A Clear Mission

by Rev Anthony Lee

Congratulations if you have made it thus far in this series of devotions! Well done!
God placed in my heart the need to prepare His people for His glorious return. That’s the main purpose for this devotional series.

My prayer and plan was that these devotions will help to shape your priorities, get you started on a daily process of spending time with God and self-examination, and remind you of the great prize awaiting you when Jesus returns.

However, I have deliberately kept making these devotions in its most concrete application.

Now is the time to return to 2 Timothy 2:1–2, the verses which set the context of the triple imageries of soldier, athlete, and farmer. Paul writes, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Our primary purpose as Christians, then, is to make disciples who in turn make disciples. That is where we ought to prioritize our work as Christians. Making disciples has always been a major part of God’s plans – Jesus demonstrated that supremely. The process of discipleship is arduous for both the discipler and the disciple, and requires much humility and persistence especially when one’s disciple fails. Yet there is nothing like reward of forming a disciple who can disciple others.

The post-circuit breaker phases will end eventually. Let us not return to church as normal – simply maintaining worship services, busy running programs and events, or even merely housing the homeless. No, let us make discipleship our top priority. The beautiful thing is that we do not require a church building to make disciples. The other beautiful thing is that we already have a process of making disciples as Methodists – teaching all Methodists to follow the Three General Rules and be held accountable in class meetings (cell groups). Finally, while faith cannot be measured, the disciples we have produced can be.

Do you see? Disciple-making is how we ultimately “pastor the city” and “spread scriptural holiness across the land.”

Question for Reflection
When Jesus returns, how many disciple-makers and disciples can you say you have discipled faithfully?

A Clear Prize

by Rev Anthony Lee

Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 9:7, “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk?”

This expectation of reward is also weaved throughout 2 Timothy 2:3–6 – the soldier is expecting his commanding officer’s praise, the athlete is expecting a winner’s crown, and the farmer is expecting to receive the first share of his crop.

And so, while the previous devotions sound like there is a huge demand on us, the reality is that we can expect a great reward when Jesus returns. Luke 19:11–27 is perhaps the most indicative parable of what awaits us as we faithfully follow Christ and carry out our duties. Take them to read this parable slowly.

First, notice those who were faithful with minas (approximately three months’ wages) were eventually given cities to rule over. Are cities of not far greater worth than minas? This means we who are faithful with what God has assigned us here in this life should expect far greater rewards in the life to come. Second, the one who has the most minas received even that last mina the wicked servant squandered. This means we are who most faithful in this life should expect the most rewards in the life to come.

Take time today to simply sit and enjoy God’s approval and pleasure as a faithful servant. Take time to meditate on the image of Jesus returning as glorious Bridegroom for His pure and blameless bride.

Question for Reflection
When I come face to face with the Lord Jesus on that day, will He welcome me into His Kingdom with a “Well done, you good and faithful servant!”? Ask God to search your heart and show which areas of your life are lacking in faithfulness to Him and His Word.

A Clear Posture

by Rev Anthony Lee

Now, let us put all that we have meditated on the past few days and begin to put the pieces together.

Re-looking at the imageries of soldier, athlete, and farmer again, do you recognize all three of them have adopted a posture of humble submission? The soldier submits to the orders from his commanding officer, the athlete submits to the rules of the race, while the farmer submits his crops to God’s gracious provision of rain.

To be fully prepared for Jesus’ return, then, we must always adopt a posture of submission and humility towards God.

As Methodists, we should not be unfamiliar with this call for total humble submission. Every year at our Wesleyan covenant renewal service, we pray

I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,
exalted for You, or brought low for You;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am Yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

Let this be our daily prayer.

Question for Reflection
Is our posture before God in the face of difficulties that of a humble submissive, trusting spirit or a spirit of rebellion?

A Clear Faith

by Rev Anthony Lee

After using the imageries of a dutiful soldier and a disciplined athlete, Paul now considers the imagery of a diligent farmer.

