Day 299

by Rev Joel Yong

Galatians 3:7-9
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed. So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

What comforting words.
God did not choose only those of a certain race or language to be saved.

He wanted ALL to be saved.
The way they could be saved- wasn’t through their deeds or accomplishments but by faith in God alone.

Best of all, it was not an exception made as an after-thought that allowed Gentiles to creep into the Kingdom.
It was already planned from the start when God made His promise to Abraham as seen by His choice of words above.

Galatians 3:26-29
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

I believe that Jesus is enough for me.

 

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Day 298

by Rev Joel Yong

Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ.

I do not seek to impress men either.
I have found that being spoken highly of by people is a mere vanity.
For the hearts of men are fickle- people can speak well of you today and turn against you tomorrow.

Look at what happened to Jesus on Palm Sunday and the reception He received.
Then look at Good Friday and the mob that hurled insults at Him.

If it was that way for Him, it will not be too different for us.
For a servant is not above his Master- what Jesus endured, so must we.

If anyone seeks fame and riches- he should not be in the business of this work of being a servant of Christ.
Honestly there is no money to be made when one seeks to be true to this work.
The pay is not comparable to what the world can offer to pay you in another vocation.
Neither is there a ladder of promotional titles that can be climbed or that is worth climbing at all.
There is no fame that is worth pursuing. Only rejoice that the King of Kings knows your name. And that is enough.

So let us serve God solely for the reason that we love Him and we do so because He first loved us.

Day 297

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Corinthians 12:9
And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Indeed.
His power is made perfect in weakness.

When a barren old couple suddenly conceives …
When a man rises from prison to become Pharaoh’s right hand man because of dreams he interprets …
When a shepherd boy kills a gigantic war veteran …
When a carpenter becomes the greatest teacher Israel has ever seen …
When an execution tool that extinguishes life, becomes the symbol of God’s hope and promise of eternal life for all of mankind …

Oh yes indeed.
He loves to show His power when we are at our weakest.

When it looks like it’s inconceivable that any glimmer of hope might still exist- God comes and does the impossible.

Then glory isn’t given to one’s body or abilities or accomplishments.
It’s not possible that any of these created the miracles we note in the above cases.

The answer is clear.
The direction our praise and thanksgiving should go to, is also clear.

It’s God who did it and who deserves the praise and glory.

Day 296

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Corinthians 10:7-8
Look at the plain facts! If anyone is confident he belongs to Christ, he should take note that we also belong to Christ. So, if I brag a little too much about the authority which the Lord gave us, I’m not ashamed. The Lord gave us this authority to help you, not to hurt you.

Paul wrote about the authority he had to lead and admonish the church.
There were some in the church in Corinth who spoke against Paul’s and his co-workers’ authority.

Paul points out that a true Christ follower would recognize that Paul and his co-workers are also followers of Christ.
Now the next sentence is crucial- he writes: “The Lord gave us this authority to help you, not to hurt you.”

That is important for us to remember.
I have used this example before- when we go for a checkup and the doctor presses with his hands on certain spots of our body and asks: “Does it hurt here?”- he is checking for problems in our body.

And if it hurts- it’s either:
A. the doctor pressed too hard.
B. there is something wrong with our body, underneath the area he just pressed.

Now when you think your pastor or leader is harsh- ask yourself:
A. is he really pressing too hard
B. maybe there is something wrong with my soul that needs correction and God is using my pastor or leader in the church to help me detect and subsequently fix it.

For God gives our leaders authority, to help us, not to hurt us.
We should yield and submit to their leadership rather than frustrate them.

Unless what we are called to do, is anti-biblical.
Then the Word should be our guiding basis over human preference.

We are the ones who are “old-fashioned”!

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Leviticus 6:1-7:27; Psalms 45:1-17

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 6:1-5 “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor  or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely- in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby-  if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.”

REFLECT
In the time of Moses, when one person sinned against another; it was considered a “breach of faith” against the Lord. The person who sinned must not only bring a guilt offering to the Lord, but must make full restoration to what was owed or robbed of. Such was the seriousness of how the Lord took to the commandment of loving our neighbours. In fact, many of the laws in Leviticus laid on the principle that if one says he loves the Lord; such “love” must be demonstrated through his actions – through loving of the neighbour. In other words, a person simply cannot say that he loves the Lord without being a loving and active participant within the family of faith. Such an important principle was also emphasized by Jesus throughout the Gospels.

