Honey anyone?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Nahum 1-3; Proverbs 25:16

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Proverbs 25:16 (NKJV)
Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.

REFLECT
Too much of a good thing – food, money, power – can become bad! Why? Because we are human, which means we are limited. Limited in our capacity to consume all the “honey” in the world (issue of marginal utility), and limited in our ability to resist making honey into gods (issue of sin and idolatry). God loves us too much to give us too much honey … can we accept that?

RELATE
I am strongly aware that as I settle into Vancouver for the next 2 years, I have entered into what many consider a land of milk, honey, and plenty. I have tasted the goodness of world-best fruits, beef, desserts, and human prosperity. But do all these make me happier than my friends back in SG? Not necessarily. For I have brought here the same sinful me, with all my impatience, habits and struggles. No amount of honey can make me whole. Only Christ can. Yes, I have indeed found much honey here – may the Lord help me to eat only what I need.

REST
Lord, may the prosperity that I see and experience in this land – draw me closer and not further from You. Amen.

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Praying for our leaders

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Proverbs 25:17

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
1 Timothy 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

REFLECT
The first of Paul’s instructions to Timothy (and possibly the church in Ephesus) was to pray. It was to pray and intercede for all people; and of special mention are those who held high positions in the country. Prayers are to be constant and not merely for certain times of the year. Prayers are necessary, as Paul said, so that Christians may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Such prayers are not so much about praying “away” persecutions or trouble; instead it was to pray so that as Christians, we can remain calm and steadfast even in the midst of persecution and in the context of 1 Timothy – the chaos created by false teachings. Paul said that praying in this way is pleasing to God and he seems to imply that when Christians behave well as we are strengthened by prayers, more will come to be saved.

RELATE
My family and I had the privilege of attending the 1st preview of Singapore’s National Day Parade 2019 at the Padang. The parade brought good reminders that as a nation, we have so much to be thankful for. Yet, we all know that there is a lot of room for improvement. This is especially so when we talk about the quality of life for those in need and how we can be more patient towards one another. So yes, we need to pray for our leaders in this nation. We pray that they will be given wisdom and discernment to run this country well. We pray for ourselves as Christians, that we will also remain steadfast and be at peace with one another; even if we should encounter trouble and persecutions. We pray for ourselves to be good witnesses and to live out godly lives; so that more can be saved. This is God’s desire and as His children, we pray that we will be strengthened to carry out His purposes.

REST
Thank you God for the leaders of this nation. We pray for them that they will carry out the duties of their office with love, wisdom and strength. We pray for ourselves that as the children of God, we live in a way that is pleasing in Your sight. This is so that more will come to know You as Savior and Lord. Amen.

A pastor’s prayer

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Colossians 1; Psalm 81

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Colossians 1:9-10 (NKJV)
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

REFLECT
The above might sound like a lot of big words, but it is really the essence of the Christian faith. To know God and His will is to live with wisdom. Yes, to live, not just to know and understand. Each of us will be rewarded according to what we have done, whether it was worthy, fruitful, pleasing and good in God’s eyes. This is an impossible calling upon imperfect humans … that’s why it can only be achieved through unceasing prayer.

RELATE
As I end my pastoral ministry in PMC, I am so happy to read this passage again. I am reminded that this is my calling, which is to build up the body of Christ for good works that will make Him known (Matt 5:16). At my farewell on 21 July, I am humbled and extremely grateful that despite my weaknesses, God has used me to touch some lives. Yes, thank you, PMC, for reminding me of my calling in Christ. Thank you for the affirmation that I have (somehow) fulfilled my pastoral duty. Now, I can go in peace. 🙂

REST
Lord, the church is Yours. Take good care of her, and transform her into Your most beautiful and glorious bride.

The lure of procrastination

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Amos 1:1-3:15; Proverbs 24:30-34

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Proverbs 24:30-34
30 I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, 31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. 32 Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction. 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, 34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

REFLECT
Proverbs 24:30-34 speaks of the sluggard who neglected to care for the vineyard that was entrusted to his care. As a result, the vineyard was overgrown with thorns and even its stone wall was broken down. A vineyard was and still is a great provision from the Lord. However, it needs to be tended to and constantly cared for. Otherwise, poverty (not just in the physical sense I believe) will be knocking at our doors. To be sure, verses 33-34 described that the sluggard did not destroy the vineyard overnight; but it was accumulated “bits of laziness” that caused the destruction.

RELATE
It is rare that I come across people who are so lazy that they don’t even want to work. Rather, I believe many of us struggle with “bits of sluggishness” or what we often refer to as “procrastination”. There are many reasons as to why people procrastinate. Sometimes procrastination can be a good thing especially if one has many things to handle all at one time. So a little slowing down in making decisions could be beneficial.