2 Timothy 2:6 reads, “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.”

While all three imageries share common aspects of purpose, process, priority, posture, and prize, Paul introduces a dimension only peculiar to the farmer. The farmer must continually put his faith in God to provide rain at its proper time.

While it may be true that the soldier may not please his commanding officer and the athlete may not win the crown, the farmer has arguably the least control over the outcome of his hard work. The dutiful soldier who obediently follows all instructions is likely to win favour from his commanding officer. The athlete who trains hard can reasonably expect some prize, but the farmer who works hard day and night may see his entire crop damaged by locusts or ruined by drought. In other words, there is a greater element of faith for the farmer because he must trust God.

Since faith cannot be measured like one’s temperature, the best way we can ascertain our faith is when we undergo trials. The way we respond to trials is the best way to gauge our faith.

Questions for Reflection
When trials hit us hard, do we grumble and complain? Or have we learnt to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)?

A Clear Requirement

by Rev Anthony Lee

Thus far we have examined how an athlete must have a clear plan and undergo a rigorous training process. However, 2 Timothy 2:5 reminds us that an athlete must also abide by the rules to receive the winner’s crown.

What “rules” does God expect from us?

Read Luke 12:35–48 at this juncture.

These familiar parables teach us that God expects us to be consistently faithful in service. Faithfulness in service is that straight and narrow path we walk on after we have given our allegiance to Christ our Master.

Faithfulness in service has two dimensions: duty and duration. First, faithfulness entails being attentive to our duty; we must fulfil what we were appointed to do. Second, faithfulness means we keep working at our tasks for as long as required.

Questions for Reflection
What has God called you to do in His Kingdom? Are you still serving faithfully, or have you already slackened off or given up?

Remember these passages in Luke are written to Christians, not non-believers. Therefore, we must not entertain the erroneous thought that “Once saved, always saved.”

God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that God expects faithfulness in our service every single day until He returns. And faithfulness in turn requires discipline. Without discipline to abide by the rules, the athlete can never win the crown legitimately.

A Clear Process

by Rev Anthony Lee

Spiritual growth, like all kinds of growth, is not automatic. There is in fact a very specific Methodist process for spiritual growth.

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, crafted three simple guides for Christian discipleship and growth. In Methodism, they became known as The General Rules.

The institution of the class meeting and the first two rules essentially echo Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” John Wesley instructed Methodists to avoid all known sin, to do good, and to love one another well through class (cell) meetings.

The Third Rule states: “By Attending upon All the Ordinances of God.” Wesley understood the ordinances of God to be spiritual disciplines that all disciples should keep—practices that keep the relationship between God and humans vital, alive, and growing.

These “means of grace” enable us to grow in the Christian faith. The six ordinances are:

  • The public worship of God
  • The ministry of the Word, either read or expounded
  • The Supper of the Lord
  • Family and private prayer
  • Searching the Scriptures
  • Fasting or abstinence

Whilst NOT exhaustive, these spiritual practices are vital to our spiritual health.

Questions for Reflection
Which of these spiritual disciplines do you practise well? Which of these do you neglect to your own detriment? Let us return to our founder’s wise instructions and practise all these six spiritual disciplines.

Remember these spiritual disciplines must be planned and locked into your schedules; mere desire alone will not prepare us for Jesus’ return. Even plans are futile if we do not begin and continue the process of practising these spiritual disciplines. Only those who have grown accustomed to God’s presence daily and weekly will not be surprised at His sudden return because (s)he has always welcomed God’s presence daily anyway.

A Clear Plan

by Rev Anthony Lee

Moving from the imagery of a soldier, Paul now uses the imagery of an athlete. 2 Tim 2:5 says, “Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”

If the imagery of a soldier seeking only to please his commanding officer teaches us the need to have a clear purpose, the imagery of an athlete teaches us the need to have a clear plan for training.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:24–26

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

Having a clear purpose is insufficient if I do not have a systematic way of training in order to reach that goal. For example, I may desire to run a full marathon (42km) but if my training runs never cross the 10km mark, there is no way I can meet my eventual goal. Incidentally, that was my mistake when I ran my first (and last) full marathon. Because I failed to train sufficiently and correctly, I found myself wobbling and limping the last 21km just to complete the race. My legs ached for two whole weeks after the marathon!

