God dwelt with man

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11; Psalm 97:1-98:9

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
2 Chronicles 6:18 “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!”

REFLECT
Solomon finished building the temple and in the presence of God and the people of Israel, he prayed a prayer. In his prayer, he uttered the prophetic question of whether God will indeed dwell with man on earth. Never did he know, nor would he had imagined, that approximately 900 years later, his question was answered. His question was answered quite literally, that God came to dwell with man on earth in the flesh. Immanuel. God with us. Jesus came as fully man, even as He is fully God, to dwell with man. Jesus came to dwell with man, so that He can obey the Father’s will to atone for our sins at Calvary.

Why would God do such a thing? Why would a holy God choose to dwell with sinful creatures who rebelled and betrayed His trust? Why would a Creator of the universe and beyond choose to dwell with human beings whom He had created? I believe it is because of God’s desire to reconcile His people back to Him. I believe it is because of God’s faithfulness to the covenant that He had made with David especially of 2 Samuel 7:16 “Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.” God was not saying that David’s line will be kings forever. God was saying that David’s line will involve the birth of the Christ child and through Christ, God’s kingdom shall be established forever. Indeed, nothing on earth can contain God. However, if God so choose; He can dwell with man in the flesh for the sake of rescuing us from ourselves. Such is the magnitude of God’s grace and love for man.

RELATE
As one who regarded myself as a follower of Christ, how am I responding to such a magnitude of love and grace from my Creator? Do I worship, pray and give reverence to God like Solomon? Does my life reflect that I am truly in awe and gratitude of such a great God? I have much to learn from Solomon at this point of his life. I do not think that I am always in awe of who God is in my life. If it be so, then I wouldn’t have prioritized my own comfort to His will. I wouldn’t have surrendered to impatience instead of being still to seek His face. I am thankful that God has chosen to come and dwell in the flesh. If not for such a miracle; I would have continued in my old ways and not the privilege of living in the new.

REST
Lord God, help me to learn from the sense of awe that Solomon have for you at this point of his life. This is so that my life in Christ can be more pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

Advertisements

Heart of the Father

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30; Psalm 95:1-96:13

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
1 Chronicles 28:9-10 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

REFLECT
In the presence of “all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the stewards of all the property and livestock of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the seasoned warriors” (1 Chronicles 28:1-2); King David charged Solomon his son to serve God with his whole heart and a willing mind. By proclaiming such a charge in public, David was telling his people that even as his son, Solomon would be of no exception to know and obey God. Such a charge came from the heart of a father who wanted to honour God above everything else. Such a charge came from a parental heart that would take the effort to nurture his children to know God and serve Him.

RELATE
Unfortunately, such a charge isn’t often proclaimed anymore. Not in the public, not in church, not even at home. These days, many fathers are “outsourcing” such a charge. So the school should be helping their children to behave. So the church should disciple their children to grow in Jesus Christ. If the faith of their children are wrecked; it must be the fault of the Sunday school. It must be the fault of the youth ministry. It must be the fault of the church!

I wonder what King David would think of such a theology. Such a theology of discipleship was never in the mind of King David. Nor was it in the minds of many godly parental characters in the Bible. Yes, it is true that there are quite a few parents in the Bible who missed the mark of nurturing their children well in the faith; but none had ever thought to outsource! When have we started to push the blame when it is us who failed? When have we started to get upset when we have not honoured God in helping our children to grow in the faith? Is it because we ourselves have not been growing in our relationship with God? And so we felt so inadequate and even ashamed?

Fathers. I believe in the grace and power of God to help us change. I believe in the will of God that He wants us to take our rightful authority once again. It is time to take hold of our destiny as parents. It is time to wake up from our stupor. It is time to take hold and declare: “And you, my son (daughter), know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” Fathers, disciple our children. It is never too late to start.

REST
If you are a father reading this and like to pray for your children, you can pray this with me:

“My Father in heaven, holy is Your Name. I am sorry that I have not been fulfilling my role as a parent to ____________ (your child/children’s name(s)); help me Lord, help me to disciple my children according to your commandments. Give me the power and wisdom to do so as You did for King David and the many godly fathers in the Bible. Help me to grow in my own journey with You. This is so that my children can see that I am serious in the faith; and they should be too. May _____________ (your child/children’s name(s)) come to You in humility and declare Your Lordship over their lives. In Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen”

Submit to what the LORD says

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17; Proverbs 26:3-5

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
1 Chronicles 17:25-27
25 For you, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you. 26 And now, O LORD, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 27 Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O LORD, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever.”

