Day 334

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Peter 4:4
Unbelievers insult you now because they are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of wild living.

If you are insulted because you are now trying to follow God – it’s a good thing.

What could be worse – if our enemies actually spout truth about sinful acts we are currently committing, and use them to attack us!

But if they have nothing better to say- than to attack our piety to God then, we have become like the prophet Daniel!

When his enemies sought to destroy him, the only thing they could use against him – was that he prayed frequently and daily!

What a testament to his character and the work God was doing in his life that was!

Day 333

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Peter 3.1-5
Wives, in a similar way, place yourselves under your husbands’ authority. Some husbands may not obey God’s word. Their wives could win these men for Christ by the way they live without saying anything.
Their husbands would see how pure and reverent their lives are.
Wives must not let their beauty be something external. Beauty doesn’t come from hairstyles, gold jewelry, or clothes.
Rather, beauty is something internal that can’t be destroyed. Beauty expresses itself in a gentle and quiet attitude which God considers precious.
After all, this is how holy women who had confidence in God expressed their beauty in the past. They placed themselves under their husbands’ authority.

This is a difficult passage for some. Perhaps you might wonder, but what if I feel my husband has done nothing for me lately, why then should I place myself under his authority?

Let me explain, the text here seems to be saying, that such submission is more powerful than words one can use. Verse 1-2 shows there is a radiance that comes from Christian wives who place their trust in the Lord AND as a result are able to submit to their earthly husbands even though they are imperfect.

Verse 3 reminds us that what creates appeal for a Christian woman, is that she has an internal attitude- a godliness that appeals. And that shines better than outward beauty.

The reason is simple.

Ladies, if you desire godliness in your spouse, then your godliness that comes from within, will draw it out of him. Not quarreling and sarcastic remarks or bad mouthing his family or him. What you fish with, determines what you catch. Christ has called us to be fishers of men and to fish for souls, godliness that comes from within us, is the key tool to use!

The story is told of a man from India who resisted a missionary’s preaching but when his wife got converted, he tried his best to pressure her out of it by being hard on her over everything. Instead of fighting back, she tried harder to submit to him, to love him, and serve him thus showing the love Christ had for her – was flowing through her and towards her spouse.

As a result, while the man resisted the preaching of the missionary, he could not deny the life transformation exemplified by his wife and he too gave his heart to Christ.

Day 332

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Peter 2:2
Desire God’s pure word as newborn babies desire milk. Then you will grow in your salvation.

Babies love their milk. They want it constantly.
When they cry, drinking it can soothe them.
When they need to sleep, drinking it can help ease them peacefully to slumberland.
When they hunger, it satisfies them.

Love the Word, like babies love their milk.
It will bring you comfort in times of trouble.
It brings you peaceful rest when tiredness envelopes you.
It satisfies you when you thirst and hunger as a result of the journey of life and fuels you for the journey ahead.

Open that Bible today and read a chunk … A full meal of the Word, not just a drop.

Day 331

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Peter 1:3
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! God has given us a new birth because of his great mercy. We have been born into a new life that has a confidence which is alive because Jesus Christ has come back to life.

It seemed like all was lost when the stone was rolled over the tomb to seal its entrance.

Yes, it’s entrance. Because tombs have no exits. You die and you don’t leave.

Or do you? Christ did.

The stone got rolled away and He came to life, achieving the impossible.

He made sure the words said by the angel to His mother, Mary at the annunciation of His coming birth- ‘What is impossible for man, is possible for God.’ -would be said about Him even from the tomb.

Because He came back, all is possible for you and me. Nothing seals our demise anymore. No stone stands in Jesus’ way.

Have faith. He will come and save you.

Day 330

by Rev Joel Yong

James 5:8
You, too, must be patient. Don’t give up hope. The Lord will soon be here.

It’s tough, waiting.

In some, we don’t know if the person overslept, forgot, or plain couldn’t be bothered to come.

In others, we doubt ourselves, if we got the information wrong, or didn’t notify the right people accordingly.

