Day 17

by Rev Joel Yong

Exodus 32:1 ESV
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.

Why did they craft the Golden Calf and pursue idolatry?
They grew tired of waiting.
They wanted a more convenient worship.

Sound familiar?

God doesn’t grant us a prayer request and there is no answer as yet. And we think maybe He isn’t there.

Church worship service timing changed and in our opinion, they are too early for us. And so we stop going.

We can now download sermons online and so we cease to go to church on a regular basis.

Friends, the worship of God isn’t about what suits our timing or how immediately He responds to us (God isn’t a Customer Service hotline and we sure aren’t His customers!)

No.
As we will see- when Moses comes down the mountain- he comes with 2 tablets bearing God’s way … God’s commands.

The worship of God is not about the preferences of man.
It is about the commands of God.
When we live to follow and honor Him, our entire life becomes our presentation of worship. NOT just a song we sing or a 90 min weekend service.

Day 16

by Rev Joel Yong

Exodus 28:42-43 ESV
You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him.

After a long list of instructions on priestly clothing- the Lord ends with instructions on priestly underwear.

You see, on the outside – a servant of God may seem decked in all the right obediences to God’s ways.
But on the inside – where no one else knows except you and God – only then is true obedience found.

A priest could have worn all the outer gear but worn non regulation underwear. No one would know except God and the priest.

Search your heart this day because before God all is made known.
Follow Him not just in appearance but in the innermost recesses of your heart.

Being Idle

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18; Psalm 85:1-13

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
2 Thessalonians 3:6 “Now we command you brothers, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

REFLECT
Some of us might think, what was the big deal? Why was Paul so harsh about people being idle to the extent where fellow believers were commanded to stay away? Subsequent verses of 2 Thessalonians 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4 provide some answers. These persons who chose to stay away from work; were not merely causing their own families to suffer, but they were spreading false teachings that “Jesus is coming back!”

That was probably the reason why they chose not to work; because of the belief that God has revealed to them the time of Jesus’ 2nd coming. Yet, Jesus said it clearly in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the day and hour of the Lord’s coming again, not even the angels except for God the Father.

Such idleness and spreading of false teachings threatened the church in Thessalonica. Even at the time when Paul wrote the 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, these persons had not repented. Hence, the Apostle Paul commanded believers to stay away from these trouble makers. For these persons, Paul gave the advice for those in faith to warn them as a brother (or sister) but do not regard them as enemies.

RELATE
The spiritual disease of intentional “idleness” can be potentially harmful to self, family and even the church. This is because when people choose to be idle (when they are physically and emotionally able to live a fruitful life of work/ministry); their minds can be easily held captive by ungodly thoughts and even do destructive things.

I know of a person who is barely 30 years old but chose to idle his life away. His mind is now held captive by harmful teachings of the prosperity gospel and is causing much grieve to his own family and friends. On the other hand, I am often encouraged by seniors among us who are still very active in family life and ministry despite their age.

Today’s reading is a reminder for me not be idle. Even when I am at work or spending time with people; may the Lord help me not to “idle” my mind but to have the mind of Christ. Ironically, it seems that the more we choose not to be idle, we can have more time to spend alone time with God and our families. This is because we are living out the “pace of life” that God has intended; and not what we have often foolishly planned or lazily hoped for.

REST
Heavenly Lord, help me not to be idle but to know that in each hour of my life, how I can order my life according to Your Word. Amen.

Day 15

by Rev Joel Yong

Exodus 22:29-30 ESV
You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

“You shall not delay …”
No delay was permitted.

Soon as the harvest came in- people were to give from it unto God.

It was meant to teach them to always remember that they have a harvest only because of God giving it to them.

The same applies to their livestock.

Perhaps it is because of our consumeristic society that espouses “The customer is always right.” that we have a sense of entitlement.
We paid X amount of dollars for a service or product and its thus OURS and we can have certain expectations of rights that we have as a consumer.

This attitude has since spilled over into our sense of entitlement regarding our bodies.
“Its my body so I can do what I want.”