Likewise, God may have awakened in us the desire and need to prepare ourselves to be a holy and blameless Bride, but that desire alone is insufficient if we have no concrete plans and processes to get ready for Jesus’ return.

Questions for Reflection
Someone wisely said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” For a start, do you have a daily and regular habit of reading or listening to God’s Word? If not, schedule it into your calendars. Habits are only formed after an extended time. Begin by reading God’s Word consistently daily.

A Clear Demand

by Rev Anthony Lee

We return to 2 Timothy 2:3 where Paul writes, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Being a Christian necessarily entails embracing suffering or persecution.

In today’s world we have plenty of preachers and Christians alike who only embrace all the benefits Christ brings but reject God’s gracious invitation to participate in the sufferings of Christ.

While it is true that Christ’s death and resurrection brings us a lot of benefits – and I would readily admit God has been very good to me – it is equally true that being a Christian entails some form of suffering.

Now, I am not talking about self-mutilation or self-inflicted pain to try to impress God or for our prayers to be answered. No, embracing suffering cannot earn us any righteousness before God. We must recognize righteousness is simply a gift from God received through faith.

Why then must we embrace suffering?

The simplest – and yet most profound answer – is simply because that is what Jesus, our commanding officer, did. In John 15:20 Jesus said, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”

All of us who have undergone military training know how tough it is to be a good soldier. We train from morning to night, often retiring into the night with muscle sores and aches. But that training is for a purpose. We train hard so that we are fully prepared for the day of battle.

Whether we like it or not, there is an ongoing spiritual battle and as soldiers of Jesus Christ, there will come severe times of trials and tribulations. Let us set our hearts aright from this day forth to live purposefully and doggedly to please only Christ our commanding officer.

Question for Reflection
How ready are you to suffer as a good soldier for Christ? What are some circumstances you would dread to find yourself in?

Clearing Distractions

by Rev Anthony Lee

In our previous devotions, we saw the need to cut away the entanglement of sin. What other things might we find ourselves easily entangled in?

In Luke 22:34–36, Jesus warns, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Carousing and drunkenness are obvious manifestations of indulging in the pleasures of life. But drunkenness is also one way some people deal with the stresses of life. Thus, besides being easily entangled in sin, the stresses and anxieties of life are where we might often find ourselves entangled in too. It may be the stress of trying to get our kids through their home-based learning program. It may be the anxiety of putting food on the table.

If we have been Christians long enough, continually transformed by the grace of God, indulging in sin may not be the big issue but perhaps the anxieties of life may continue to entrap us.

2 Timothy 2:4 reminds us to be single-minded in our effort to please Jesus, our Lord and commanding officer. Beware any distractions – however legitimate – which may take our eyes off Jesus.

One good way to be less anxious about life is to live a life of simplicity. The fewer possessions we have, for example, means we have less to fret about. The more worldly pleasures in life we choose to forsake, the easier it is to set our minds on things above. May you take the remainder of this time to learn to de-clutter and live a simpler life. Store up your treasures in heaven, not on earth.

Question for Reflection
What are some ways you can de-clutter and live a simpler life?

Clearing Entanglements

by Rev Anthony Lee

Today we continue examining the call to be a dutiful soldier for Jesus Christ (in 2 Timothy 2:4).

Years ago, I used to clear rope entanglements in a ship’s propeller in my vocation as a naval diver. It was a very laborious process. All we had was a simple knife. My team and I would take on an average of 4-6 hours to painstakingly cut through the huge mess of rope which was wound around the propeller. If these entanglements were not removed, the ship would have been unable to set sail.

Similarly, unless we begin to clear the entanglements in our lives, we will never be useful for our Master’s purposes.

What are some entanglements we commonly find ourselves caught in?

