Peaceful Offence

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Romans 12; Proverbs 14:13-14

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

REFLECT
Some things don’t depend on us. We can’t stop a nasty neighbour who insists on being inconsiderate and quarrelsome. We cannot prevent a colleague who looks for every opportunity to attack or provoke us. Some things don’t depend on us. But many things do. We can choose not to retaliate. We can choose to keep quiet. We can even choose to return evil with good.

RELATE
How does one live peaceably with others? One way is to not take offense easily. I have to constantly remind myself of this when I’m driving. Singapore roads are merciless, and Singaporean drivers are aggressive. When someone does something unkind or ungracious, my instinct is to react in kind (not kindness), or to “teach him a lesson”. I must now choose if I should respond in wrath, or in peace. If I take offense, then my anger needs to be satisfied. But if I opt for peace, then I can remind myself that the other party is probably not ready for a driving lesson, and the most loving response is to say a prayer for him. “Lord, bless him, and teach him how to drive!” 😉

REST
Lord, the next time I say to myself that “I have no choice” – help me to realize that it’s probably just an excuse, and then to choose wisely. Amen.

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Live It!

What now, after the great service? Is it back to the same old, same old? Been there, done that? God forbid! Let the Word of God sung, prayed or preached remain in you, meditate on it, toss it over in your heart and mind, love it, live it and be victorious! I was reminded this morning that as long as I choose God’s path, as long as I live rightly in the eyes of God, pour out my life to Him and into the lives of others, as long as He is my priority, always Him first above all else, God will be with me and bless me. And of course, the blessing could be tangible or intangible – as He sees fit. (Isa.58:1-14)

Sleep Early

Sleep early, go to church tomorrow, pray, worship the Lord, it’s not a concert, you are not the audience, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you, you sing to Him and He will respond to you, you surrender and He rules, give attention to the preaching of the Word, don’t fall asleep, God has something to say to you no matter who is preaching, reach out to a church member or visitor, you’ve been blessed to be a blessing, give thanks to God for He is truly good!

The great assurance

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Romans 8:26-39; Psalms 97:1-98:9

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

REFLECT
Romans 8:28 and the surrounding verses is a good passage to meditate upon when we are in deep trouble. It provides the great assurance that God is like the Great Weaver of the threads in our lives; that all things work together for His glory as we walk in Him. The “good” is not so much as what we see as “good” but the goodness that is found in God’s purpose and will. Therefore, even if the Christian should suffer many evils in this world, all things will work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. Therefore, as the subsequent verses said, that those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. In other words, those whom God foreknew would love Him, He had destined them in advance to be conformed to the image of His Son, and their destinies will be the future glory to come.

RELATE
These few verses in the Bible had been central to the great debate between Calvinists and Arminians on the issue of election (whether people are “elected” to eternal life or eternal damnation). However, I really wonder if the Apostle had in mind the doctrine of election when he wrote these words as an encouragement to a church in persecution. I think not. I think these verses are more to tell suffering Christians that as long as we do not cease in our love for the Lord i.e. to follow Christ; our destinies are secured in God’s promise of future glory. Of course, such following of Christ certainly does not deny that God’s grace is always at work in the believer. The point we should be more concerned about I believe, is whether we really understood His love for us and whether we truly love the Lord.

So am I really in tune to His purposes for my life? Or am I merely wanting the glory but disdain the life in Christ now on this earth? I cannot have it both ways. If I am really an adopted child of God, then I should not shy away from God’s work in me to conform to the image of His Son (which literally means the obedience of His Word and possibly even the resurrection on the last day) even as I wait patiently for the glory that is to come.

REST
Thank you Lord for this great assurance of Your foreknowledge and predestination. Help me to live out Your love that is already in me for the purpose of Your glory. Amen.

Who am I singing to?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Romans 7:14-8:8; Psalm 95:1-96:13

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Psalms 96:1-3
Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.

REFLECT
Singing, that’s what we do in church every Sunday. Many prefer to sing old and familiar songs, some want to sing new songs. But who are we singing to? I wonder if sometimes we are singing to ourselves. We enjoy hearing our own voices. We sing to console ourselves. We sing because it’s what people do in church. But three times the Psalmist calls us to sing “to the Lord”. He is the “target” of our singing. We sing for Him, to Him, and in His Presence. To whom have we been singing?

