God is our Siri / Alexa?

by Rev Jason Phua

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Jeremiah 21:2 “Inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”

Disaster was at hand. When the stubbornness of Judah stood against the consistent mercy of God; God was determined to send His judgement against the people. This was for the purpose of humbling Judah and after 70 years of exile; may grow to be a better people.

In Jeremiah 21:2-3, it was troubling to hear from King Zedekiah. Even after all that had happened, he had the audacity to inquire of God and expected the Almighty to help them. How could Zedekiah even think that God would help them at this juncture? He and many of his predecessors had done what was evil in the sight of God. Many in Judah had repeatedly rejected the grace of God to repent. Yet, there he was, thinking that God was his Siri or Alexa. While he did not respond to God’s call to repent; there he was asking God questions which he expected favourable responses. How dull of ears and eyes could Judah be?

Have we made God our Siri or Alexa? Even when we had not been spending enough time with God; have we been expecting God to respond when we “call”? Even when we have not been responding to God’s call for us to be transformed in His word, have we been expecting God to answer when we ask? Even as we have been resisting His will; are we expecting God to conform to our will?

I believe many of us have the tendency to be so. We have expected God to “answer” when we ourselves are super slow to respond and action on His perfect will. We have even expected God to conform to our will and sulk when He does not do so.

The root issue could be that we just want our own way and not the way of Christ. We are much more comfortable that way. We do not want to change; not when our own comfort or even our “treasured” sins are threatened. Sometimes we even have the audacity to expect God to go according to our way; and not His. How dull of eyes and ears can we be?

God our Lord, forgive us as a people when we are stubborn. Help us to repent and walk according to Your way. Help us to be sensitive to Your calling in our lives; so that we can make wise decisions. This is all because You are the Potter and we are Your clay. Amen.

Genesis Day Thirty Seven

by Rev Joel Yong

Genesis 48:13-20
And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.

Joseph thought Israel was old, nearly blind and confused.
He only thought of man’s order of blessing which traditionally puts the firstborn ahead of the younger sibling.

But Israel was not mistaken.
It was a prophetic act, by which he was declaring that the younger Ephraim would become greater than the older Manasseh.

Have you been there?
Whereby you think- you were chosen by mistake and it could not possibly be so?

I did.
When I was called to become a pastor, I was only in my 2nd year in NUS. That was 1998.
I said to God, “How can this be? Pastors are old men, like sages – I am too young!”

And now I am at about my 17th year as a pastor- and some of my colleagues who have served less than 17 years as a pastor have already retired!

And I have at least 22 years left in my journey as a pastor, that is, if I remain in this job till I turn 65 … clocking 39 years in total.

I will not be the longest serving though, because remember, I was in NS and then NUS. Some of my older colleagues joined before they went to a university, straight out of NS and some did not need to serve NS at all, as they are ladies.

When God revealed my destiny to me – I was saying: “How can this be?!”
But friends, you see, God makes no mistakes.

He knew Ephraim would surpass Manasseh.
Just like He knows how you and I would turn out.
When He sends His blessings or issues His calling- it is deliberate, intentional and yes, He knows what He is doing …

It does not mean you are great, that’s not why He chose you.
I have seen too many persons want to serve in positions in ministry and they consider themselves to be God’s gift to the church and become big-headed and lose focus.

That is not why God calls us …

1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

If you are prone to thinking, He chose you because you were talented and some kinda star – time for a reality check.

God chose us, precisely because when He does His work through us- people will see that its not possible that it came from us (because of how imperfect and broken we are), and naturally conclude that it must be God at work.

God never makes mistakes.