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to “… throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles …”

The first major entanglement we need to cut away is sin – sins of pride, sins of lust, sins of gluttony etc. To cut away the entanglement of sin requires practical action of some sort. Sin can never be cut by merely having the desire to do so or simply by confessing our sin daily. To deal with the sin of pride, for example, may require you to do more menial tasks at home or at work when no one is present. To deal with the sin of lust, for example, may mean installing a website filter. To deal with the sin of gluttony, for example, may mean setting aside two days a week, deliberately fasting lunch or dinner.

Questions for Reflection
Are there some sins you find yourselves easily entangled in? Take time to share them with your cell group or text some close Christian friends. Share some concrete action plans you intend to undertake so that there is some form of accountability.

A Clear Priority

by Rev Anthony Lee

Today we begin by examining the soldier imagery. Paul says in v.4, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”

To be prepared for Jesus’ return, the foremost need is to have a clear priority. Our priority must be to live our lives in such a way that pleases Jesus our Lord and commanding officer.

If a commanding officer sends a soldier out to the battlefield, it would be ludicrous for that soldier to be concerned about how a fish monger is selling rotten fish back home.

You may laugh at this silly example, but if we think about it, is it not true that we have often been distracted or even entangled by matters of this world that we have failed to live for Kingdom matters?

God calls us to advance His Kingdom on earth (through sacrificial love) but we often build our own little sandcastles on the beach instead.

Do you not know your life is no longer your own? Do you not recognize you were redeemed for a price and a purpose? (1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20)

You may think you prioritize God in your life but lest we be mistaken, it is important to recognize that how we spend our time is the best measure of our priorities.

Questions for Reflection
Who are you living to please? Who/What is the priority of your life? How do you spend your time?

A Clear Purpose

by Rev Anthony Lee

As I sought the Lord on how we can be prepared for His return, He impressed upon me 2 Timothy 2:1–7.

We begin with v.7, where Paul tells his spiritual son Timothy: “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this” (NIV).

And so we pray, “Lord, graciously grant us insight to understand Your Word. Amen.”

Paul uses three imageries to exhort every Christian to model after: a dutiful soldier, a disciplined athlete, and a diligent farmer.

All three imageries whilst different have five common aspects. All of them have a clear purpose to accomplish, a clear priority to aim at, a clear process to abide by, a clear posture to adopt, and a clear prize to win. We will explore these themes over the next few days.

For now, let us see the big picture. The soldier’s purpose is to battle and defend, the athlete’s purpose is to gain glory while the farmer’s purpose to grow crops.

When God created us, what did He have in mind as our chief purpose?

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Man’s chief end (or purpose) is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

Questions for Reflection
What is God calling you to do specifically for His Kingdom purposes? Are you living your life in a way that glorifies God? Are you enjoying your relationship with God? Why or why not?

New Devotion Series: Preparing for Jesus’ Return

A new devotion series written by Rev Anthony Lee will begin tomorrow. Titled, Preparing for Jesus’ Return, here’s an overview by the author on the series.

The Covid-19 crisis has forced many of us in a mandatory sabbath of sorts. For most of us, this period is probably needful as we are finally forced to deal with many issues we have probably neglected or brushed aside for years.

For instance, my wife and I were confronted with the uncomfortable amount of accumulated dust on top and behind our shelves and cupboards. It was a laborious process of shifting out the cupboards to clean out the accumulated dust, but it needed to be done because the dust was causing allergic reactions for my children and me. In addition, my wife was very happy we could have more conversations nowadays.

What may God be asking us to clean out and focus more on this season? Are there aspects of our Christian walk with God and other familial relationships which need re-examination and deep work?

This “sabbath” will eventually come to an end. The “pause” button will soon make way for the “play” button, are we prepared? Let us not be too quick to rush back into life as we used to know it. Utilize this time well to sort out as many issues as possible within ourselves, our relationship with God, our relationship with our family, our purpose in our vocation, and our Christian witness and discipleship.

This crisis has shown us that life is extremely fragile. Our lives should therefore be lived in light of Jesus’ impending return.

As we embark on this series of devotions, may God give us grace to get prepared, beautifully dressed as a pure and holy Bride, ready for our Bridegroom’s return.

