

First, there is a lesson on failure: Israel had failed to be fruitful for God. In the OT, the fig tree is associated with the nation of Israel (Jer 8:13; Hos 9:10; Nah 3:12). Like the fig tree our Lord cursed, Israel had “nothing but leaves.” Note that the tree dried up “from the roots” (Mark 11:20). Three years before, John the Baptist had put the ax to the roots of the tree (Mat 3:10), but the religious leaders would not heed his message. Whenever an individual or a group “dries up” spiritually, it is usually from the roots.

The disciples would probably connect this miracle with the parable that Jesus gave some months before (Luke 13:1-9), and they would see in the miracle a vivid picture of God’s judgment on Israel. The might also recall Micah 7:1-6, where the prophet declares that God is seeking “the first ripe fruit” from His people. Christ is still seeking fruit from His people, and for us to be fruitless is sin (John 15:16). We must carefully cultivate our spiritual roots and not settle for “leaves.”

Are we fruitful or are we “nothing but leaves”? It’s funny that whenever this question is asked, most people would naturally relate it to other people’s barrenness rather than their own. Remember, God’s words are not to be used as “weapons against others. They are to be taken personally by each of us.” (The Ragamuffin Gospel). Are you also guilty of it too? If not, great! If yes, still not too late to repent!

Back to the point of fruitfulness/barrenness. If you believe you’re nothing but leaves, ask for God’s grace so that you can be fruitful. It is His will that we be fruitful and since it is His will, we know that He’ll answer our prayer because whenever we pray according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14)!

*The second lesson (Mark 11:22-26) is on faith. But because it’s too long, I’ve decided not to put it in, lest you guys/gals fall asleep. Maybe next time…
God bless,

Melvin Neo


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Which dog have you been feeding?

“A converted Indian explained, “I have two dogs living in me – a mean dog and a good dog. They are always fighting. The mean dog wants me to do bad things, and the good dog wants me to do good things. Do you want to know which dog wins? The one I feed the most! [Read more...]
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A Storm. A Madman. And a God Who IS Love!

He (Jesus) told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” Mark 4:35

Please read Mark 4:35-41 and Mark 5:1-20 first to have a better understanding of my message below.

There are many things we can learn from this short episode.

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The Focus of Jesus

And He said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come. Mark 1:38
By now, Jesus has become very popular. Everywhere He went, throngs of people followed Him. According to Mark 1:35 – 37, one morning as usual, He was up early and went to a desolate place to pray. But His disciples were looking all over for Him; and when they found Him, they said, “Everyone’s looking for you!”
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What is your name?

Then He said, ‘Let Me go, for day is breaking.’ But [Jacob] said, ‘I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me.’ [The Man] asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And [in shock of realization, whispering] he said, ‘Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!’” (Gen 32:26-27)

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Prayer & Fasting, Faith & Faithfulness, & 10 camels too!

It’s a looooong message today. But if you can grasp it, your faith will skyrocket. I promise!

Prayer and Fasting
Depending on your Bible, you may have missed Mat 17:21. Some Bibles put it as a footnote, and some write it in italics. But what does it say? It says, “But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting.” This was said by Jesus in response to His disciples whom were not able to cast out a demon-possessed boy.

Yes, there is power in prayer and fasting! But the power doesn’t come with prayer and fasting! It comes from the Presence of the Lord as a result of prayer and fasting.

Many people fast, but yet they do not have power. Why? Because these people do not pray while they’re fasting. Confused already? Let me explain. As far as I know, prayer and fasting always come hand in hand. One of the purposes of fasting is to let our flesh know the spirit is the boss, not the flesh! But to me, the main purpose of fasting is to get intimate with our Lord.

I know of people who’re fasting from meals, reading, watching TV, etc but instead of replacing the freed up time for prayer, they do something else. Somehow I feel these people are fasting in vain. “Why?”, you may ask.

Take for example: When you decide to fast and skip lunch, you’re supposed to replace the time that is originally used for lunch to get into the presence of the Lord through prayer. But instead of using the freed up time for prayer, you go shopping or chit chat with your friend(s). You’re not fasting; you’re just on a diet!

But when you fast (eg. lunch) and use the freed up lunch time to pray, worship and/or dwell into the Word of God, your faith will definitely increase. And when your faith increases, it becomes very natural that you’d want to fast and pray more! I promise.

So, the next time you fast, replace that freed up time and get into prayer too!

Jesus’ disciples saw Him doing mighty works and wonders. But the only thing they asked Him to teach them was, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). By the time a Jew reached adolescent, he would already know how to pray. In fact most of them could recite the first 5 books of the OT! But yet, they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray! Think about the implication here.

Faith and Faithfulness

When Abraham told his servant to go and get Issac a wife, he said in Gen 24:7, “..He (God) will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.” Can you see how confident Abraham was when he said God WILL send His angel? Is there any wonder why God called Abraham “My friend” (Isa 41:8)?

