Am I in the place of God?

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Genesis 48:1-50:26; Psalm 10:16-18

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Genesis 50:19 “But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?”

REFLECT
If we are to trace the life journey of Joseph, we can see that one of the greatest changes that came over this once arrogant man was that of glorious humility and reverence for the Lord. As one who was made to be the authority over all of Egypt except for Pharoah, Joseph did extremely well to persevere in the conviction that it was God who saved him and turned what was evil to good. So when his brothers lied that their father Jacob had given the command for Joseph to forgive them of their transgressions, Joseph forgave them not on the account of what Jacob could have said (or not); but because he recognized that he was not “in the place of God”.

RELATE
For the past four and half years as a pastor, have I grown in my relationship with God? After all, God has called me into ministry not only to minister to others; but to also mould me as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. So…have I allowed myself to be moulded? Or am I putting on a show to fulfil the demands of ministry? As I reflect on these questions, my conclusion is that there are still many areas to grow. Yet, I thank the Lord for His sovereign grace that had helped me to make little changes for the better as a human being. May He who is Almighty, help me to grow even more so that I can be of a better blessing to others. May I learn from the reverence that Joseph had for God; so that I can be more effective as an instrument of His peace for His people.

How about you? In all the years where the Lord has called you to be. Have you grown in Him?

REST
Lord our God, help us to take time to reflect on how we are doing in You; this is so we will not get lost in our own desires and lose that primary call You had for us to be Your true disciples. Amen.

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The Almighty and the weak

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Genesis 35:1-36:43; Proverbs 2:16-22

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Genesis 35:12 “The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

REFLECT
Despite Jacob’s past records of being a deceiver, opportunist, someone who cared for his own reputation more than the dignity of his daughter and a father who did not address the favouritism he had for Joseph, he was blessed to be given the land which God promised for Abraham, including many other possessions and children. Why is this so? Does this tell us that even the unrighteous shall be blessed with greatness by the Lord?

I think there are two levels of looking at this. At the very first level is that God blessed Jacob not because he was as righteous or unrighteous as his father and grandfather; but because of His covenant with Abraham. When God made the covenant with Abraham to bless him as the father of many nations, he did not strike a deal with him in the sense that Abraham must be righteous in order for God’s covenant to be fulfilled. No, the covenant was to be fulfilled because God willed it to be so and He alone shall take on all consequences if ever the covenant was broken (Genesis 15). The second level is that throughout the Bible, God chose to work with and through imperfect persons like Jacob. It is through the study of the journeys of such imperfect persons that we are reminded how God has chosen to work through us as well, imperfect and weak as we are.

RELATE
There was a time when I was talking to my son about a challenging behaviour he had; which eventually led to the damage of an important piece of equipment. I got quite angry, scolded him and spoke to him about how he can move forward. However, at that time, I also felt impressed to add that despite of what happened, I still love him. Though he felt very guilty about the damage done, he brightened up quite a bit to know that he is cherished and loved in spite of what had transpired.

I wonder how many of us are moving through life without a full understanding that we are cherished and loved by our Abba Father in spite of our imperfections and sinfulness. That is why Christ comes into this world in the first place. Though we proclaim Christ, we might be behaving as if we need to please God in order to be loved. Yet, this is far away from the truth. God first loves us and can choose to use us through our imperfections. Of course, on such a journey with the Lord, there will be occasions when He would like us to deal with a particular issue before he can use us for a particular area of ministry. So let us not give up but cling on to His grace and truth; for we do serve an Almighty who knows us and can turn our imperfections for His glory sake.

REST
Lord, help me to grow in understanding that even as You are the Almighty, you love to use imperfect people to fulfil Your plans on earth. May I not seek to abuse this love that You have for me, but to be grateful and be transformed in the light of Your grace and truth. Amen.

At what price?

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Genesis 23:1-24:51; Psalms 5:1-12

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Genesis 23:16 “Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.”

REFLECT
We are not quite sure about the current value of 400 shekels of silver. Nevertheless, most researchers concur that the agreed price for the cave of Machpelah was exorbitant. According to Hittite laws, the negotiation which took place was the norm; and not because Ephron was faking generosity. According to M. Lehmann, a scholar who did extensive research on this passage, it seems that the Hittites did try to dissuade Abraham (a non-Hittite) from burying Sarah in their lands by quoting the exorbitant amount. Such an amount did not dissuade Abraham. He paid for it right away; having gained confidence perhaps from an earlier encounter with God which promised Abraham that He will surely be blessed (Genesis 22).

RELATE
This passage brings to mind the time when I sensed God’s call for me to be equipped in full time ministry. This means that I would have to quit my job in the marketplace, enter into full time studies, give up the car and try to raise a family with a simple token of allowance from church. Back then, Belinda made the decision to stay home to raise the two children as she also sensed the Lord’s call for her to do so. We know that by the world’s standards this is foolishness. Yet the Lord gave confidence as we sought of Him to show the way.

Hence, by the time I graduated from seminary, a big part of our savings were wiped out. Yet, as I relate to God’s Word for us today, I cannot help but once again be amazed and grateful that during those days, none in the family was left hungry. We have a nice place to call home and even get to enjoy simple holidays once a while. It was also a faith journey with the Lord that our family will never forget. Yes. When the Lord calls and we obey, He will not put us to shame. 400 shekels might be a big sum of money; but once we understand what God’s call and grace really is, it is really not such a big deal after all.

REST
Help us Lord, to learn more about your majesty, grace and timely provisions. Help us to know that You did only what You did because You want us to grow in You. Amen.