Zoombies

In this time of safe distancing and stay home, zoom has become our primary means of meeting, working and communicating.

Zoom is our new selfie as we view and project ourselves virtually on screen, hopefully presentable at least for the top half.

Zoom has now become a large part of my life.

I have regular staff meetings on Zoom.

I have daily morning devotion on Zoom.

I have evening teaching every Monday on Zoom.

I have evening vesper every Tuesday and Thursday on Zoom.

I have church prayer meeting on Wednesdays on Zoom.

I have Friday Fun Fellowship on Zoom

While I am thankful for the Zoom Apps that allowed us to stay connected with people, yet I am starting to feel the increasing fatigue that comes with staring at tiny boxes of people on my computer screen.

Zoom ZombiesThere can be no doubt I am bitten by Zoom. I have red eyes like zombies from the strains of staring at the screen for a long time. I look like a zombie with dark eye bags from the exhaustion of being continuously online.

I have turned into a Zoombie.

Before you give me a headshot to put me out of my misery (the way to kill zombies) I want to tell you there is a cure for this “Zoombie” virus.

It will take deliberate effort.

Go for breaks from your computer screen.

Go for walks in the parks and look at trees, plants and flowers. These are not virtual things.

Go take your dog for a walk round your neighbourhood.

Go read the Bible or a book that is not e-version.

Go for a structured time of play (non-video games) with your kids.

Be sure to wear your facemask when you are in public places. You don’t want to catch the Covid virus. What you want to kill is the “Zoombie” virus.

It is in such a time as this, the call of Jesus is as vital and essential as ever.

He said, “Come away from the people (which may include those online). Be by yourselves and rest” Mark 6:31.

Story was told of a man who challenged another man to a wood-chopping contest. The man who challenged his friend worked very hard, stopping only on occasions. The other man took many breaks and had a good lunch. When the day came to an end, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped more wood. “I don’t get it,” he said. Every time I checked, you were taking rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. “But you didn’t noticed,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my axe when I sat down to rest.”

It is tempting to imagine the harder you work like a zombie, the more you would accomplish. But remember it is always good and necessary to take breaks to reflect, recharge and refresh. Believe me, you need that.

Don’t become a Zoombie like me.

Homeless

Jesus was a homeless Person.

He was born a homeless baby in a borrowed manger of a stable. His parents were rough sleepers seeking shelter after shelter as they ran from the murderous intention of King Herod.

Right after his baptism, he began his ministry as a homeless person. He said of himself, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).

Foxes and birds all have sound safe sleeping places. But Jesus, the Son of Man did not have a place where he could lay his head on a pillow and call it home. He lived most part of his earthly life and ministry as a homeless Person.

He died a torturous death on a cross, homeless without the care that dying person can expect in a home.

There is no person who can identify with the homeless better than Jesus. Even more, he is a friend of the homeless.

In Mark 5:1-20 Jesus met a demon-possessed man in Gadarenes. He was a homeless man living alone among the tombs. People distanced themselves from him because of his destructive behaviour. But without being asked, Jesus delivered this homeless demoniac and brought wholeness to his body, mind and spirit.

Jesus cared about this homeless man. And he was not the only one.

In those days, lepers lived lonely lives away from their family and loved ones in isolated communities. In Mark 1:40-45 a leper flouted safe distancing, came to Jesus, fell at his feet and said, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”

Jesus’ heart went out to this lonely desperate leper. And his healing touch allowed this leper to no longer sleep rough but return to his home and family.

HomelessA recent nationwide study revealed there are about 1,000 homeless people in Singapore. They slept on the streets and in places like our housing void decks, commercial buildings and playgrounds.

They are at our doorsteps in our neighbourhood. We might even walk pass them without noticing or perhaps couldn’t imagine there are homeless in our affluent society.

Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. He painted the painful contrast of the rich man who enjoyed every good thing but ignored the homeless Lazarus who had nothing.

The painful contrast continues after their death. Lazarus was carried away by angels to be comforted in Abraham’s bosom. Whereas the rich man had gone down in Hades to be tormented . When he looks up, he sees Lazarus at the side of Abraham. He pleaded with Abraham to “send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.”

