by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Galatians 5:13-26; Psalms 89:1-13

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

“Freedom”. What does this word mean in the context of Paul’s letter to the Galatians? When Paul said that the Christians in Galatia were “called to freedom”; he meant our freedom in Jesus Christ. Freedom in Christ has to do with Jesus’ work on the cross; which was to be sin so as to atone for the sins of those who believe. The act of atonement tore the veil in the temple in half; which signified that those who have faith in Christ is no longer subject to sin and death under the law. In Christ, we are freed from condemnation under the law.

Therefore, Paul told the Galatians not to use their new found freedom for what it was intended to destroy i.e. subjecting ourselves to the law again and giving ourselves to sinful behaviours. Instead, the Galatians were encouraged to use their new found freedom to love one another. Such shall be the rightful behaviours of those who by God’s grace, had been saved through faith.

One of my favourite movies of all time is “Braveheart” directed by Mel Gibson. It was a movie based loosely on the history of William Wallace, a Scottish warrior who led the Scots in their first war of independence against King Edward I. One of the famous quotes from the movie is a war cry from William Wallace while he tried to inspire his vastly outnumbered army: “They may take away our lives, but they will never take away our freedom!”

Freedom is important to the soul of humankind. Historically, we know of many men and women who fought for their own freedom as well as the freedom of others. Many of such battles were fought on the grounds of emotional as well as physical freedom. Yet, even as such demonstrations of courage to be “freed” are commendable; we can never be truly free without Jesus Christ. Without Christ, even if we enjoy all degrees of physical and emotional freedom; we can never have spiritual freedom.

Without Christ, we can never be freed from the spiritual prison of the sins we have committed, committing or going to commit. Without Christ, we are doomed to the judgment of God even if on the outset, we enjoyed the freedom of the flesh. Galatians 5 reminded me of how precious the spiritual freedom from Christ truly is. As a child of God in Jesus; I am now truly free in all sense of the word. How marvellous such love and grace is from my God who desires true freedom for all of His children.

Lord, help me to use my freedom to love You and one another. This is so I may not abuse such a precious gift You have given to me, but to use it for Your glory purpose. Amen.

Is Real Life-Change Happening?

Possibly the most difficult thing most pastors and church leaders face is teaching, leading and helping believers obey everything the Lord had commanded us. The question is how can we do this most effectively? There are many things we can do that contribute to it such as life-changing sermons, God-encountering worship and prayer, authentic friendship, warm small group life and insightful Bible study. All the above in so many churches need to be scrutinized and reformed though. Beyond the above, I think there is something else of critical importance – ONE-TO-ONE mentoring! The most natural way this can take place is within a small group. I have come to realize that I can have good attendance at small group meetings and inspiring meetings but if no one in my group (including me the leader) takes time to befriend, support, encourage and guide one another at a one-to-one level, we won’t be able to help fellow believers obey everything the Lord has commanded us. And without obedience, we will not fulfill God’s destiny for our lives.

Why Paul so ‘Law Saul’?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Galatians 3:23-4:31

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Galatians 3:24-25
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Paul really took pains to help the Galatians understand the purpose of the Law. Well, he was a Pharisee after all. The Law was a big deal to the Jews, and had been central to their nation’s history and conscience. But now that Christ has come, the Law’s role as tutor/guardian was no longer necessary. But does it still have a role? While the food, festival, ceremonial and sacrificial laws are no longer relevant to us, how about the 10 commandments? Or laws concerning war, homosexuality, or slavery? Who decides which laws make it into the New Testament? No wonder Paul had to be so ‘Law Saul’ (long-winded)!

It is clear by the end of Galatians that Paul upheld the need for a holy life – free from sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, envy, and the like. He reminded us that our freedom from the Law is not for us to indulge in selfish urges (5:13). Rather, it is to free Christians to serve and bless others. This is tough for those of us who live in the First World – where spending power is great, and the lure to self-actualisation (be yourself!) is strong. Yet Jesus offered a simpler answer to the problem of the Law – deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me. This is the only way to a truly happy and fulfilled Life.