But waiting for God is unlike waiting for men.

Firstly it’s fueled by the certainty that He is coming to deliver us. It’s not an IF God comes but a WHEN God comes.

He promised us in His Word that the end will come and the imperfection of this world as we know it, will cease.

Secondly, the knowledge of the certainty of His coming, produces joyful patience in us. We await a joyous day of redemption.

Thirdly, it affects our behavior in the present. While awaiting the fulfillment of His promise, we live in anticipation. Not as people who only exist in the here and now. Nope. We live as people who are awaiting pickup. We have tickets and are keeping an eye on when the flight departs. Just waiting for the gates to open.

Day 329

by Rev Joel Yong

James 4:8
Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters.

What a comforting thought!

If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us!

He isn’t elusive; instead he yearns to be near us! So godliness isn’t a mystery we have to crack but rather it is a guarantee to those of us who sign up for it.

Too often, we persist in our fleshly ways, untransformed by God’s power because we have no desire to draw near to Him.

Pick up the Bible, read it daily.
Find a place and spend time daily in conversation with God.
Tell Him what concerns you.
Ask Him what He thinks about your lifestyle and direction.
Tell Him how you appreciate what He has done.
Tell Him what help you need in a certain area of your life.

When you do, He draws near to you. You will start to feel Him in every thought, every decision, every remark you make.

Try it.

Day 328

by Rev Joel Yong

James 3:5-10
In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things. A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame.
The tongue is that kind of flame. It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell.
People have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures.
Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison.
With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness.
Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!

Our tongues and the power of their words, can cause much harm or much joy.

At the same time, the words we utter can bring us praise or it can bring us condemnation.

Be very careful therefore what you say before God and men.

And very often, it is better to say less than more. So do not indulge in gossip nor speculation. Let your praise be sincere and not superficial. Let your words of anger be measured and may our rebukes be few, such that when uttered, they are taken seriously.

The Hush

by Rev Sng Chong Hui

I realized there is rarely a sermon that touches on the subject of hell. Most preachers today avoid speaking on that topic. Some even said they wouldn’t preach it.

There is a hush about hell.

But our Lord Jesus frequently talked about hell.

Listen to what He said about the people in the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum who refused to turn to God.

“Woe to you, Chorazin, and woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in your streets had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented long ago in shame and humility. Truly, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on the Judgment Day than you! And Capernaum, though highly honored, shall go down to hell! For if the marvelous miracles I did in you had been done in Sodom, it would still be here today. Truly, Sodom will be better off at the Judgment Day than you” (Matthew 111:21-24 TLB).

See the picture Jesus painted about hell in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. 

“The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went into hell. There, in torment, he saw Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham. “Father Abraham, he shouted, “have some pity! Send Lazarus over here if only to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in these flames” (Luke 16:22-24 TLB). 

During His earthly ministry Jesus did not shrink from telling us about this uncomfortable subject of hell. He frequently speak of hell as a place of darkness where “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30).

In our age of positive thinking and feel-good culture, the tendency is to only exalt the love of God and exclude the wrath of God. Hence the hush about hell.

Yet Jesus warns us what we should fear most.

He says, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Hell is the reminder that our gracious, loving and merciful God is justified to send us there if we refused to believe and repent.

Be mindful of the hush in our message to a world that needs to escape the wrath to come.

Day 327

by Rev Joel Yong

James 2:9 (ESV)
But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves, means that partiality is forbidden.

Partiality divides the people of God into levels of varying importance and hence the preferential treatment.

It’s what the world does, but it does so, because it does not see clearly how it ought to live.

But we who profess to follow Jesus, have seen how He treats the poor and the rich alike. Even Jews and Gentiles – he heals both!

Prejudice forms because of ignorance.

Person A has had a certain view of Person B because of his race or even economic class.

It may not necessarily seem like a negative thought even – but it’s still prejudice!

Let me explain.

