Nothing will be impossible?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Luke 1:26-56; Psalms 35:1-16

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Luke 1:37-38 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

REFLECT
“For nothing will be impossible with God”.

This message was given by the angel Gabriel after Mary was left wondering how the miracle she just heard could be fulfilled. How will it be that the Son of God be conceive by a virgin like her? The angel Gabriel assured Mary that the Son of God will be conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and also gave an added encouragement, that Elizabeth had been barren but was blessed with a child by the Lord. Hence, the angel Gabriel concluded “for nothing will be impossible with God”.

“Nothing will be impossible with God”.

I wonder how many of us have at some point in our lives, heard of this verse from Luke 1:37. Perhaps such a verse was given in the midst of an extremely difficult circumstance and so it served as a form of encouragement. Perhaps it was given in the midst of a heart to heart talk about a desire and so it was given as a hope. Whatever it is, I wonder if we had taken time to reflect on such a verse; for Mary’s response is to me is even more inspiring: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

It seems to me that upon hearing Gabriel’s proclamation that nothing is impossible with God; Mary did not ask for anything new or of her own desire. Instead, she obeyed the message given to her through the word of God relayed by the angel Gabriel. Mary was confident that whatever God wills, nothing will be impossible for His will to be carried through.

RELATE
“For nothing is impossible with God”.

The connective “for” is important because verse 37 was only given after Gabriel talked about the will of God for Mary. It wasn’t a “blank cheque” given to Mary that because nothing is impossible with God’ and so she can ask for anything. It was more like a solid assurance that whatever God wills, it will be done for Mary. Indeed, whatever God wills, if I receive and obey, it will not be impossible for God to fulfil because it will be His good pleasure to do so.

But what is the will of God? For Mary, the will of God for baby Jesus to be conceived through a human being was conveyed through an angel. For me, the will of God can always be found in His Word. Let me not proclaim carelessly verse 37 unless i know for certain, what God’s will is for a person under my care.

Let me pray for better discernment through Gods’ Word, obey His will through His Word and yes boldly proclaim like Mary: “Let it be to me according to Your Word”. Amen.

REST
Lord my God, thank you for the assurance given through Luke 1:37-38 that in Your will, nothing is impossible. You are an all-powerful God and nothing can stop You. So let me rest in that assurance and continue to be obedient in Your call for me to walk this journey in faith and holiness. Amen.

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Carriers of the good news

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Isaiah 51:1-53:12; Proverbs 21:11-12

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

REFLECT
The Lord announced through Isaiah that He will soon end the suffering of His people in captivity. He will come to bring them the good news. He will come to bring them the message of salvation. He will bring the good news through His people and these carriers of the good news are considered privileged to be able to do so. Indeed, the feet of those who carry the good news of hope, peace and righteousness are beautiful. For in the midst of suffering, discouragement and helplessness, their news are most welcomed.

RELATE
This passage in the book of Isaiah always brought back memories. Memories of the time when my seminary cohort were tasked to dramatize the passage at a praise festival. It was then considered apt to choose this passage because the end goal of a theological education is not to be puffed up in knowledge; but to serve and witness as a people of the Gospel. We are to prioritise on this because as verse 7 reminded “Your God reigns”.

Indeed, my God reigns and because He reigns in my life; so i should obey and carry the good news to others. I looked at my own feet and wonder from then how many times have i carried the good news to others? Not as much as i like to. I thank the Lord for His reminder that this is why He has called me to pastor in the first place. Actually not just as a pastor, but most importantly as a redeemed messenger of His peace and reconciliation; just like you and everyone of us who call upon the Lord as King.

REST
Thank you Lord for the great reminder that I am called to be Your carrier of the good news to others. No matter what form it takes, empower me and gives me the love of Christ to obey and reach out even more to the lost. Amen.

You are my God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Isaiah 33:10-36:22; Psalm 31:9-18

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Psalm 31:14 “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

REFLECT
While King David was struggling in deep distress (verse 9) and lamenting that his life was spent in sorrow, he still declared that he trusts God. Therefore, his trust is not dependent on whether God provided him with good things in life or shielded him from harm. His trust is dependent on the faith that no matter what happens; God is for him. Not only that, the God whom David trusts; is not a God who merely observe from a distant; but a God whom he had the privilege of calling “mine”. Such a deep sense of trust and intimacy with God the Father is rare in the Old Testament. This is why King David is regarded as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13; Acts 13).

