Living water

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: John 7:31-53; Psalm 17:1-15

READ  (verse/s chosen for meditation)
John 7:38-39  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

REFLECT
It seems strange that in verse 38, Jesus said “as the Scripture has said…” For I can find no Old Testament verse that said: “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. Nevertheless, it is likely that Jesus was not quoting a specific saying from the Old Testament, but an Old Testament imagery of what salvation is about. For example, Isaiah 12:2-3 said “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Hence, the imagery of salvation as a form of “living water” is present in the Old Testament. When it comes to the New Testament, Jesus clarified that “living water” is the Holy Spirit given to those who believes.

RELATE
How is leading a Spirit-led life like having our heart flow rivers of living water? In the context of the Bible, the role of the Holy Spirit is to (1) teach us all things in relation to how we can grow in our relationship with God (2) comfort, strengthen, nourish and  empower us to overcome sin and grow in holiness (3) intercede for us when we are weak. In other words, when we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is given to quench our spiritual thirst and help us grow in Him.

Such Spirit-filled living is conditional upon our “believe” in the active tense. This means that the living water will only keep flowing if we “keep believing”. “Keep believing” has to do with having a faithful and growing relationship with our Father in heaven. This is clearly expressed in the Gospel of John as the persistent cultivation of authentic faith in God.

Personally, I have found the reality of “keep believing” a deep challenge; especially when tragedies struck and disappointments set in. Yet, the beauty and wisdom of being in God, is that the living water within me did not just leave me in the lurch. The Holy Spirit is always refreshing my soul and urging me to be encouraged and rely on the Father’s strength. Such I guess, reflects what John Wesley said in a prayer:

REST
“In using all means, seek God alone. In and through every outward thing, look only to the power of His Spirit, and the merits of His Son. Beware you do not get stuck in the work itself, if you do, it is all lost labour. Nothing short of God can satisfy your soul. Therefore fix on Him in all, through all, and above all…” Amen.

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Day 211

by Rev Joel Yong

Lamentations 2:15
All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem; Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?

Clapping is often associated with congratulations and appreciation.

But in ancient times – even enemies were clapped at. It is done in derision.
To ridicule and mock them.

When we clap therefore in a worship service – we can be applauding our Lord for the great things He has done and who He is. And also we clap in victory AT the Enemy who is defeated and whom Jesus has redeemed many captives from.

The next time you clap in a worship service – remember it shows appreciation, awe and thanksgiving and also it puts the Enemy in the right place – in the arms of defeat.

Day 210

by Rev Joel Yong

Lamentations 1:1
How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave.

A city that was once great, wallows in ruin.
All because Jerusalem disobeyed God.

When we disobey- we deem the “benefit” gained by breaking God’s commands to be a worthwhile gain.
Even the prodigal son who had an initial gain of a windfall after receiving his inheritance – wound up with swine.

It is foolish to think this way.
For the truth is- without God, we will have nothing.

Pleasures beyond measure

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: John 6:43-71; Ps 16

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Psalms 16:11
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

REFLECT
This is one of my most loved psalms. It speaks about God’s protection, how He watches over our life, and how things fall into place for us according to His perfect plans. Yet, the best part is verse 11, which tells us that in the presence of God we can have complete joy and the deepest delights.

RELATE
What are the pleasures of life we desire most? Friends, food, wine, art, music, sex, sports … and so on. Well, the psalmist says that compared to God’s presence all these earthly pleasures pale. Yet how does one “get into” God’s presence? Hmmm. I suppose that just like in any other relationships, I need to make time, listen, and open my heart to Him. There’s one word for this actually.

REST
Lord, teach me how to PRAY! Draw me into Your presence, that I might see life, touch joy, and feel the pleasures of Heaven.

Day 209

by Rev Joel Yong

Jeremiah 38:4-6
Then the officials said to the king, Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm. King Zedekiah said, Behold, he is in your hands, for the king can do nothing against you. So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.

Jeremiah was a bad news preacher. He told them there was nothing they could do but let impending punishment come and to just accept God’s judgment and turn from their wicked ways.

But no one likes to hear such news.
No one likes to listen to a preacher who criticises the congregation for the things they have done wrong and need repentance of.

But when it is TRUE, and we need to repent- then such preachers are merely faithful beacons of God’s light- warning and turning people away from the rocks that would wreck their lives.

What the people of Israel did – was to tie him up and cast him into a cistern.
They hated the truth so much they would rather bury it and doom themselves.
Surprised?
Don’t be – they did it to Jesus when He came.

Day 208

by Rev Joel Yong

Jeremiah 31:1
“At that time,” declares the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”

God desires for entire families to worship Him, not just individuals.
When was the last time you worshipped as a family?

No, I don’t mean attending church together.
I mean – worship as a family within your own home.
Like praying together before bed.
Or studying the Scriptures together and discussing them.
Or singing praise songs together and interceding for one another over 1 or 2 hours as a family.

If not- today’s a great time to do so.
We craft much of our family memories around birthdays, anniversaries, graduations..
How much more wonderful it would be, if the memories we craft- include specific times we spend together in our home, worshipping God? In addition to going to church together regularly of course!