Martyr or Misdirected?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Acts 9:26-43; Ps 35:1-16

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Acts 9:29-30
And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

REFLECT
As we read about the early ministry of Paul, we cannot help but notice that wherever he went people wanted to kill him.  Why was this so? The once fanatic Pharisee turned into a passionate Christian; perhaps they saw him as a traitor. But why did the apostles send him off to Tarsus? Why not let Paul keeping speaking in Jerusalem, trusting God to protect His holy servant? Could it be that Paul himself needed some soul searching on how to declare the Gospel with wisdom and humility?

RELATE
The fact that every time we speak about Christ people want to kill us doesn’t mean that we are doing the right thing. In 1 Pet 3:15 we are called to share the gospel with gentleness and respect. Instead of trying to shove God’s truth down someone’s throat, we need to learn how to discern if he or she is open to drinking the water of life. If we are the kind who like to argue about any and every thing (including our faith), let us be reminded that not all martyrs are martyrs.

REST
Lord, give me boldness to share my faith, and wisdom to share it where it matters.

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Risking it for Him

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Acts 5:1-42; Proverbs 9:1-6

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Acts 5:41-42
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

REFLECT
Why would the apostles rejoice for being beaten up?  Is there really glory and good in suffering?  The apostles didn’t just suffer pain, but shame – assuming they were being flogged naked.  Yet, they considered it a privilege to have gone through such an ordeal.  Perhaps, just perhaps, they were glad to have suffered a little for their Master who suffered everything for their sake.

RELATE
One of the biggest obstacle for me in sharing the gospel is to face rejection and ridicule by others. I just can’t bear the thought of someone chasing me away for telling them something that is good for them. But I am also aware that if I don’t approach them, I would never know if they would actually be open to hear more. Yes, it’s a risk to take. Yet to risk is to have faith. And to have faith is to be ready to suffer.

REST
Lord, help me to overcome my fear of rejection, and to boldly share Your goodness with those around me, even strangers. Grant me both faith, and compassion for the lost.  Amen.

Stirred and Willing

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Exodus 35:10-36:38; Psalm 31:9-18

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Exodus 35:20-21
And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.

REFLECT
God had elaborate plans for the tabernacle, which He shared with Moses.  The tabernacle would be an expensive project, with gold, jewels, precious wood, and expensive fabric all in.  But God had already provided for these, when the Israelites “plundered” their masters (Ex 12:36) as they left Egypt.   Still, it was up to the Israelites to decide whether they would release to God what He had provided.

RELATE
In recent months, I was quite perplexed as to why our pledge figures have been dropping year by year.  Should I preach a sermon on this topic – it’s been many years since this was done.  Or should I address it during one of the “announcement” slots?  What should happen before our people’s hearts would be “stirred” again?  Well, from the context of our passage (cf. Ex 34), it seems clear – we will need a fresh encounter with LORD.  But how can we engineer that?  We cannot.  We can only pray.  And keep praying.

REST
Lord, touch our hearts once again.  For if our hearts are hardened, so would our wallets be.  Help me to realize that all You are requiring from me, You have already provided.

A Special Invite

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Exodus 23:14-25:40; Proverbs 7:6-23

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Exodus 24:9-11
Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.

REFLECT
This passage intrigues me.  Before the giving of the 10 commandments, God invited Moses and the elders of Israel for a fellowship meal.  The writer stated it twice – “they saw God”.  What did they actually see?  We would never know.  But the point was that they saw, and didn’t die.  Why?  Because they had consecrated themselves, and have entered God’s presence on a very special invitation.

RELATE
Most Christians today cannot understand what it means to fear God.  We walk in and out of His presence with little regard for what it cost to make worship possible.  If God is really in our sanctuary, would we be playing with our phone?  Would we scramble off the moment the “blessing” is pronounced?  Or would we linger on, unwilling to leave the place where we had just “saw” Him?  The next time we enter the church, may we be mindful of Who has invited us, and What we are there for.

REST
Lord, teach me how to fear You once again!

Give Thanks!

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Exodus 10:1-12:13; Psalm 26:1-12

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Exodus 12:3-4
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.

REFLECT
In this passage, Moses gave instructions for Israel to prepare the Passover meal.  I am amazed at how just and practical the laws of God are.  In this instance, God did not demand a small family to offer a whole lamb.  Instead, they could combine with another small family, as long as everyone has enough to eat.  Yes, the lamb wasn’t just for sacrificial purposes, it’s for eating too!

RELATE
City dwellers like us cannot appreciate what it is like to slaughter a lamb of our own, and then eating it.  It could be liken to eating our pet dog during a time of famine.  Yes, the little male lamb would have been part of the household for about a year.  For a small family, it might be the only young lamb.  It might even have a pet name.  And so it was with much thankfulness and respect that the father killed the lamb, and the mother prepared it for the family to consume – and enjoy.  A life must be given, for another life to be sustained – be it plant or animal or fungi.  So, the next time we eat our chicken rice – remember the sacrifice, and give thanks!

REST
Lord, help me never to take anything for granted.

Wondering about Signs

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: John 20:1-31; Proverbs 6:1-5

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
John 20:29-31
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

REFLECT
There seems to be some contradiction in the above verses about the importance of signs.  On the one hand, Jesus seemed to suggest that those who do not depend on signs for faith are more blessed.  Yet John concluded that signs were performed and recorded so that readers would believe.  So are signs necessary or not?

RELATE
Personally, I feel that signs are important and good, as long as it remain signs, and not the destination.  Signs must necessary be few and strategically placed to be useful.  Imagine a long road littered with signs every few meters – it would render the traveller’s experience quite unpleasant!  In my life, there were critical points where the Lord showed me a sign, so that I knew where to go.  But there were also times when I asked for one, but none came.  I suppose we will all do well to note Paul’s timeless words:

1 Corinthians 1:22-23
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified …

REST
Lord, help me to journey on, with or without signs.  For Your Word has given me light sufficient for my path, and strength enough for my road.

At Home

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: John 14:15-31; Psalms 21

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
John 14:23
Jesus answered and said to him, ìIf anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”

REFLECT
Jesus states it clearly – we can’t say we love Him if we don’t obey what He says. No matter how intense is our worship and how emotional our declaration of love – the bottom line is whether we follow His instructions. But it’s more than obedience; it is opening our hearts for God to live comfortably in us. It’s communion at the deepest level. It’s trusting Him with our everything.

RELATE
How does it feel like to have God live in me? Is it a mushy, warm feeling? Is it deep joy and peace? Is it power to overcome all the adversities of life? To me, it’s a mystery. It’s not something to be defined, as something to be decided. I choose to believe that what Jesus said is true, even when my circumstances look grim and the fuzzy feeling is gone. I take Him at His Word, and live on. And I keep talking to Him, because we are at home with one another.

REST
Father, train me to be a true son after Your own heart. Reveal to me Your love, and receive mine. Amen.