RELATE
Having been a Christian for many years, Psalm 31 still serves as a great reminder of the intimacy that I can potentially have with God. When I came to know the Lord, one of the things I struggle with is to believe that I can have a an intimate relationship with the Great I Am. This is because like many Asian families; I come from one where parental love and concern are not clearly verbalised or even demonstrated.

Yet, the Bible constantly reminded that I now have the privilege of calling God, “my God”. Through my life journey, He had also shown me how much He cared for me and loved me. He had also blessed me with people in my life whom I can share spiritual intimacy with. So while God is apart from creation (for He created everything); He is never too far away from His creation. In fact, I believe He is always seeking to get close to His creation. We are the ones who shunned Him. So through Christ who bought me with His blood, I can now enjoy an intimate relationship with my Father in heaven. I can tell Him all things and I can knowingly anticipate that He is always listening. How great and liberating that knowledge is; for now I have a Father in heaven, the One and Only whom I have the privilege of calling “mine”.

REST
My God, thank you for your love for me. Help me to trust that I can be even closer to You as You desired. Amen.

Joy in salvation

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Isaiah 12:1-14:32, Proverbs 20:26-27

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

REFLECT
In chapters 11-12, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that even as Judah and Jerusalem will be destroyed by their enemies; God will preserve a remnant and be their salvation. God will save them and even round them up for assembly. Hence, those who were saved shall celebrate in the joy of their salvation. They shall sing praises and give thanks to God, who have saved them once again. Indeed, salvation is supposed to be joyful. Yet, we know that after the initial years of coming to know Christ; we might be struggling to find joy even in God’s gift of salvation. We might be so tired with the rigour of life (and even ministry) that we found ourselves unable to even draw from the wells of salvation with joy.

RELATE
There was a time when I struggled with finding joy in the gift of salvation that God has given to me in Jesus Christ. That was the time when my family and I were going through a period of deep disappointment with people serving in ministry. At that time, the Lord reminded me that even as I struggle with the people in ministry, I can still rejoice in Him. I can still rejoice in Him because what He had done for us on the Cross is eternal and unfailing; while what is here on earth, even of the church and ministry is fallible. Even with that powerful reminder, it was a tough struggle. It took me some time to walk out of the valley and find joy again in Him. I am thankful that by God’s grace, I had not gone the other way.

In reflection, I discovered that being able to draw from the wells of salvation with joy has a lot to do with gratefulness and faith. “Gratefulness” because I need to consistently remember how God saved me; not from an already righteous heart; but from a dark and depraved self. Salvation in Jesus is therefore a gift that nothing on earth can compare with; for it makes me righteous and grants eternal life. It gives me the gift to be able to live a life of holiness here on earth while waiting for the Lord’s return in His full glory. I am therefore so privileged to be called a child of God. With that, I should celebrate and rejoice!

“Faith” because if I want to draw from the wells of salvation in joy; I have to first be faithful in going to the wells of my salvation. I must not be distracted by other things in life (even if these are “good” things”) to neglect spending time with the Lord of my salvation. So even in the midst of difficulties, I must not give up meeting up with God and with people in my life whom I can share my soul with. I believe that if I do so consistently, I will be able to draw from my well of salvation in joy. I will be able to rejoice and be at peace; even if mighty storms should be hitting me from all sides. All because I serve a mighty God who saves.

REST
Lord of my salvation, help me in times of disappointment and distress to look to you and rejoice. For your salvation is precious and is to be regarded with great joy. Amen.

Returning to our own vomit

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Peter 2:1-22; Psalms 26:1-12

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
2 Peter 2:22 “What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

REFLECT
From 2 Peter 2, Peter had a harsh string of words for false teachers who led believers astray with their greed and sensuality. He also warned the believers, not to follow these teachers, for on the surface these leaders might be promising freedom but in truth, they are leading believers into deeper spiritual slavery. So believers who were undiscerning and follow such false teachers, were liken to dogs who return to their own vomit.

RELATE
What Peter warned of is highly applicable to today’s context. Believers in this country are facing much temptation from false teachers. These teachers often misuse the Word of God to preach half-truths and lure believers into spiritual slavery. What these false teachers want are no different from the world and could even be worse. They crave and lust for human recognition, power and wealth. They make use of the vulnerabilities and greed of some believers into the false thinking that the Gospel is about getting things for ourselves; when the opposite is true.