But Abraham pointed out there is now “a great chasm” between them. During their earthly existence, they lived a very short distance from each other. The rich man had every means to help the homeless but he conveniently or cruelly omitted to do so. Now they are eternally apart and even if Lazarus wants to help, he is unable to do so.

Mother Theresa said, “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

Can you see Jesus? Do you see his face?

He is on the face of every homeless.

Zoom Zombie

In this time of safe distancing and stay home, zoom has become our primary means of meeting, working and communicating.

Zoom is our new selfie as we view and project ourselves virtually on screen, hopefully presentable at least for the top half. Zoom has occupied a large part of our life.

I have regular work meetings on Zoom.

I have daily morning devotion on Zoom.

I have evening teaching and equipping every Monday on Zoom.

I have evening vesper every Tuesday and Thursday on Zoom.

I have church-wide prayer meeting on Wednesdays on Zoom.

I have Friday Fun Fellowship on Zoom

While I am thankful for the Zoom Apps that allowed us to stay connected with people, yet I am starting to feel the fatigue that comes with staring at tiny boxes of people on my computer screen.

Zoom ZombiesThere can be no doubt I am bitten by Zoom. I have red eyes like zombies from the strains of long screen time. I look like a zombie with dark eye bags from the exhaustion of being continuously online.

I have turned into a Zoom Zombie.

Before you give me a headshot to put me out of my misery (the way to kill zombies) I want to tell you there is a cure for this “Zoombie” virus.

It will take deliberate effort.

Go for breaks from your computer screen.

Go for walks in the parks and look at trees, plants and flowers. These are not virtual things.

Go take your dog for a walk round your neighbourhood.

Go read the Bible or a book that is not an e-version.

Go for a structured time of play (non-video games) with your kids.

Be sure to wear your facemask when you are in public places. You don’t want to catch the Covid virus. What you want to kill is the “Zoombie” virus.

It is in such a time as this, the call of Jesus is as vital and essential as ever.

He said, “Come away from the people (which may include those online). Be by yourselves and rest” Mark 6:31.

Story was told of a man who challenged another man to a wood-chopping contest. The man who challenged his friend worked very hard, stopping only on occasions. The other man took many breaks and had a good lunch. When the day came to an end, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped more wood. “I don’t get it,” he said. Every time I checked, you were taking rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did. “But you didn’t noticed,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my axe when I sat down to rest.”

It’s so easy to imagine the harder you work like a zombie, the more you would accomplish. But remember it is always good and necessary to take breaks to reflect, recharge and refresh. You need that.

Don’t become a Zoom Zoombie like me.

 

 

Covid Lepers

Nothing scares people more today than hearing someone says, “I’m Covid-19 positive.”

It makes them jump in fear and quickly walk away, covering their mouths and noses.

Such reaction was common in ancient times when people encountered a leper telling everyone, “unclean.” Those nearby who heard it would quickly walk away.

Are we treating Covid-19 cases like Covid lepers?

In those days, when there was no cure for this dilapidating disease, lepers were treated like outcasts. They were doomed to lived in isolated communities away from their families and loved ones.

Today we read reports around the world of the Covid fear that triggers discriminatory, racist and xenophobic behavior.

People, particularly foreign workers are deemed, “unclean” like lepers. They are been turned away from shops, restaurants and even their rented homes. Some were verbally abuse, harassed and even physically assaulted. Even those who have recovered fully from this deadly virus feel they are being stigmatized and shunned by others. No one wants to be around them. They make people uncomfortable.

Are we treating people who are Covid-19 postive like lepers?

How did Jesus treat lepers?

It is clear from the Bible that Jesus is not disgusted with lepers and their dreadful condition. In all the accounts in the Bible (Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, and Luke 5:12-16) Jesus reached out to the lepers, even touching them to heal them. He demonstrated for us the great compassion of God towards the sick that are mostly despised and loathed.

If Jesus is our example, shouldn’t we do the same?

