Matthew 5:10

by Rev Joel Yong

Matthew 5:10 records Jesus as saying “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

It is not always easy to do what is right. It is possible that we may be persecuted for following God’s ways rather than the world’s ways. But holding to our beliefs when it is difficult, is what true conviction is. Jesus recognizes those who do and He declares that the Kingdom of Heaven welcomes citizens such as these.

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Wisdom in friendship

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible readings: 2 Kings 3:1-4:17; Proverbs 17:22

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
2 Kings 3:7 “And he went and sent word to Jehoshaphat king of Judah, “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to battle against Moab?” And he said, “I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

REFLECT
Due to the rebellion of Moab, Jehoram (king of Israel) decided to march and attack the Moabites. He called upon the alliance of Jehoshaphat, then king of Judah as well as the alliance of the king of Edom. Jehoshaphat agreed to assist Jehoram, not knowing that a week later, they would be stranded in the wilderness of Edom.

Jehoshaphat was known in the history of Judah to be a king who mostly did what was right in the eyes of God. However, Bible commentators noted that Jehoshaphat’s main weakness was to ally himself with people who were evil. Often, these people such as Jehoram and earlier on Ahaziah as well as Ahab, were totally “capable” of leading Jehoshaphat to his utter ruin. If not for the intervention of the prophet Elisha who looked upon Jehoshaphat with favour (2 Kings 3:14); the three kings and their vast army would have been led to self-destruction due to the folly of Jehoram (2 Kings 3: 8-9).

Are there times when we are like Jehoshaphat? Do we cling on to relationships that we know will lead us to trouble? Do we give in to bad advice in order to avoid trouble or “looking bad” in front of others? Do we have a weakness to please all people even though among these are people who can lead us to the path of destruction?

RELATE
At a point in my life, I was in the company of a few friends whom I was very aware were leading me to self-destruction. Yet, I cling on to them because it seemed that no one else was willing to show me as much concern. If not for the grace of God that woke me to my senses and tore me out of their company, I might have gotten myself into troubles which would have altered my life forever.

REST
Dear Lord, help me to be wise in friendships and may it never be that I ally myself with evil in order to please the crowd or even a few “prominent” people. Amen.

Jonah 3:6

by Rev Joel Yong

Jonah 3:6 records ‘When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.”

Even though he was the king, he humbled himself when confronted with his sins. Rather than saying ‘I am the king, how can I ever be wrong?’ he repented and admitted his sin. His leadership in humble repentance influenced a nation, and caused God to change his mind about the fate of Nineveh. That’s leadership when it matters the most.

Grace and mercy of God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible readings: Acts 13:16-41; Psalm 138:1-8

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
Acts 13:38-39 “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.”

REFLECT
In his exhortation to the people in Antioch, Paul listed the various events which took place prior to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we are to look carefully at these events, we cannot help but observe God’s immense patience and grace for His people. Some like to make comparisons between the “God of the OT” with the “God of the NT”; thinking that in the OT, Yahweh seemed harsher. Where Yahweh’s divine purpose is concerned; this is simply not true. God is always constant and consistent in His faithfulness. If not for His grace and mercy at the beginning of time; all of us would not even have the opportunity to know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

RELATE
If not for the mercy and grace of God, I would not have come to know Jesus. Even after knowing Jesus, I am still dependent on the mercy and grace of God to lead my daily life. God’s grace and mercy reminded me of my relationship with my children. While the Scripture speaks of not sparing the rod else we would spoil the child; I learn that discipline must come with words as well as actions to assure the child that he or she is deeply loved. Deeply loved, that is, by his or her parents, and even more so by Yahweh.

REST
During this season of Advent, may we take time to pause all that we are doing (even if for a little while); and reflect on the grace and mercy of God shown to us through 2016. Thank you Lord for who You are in our lives. Amen!

Matthew 4:17

by Rev Joel Yong

Matthew 4:17 records Jesus as saying: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Repentance refers to a two-step process – firstly we STOP the behavior that is wrong & sinful. Secondly we TURN, by embarking on a new pattern of behavior that is, instead righteous in God’s eyes. May we all stop & turn from wicked ways this day and follow Jesus’ way of life instead.

Earnest Prayer

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible readings: Acts 12:1-23; Psalms 136:1-26

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Acts 12:5 “So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”

REFLECT
The early church lost one of their apostles James to the hands of the enemies and another apostle Peter was arrested and awaiting judgment. Yet the church did not lose heart but kept Peter in “earnest prayer”. I cannot help but notice that this verse was deliberately written; not merely as an observation by the author; but a commentary on the strong sense of dependency that the early church had of God. Such dependency on God seemed a stark contrast to the arrogance of Herod; who loved to feed his own ego by pleasing the crowd and being called a god (Ref: Acts 12:22). In the end, God in His sovereign will acted mightily and sent His angel to rescue Peter; while Herod died a horrible death.

RELATE
I wonder if the church would be in earnest prayer when we are in a crisis similar to the apostle Peter being arrested. I believe we would. Yet, would we only be in earnest prayer when something went terribly wrong? Or would we cultivate dependency in God by being in earnest prayer even during more peaceable times? I believe as a people of God, we need to be in earnest prayer at all times. After all, we can only make Christ-like sense of daily living in earnest prayer as the Lord is the source of all that we have and do.

REST
Lord, help us to understand that earnest prayer is so important. It really shows our heart condition towards who you are in our lives. May we as a church moves towards the direction of being a house of prayer and not lose heart. Amen.

Matthew 3:15

by Rev Joel Yong

Matthew 3:15 records Jesus as saying: “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”

Though He is the Son of God, with the powers of the Almighty, Jesus was obedient in every sense to His Father. He came to earth, send by His Father – not to enjoy a life of luxury, but to be crucified and to die for the sins of the world, that through Him, it might be saved. What a wonderful Savior we have in Jesus!