I heard a story from well-known YWAMer Floyd McClung many years ago. He was visiting Stockholm probably back in the 80s or early 90s when prostitution was legal and pervasive in Sweden. One evening, he attended a prayer meeting in a small church where only a handful of people were. Someone started sharing about how rampant prostitution was and the effects of it on their country. Others added their views and talked about it in great detail. At some point, Floyd noticed an old lady sitting quietly throughout the entire discussion, listening intently to what everyone was saying. After some time, suddenly she spoke up and said, “it appears to me that you are all more impressed with the devil and what he is doing than you are with God! I thought this was supposed to be a prayer meeting!” As the Lord brought this story back to my mind, I thought hey, this is so relevant to our situation in Singapore now. Instead of being unknowingly impressed with what the devil is doing, we need to be impressed with the greatness, the power and the authority of our Almighty God! He is our Victory and He will fight for us, we only need to be still. (Exo.14:14)
Joel 3:4 “Now what have you against me, O Tyre and Sidon and all you regions of Philistia? Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily return on your own heads what you have done.”
What an amazing verse Joel 3:4 is, isn’t it? God warned the nations who had oppressed His people, “Are you repaying me for something I have done? If you are paying me back, I will swiftly and speedily RETURN ON YOUR OWN HEADS what you have done!” God cannot be threatened – not any part of Him nor His will. His truth marches on no matter what a nation decides to do. When God arises, His enemies scatter! Who is God besides our God, who is the Rock besides our Rock? He is a fortress and our tower of deliverance! The circumstances around us may change today or tomorrow, but our identity as sons and daughters of God does not change with the circumstances. The glory of God in us cannot be robbed from us. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the circumstances looked bad, it looked like Satan had him and the Son of God looked threatened and there appeared to be nothing glorious about Him, but His circumstances did not change His identity, though hanging on the cross, Jesus was still the glorious King and Lord of heaven and earth! We saw how that ended, Jesus defeated the grave, rose again, ascended into heaven and He will come again to judge the living and the dead! So as God’s people, we only need to believe and follow, trust and obey, and be faithful to the end, living godly lives as a fragrant offering to the Lord amidst ungodliness. If you have read your Bible, you’ll know that we WIN in the end!
When people in the same office don’t get along, the company or organization suffers, sometimes without even realizing something has gone terribly wrong. As Selwyn Hughes said, “Ultimate reality is not propositional but relational.” In our pursuit of what is best and what is right, we must not sacrifice people or relationships. Jesus said, “The world WILL KNOW you are My disciples if you love one another the way I have loved you.” And the love we have for one another must stem from our deep understanding and experience of God’s divine love – which is unconditional and sacrificial yet righteous and pure. One of the best images of that kind of love is the scene in which Jesus lovingly accepted and forgave the woman caught in adultery, and after that, He said to her, “Go and sin no more”, because Jesus knew the heart of the Father and He knew that those who are sexually immoral (amongst other defiant ungodly people who deliberately continue in sin) will not inherit the kingdom of Christ and of God. When people in the same office get along and love one another, that company or organization will accomplish significance in the eyes of God because love, authentic love, is able to do just that. (Jn.13:34-35; Jn.8:10-11; Eph.5:3-7; Heb.10:26-27)
I am afraid that for many, being a Christian is merely about going to church on Sunday, joining a cell group, serving in a ministry and playing Christian songs in the car or while traveling on public transport. It’s more than that. Being Christian is primarily about repenting from our sins, turning to Jesus, obeying His Word, following Him and living a holy life pleasing to God all the time, 24/7. And this includes all the time between Sunday services, between cell group meetings, and between spending time serving in a ministry. It is about being truly Christian and faithfully obeying the Lord ALL the time. While we can’t be sinless on this side of eternity, we can sin less, helped by the Holy Spirit living in us. It is about knowing His truth and letting His truth set you free from sin, it is about having a God-honoring temperament, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, loving people, being kind, gentle, good, it is about having self-control too. It is about following Him and the leading of the Spirit wherever we go. It is about the relevance of the Christian faith in my workplace, my school, my neighborhood, amongst my colleagues, my friends, my family members. It is about not compartmentalizing my life into faith, work, and family. My whole life is my Christian life and my faith life. It is about not ranking God as #1, family as #2, work as #3 and church as #4, but about making God #1 and the only ONE we give top priority to in relation to family, work and church! It is about thinking about how to glorify God in everything we do. How do I glorify God through my work – whether I am a pastor, doctor, businessman, lawyer, hawker, bus driver, engineer, accountant, clerk, receptionist, singer, actor, songwriter or full-time church worker? Do pastors need to be conscious about glorifying God at work? Most certainly! Do people working in a non-Christian environment need to be conscious about glorifying God at work? Absolutely! What does it mean to be truly Christian? It means less of me, more of Him; His will be done, not mine; His Kingdom come, not mine. It means ALL for Jesus. Sharing here a song that I have missed singing in church amidst the many new songs we have – this is pure worship, unconditional offering and complete surrender! “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil.1:21)
In your anger, do not sin! That’s what Paul tells us in Eph.4:26. This often means not to lash out and express our feelings and emotions without retrain. The person you and I are talking about could really be in the wrong, and our anger may be justified but the Bible says not to sin in our anger, so how you and I respond and react makes all the difference. Above all, show forth the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control (Gal.5:22).
What now, after the great service? Is it back to the same old, same old? Been there, done that? God forbid! Let the Word of God sung, prayed or preached remain in you, meditate on it, toss it over in your heart and mind, love it, live it and be victorious! I was reminded this morning that as long as I choose God’s path, as long as I live rightly in the eyes of God, pour out my life to Him and into the lives of others, as long as He is my priority, always Him first above all else, God will be with me and bless me. And of course, the blessing could be tangible or intangible – as He sees fit. (Isa.58:1-14)