One can actually be thankful for a gift without seeking to serve and please the Giver. True gratitude leads to passionate service.
by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: Acts 10:24-48; Psalms 35:17-28
READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Acts 10:45 “And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.”
The believers who came with Peter to the house of Cornelius were amazed at how God saved those they considered to be “outside” of God’s covenant with Israel. They were intrigued by how the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For the Jews were taught from young that the Gentiles were “unclean”; and that the Gentiles were pagans who did not know the true God. In other words, to the Jewish believers, Cornelius’ household seemed unlikely to be able to believe in God. Yet, God had proven them wrong through Cornelius’ faithfulness. Even prior to Peter’s preaching of the Gospel, we were told that Cornelius was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2).
Yesterday, I had the privilege of baptizing an elderly lady who is currently 94 years of age. She had never attended church but because of her grandchildren, she came to know the Gospel and desired to be baptized. We spoke with her and found that she understood the faith and could express to us that in Christ, she found peace. At her home, we sang songs of praise and witnessed how joyful she was, singing and praising God with us. If this elderly lady had not say that she want to be baptized, perhaps many believers might not know that she has the fear of the Lord in her. Some might even think that she is an “unlikely” candidate for the faith; as she is already so elderly in age and had never attended church. Yet, the Lord knows everything. Like all of us, she is a precious child of God and God knows that she believed. Unlike many of us, God does not discriminate and His love is divinely free for all.
Lord our God, please take away our biases, and help us to discern with His wisdom and heart of those who have the fear of the Lord in them. This is so we can be used more effectively by the Lord to disciple and lead people to Christ.
by Rev Joel Yong
Then Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father takes care of the vineyard. He removes every one of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit. He also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.
This is a familiar passage.
What strikes me, is that even the productive branches (good disciples) get pruned.
You’d think no cutting would happen to branches that do well.
But you see, the Gardener – who is God Himself- also knows the potential of each branch and it’s His desire to help us reach the full potential He has imbued in us.
I have 2 sons – I rejoice when they reach developmental milestones. I high five them and tell them I am pleased.
But here is the thing, I know they can now do more- having crossed the previous milestone (say for example, going to the potty).
I am not going to let their life achievement be that they made it to the potty on time … I know they can do more.
So I teach them more, show them more and it won’t be easy – but I wait anticipating their next achievement.
That is why He prunes productive branches.
That is why even good disciples will experience hardship.
Stay faithful even in such times- He is waiting our next greater crop of fruits!