REFLECT
Out of reverence for God, David proposed to Nathan the prophet to build a house for God. However, God “reversed” the situation and had Nathan reveal to David that He the Lord Almighty will establish the king’s house instead. Upon hearing God’s desire, David was full of gratitude as he received the Lord’s blessings. Instead of insisting on his own way, David was quick to submit to the Lord’s desire. This is so even if David had thought that his desire to build God a house was a good thing.

RELATE
Have I ever thought of doing a good thing for the glory of God; only to have it stopped or undone by the Lord’s command? Many years ago, I thought that my way of serving and honouring God is to do my excellence in the marketplace and continue to minister as a zone leader in my home church. However, in the year 2006, I received God’s call to resign from my marketplace vocation and be prepared for full time church work. At that time, I definitely wasn’t like King David who submitted quickly to God’s desire. I took some time to struggle with God for what I considered to be a “big move”. Looking back, God had been and still is so good to me and my family. His desire is the best and I am so blessed to be able to do His will. How about you? Have you been struggling with God for a desire He had expressed to you? If so, may you continue to take courage and pray and perhaps one day, like David, you would submit to His will.

REST
Lord our God, help us to be clear with and submit to Your desires. This is the best for us, even if it doesn’t seem to be so at this moment in time. Amen.

Songs for worship

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 4:5-5:17; Psalms 89:1-13

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Psalm 89:8 “O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD, with your faithfulness all around you?”

REFLECT
Psalm 89 is a song written by Ethan the Ezrahite. In verses 1-13, Ethan sang to the steadfastness and faithfulness of the Lord our God. He sang that none can be compared to God when it comes to His steadfastness, faithfulness and might. He sang with praise that God had made a covenant with His chosen one (King David) and that He had promised to establish his offspring forever. Who is indeed like the Lord our God? He ruled all that is on earth and in the heavens. God has a mighty hand. His hand is strong! I believe that the Psalmist Ethan was a faithful person who worship God with great sincerity. Someone who understood and worshipped God for His faithfulness.

As believers, we can sing similar praise songs or hymns like Ethan the Ezrahite. We can sing songs that honor God for all of His faithfulness and power. Yet, how much do we really revere God for who He is? When we proclaim the might and power of God; do we declare them more as lip service? Or do we declare with all sincerity and belief? Do our lives demonstrate that we truly believe in God’s faithfulness even as we sing it? Or are we just trying to get some inspiration from the songs to “feel good” on that Sunday?

RELATE
In today’s world, we have millions of praise songs and hymns written by many great musicians and song writers. Many of these song writers and musicians are anointed by God to write these songs and we praise God for them. I like to believe that like the time of David, many of these hymns and praise songs are wonderful gifts which a believer can use to worship God and strengthen our faith. However, even as we sing to God through these beautiful hymns and songs, we might want to reflect and ask ourselves some of these questions:

  1. What are we really singing? Do the words help us to know God more? Are these words true to what we know of the word of God?
  2. As we sing and make melody; are we faking it? Or are we truly enjoying God and surrendering ourselves to be ministered by His great love in worship?
  3. Are we truly worshipping God through songs and hymns? Or are we worshipping these songs and hymns themselves?

God is mighty. He is faithful.

I am reminded today that as I worship Him with songs and hymns, I must check my own heart towards Him. Otherwise, it is ever so easy to be lost in the “music” of the songs; that my soul is not really there to worship.

REST
Lord my God, even as my lips declare of Your faithfulness and greatness in songs and hymns; may my life reflects what I have been declaring. Amen.

God’s choice

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 1:1-2:17; Psalms 88:1-18

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
1 Chronicles 2:1-2 “These are the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.”

REFLECT
Today’s reading (and in subsequent days) will probably be challenging for many of us because it contains only genealogies. Yet, when we take the effort to read through, we might discover that it is a wonderful treasure to behold. The first two chapters of 1 Chronicles remind us of the very beginning when Adam was created by God.

From Adam, we can trace the genealogy of key characters like Noah, Abraham and then to the twelve tribes of Israel. Such a long list of genealogy serves to remind us that God is in control. He is the Author of time and shall make His choice to carry out His plan. From the very beginning, Israel was a much smaller nation as compared to her surrounding giants. Yet, it is a choice made by God to carry out His purposes. Even through the many pitfalls and sinfulness caused by the Israelites; God has faithfully upheld Israel. Not only that, God has fulfilled His promise to bring forth the hope of salvation (in Christ) through David’s line.

RELATE
God is in control. When God makes a choice, nothing on earth or in the universe can come against Him. With this in mind, I can trust in the Lord and even rejoice if I sense the Lord calling me to do something out of my comfort zone. If there are troubles everywhere; then I should continue in prayer and trust the Lord to make His move in His time. If I know that the Lord has made His choice in an important matter; I should submit to His will and be at peace.