Imagine if I believed that “Poor people are penniless, so I should give them full subsidies for every meal I take them to, or excursion I take them on.” It seems like generosity, isn’t it? And it does.

But it’s also a conclusion we arrived at by stereotyping an entire economic class – without giving the individuals a chance to prove this stereotype wrong!

There are individuals from the lower income groups who do not need a 100% subsidy and can take ownership of the various costs for their participation in events and outings!

In fact, having been poor myself previously, it sometimes is an insult to me when people assume I cannot pay, even when I want to!

The clearer example applies when we assume only people of a certain race will excel at a certain sport.

I do not need to elaborate, on how biased a thought this is, against the potential of the human species.

I have seen track athletes of various races. I have seen basketballers of varied skin colors. I have seen Nobel Peace Prize winners of every race.

Please.

Loving our neighbor requires that we live without such prejudice against the color of a man’s skin, or his income category, or his nationality and the list goes on.

Day 326

by Rev Joel Yong

James 1:2-4
My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways.\
You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance.
Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won’t need anything.

A new driving license issued to a person leaving the test center, means they did well enough to be let out onto the public roads.

But to become a good driver, requires practice. Lots of it.
That’s why in Singapore we have the probationary plate for the new drivers!
Testing – not just one test but many tests- refines the individual.

We may profess we are followers of Christ but if we were to fall away at the least bit of pressure, it nullifies the claim.
The writer of James assures us that this testing causes us to be strengthened and causes our faith to mature.

Peter knew a thing or two about being tested in his faith.

Luke 22:56-62
A female servant saw him as he sat facing the glow of the fire. She stared at him and said, “This man was with Jesus.”
But Peter denied it by saying, “I don’t know him, woman.”
A little later someone else saw Peter and said, “You are one of them.” But Peter said, “Not me!”
About an hour later another person insisted, “It’s obvious that this man was with him. He’s a Galilean!”
But Peter said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just then, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.
Then the Lord turned and looked directly at Peter. Peter remembered what the Lord had said: “Before a rooster crows today, you will say three times that you don’t know me.”
Then Peter went outside and cried bitterly.
We know how the story goes, he eventually comes to the resurrected Jesus and is questioned thrice by Jesus Himself ‘Do you love me?’

Jesus did this to help Peter reaffirm the solidity of his desire to follow Christ. Peter became a leading figure in this new movement and eventually died a martyr’s death for proclaiming Christ to the masses.

But I wonder, if it was this period of testing that first Good Friday that prepped him for his destiny as a founding father of the early church? I think it did.

To Brexit or Not to Brexit

by Rev Sng Chong Hui

Should Britain remain a member of the EU or leave the EU?

That is the question in the mind of every British citizen.

That question has polarized Britain into two camps. The “leave” camp wants a return to sovereignty for greater immigration control. The “remain” camp points to greater economic growth in the Single Market.

But the impact of Brexit does not just weigh heavily on the country of Britain but also on the 28 European countries in the EU. Will it spell the end of EU and made it easier for others to follow suit?

The impending British referendum has already caused some volatility in the global stock and currency markets. Already the Asian markets are reeling from fears over Brexit.

Financial analysts in Singapore are worried that the Brexit would mean the depreciation of the British pound making it more expensive for British companies to want to operate and invest here.

The world waits gingerly for the outcome of the referendum on Thursday, 23 June.

How would Britain vote?

Once this great nation turned to God in the hour of need.

In 1756 Great Britain was faced with a threatened invasion by the French. The nation was in a quagmire as to what to do. The King of Britain called for a day of solemn prayer and fasting.

John Wesley recorded in his Journal on 6 February 1756, saying: “The fast day was a glorious day, such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God heareth prayer and there will yet be a lengthening of our tranquility.”

In a footnote, Wesley wrote: “Humility was turned into national rejoicing for the threatened invasion by the French was averted.”

In the year 50 AD the Council in Jerusalem struggled as to whether the Church should remain strictly Jewish or be a Church for all, including both Jews and Gentles.