Scripture reminds us of a different truth-

1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

Surrender your sense of entitlement this day and worship the Lord. Remember He is the Giver of all things and give thanks.

Day 14

by Rev Joel Yong

Exodus 19:5-6 ESV
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.

What a cause to celebrate!
He was choosing them as His own!!
The people of Israel rejoiced at words such as-Exodus 19:6 ESV
and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.

But if they read the context in which those words were set- they would find that there are requirements to this deal!

Exodus 19:5 ESV
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;

Now fast forward about 2 generations later and Joshua has died and look at what the people did.

Judges 2:11-15 ESV
And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress.

And God turned against them.
Not out of spite.
But He chastised them so that they may learn to follow the right paths once again!!

Judges 2:16-18 ESV
Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.

When we celebrate God’s goodness- let us not take it for granted.
Too often we celebrate the blessing and forget what the Giver is like and what He teaches.

Differentiating true and false prophets

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 23:21-25:38; Proverbs 25:15

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Jeremiah 23:21-22 21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.

REFLECT
Jeremiah 23 records the Lord’s great anger and judgement on people who prophesy falsely. These false prophets spoke when the Lord had not asked them to speak. They falsely claimed that the Lord had given them dreams when the Almighty had not. They abused their positions for their own benefits and led the people astray.

In verse 22, the Lord provides two important indicators to know whether a so called “prophet” is true or false. Prophets who are sent by the Lord (1) must have stood in the “council” of the Sender and (2) what they spoke of must turn people away from evil rather than towards it. The “council” of the Lord is translated from the Hebrew word “sod”. In the context of Jeremiah 23:22, “sod” refers to the intimate counsel of the Lord to prophets who fearfully seek Him and faithfully wait upon Him. Hence, the life of a true prophet must reflect a life of intimacy with God and abiding in His Word. Also, to be prophets truly called by the Lord, these persons’ lifework should reflect a constant call for believers to turn away from evil and turn towards doing what is pleasing to God.

RELATE
Even as Jeremiah 23:21-22 provided two good indicators on how to discern if a prophet is true or false; it could be challenging to do so. This is because a person’s private world is only knowable to God and himself. A person can claim all he wants about his intimacy with God; yet only the Lord truly knows what is in a man’s heart. Nevertheless, I believe we are given God’s grace to discern; especially through His living Word. We have the responsibility to check thoroughly if what is proclaimed is true to God’s Word as given to us in the Bible. This means that reading our Bible is not enough; the church must equip her members with skills and tools to rightly handle (2 Timothy 2:15) God’s Word.

Jeremiah 23 is a solemn reminder to me, that as one who proclaim His Word and prays for His people; I must keep in intimacy with the One who sends. Then I can hear Him clearly on what to say to build up my fellow brother and sister in the Lord. May the Lord provides His strength and grace for me to do so.

REST
Lord Almighty, help us not to use Your Name in vain; but fearfully and faithfully stay close to You and Your Word so that we can proclaim what is true and what is right. Amen.

Day 13

by Rev Joel Yong

Exodus 14:2-4 ESV
Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

They are on the run.
Having been freed from Egyptian slavery – they are making their way towards freedom when Moses receives new instructions.

He is told to deliberately camp at a location with the sea on one side of the camp.
Then he is told that the Egyptians are going to come hunting them down.
Strategically the spot God chose for them meant they would be trapped with no place to retreat to as the sea was a natural barrier cutting off all means of escape for such a numerous people as the Hebrews.

What would you do if you were Moses?
Do a double take and ask “God are you sure about this?”

But amazingly it says “And they did so.”

They OBEYED.

Why?????
Perhaps witnessing the 10 plagues did something to Moses spiritually.
He started to see how powerful this God is.
No doubt the people would respond in doubt again here and there later on in their Exodus journey.

But as for their leader Moses – he now believed.
His words to the people:
Exodus 14:13-14 ESV
And Moses said to the people, Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.

What about you?
How are you continually remembering what God has done and can do?
How are you letting these remembrances fuel your faith in what God is going to do for you today?

May Moses’ transformation also be your transformation as you deliberately and regularly contemplate His goodness.