The Righteous Will Flourish

Ps.92:12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

God blesses those who love Him and who walk in His way – the way of righteousness. Just as He has made us the righteousness of Christ, He has also called us to walk righteously. No one who is made righteous and who chooses to continue to live in sin and darkness pleases the Lord. The Lord is full of grace and truth, loving and righteous, merciful and holy at the same time! It’s not “either-or”, it’s “both-and”.

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Day 303

by Rev Joel Yong

Ephesians 1:16-19
I never stop thanking God for you. I always remember you in my prayers. I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. Then you will have deeper insight. You will know the confidence that he calls you to have and the glorious wealth that God’s people will inherit. You will also know the unlimited greatness of his power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers.

The apostle prays for the church to know God better. He prays they will understand what He calls them to and the inheritance they will receive.

He is praying they will be secure in their identity after knowing this and not live as if this life and the treasures of this world are all there is.

He also prays they will know of God’s might and trust in His ability to deliver and to save.
This too will grant them security and faith in life.

I think these are great prayers to pray for our kids.
If we are to leave them anything- this is it.

The security of knowing who they are in Christ and that the God who loves them is powerful, loving and faithful.

Nothing will rock their boat in life if they know these truths.

Blood and the new life

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Leviticus 16:29 – 18:30; Proverbs 10:27-28

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”

REFLECT
Why must it be the blood that that makes atonement for sins? Why can’t it be any other parts of the body of the sacrifice? As the Lord said it, because it is the life. The blood is the life of the flesh and therefore only the blood can atone for sins; because sin causes death. Life, represented by the blood of the sacrifices must be brought to the altar of the holy God to atone for sins which causes death.

The people of Israel were taught that blood is sacred. They were taught in Deuteronomy 12:23 that the blood is the life and therefore they must not eat the life with the meat. As the idea of the sacredness of blood was passed through the generations, the Jews developed elaborate rituals (kashrut) regarding the consumption of food and the slaughter of animals. For example, an animal must be ritually slaughtered, not just by anyone, but by someone certified to do so (shochet) and all the blood drained out of the carcass before it can be kosher (pure) for consumption.

RELATE
I have a fear of seeing blood being shed. Especially my own blood. I will feel dizzy just by looking at the tube drawing my blood when I go for blood donation drives. So these days, I will just be looking at everything else, except for that tube. Yet, I also know that blood gives life and this amazing creation by our Lord is meant to provoke certain feelings in us, unlike any other parts of our body.

My children, when they see blood on their hands or legs when they had a fall, would immediately ask for help. Just a few weeks ago, Elyse was trying to use a stapler and incidentally stapled her finger. I brought her to the sink and pull out the staple. That caused just a slight trickle of blood; but it was enough to cause a little pain to my heart.

Blood is created to be the life of all humans and animals; and we are created to react to it in a certain manner. We are supposed to view it as precious. We are supposed to view it as sacred. Yet, blood is mindlessly shed on a daily basis when humans violently slaughtered one another through civil wars, greed, lust and revenge. When we watch all these in the news, or even what is acted out in the movies on a regular basis, we might become “desensitized” to the seriousness of all that is happening.

Yet, the sacredness of blood is reality. God created it that way. If our blood, stained by sin, is sacred and precious to God; how much more the blood of Christ? Hebrews 9:13-14 says: “For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

So Jesus’ death on the cross not only atone for our sins, but brings the new life to those who believe. In other words, our redemption through the blood of Christ is not just about the forgiveness of sins. It is also about living out what is given as the new life to us. So it is not just about being cleanse of our sinful habits; but learning more and more to love as God loves. This new life also compels us into making life choices which we would not have otherwise made if we still dwell in our old ways.

Our blood is sacred and now the blood in our veins are changed by the blood of Christ which is much more sacred. Question is, are we consistently living out what is now pumping in our veins as the new life? Or are there times where we will still look back and find pleasures or comfort dwelling in the old?

REST
Lord our God, help us to live as a people who truly understand that it is the new life that we have been redeemed for. Amen.

Day 302

by Rev Joel Yong

Galatians 6:17
From now on, don’t make any trouble for me! After all, I carry the scars of Jesus on my body.

The Judaizers were asking the believers to get circumcised- so that by those physical marks they would gain acceptance. The mark of circumcision was their badge of identity.