And God guided and influenced their thinking, speaking and voting to the end they were to say these words in Acts 15:28.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements.”

To Brexit or not to Brexit may not be the important question.

Rather the question is whether we would be able to say, It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” and that only after a corporate prayer fast.

Day 325

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 13:5
Don’t love money. Be happy with what you have because God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you.”

When I was a child, I never travelled on a plane nor went on a holiday overseas so I would drool and be envious whenever I heard my classmates speak of Disneyland or Hong Kong or Australian holidays they had been on.

But when I grew up, got married and finally got to go on a holiday, I returned home yearning for another.

When our childhood home was one in a state of filth and disrepair, I would yearn for my own home. When I owned my own home, I longed for a larger one.

The root of discontent is ingratitude.

That is why God wants us not to envy another’s blessings but to be grateful and the chief reason for gratitude is that God is with us! He will never forsake nor abandon us!

Day 324

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 11:1
Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro once said “Faith is living in advance, what we sometimes only understand in reverse.”

There are times when it seems that the Christian way is not profitable to our life. Evil doers on the other hand seem to get away with their lies, their politicking, their under handed schemes. And all this while, the Christ follower who tries to avoid such ways, is on the losing end.

If that is you, take heart. You are living faithful to what God has called you to.

You may not see your reward just yet.

You may not understand how Christ assures you of victory in the light of present circumstance.

But that is faith.

You believe it tho you haven’t seen it.

It is not faith if the promised object is already in your hands and before your eyes. That, my friend, is observation.

Hebrews 11.13-16
All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth.
Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country.
If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back.
Instead, these men were longing for a better country–a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.

Day 323

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 10:25
We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.

A violin on its own may not sound out of tune but put it in a string ensemble and the flaws of the instrument and the violinist (if any) become evident.

Christians were never meant to be solo believers. Rather our faith is to be worked out in the midst of community. For it is when we are with fellow believers that we can be encouraged to press on in following Christ’s footsteps and yet at the same time reoriented our route if we are going astray.

The nearing of the end of days, is coupled with an increase in evil. That is why Christian fellowship is of utmost importance in the last days.

Day 322

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 8:12
because I will forgive their wickedness and I will no longer hold their sins against them.”

There is a reason why Satan is known as the Accuser.

He doesn’t want you to forget your mistakes, your sin.

He doesn’t want you to believe that God could ever forgive you.

But God declares, He will forgive you, not because you are good, but even though you are wicked!

He will not hold your sin against you.

Just don’t keep hanging around your sin. Go to Him instead and start life anew.

That is why so often, Jesus would heal people or exorcise them and dismiss them with the words “Go and sin no more.”

Something happens to those who encounter Christ.

They should leave His side changed. They start a new slate of life.

Else they probably never really encountered Him in the first place.

Day 321

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 6:10
God is fair. He won’t forget what you’ve done or the love you’ve shown for him. You helped his holy people, and you continue to help them.

Every worker worth his salt, has THAT day. By that, I mean the day when you think about throwing in the towel.

Maybe people were critical of everything you did, regardless of how much you bend over to help them.

Maybe you dealt with one too many suicides, divorces, deaths by violent crimes, political games played in church etc.

Maybe you finally had enough of the lack of privacy for you and your family as a full time minister.

Maybe … the list can go on.

But take heart, Scripture says that God remembers. Even when your heart is cold and dejected, He remembers your good work.

He remembers what you did for Him.

He remembers the late nights researching for the teaching presentation.

He remembers the sacrifices you made, no one else saw, going out of your way to mentor a younger believer, or to comfort a brother/sister in need.

Don’t quit.

The Good Fridays of life are hard and dark. But Sunday is just around the corner. Easter Sunday with the stone rolled away and the stunning light of the angels proclaiming the message of hope.

Hang on.

Day 320

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 4:15
We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin.

This is the amazing truth. “… tempted in every way … but he didn’t sin.”