Keeping His Word

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Revelation 22:7-8 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

REFLECT
The word “keep” appears twice in Revelation 22 (verses 7 and 9). God’s people are exhorted to keep the words of the book of Revelation. The word “keep” is translated from the Greek “tereo” which in context, means to “pay attention” or “to observe”. In both verses, “tereo” is given to us in the present participle. This means that God’s people are to actively and consistently observe God’s Word as given to us in the book of Revelation. So what are we to consistently pay attention to and observe? As given to us in verses 10-15, we are to actively and consistently observe holiness in our journey with Jesus. We are to actively and consistently shun what is evil.

RELATE
Some like to treat the book of Revelation as a book that tells the future. Some parts of the book do talk about what will happen in the future. However, if we are to draw a major consistent theme through Revelation, its main message is for us as a church, to be holy and watchful as we wait for the Lord’s coming. To me, the book of Revelation is not so much as a crystal ball that foretells what is going to happen in the future; but a promise that tells us of the solid hope that those who persevere shall reign with God forever. One of the main reasons why I learn to trust more and more of the Bible, is not because it is a book that tells us what we want to hear; but what we need to hear. Such needs are at times, unnoticed until we hit a roadblock or went through major life challenges. Nonetheless, we learn more and more that the things of this world and especially ourselves is not the solution. Only Christ is. We need to hear and keep His Word. For He is coming back.

REST
Christ our Lord, we thank you for the book of Revelation. Help us to understand more about what You want us to learn through this book; this is so we can fulfil Your promise that we shall be blessed if we actively and consistently keep Your Word in our lives. Amen.

He is able

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Zechariah 12:1-13:9; Proverbs 31:1-7

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Zechariah 13:1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.”

REFLECT
The desire of the Lord is for His people to be cleanse from sin and uncleanness. However, God’s people cannot do this through our own efforts, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we desire it to be. We can only strive towards holiness and perfection through Jesus Christ. Only by first being reborn as a child of God through the blood of Christ, would we have any hope of becoming who God wants us to be. For this, the Father sent His only begotten Son to first become fully human even as He was fully God. Only then, could Jesus atone for our sins and we reconcile our broken relationships with Him.

RELATE
We know why Jesus came. We know why He had to come in a manger. Yet, we find it so difficult to be cleanse of our sin and uncleanness. We tried. We succeeded for a while and then we failed again. Why is this so? Is it because the blood of the Begotten is not enough? Is God not powerful enough to make us wholesome again?

No. It has to do with us. It is always us and not the fault of God. We keep failing because we could be afraid to lose the momentary pleasure that sin brings. We keep failing because we have no confidence in God who can really give us breakthroughs. We keep failing because we did not truly grasp the good news of Jesus being born in a manger. We keep failing because all these while, we have not understood that true happiness can only be found in the things of God. For all that God is, of why He came and how He died on the Cross for our sins; this Christmas, let us not lose hope for He is more than able. He will help us if we are sincere in our worship of Him in all that we do.

REST
Lord our God, the story of the birth of the Christ-child is not a fairy tale. It is a story full of bloodshed, violence and tragedies. All this so that mankind can be reconciled to You. May You help us not to lose sight of this greatness which You have done. This is so that we will never lose hope in You. For You are able. Amen.

Which side; what choice?

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Revelation 17:1-18; Psalm 145:1-21

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Revelation 17:8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.”

REFLECT
Revelation 17:8 is a parody of Revelation 4:8 where God is depicted as the One “who was, and is and is to come”. Here, the evil one “was, and is not and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction”. Where the eternal Word of God is concerned, the destinies of two sides of the battle is clear. Where there is God, there will be life and eternity. Where there is evil, there will be destruction. Why was a parody given to the Apostle John? Why not just speak plainly? It might be that even as evil always try to imitate what is good; a parody is given to highlight the truth that however much evil tries, it can never give what God can.

RELATE
All who know God are not reborn to be perfect. Instead, we are reborn with the seed to strive for perfection even to the day we are home in the Lord. We could be struggling with an addiction that has been going on for many years; we could be wavering in the faith because of a loved one who is in pain or had passed away; we could have taken flight from worshipping God for a long time; or we could be feeling so helpless that we want to die. Whatever the situation, no matter the depth of the darkness we are finding ourselves in, Revelation 17:8 reminded that we are not to follow the beast into its doom and destruction; but we are to follow the Light who will bring us out of darkness. There is always hope and there is always a choice. We could have been making the wrong choices, but today is the day to make it right.

REST
May He who is able, help us make the right choice and continue with perseverance to fight the good fight of faith in Him. Amen.

Fear

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Revelation 15:1-8; Psalms 143:1-12

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Revelation 15:4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

REFLECT
Many of us know what “fear” means. For some of us, it is the fear of losing our family. How can we live the same, if our loved ones were to leave us? For some, it is the fear of losing our wealth and possessions; the lost of hand phones has created a form of trepidation that had never been felt before. For some, it is the fear of losing what we have built as our “empires” and even status over many years. Yet, even as we know the idea of “fear” and being “God-fearing”, we might not be as fearful of God as we are of losing the things of this world.

RELATE
As a young believer, I had a difficult time understanding what it means to fear God. Is God intentionally “scary” so that we can fear Him? Or is God to be feared because He alone is worthy of worship? How can “fear” be defined in the context of our Abba Father? As time goes, I came to understand that being God-fearing has a lot to do with obedience, grace and love. I learn to fear the Lord not only because He can send me to eternal condemnation; which I am all deserving. I learn to fear the Lord because in spite of His greatness; He has chosen to save and love one so sinful. My fear of God arises out of my desire to worship Him and in reverence of His Almighty power. My fear arises out of the deep conviction that He is my Creator and has by grace gave His life for me. This is a God who is totally worthy of my fear and worship.

REST
Lord, teach us more on how to fear You and not let the world pull us from honouring You and worshipping You as the One and Only. Amen.