This or that way

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 John 3:7-24; Psalm 122:1-9

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
1 John 3:10 “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

REFLECT
The Apostle John pulled no punches in his writing to the recipients of 1 John. He was exhorting them that there are only two ways to live – either be righteous in God or be in alliance with the devil to abide in sin. Those who choose to practice sinning will be of the devil. There is simply no in-between. Righteousness cannot be blended with sin just as light cannot be merged with darkness.

I often wonder how the recipients of John’s letter responded to such “strong” words; for in the modern world we are often easily sensitive and at times defensive to such exhortations. Yet we know that John was not writing because he had a personal axe to grind; he wrote because that is the truth and Christ has said that the truth shall set us free.

RELATE
As predicted by the Apostle Paul, we live in a world where many believers shall increasingly choose what our flesh want to hear, say and do. So when we come across a rather “strong” or “hard” exhortation, we squirm in our seats and get all uncomfortable. So these preachers are sometimes told to “simplify”, be “sensitive” and even “tone down” the sermon content.

Question is, why shouldn’t preachers give messages that cause discomfort to our souls? After all, the Gospel is given not to massage our egos, but to challenge, convict and transform the innermost of our wretchedness.

So as like what the Apostle John said, there is no other way. Either we pursue righteousness, which can and will be excruciating for our flesh but the reward is Godliness. Or we can lean our souls to the devil and let him have his way. May the Lord help us to hear what He wants us to hear and receive with joy His Word that transforms.

REST
May the Lord help us to choose the right way and be empowered to stay that way. Amen.

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Day 100

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Kings 1:9-15
Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, O man of God, the king says, Come down. But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he answered and said to him, O man of God, this is the king’s order, Come down quickly! But Elijah answered them, If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty. Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties, but now let my life be precious in your sight. Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, Go down with him; do not be afraid of him. So he arose and went down with him to the king.

The king sent the 1st 2 captains and they thought that since they were sent by the king- that their authority was immense and they called for Elijah to surrender himself.

They called him “man of God” but they had no respect for the full meaning of those words- they only honored their earthly authorities. So they sought to make him surrender because:

  1. they came from the king
  2. they were armed men

But in a show of force, God showed who was the ultimate authority when He sent fire from heaven to protect Elijah and burned up the soldiers.

Twice.

The 3rd captain comes and he fears Elijah. He knows the power of God and begs for his life rather than seek to impose earthly authority.

And God says to Elijah “Alright, go with this one. He knows who’s boss!”

Sometimes in this world- we call a person ‘Pastor’ but do not treat him as if he were our spiritual leader.

Sometimes we call a man ‘Father’ but do not honor him as if he were the one God called us to honor.

Sometimes we say ‘Thou art Almighty’ but live as if He is powerless.

Sometimes we say ‘I do’ in the presence of God as we unite in holy matrimony – but our actions whisper ‘only if certain conditions are met.’

There is a right order to our world. God’s way.

Earthly logic seeks to persuade us though otherwise. Till the point comes when God is a mere construct of our thoughts and a word we utter without genuine honor or respect.

At that point- our belief is but a mere custom and not a spiritual conviction.