Adam and Eve sinned, tempted by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Samson sinned, unable to resist the charms of Delilah the liar.

David sinned, tempted when he saw Bathsheba … bathing.

Solomon sinned, tempted by the one thousand women (insane, I know) that he had in his harem.

You and I sinned. Tempted by whatever it Achilles’s heel of a sin it is that we are prone to.

But only one was tempted and did not fall.

Not just tempted but tempted in EVERY way, imagine that. And yet He did not sin.

That is why, Jesus is the only one who can lead us out of this mess of sin that we are in bondage to

The D Factor

by Rev Sng Chong Hui

One of the most beautiful pictures of God is that of a “father.”

Nowhere in the history of all religious faith has this term being used of God until Jesus taught us to begin our prayer by addressing God as our Father.

The word, “Father” or “Abba” in the Aramaic, is an endearing term, which is equivalent to our modern day, “Daddy.”

If God is portrayed as our heavenly “Daddy,” then all earthly fathers are representatives of God.

Since most children see God through His earthly representatives, earthly fathers therefore play a vital role in bringing the picture of God to their children.

Hence if a child had never felt close to his father at all, chances are that he will feel the same towards God. Or if a son or daughter had never experienced a caring and loving relationship with their father, chances are they will find it hard to address God as their heavenly Father.

And that is the “D” factor or the “Dad’s” factor in the spiritual formation of children.

J.B. Philips has this to say:

“The early conception of God is almost invariably founded upon the child’s idea of his father. If he is lucky enough to have a good father, this is all to the good … But if the child is afraid of his own father, the chances are that his Father in heaven will appear to him a fearful being. Again if he is lucky, he will outgrow this conception and indeed differentiate between his early fearful idea and later mature conception. But many are not able to not able to outgrow it … and in adult years are still obsessed with it, although it has actually nothing to do with their real relationship with the loving God.”

So to a very large and real extent, dads are the “D” factor in forming the concept of God in the minds of their children. Even though they are not perfect yet when they seek to walk in integrity, comfort and care for their children they model for their children the perfect Father in heaven.

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him” (Proverbs 20:7).

Dads are the “D” factor in giving their children a good glimpse of God.

Day 319

by Rev Joel Yong

Hebrews 2:18
Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted.

Too often we say “God doesn’t understand what I am going through!”

Actually, He does.

Jesus the Son of God, walked in human flesh so that we may understand—

  1. That He understands our human condition – hunger, thirst, desire, tiredness etc. He knew it all.
  2. That God cared so immensely for us, that He sent not an angel but a much more personal messenger, His very own Son to tell us upfront that He loves us.

That has profound ramifications for my life.

It means that with regards to what I feel and struggle with, He knows exactly how tough it is for me right now.

It also means that I can be assured that He isn’t going to do nothing about it. He is gonna do something because He loves me.

Day 318

by Rev Joel Yong

Philemon 1:15-16
Maybe Onesimus was gone for a while so that you could have him back forever—
no longer as a slave but better than a slave–as a dear brother. He is especially dear to me, but even more so to you, both as a person and as a Christian.

Sometimes partings happen. We lose certain people in our lives so something else might happen.

Onesimus’ period of separation from his master meant he could become a follower of Christ as a result, during that time!

Nicky Gumbel tells the story of a divorced couple who reunited after attending the Alpha Course and they got married to each other again for the second time!

But it is not always such a reunion, though. Sometimes the parting happens but reunion doesn’t happen and both parties start their way down separate paths. Still, that parting happened for a reason.

Acts 15:39-41
Paul and Barnabas disagreed so sharply that they parted ways. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to the island of Cyprus.
Paul chose Silas and left after the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s care.
Paul went through the provinces of Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the churches.

The parting of Paul and Barnabas led to a larger area being evangelized as a result of the two teams that were formed!

I do not wish to be one who clings onto the past. What is gone is gone. It happens for a reason.

I choose to submit to God and live the life I have now. It’s not always easy but by His Grace, all things are possible.