However, some of us might procrastinate because we keep thinking that we have “time” or that we refuse to optimise what God has entrusted to us. We think that we are not good enough despite the many assurances from the community and the Lord that this is not true. In these circumstances, the wise person in Proverbs warned that such “sluggishness” could cost us dearly.

I thank God for this reminder as there are occasions when I would slip into such a mode of procrastination. I am reminded that God orders my time and entrust me with resources to help me live a fruitful life. Let me therefore be a good steward, trust in His heart and obey.

REST
Thank you Lord for the reminder to be a better steward of what You have entrusted to my care. Strengthen my heart to serve Yours. Amen.

The Lamb’s Wife

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Revelation 21; Proverbs 24:28-29

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Revelation 21:9 (NKJV)
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

REFLECT
The image of a city married to a lamb, how strange! Yes, a glorious city adorned with precious jewels and streets of gold … tying the knot with a slain lamb (Rev 5:6) – the contrast cannot be greater. To some, the imagery might sound ridiculous. As ridiculous as the message that God must die on the Cross, and humans can get saved for free. Yes, ridiculous though all these might seem, the important question to ask is whether they are true – and if they are, then our life after death is at stake.

RELATE
I’m glad that what excites me about heaven is not the pearly gates or the gold buildings. If humans stay on earth long enough, we could probably achieve the same glorious constructions. My desire is to see the Lamb, who was slain for my sake. To look into His eyes, and see pure love. To let His light shine so brightly into my heart that all fears and folly dissipate. Yes, this is the day my soul yearns for.

REST
Come, Lord Jesus, your servants are waiting!

Remember!

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 77:1-20

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Psalm 77:12 “I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

REFLECT
Once again, the Psalmist (in Psalm 77) was despondent and weary. We do not know what the Psalmist was expressing grief about but we get the impression that he was in deep trouble. Once again, the Psalmist did not submit to his depression but he sought the Lord.

Psalm 77 is a beautiful Psalm that gives us somewhat of a “guide” in seeking the Lord:

  1. In days of trouble, instead of turning to our favourite and often ungodly escapades, we turn to the Lord.
  2. Even if those days are extremely challenging, even if we should lie awake in the night troubled in the mind, we do not forget to stretch out our hand to the Lord.
  3. Then we verbalise our thoughts and converse with God. We tell Him that despite all that we are going through; we will remember. We will remember that He has been and will continue to be holy, trustworthy and faithful. Therefore, we shall continue to trust in His will.

RELATE
There was a time when my heart was deeply troubled by ministry matters. I lie in my bed wide awake, thinking of how I can go about solving the issue at hand. I tossed and turned, asking God to help me. After a few hours of turmoil, I slipped into a fitful sleep and woke up feeling even more discouraged. It was only after a few days when the Spirit reminded that instead of focusing on the issue at hand, I should focus on the faithfulness of God.

I was reminded to think about the many instances when I had almost given up and God held my hand to do His will. From there, I should then seek the heart of the Father with regards to the issue. I should recall His character.

As I did that, my spiritual burden was lifted as I was no longer using my own lens to see the issue. I was slowly brought into the perspective of the Father. From there, I managed to get wisdom to handle the tricky matter and found peace in Him. This lesson taught me one important thing: That I would need to “train up” like the Psalmist on being able to ponder upon the past deeds of the Father. It is extremely important, especially when we are in trouble.

REST
Lord God, give me strength to actively ponder upon Your faithful and holy deeds. This is so that during times of trouble, I will remember to turn to You. Amen.

Fear God, my friend!

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Revelations 14; Psalm 76

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Revelation 14:6-7 (NKJV)
6 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— 7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

REFLECT
Often, in our busy lives, we are unaware of the work of the gospel in this world. If God’s word is true (and it is), then the “everlasting gospel” has gone out to every nation, tribe, tongue and people. Before long, the end will come, and God will reveal Himself in all His power and glory and majesty to everyone – believers or not. Meanwhile, Christians are called to partner the angels in proclaiming that there is only One God to be feared, and all idols must bow and be destroyed.

RELATE
Recently, I visited the house of a friend, and saw that he kept many idols, big and small. Although he had told me that he wasn’t religious, but only believed in himself – his practice seemed contradictory. How I wished I could have declared to him on the spot that his idols were worthless and that he must fear God and glorify Jesus Christ! Yet, it did not feel like a wise thing to do, at least not yet. Unless his heart was softened and his eyes unblinded – my words would fall on hard ground. To this day, I continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to touch this man, and his family, that they too might receive God’s blessed salvation. And when the time comes, may I have the faith to declare the eternal gospel to this household.

REST
Lord, have mercy! Do Your saving work in the hearts of our loved ones, friends, and even enemies!!