Paul instead references the physical marks on his body- scars received because he suffered beatings for preaching Christ – as his sign of acceptance by God as His messenger.

Paul had actual fruit from his ministry.
He preached and people were converted.
He taught about Jesus and authorities tried to stop him from doing so.
He pressed on and did not give up when the going was tough.

As Paul wrote-

Galatians 6:15
Certainly, it doesn’t matter whether a person is circumcised or not. Rather, what matters is being a new creation.

The mark of genuine followership of Jesus is proved by the transformation one has undergone by yielding his life to God. Not about mere talk and boasts.

Paul had a transformed life.
He went from being a persecutor of the Christians, and became a vocal advocate.
He went from being a self-righteous man, and became one who trusted only in Christ’s righteousness.
From a murderer watching the coats of those who stoned Stephen, he became a minister of Jesus.

Our identity is not proven merely by the cross pendant we wear on our necks.
It is proven by the change in our lives and what we do.
We are not merely a people who go to church.

No we are a people who have become the Church.

Day 301

by Rev Joel Yong

Galatians 5:1-4
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

Paul was writing to the Galatian church and warning them not to try and justify themselves by undergoing the Jewish rite of circumcision.
He was saying to them, “Christ is enough!”
There is no need to further obey such observances to get us to be accepted as the people of God.

Indeed the Son has set us free and we are free indeed.
But there are those of us, who enter again into chains of bondage when we try to find our identity through other means, such as seeking approval from people, from the achievements we can accomplish, or from the accumulated stuff we have.

Friends, we may not be choosing circumcision like the church in Galatia but we are still trying to find our identity through means other than Christ!
In so doing, we may walk free and be declared righteous in Christ but we put ourselves in shackles!
I say this because you are never free, when who you are- depends on what your friends, and family thinks of you.
You are never free, when who you are-depends on the accomplishments you have, and the list of titles you have.
You are never free, when what you own gives status and meaning to who you are.

No.
We ought to be a people who are first and foremost, the people redeemed by Christ and adopted as sons and daughters of God.
It is from this place of security in knowing who we are, that we live out our God-given identities and destinies.
And none of these are higher or lower than the other because all are servants of God with an equal place at His table.

Lobster anyone?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Lev 14; Pro 10:26

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 14:54-57
“This is the law for any leprous sore and scale, for the leprosy of a garment and of a house, for a swelling and a scab and a bright spot, to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the law of leprosy.”

REFLECT
Tough readings! And are these relevant for us? Leprous skins, garments and houses … what’s that got to do with us? And why must there be religious rituals to deal with physical uncleanness! Well, the law of Moses seemed to connect every sickness with sin, and every healing with God. That’s why the sin offering was required for cleansing. And the burnt offering was required as an act of thanksgiving/ worship for God’s healing grace. While we don’t fully grasp the meaning of “the law of leprosy”, we cannot miss God’s demand for us to be clean.

RELATE
Just before writing this post, I was served at lunch my first ever whole lobster – barbecued to perfection! Such delicacies are cheap here, especially in the seaside town where I’m staying. Then I remembered Leviticus – unclean!! Yes, this lobster would not have made it to the Jewish dining table. So what has changed from the time of Moses, till now? How could I eat this 1-foot lobster with my conscience clear? In fact, I could ask – how can one be a Chinese and not break all the food laws of Leviticus? I suppose the simple answer would be – I’m Chinese, not Jewish. More accurately, I’m a Christian, not an Israelite. While it is critical for me to be clean, the focus of holiness is now of the heart.

REST
Lord, teach me to discern between clean and unclean, good and evil, holy and hollow.

Day 300

by Rev Joel Yong

Galatians 4:1-7
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Growing up I always imagined what it would be like if one day I would be found to have a long lost relative who bequeathed a fortune to me.
And how I would go from rags to riches overnight.

It was only wishful thinking because I have no such family or links to wealth.

But when I opened the New Testament I found that I am a son of the Most High God- my adoption made possible through what Jesus did for me on the Cross!
Wow.

Who gives a hoot about what the rich men of the earth have?
I have an inheritance from the One who owns the universe!

Jesus is all we need.
Stop pining for man’s success.
Stop pining for earthly riches.
That is thinking too small.

Your Father has everything and wants to give you all He has in store.
Live for Him.
No one else is worthy.