RELATE
Some believers wondered if the laws in Leviticus are “old-fashioned” or “irrelevant”. I thought today’s reading suggest otherwise; that the modern day church might be one who is “old-fashioned” instead! I mean, how have we the modern church taken to the principle of making “full restoration” to our neighbour if we had hurt or oppressed them? Quite often, the church dare not even dwell in disciplinary or even conflict management issues. We frequently wave these issues away in the name of “peace” or even “grace”.

The truth is that we simply do not take seriously the importance of “restoration” and we have the tendency of sweeping things under the carpet. We pleaded for believers to quickly “forgive” one another; but we did not address the depth of the issue. We wanted to get things “over and done with” but we failed to care for the real needs of the ones who were hurt badly. We fear hard consequences; we always try to be the “nice guy” but that is simply prolonging the issue.

The book of Leviticus has much to teach the modern churches. While many of the laws do not apply to us anymore; there are many underlying godly principles that can serve us in very big ways. May we find courage to reflect on these principles and do what is good and right in God’s sight.

REST
Lord our God, we confess that we are an arrogant people.  We gloss over books of the Bible that seemed to be irrelevant but the truth is that we have no patience for them. Yet, we know that you have not given to us such books of the Bible just for the sake of historical data; but to also minister to our needs even up till today. Amen.

Day 295

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Corinthians 9:1-11
I don’t need to write anything further to you about helping the Christians in Jerusalem. I know how willing you are to help, and I brag about you to the believers in the province of Macedonia. I tell them, “The people of Greece have been ready to send their collection since last year,” and your enthusiasm has moved most of them to act. I’ve sent my coworkers so that when we brag that you’re ready, we can back it up. Otherwise, if any Macedonians come with me, they might find out that you’re not ready after all. This would embarrass us for feeling so confident as much as it would embarrass you. So I thought that I should encourage our coworkers to visit you before I do and make arrangements for this gift that you had already promised to give. Then it will be the blessing it was intended to be, and it won’t be something you’re forced to do. Remember this: The farmer who plants a few seeds will have a very small harvest. But the farmer who plants because he has received God’s blessings will receive a harvest of God’s blessings in return. Each of you should give whatever you have decided. You shouldn’t be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give, since God loves a cheerful giver. Besides, God will give you his constantly overflowing kindness. Then, when you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things. Scripture says, “The righteous person gives freely to the poor. His righteousness continues forever.” God gives seed to the farmer and food to those who need to eat. God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval. God will make you rich enough so that you can always be generous. Your generosity will produce thanksgiving to God because of us.

I love this text. Paul writes to the Grecian church and reminds them to deliver on what they promised to help the church in Jerusalem.

Seems they had some second thoughts and were wavering in their resolve and so he sends his coworkers first to them- to make sure they do what they promised.

Then Paul writes about the way in which Christians ought to give. He basically urges them to give because God multiplies godly gifts!

I like what Paul wrote – “God will make you rich enough SO THAT you can always be generous. Your generosity will produce thanksgiving to God because of us. ”

God enables us to grow in wealth so that we can continue to give. When we give, we minister to others who in turn become grateful to God for so moving His church, to give!

Are you a godly giver?
Do you perceive that your wealth is given, SO THAT you can be generous?

Day 294

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Corinthians 8:1-4
Brothers and sisters, we want you to know how God showed his kindness to the churches in the province of Macedonia. While they were being severely tested by suffering, their overflowing joy, along with their extreme poverty, has made them even more generous. I assure you that by their own free will they have given all they could, even more than they could afford. They made an appeal to us, begging us to let them participate in the ministry of God’s kindness to his holy people in Jerusalem.

Wow.
Sometimes people don’t pledge because they want to control where the money goes and they end up giving only to specific projects rather than tithe or pledge in general.
They don’t have the faith that the money would be managed to their satisfaction.

Some people give only what surpluses they may have.
No bountiful surplus- no giving.

And some people just give in obedience. They desire to be a part of God’s work through their giving.
Though they may be poor- they give.
Though the money will be managed by the church leaders according to their discernment- they give still.

That is what the Macedonian church did and is also why Paul commends them.

He notes that they even gave beyond what they could.
I guess these are hearts who know they have been saved by God at such a high price- and live their lives knowing they are His. Everything they have is His.

Lord, give me such a heart too.
To give selflessly to Your Kingdom’s work regardless of how much I may possess.