RELATE
Singing to the Lord need not be done in church. In fact, it is to be done wherever we are – in the bedroom, in the living room, in the office, in the classroom, in the park, and in the MRT. Sing loudly, sing softly, sing silently – the volume does not really matter; but the heart does. If our heart sings, our mouth will proclaim, and our actions will declare. Yes, our lives will declare the good news of God’s salvation and glory and wonders. To whom have we sung the Gospel’s song?

REST
Lord, make my life a song of praise, and a hymn of salvation!

Faith and Works

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Romans 4:1-12; Proverbs 14:1-2

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

REFLECT
Romans 4:3 talks about how Abraham was counted as righteous, not for the works he had done, but for his faith in a God who can do the impossible. Romans 4:3 makes reference to Genesis 15:6, where Abraham expressed his belief in God, who promised that the Patriarch will have many offspring like the stars in heaven. The Bible is consistent with the truth that we cannot gain righteousness with God with anything we do with our flesh; but only through faith. Both in the Old Testament as well as the New.

Does this mean that those who “have faith” can ignore “works” since faith alone counts towards righteousness with God? While we cannot earn God’s righteousness or pleasure with the works of our flesh; works as an expression of our belief (faith) is no less important. This is because genuine faith produces good work that are pleasing to the Lord. Titus 3:8 says this clearly: “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

So being counted as righteous in faith does not mean that we can take a spiritual holiday. In God, there is simply no such thing. That was why the Apostle James commented that faith without works is dead. Why? Because genuine faith produces or we can even say enthuse good work in God. Notice, that even as Abraham was counted as righteous for his faith; his journey with God did not end there. In fact it was just the beginning as seen in the circumcision of his household in Genesis 17 as well as the pleading with God for the sparing of the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18.

RELATE
Elyse, our daughter requested to wall climb on her birthday. Hence, we bought a day pass so she could climb to her heart’s content. For her first climb of the day, she climbed to the top but was fearful of getting down. Getting down involves a simple letting yourself to free fall while being strapped to a roping system. Only after much encouragement (with the help of Justin who happened to be there) did Elyse find faith in the roping system (not really sure if God is involved in her “contemplation”) and did a free fall. After this first act of faith, she became quite another person. As the day came to an end (thank God!), she did like 15-16 climbs and had no problem with free falling. What propel her to be so courageous? Because she had faith in the roping system, tested it, found that it worked and went on to do more.

Our faith in God works in somewhat the same way. We do not just believe in our heads that Jesus had died for our sins and we are now set free to glorify God; but our faith, if genuine, should propel us to act upon the faith we have. As we act more upon and through faith; we discover that we can really depend on God to do His marvellous deeds for the sake of His glory. In other words, faith and works are not separate entities; but that works should be an expression of faith that is true and sincere toward Christ who first loves us. Question is, how have we been expressing our faith lately toward God and to the people around us?

REST
Lord our God, help us to ponder upon on how we might have chose to disregard the expression of good works in our lives due to faith. Give us the courage and strength to do and to be the Gospel; of which is the power of God to save. Amen.

Eating Well

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Romans 2:25-3:8; Proverbs 13:24-25

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Proverbs 13:25
The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul,
But the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.

REFLECT
When it comes to the topic of eating, we Singaporeans can identify very well. Yet, we know that many of us eat the best of food, and yet our soul is not satisfied. Why? Perhaps it is because our desires are not righteous. We often crave for things we know border on the fringe of lust, greed, even perversion. No wonder we can never be satisfied. Like the wicked, our stomach shall always be hungering for more of the forbidden and fruitless. Instead of eating more, perhaps we can try eating healthy.

RELATE
Recently, I heard a sad story of how a family was fighting for an inheritance. One party was usurping all, the other was left with nothing. One seemed blissful, the other blameful. Both, tragically, are Christians. My advice to the wronged party was to enjoy what he already has, be thankful, and seek to live righteously. Don’t fret about the greedy person having a great time enjoying his wealth. The stomach of the wicked can never be satisfied. The lustful will never be happy.  Money, sex, and power. None of these can ever meet our deepest longings. Only Love can.

REST
Lord, it is so easy for me to be deceived into believing that the forbidden always tastes better. Transform my desires, renew my mind, and help me eat to the satisfaction of a righteous soul.