Luke 13:13

by Rev Joel Yong

Luke 13:13 records Jesus as saying “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Jesus pointed out the fallibility of humans to become slaves to wealth that they have accumulated. The riches they have make it tough to focus on God as the center of their lives. Note that the Bible never teaches that it is wrong to have wealth – many texts speak of the likes of Abraham and others being blessed with many possessions. However the danger is when these blessings of wealth distract us from the Source of blessings – God Himself. Choose today, to serve God and not money.

Law and Faith

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Galatians 3:10-22, Psalm 61:1-8

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Galatians 3:19 “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.”

REFLECT
God does not do anything superfluous or embark on anything that is unnecessary. Hence, the law was not given because God had nothing better to do or to make human life more miserable. Rather the law was given because of our transgressions. The law was given so that it reflects our own depravity and hence by the Lord’s grace, a recognition for repentance and the need for a Saviour. By itself, the law cannot save. Only faith in Jesus can save.

Yet, there could be times when we tried to rely on the law to save ourselves. We did so when we thought that we can rely on our own strength to help us overcome. It seemed much easier to be able to do so. In comparison, having a relationship with Jesus is difficult because it is costly. Having a relationship with Jesus is challenging because we know that whatever He said for us to obey in the Bible is good and right.

RELATE
During our church anniversary recently, many came together as a Body in Christ to give glory to the Lord for what He had done and what He is going to do.¬†Even in the midst of the celebrations of many, God was at work in one brother’s heart.

After the service, I was given the privilege to pray with one brother to receive the Lordship of Christ. I explained to this brother that journeying with Jesus is not going to be easy. Yet, this does not deter him from wanting to give his life to Christ because he realised that He is the only way. We praise God that while the law has revealed the sins in this brother’s heart, Christ has given him grace to repent and showed him the way to salvation. Hallelujah!

REST
Thank you Lord. Even as we give glory unto Your Name, You are constantly at work in each of our hearts. We can never out-give you and can only worship Your Holy Name. Amen.

Judges 15:15

by Rev Joel Yong

Judges 15:15 states: “He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand, took it, and killed 1000 men with it.”

Samson had no proper weapon – neither sword nor spear. But he took what lay before him – a donkey’s jawbone, and with it, slew 1000 men. He was able to do this because it is said in verse 14, that the Spirit of the LORD took control of him. When God is with us, it doesn’t matter if we have the right tools, or if we have the right support. He is more than enough and with Him on our side, victory is assured. This week, would you call out to God, in your time of struggle? When you seek Him, with all your heart, He will come alongside you and lead you to a victorious life. Trust in Him, not in the strength of your arm nor the power of your sword.

Defilement of the earth through our sins

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Isaiah 22:1-24:23; Proverb 23:15-16

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Isaiah 24:5 “The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.”

REFLECT
Quite often, we think that our sins affect only ourselves or at most the people whom we transgress upon. Yet Isaiah 24:5 speaks of how our sins are able to defile the earth. Indeed, the effects of our sins can be much more far reaching than we think. This is because the Christian faith is not the faith of an individual but a shared faith. The next time we are tempted to sin, it might do us well to think about the drastic consequences it could bring to ourselves, to our family members, to our community and even to the public witness of the faith. At that moment, we cry out for the strength and grace of God to help us overcome.

RELATE
One of the most widespread and yet seldom spoken of sin among Christians is sexual sin (e.g. pornography). It remained largely unspoken because of the potential shame it brings; especially in an asian society like Singapore. However, the consequences of sexual sin is insidiously far reaching. Not only does it affects the individual, family and community; it also promotes a wrong sense of men view women and vice versa.

God’s creation is insulted. The image of God is distorted and abused for personal pleasures. I am glad that our Pastor in Charge is facilitating a course “Pure and Blameless” to help men overcome sexual temptations / addictions. Indeed, let us pray that churches in Singapore will put in more resources on this aspect of ministry. This will come in a big way to help all of us live in purity for the Lord.

REST
Lord, help us to be awakened to the truth that the effect of our sins can be much more far-reaching than we think. Cultivate in us the eagerness to live in purity by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Nehemiah 4:6

by Rev Joel Yong

Nehemiah 4 begins with the likes of Sanballat and Tobiah, who were enemies of the Jews, cursing them and predicting that their efforts would come to naught.

The people paid no attention to these things, instead Nehemiah 4:6 records: “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”¬† They were focused on what they needed to do, and did not waste their time thinking about the negative words, and discouragement that came from their enemies. Set your eyes on God, nothing else, as you seek to follow Him with all your heart.

Judgement from a Caring God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Isaiah 15:1-18:7; Proverb 23:12

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Isaiah 15:5 “My heart cries out for Moab; her fugitives flee to Zoar, to Eglath-shelishiyah. For at the ascent of Luhith they go up weeping; on the road to Horonaim they raise a cry of destruction;”

REFLECT
Whose heart was crying for Moab? In the context of Isaiah 15; it was likely to be God Himself. Question is, how could God’s heart be crying since He was the One carrying out the judgement? Wasn’t God being hypocritical?

God was not hypocritical. Judgment was to be meted against the sins of Moab (particularly for drawing close to Assyria) because God is holy. However, God’s holiness does not mean that He is cruel or uncaring. In fact, in Chapter 16:1-4; God provided refuge and help for who managed to flee the destruction. Sometimes we forget that the Moabites were also the children of God. It must have grieved God’s heart to witness and to punish the sins of His own children.

RELATE
Being a father of two children, I have at times tasted the grief of having to discipline them. It was an emotion held in tension between love and sadness. Most parents discipline their children because of love; yet it grieve our hearts to do so. We can choose not to discipline and allow our children to do whatever they want. However, this will most likely cause grieve to others (like ill-disciplined children terrorising others) or they will eventually break our hearts through sin. Perhaps in a similar way, even as God judge against Moab, He still cares for them and loves them. Even as we have to suffer God’s discipline at times; may we take heart that this is from the hands of a loving God who knows what He is doing.

REST
Loving Father, even if we have to suffer discipline from Your hands; may You give us strength and grace to persevere, knowing that You did it because You want to mould us to be more like Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Matthew 4:5

by Rev Joel Yong

Matthew 4:5 records: “But He answered, “It is written: MAN MUST NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT COMES FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD.”

Whilst fasting in the wilderness, Satan came to tempt Jesus. Here, Satan was asking Jesus to stop his fast. Satan was asking him to cease dependence on God the Father and challenged Jesus to produce His own food. Sin attempts to draw us away from God and try to be our own providers. Jesus’ reply, states that only God can give us life. Our own efforts at providing for ourselves, produce no real life. Lean on God this day, won’t you?