Instead of shunning the Covid positive, we should be serving them. Providing whatever help they might need like delivering food, care packages and sewing facemasks for them. Bless the hearts of those did.

Instead of ostracizing the infected we should be offering our prayers for them to recover quickly. After all God is always on the side of health, wholeness and well-being.

Instead of treating them like lepers, we should be touching their lives. There can be no better time than the quarantine period when their hearts, souls and spirit are desperately open to the living God.

Just during the past Holy week saw more than 117,000 came to faith in Christ across more than 100 nations. It has been dubbed, “The Great Quarantine Revival.”

covid lepersThe Covid-19 pandemic has brought untold and unprecedented woes on many people. This shouldn’t be a time for us to be retreating for self-preservation. Rather this a karios time for us to be entreating our God to show His love and mercy and be engaging in acts of love for those in need.

May this be the defining moment for the Church.

Keep Your Distance

Social distancing has become the new normal in our world ravaged by Covid-19.

Social distancing is about safe distancing. It is to prevent you from catching or spreading the virus.

Today, at many places you’ll find lines and boxes drawn to show where you should stand in the queue, be it at the supermarkets or wet markets, even in the elevator lifts.

The objective of social distancing is to avoid physical contact with anyone who could well be an undetected asymptomatic spreader in our community. This strict measure aims to flatten the epidemic curve of this infectious and deadly virus.

For this to work, everyone needs to do their part to keep their distance until the virus could no longer find any host to propagate.

When I reflect on our widespread social distancing I am reminded of what the Bible says about safe distancing.

Scriptures urge us to stay away from the infectious contaminating influence and corrupting ways of the world.

II Timothy 2:16-17 “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.”

Gangrene is bad flesh that spreads infecting the good flesh.

Ephesians 5:11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.”

Keep your distance.

Proverbs 26:20-22 “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”

Keep your distance from the company of talebearers, gossipers and contentious people. They will infect you with their poisonous words.

Ask yourself. When you are around them, does it have a good effect on you? Were you at times led into gossip yourself? Did you join in the complaining and tale bearing? Did they stimulate your spiritual growth or perhaps stunt it?

Keep your distance.

I Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

The water droplets from their attitudes and opinions can land inside your mind and heart, infecting your thoughts, shaping your perspective and influencing your behaviour.

Keep your distance.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”

Keep your distance.

No doubt we will never live in a vacuum yet it would be wise to limit our exposure to bad, negative and infectious influence that draws us further away from God.

The truth is we become whom we spend the most time with. Be aware of the company you keep.

If need be, keep your distance.

Rights & Responsibilities

A friend of mine who worked actively in industrial relations said union leaders always talked about their rights. My friend would listen and then respond, “I hear you, and I understand these are your rights, but could you tell me what your responsibilities are?” This was often followed by profound silence.

Children love to receive gifts, but try asking them to do housework or share their toys. Silence.

John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

There are Christians who like to claim their right to God’s blessings, but ask them about their responsibilities, LOUD SILENCE.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.” – Lk.12:48 (CSB)

Barnabas Chong

How Would You Remember Jesus this Easter Weekend?

God made the world, loves the world, wants none to perish and therefore sent His beloved Son Jesus to live on earth and die a cruel and painful death on the cross to save us from our sins. All who believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!

But how would those who are perishing believe if we don’t tell them? And when do we plan on telling them when so many amongst us only care about and spend most of our time on church services, fellowship meetings, leadership meetings, bible studies, special worship events, Christian seminars and conferences, self-care, personal spirituality, etc.?

While we remember the Lord Jesus this Good Friday-Easter Sunday weekend and what He has done for us, while we soberly and warmly remember His unconditional and sacrificial love, let’s also remember that He did not do this just for us but for the whole world!

If we merely remember Jesus without going out there to tell people about Jesus, if our idea of Christianity is what we do within the four walls of the church building, then we are remembering Him amiss and He finds no pleasure in that.

Our remembrance of Him must be accompanied by a desire to bring Him pleasure through fulfilling His desire and purposes in the world. Have a blessed Easter Weekend.

Jn.3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. …. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Barnabas Chong