In recent months, my family and I had been quite busy looking for a new home to stay. It was an exhausting journey as we spent many day-offs viewing many homes. It was only recently that we were guided by the Lord to a home which is ideal. We are thankful. Yet at the same time, we are also praying earnestly that the process of purchase will go well. This is because we do not hope to go through the whole viewing process again. Today’s passage reminded me that while it is important to pray, I should also rest in the assurance that God has made His choice. Since God has made His choice, my family and I should choose to rest in Him.

REST
Lord God, You are all knowing and all powerful. Help me to rest in what You have decided. Amen.

Stop it!

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Colossians 2:8-23; Psalms 82:1-8

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Colossians 2:20-23
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)– according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

REFLECT
According to Colossians 2:20-23, Paul reminded the young church in Colossae that they have died with Jesus Christ to the elemental spirits of the world. According to one bible commentator, “elemental spirits” refer to evil or national “gods” that are supposed to rule over the different areas of the world. However, Paul did not think that these “gods” really exist (ref: 1 Corinthians 8:4-6). They only exist as far as those who believed and worshiped them.

Therefore, Paul exhorted that if the Christians in Colossae had died with Christ to such idolatry, why were they subjecting themselves to man-made regulations? Paul warned the young believers that these regulations have no value or power at all in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

In fact, the stopping of the indulgence of the flesh can only happen when believers:

  1. Focus on the things that are above and not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2)
  2. Put to death the old self and put on the new self; for it is now possible to do so for the one who believe in Jesus. (Colossians 3:5-10)

RELATE
I might not be practising Judaism that encourages the believer to apply a list of regulations to stop the indulgence of the flesh. However, I might be practicing a self-made religion when I tell myself to “stop it” using my own strength. When I do so, I am putting faith in myself rather than the One who died for me. When I do so, I am trying to be my own god rather than submitting to the Lordship of the One who has authority over all. Ironically, during my three-year study in the seminary, I practiced quite a bit of “self-made religion”. This was especially so when I was facing a time crunch to finish writing the never ending papers. On occasions, I took the easier way out by relying more on my own intellect and experience to get them done; rather than using the opportunities to reflect and communicate with God.

Indeed, when it comes to indulgence of the flesh, be it succumbing to anger, watching undesirable materials on the Internet, obsession over food and even developing an idolatry for work; the only way to “stop it” is through faith in Christ.

Faith in Christ does not mean adopting a passive stance and hope for the best. It means an ever active exercising of faith to stay close to God through His word and believing that, in the Spirit, I am able to put on the new self and put to death the old. It is also about cultivating an ever increasingly grateful heart towards what Jesus had done on the cross; so much so that the many temptations of this world pales in comparison.

REST
Help me Lord, to grow in my gratefulness of what You have done on the Cross. This is so that everything else in this world pales in comparison to what I can have in You. Amen.

Praying for our leaders

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Proverbs 25:17

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
1 Timothy 2:1-4 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

REFLECT
The first of Paul’s instructions to Timothy (and possibly the church in Ephesus) was to pray. It was to pray and intercede for all people; and of special mention are those who held high positions in the country. Prayers are to be constant and not merely for certain times of the year. Prayers are necessary, as Paul said, so that Christians may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Such prayers are not so much about praying “away” persecutions or trouble; instead it was to pray so that as Christians, we can remain calm and steadfast even in the midst of persecution and in the context of 1 Timothy – the chaos created by false teachings. Paul said that praying in this way is pleasing to God and he seems to imply that when Christians behave well as we are strengthened by prayers, more will come to be saved.

RELATE
My family and I had the privilege of attending the 1st preview of Singapore’s National Day Parade 2019 at the Padang. The parade brought good reminders that as a nation, we have so much to be thankful for. Yet, we all know that there is a lot of room for improvement. This is especially so when we talk about the quality of life for those in need and how we can be more patient towards one another. So yes, we need to pray for our leaders in this nation. We pray that they will be given wisdom and discernment to run this country well. We pray for ourselves as Christians, that we will also remain steadfast and be at peace with one another; even if we should encounter trouble and persecutions. We pray for ourselves to be good witnesses and to live out godly lives; so that more can be saved. This is God’s desire and as His children, we pray that we will be strengthened to carry out His purposes.

REST
Thank you God for the leaders of this nation. We pray for them that they will carry out the duties of their office with love, wisdom and strength. We pray for ourselves that as the children of God, we live in a way that is pleasing in Your sight. This is so that more will come to know You as Savior and Lord. Amen.