When Abraham’s servant prayed to God to show him a sign who Issac’s wife should be, he specifically told God what sign it should be! Wow, so ‘brave’ of him! The sign was, “And let it so be that the girl to whom I say, ‘I pray you, let down your jar that I may drink’, and she replies, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also‘ let her be the one” (Gen 24:14)

Did you know how much water can a camel consume? Up to 20 gallons (75 litres) a day! And the servant had 10 camels. That is 750 litres of water! Let’s assume these were thin camels and they only needed 10 percent. It’s still 75 litres of water! The servant could have make God’s life ‘easier’ by requesting for a more simple sign, couldn’t he? Like, “Let the girl whom Issac is supposed to marry wear pink bermudas and yellow Croc shoes.” :p

Don’t talk about a lady, I don’t think I have the energy to carry 75 litres of water to feed camels. What’s more, the water was to be drawn from the well, which made it even more strenuous!

Man, either the servant was looking for a very strong woman or he also had great faith in God! What do you think?

As much as we want to commend on the faith of Abraham and his servant, the One and only who deserves all the praise and honor is God Himself. The faith that Abraham and his servant had was in the Faithfulness of God. They knew they had a faithful God.

Do you?

Trust me, the more you pray and dwell into His Presence and His Word, the more faith you’ll have in His faithfulness; and the more you’d want to pray and dwell into His Presence and His Word. Money-back guarantee!

Our God is a faithful God. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). When we pray and ask Him for things that He had already said in the Bible, have faith that He WILL answer.

“What’s written in the Bible that I can pray and He’ll answer?”, you may ask. Here are some:

Do you have any loved ones who are not saved yet? Pray and have faith that He WILL answer because it is His will, for “He wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.2 Pet 3:9. It’s God’s will for everyone to repent and turn to Jesus. So pray!

Do you or anyone you know need(s) healing? Pray and have faith that He WILL answer because it is His will. How do I know? Because He says in Exo 15:26, “I am the LORD, your Healer.“. And Jesus says in John 5:19, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” What was Jesus doing most of the time when He was on earth? Healing the sick! And He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, it is His will that we are well. Please DO NOT buy into the lie that God doesn’t heal anymore!

There are tons of promises in the Bible. Therefore, when you run into any situation, look up the Bible and see what God says about that situation. And pray accordingly and if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. (1John 5:14-15)

Praise God for His faithfulness!

God bless,
Melvin Neo


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R(A) movie in the Bible?

Sexual exploits, murders, gage rape, homosexuality, gouging of eyes, and a bizarre cutting up of a body into 12 pieces. Wow, isn’t the book of Judges ‘exciting’? If we were to put the book of Judges into a show, it will definitely be rated R(A). Maybe even only people who are above 40 can watch!

Despite the violence we read in the book of Judges (and many other books of the Bible too), we can learn from it two obvious things. Namely:

  1. Israel’s (and men’s too) habit of sinning; and
  2. God’s faithfulness, patience and mercy.

Do you know how many times this verse, “the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” appears in the Judges? At least 7! Why at least? Because I may have missed out some. Here they are: Judges 2:11, 3:7, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, 13:1.

And in the book of Judges, Israel did not sin and disobey God repeatedly over a short period of time – like the time we take to complete the book of Judges. They did it over a period of hundreds of years. In fact, in the Amplified Bible, it says the number of years alloted to the Judges was 410!

Before we say, “Man, what habitual sinners these Israelites are!”, we must check ourselves too! I believe all of us are still struggling with some undesirable behaviors/attitudes that we’ve been trying to give up for years, aren’t we? Please understand that we’re *sinners not because we sin. We’re sinners THAT’S WHY we sin.

But thank God for His patience, faithfulness and mercy, whenever the people of Israel cried out, He redeemed them. In this case, He sent judges to deliver them from the hands of their enemies. If you feel wretched today (at anytime), because you did ‘what was evil in the sight of the LORD’, don’t feel *condemned. Just sincerely repent and cry out to Him because “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Remember, God’s mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2;13). His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23) and He’ll remember our sins no more (Heb 8:12, 10:17).

*Remember, because of Adam, we’re all born sinners. You may hear people of other religions disagreeing that we’re all born sinners. Just ask them questions like, “Do you have to teach children to lie, be rude or be selfish?” or “Why is there a saying that says, ‘It’s easier to learn to be bad than be good (?????????)‘?” and that would cause them to think.

*The Holy Spirit convicts and the devil (and man) condemns. If anytime you feel condemned because you have sinned, remember, this feeling is not from the Holy Spirit. “How can I tell the difference?”, you may ask. Conviction will cause you to want to run to God and repent. Condemnation will cause you to want to run away from God – the ultimate trap of our enemy.

God bless,
Melvin Neo