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Grant me wisdom to understand Your truths, and faith to live them out. Amen.

The Test of Successful Discipleship

A very important key to intentional discipleship is found in what Jesus said in Mt.28:20a – “and teaching them to OBEY EVERYTHING I have COMMANDED you.” If every Christian in every church obeys everything Jesus commanded us, disciples and disciple-makers would explode exponentially! Well-crafted sermons, passionate worship, gourmet food, warm fellowship and intensive Bible study are all great but if they don’t result in fellow believers becoming obedient, then we have all wasted each other’s time, worst still, we have simply played church! That’s the big test of successful discipleship.

Are You a Son or Daughter of the King?

Do you see yourself as a son or daughter of the King? Every child of the King has both privileges and responsibilities. One of your privileges: You may call upon the Name of King Jesus in every situation, usher Him into where you are and invite Him to intervene and act for your benefit and protection according to His goodness that His Name may be glorified! One responsibility: To faithfully follow Him and obey His commands.

Jn.14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 If you love me, keep my commands.

The Church Is Not Perfect, But I Still Love Her!

THE CHURCH IS NOT PERFECT, but I still love her and I believe that the church is still God’s answer to human sinfulness and degeneration in society. What we need to do is to serve faithfully, love God’s people and BE THE CHANGE!

1Cor.15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

No Perfect Church

What will you be honoured by the Lord for?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Proverbs 13:9-10

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

In judgement of Moses’ transgression at the waters of Meribah-kadesh (Numbers 20:1-13); God did not allow him to go into the Promised Land. For all the hard work that Moses had done in obedience of God, he was denied entrance into the land of milk and honey because at Meribah, Moses “broke faith” with God and did not treat God as holy in the midst of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:51). This was a serious transgression; for Moses could potentially cause Israel to go into full rebellion against God when the people witnessed for themselves that even their great leader could be so irreverent towards the Almighty.

Yet, for this count of serious transgression, the punishment meted out to Moses did not cancel out the good work he had done in obedience of the Lord; neither did it cancel out the sincerity of Moses’ heart towards the Almighty. God is not Someone who would grow so angry and bitter towards people that He act in an unjust manner.

He is always fair and at the same time full of grace. Hence, we get to read in Deuteronomy 34:10-12, one of the most honouring words God had given to His servant: “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,  none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.”

As I reflect on this passage, I know in my heart that I am no Moses. Given the same task, i will probably fail far before I reach the waters of Meribah. Yet, even as the form of Moses’ calling into ministry is so different from all of us; the essence of it is similar. Much as we are all called to fulfil God’s purposes whether in ministry, workplace or family; we are first called into “personal ministry”; the personal ministry of our worship of God. To me, our worship of God speaks of two major things: Awe and adoration. How much are we really in awe and adoration of the Almighty?

While Moses failed at Meribah and was justly punished for his sin; he was honoured for his other deeds. This was not because he had a much bigger task than us; but because the Lord greatly valued his sense of intimacy with Him. God knows that at the end of the day, Moses had awe and adoration for Him. For Moses was one whom the Lord “know face to face”. Such a phrase was unpacked for us in Exodus 33:11 which says “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend …”  We see here that the sense of intimacy between God and Moses was unmistakable.

Hence, the question for us today will be: What do we want to be honoured by the Lord for at the end of our life on earth?

Will it be: “Well done, for you have done many great things in the church I have called you to!” Or will it be: “Well done, for you have stayed close to me and you have truly loved me and my people”! I would really choose the second one and praying that the Lord will help me to be so.

Oh Lord my God, help me to learn from Your servant Moses, who despite his weakness, had an intimate relationship with You. Such shall be the fountain for which all the works that You have entrusted to us; flow from. Amen.