Much can be said of these false teachers; yet i am encouraged that Peter did not stop there. He warned that those who choose to abide with these false teachings are like dogs returning to our vomit; because we are basically returning to our old ways or worse.

Peter treated this subject matter with such depth and intensity because it threatens the very core of who we choose to follow. Therefore he was harsh against himself and others, when it comes to false teachings. Today, this is what many people would call “tough love”; but to me it is simply true love.

As believers, i believe we can all ask ourselves: do we really care enough for the souls of our friends that we are willing to speak up against false teachings? Even if this means that we become “unpopular”; do we care and love enough to do so? Do we care enough for our family’s and our own soul that we choose to read God’s Word carefully and discern deeply into what is really the truth? As churches in Singapore, i believe we need to wake up and be watchful. We should never take false teachings lightly because i know that the wolves among us are serious about chewing us up with their heresies.

REST
Help us Lord that as believers, we do not to return to our own vomit. Give us insights and courage to know Your truth and speak against false teachers who peddle half-truths for their own ungodly desires. Amen.

Ransomed

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 Peter 1:13-2:10; Proverbs 20:12

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
1 Peter 1:17-19 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

REFLECT
For those who believe, we are ransomed from our old ways not by silver or gold, but by the very blood of Christ. Peter used the word “ransom” to describe a situation where we were trapped by our sins. In that situation, we were helpless and have only one destination: i.e. eternal damnation. However, Christ in obedience of the Father chose to ransom us from the deadly trap of sin. He chose to ransom us not only for the sake of pulling us from the eternal fires of hell; but to give the new life in the Spirit. Yet, for that greatest wonder of all wonders, the ransom did not come cheap. The ransom cannot be paid in gold, silver or even good works; but only through the death of God’s Son. Our sins are so wicked and depraved that we can only “get out” by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

RELATE
Are we living as those ransomed by the blood of Christ? If we are, then we will cherish the new life given to us. If we are, then we will always be grateful to God for the tremendous price He paid at the Cross to get us out of our hopeless situation. If we are, then we will be delighted to share the Gospel with others and help those in need.

Yet it is easy to forget and I acknowledge that I am a forgetful person. Such a forgetfulness is not just a matter of memory; but of the heart and soul. When things go well, I tend to forget that I was ransomed. I tend to forget of the price paid in order that I can even now converse with my Abba Father in heaven. Such a forgetfulness goes in line with the people of the Old Testament who were being ungrateful and grumbled. Such a forgetfulness will do me no good for it will create ungratefulness and even a sense of dependency on my own strength to live in this depraved world.

REST
Help me dear Lord, to remember that I am a ransomed child of Yours. This is so that I can live a life that is truly pleasing to you. Amen.

Worship God as who He is

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Job 23:1-27:23; Psalm 21:1-13

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Job 27:6 “I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.”

REFLECT
The things that Job went through were extraordinary. His servants and children were killed, his finances reduced to near bankruptcy and he was struck with loathsome sores on his body. Perhaps no other mortal man on earth had went through similar tragedies, at least not in the records of the Bible; not in the records of history. Yet, Job was able to speak of holding fast to righteousness so that his heart will not be brought into reproach.

Indeed, much as the book of Job is often referred to as a book about “suffering”; it speaks more into the question: “Even if God should allow us to suffer even through no fault of our own, will we still worship Him?” Job knew that he was innocent of the wrath that was brought to him and yet he worshipped the One who allowed it. Why? Because Job knew who God is and he worshipped God as who He is; and not who he wanted God to be.

RELATE
Quite often, the extent of our worship is dependent on our knowledge of who God is as well as the depth of our journey with Him. If we keep thinking that God is One who only give us “good things” and keep us from all kinds of suffering; then when tragedy struck, we might stop worshipping Him quite quickly. However, if our idea of God is that He knows best, and that He is sovereign, and even through our suffering He can accomplish His purposes; then how we respond to suffering maybe very different. We can then suffer in the flesh, but rejoice in the Spirit because we trust of the heart of the Father. We can be struck but not dead because we know that someday, we will be vindicated. There is always hope because Christ has already won. So will we still worship God even if we should suffer as innocent victims of evil? That will be the question each of us must respond to in the light of Job’s example to have trust and awe in God no matter the circumstances.

REST
Lord my God, help me to learn from Job, even if just a speck of his faith to trust in you no matter what happens. Help me to rejoice in You even through times of suffering for the sake of Christ. Amen.