Common Superstition

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Judges 17:1-18:31; Proverbs 15:8-10

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Judges 17:13
Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!”

REFLECT
How is this possible? A man who made for himself idols, who arbitrarily appointed his own son as priest, and then hijacked a Levite – considers himself to be blessed by “the Lord”! This passage teaches us that not every reference of “the Lord” in the Bible is legit (short for legitimate – youth lingo). Because he recruited a Levite, Micah assumed that God would bless him. For some reason, he didn’t realize that he has broken the first three of the 10 commandments (worshipping idols, making idols, taking God’s name in vain). The only mitigating factor was that Micah (and his mother) was probably never taught Moses’ laws, and therefore depended on common superstition.

RELATE
Just because a pastor has blessed our home does not mean that God will bless it too. Just because we said grace does not mean that our food will be rid of cholesterol and carcinogen. Just because we are members of PMC does not mean that we are going to Heaven. The fact is that many Christians today depend on common superstition more than the Word of God for faith and life. That’s why we continue to make idols and bow down to them – and still think that God is blessing us. Just because life is comfortable doesn’t mean that God is on our side. Conversely, just because life is tough doesn’t prove that God is being bad to us. In fact, your suffering right now might likely be the consequence of carrying your cross on the road to Blessedness.

REST
Bless me, O Lord – with joy in suffering, peace in pain, and hope against hell.

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A Time to Shape Up!

potter's hands and the clay

This is not just a time to educate the church on LGBTQ, marriage and family issues which is very important and not enough churches are doing that, but more importantly this is a time to review and scrutinize the effectiveness of our discipleship process and a key question to ask is, “Are my church members conforming to the rule, image and will of God?”
Rom.8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
1Jn.3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Making an idol of anything, everything!

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Judges 8:18-9:21; Psalm 107:1-43

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Judges 8:27 “And Gideon made an ephod of it and put it in his city, in Ophrah. And all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family.”

REFLECT
Judges is a difficult book to understand. There is a tendency for readers to read into the morality of the leaders chosen to lead Israel. Yet, I feel that is not the point of the book. The point of the book is that even though Israel did many evils against God; He was still merciful to raise up judges to lead a new generation. Most of these judges (like the kings that came after them) are definitely full of flaws. Yet, in the midst of an evil generation, that was perhaps the “best” they could get. Why didn’t God send Jesus right away? I don’t know. Maybe the time is not right with God.

Judges is on the whole, a tragic story. Nevertheless, it is a realistic one. The fact of the day is that even under God’s mercy and grace, Israel’s sin just keep piling up. Don’t we have the tendency to do likewise? Hence, we need not focus too much on the morality of Gideon’s effort at making an ephod which caused himself and Israel to stumble. For all of Gideon’s growth in courage and piety, he was still very young in his new found relationship with God. Rather, the focus should be on the author’s repeated “sighs” that Israel was at it again; making an idol over something, and this time it was even on something that was meant to be sacred or religious.

RELATE
When our hearts and minds are not right with God, we can potentially make an idol of anything, everything. For example, we can make an idol out of the object of the cross. This happens when the cross is not there to remind us of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but more like an instrument of our superstitious beliefs to “ward off” satan.

Some might even come to idolise the form, personality and style of musical worship (and worship leaders). Hence, musical worship no longer is a means by which we worship, but rather musical worship becomes the object of worship. Some might even come to idolise the Bible; when he is so proud of his knowledge of the Word and despise those who seem “weak”. Or even the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, when some would misuse them for a very personal (but wrong) reading of the Word.

REST
Oh Lord, what have we done with the sacred things you have given to us as means of our relationship with You? Help us Lord, not to make an idol of the good things you have given, but to use them as means to know and love You, as the Lord of our lives. Amen.

Who Are You Impressed With?

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)

I Will Pay You Back!


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!

The Paradox of the Fleece

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Judges 6; Psalm 106:32-48

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Judges 6:39
Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test, I pray, just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew.”

REFLECT
Different commentators have a different take on what Gideon did. Like Rev Timothy said in his sermon yesterday, most scholars agree that Gideon shouldn’t have tested God. I am not so sure. For one, the text does not comment on whether Gideon did right or wrong. But we do know that God granted his request, twice. Secondly, I feel that many scholars have injected their own biases into the interpretation. At best, the text is neutral on the issue. If I am allowed to share my own view, I think Gideon was being very human – like Abraham, Jacob, and Moses before him. Being human, he needed two more assurances from God (the first being the fire on the rock) before he was ready to go into battle.

RELATE
Do I put out a fleece before I act upon something that God has called me to. Well, no. I don’t see the need to. But would I judge someone who does that, because their faith is weak? Again, no. Paradoxically, it actually takes some faith to put out a fleece. Faith to believe that God hears our prayers. Faith that there is in fact a God who will wet the fleece. Now the only problem is, what if the test fails and the fleece remains dry? Does that mean that God will not be with us? Or is it God’s turn to test us now?

REST
Lord, teach me to hear Your still small Voice. Help me to recognize You so well, that I wouldn’t need to lay down any fleece – but simply obey.

For what do we obey?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Joshua 22:21-23:16; Proverbs 14:30-31

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Joshua 23:6-8 “Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.”

REFLECT
Joshua 23 is one of the two farewell speeches made by Joshua to the people of Israel. Joshua was “old and well advanced” in years but his conviction remained strong from the time God gave him the exhortation to “be strong” (Joshua 1). From the time he took over Moses’ leadership to the time when he was about to pass on to glory; it was at least a span of 30-40 years where he did nothing but to answer the Lord’s call for him to be strong and possess the Promised Land.

Why was he so consistently obedient to the Lord’s call for him to be strong and cling on to Him?

As Joshua mentioned in 23:3, it was the Lord who “fought for you”. In other words, Joshua understood clearly that it was the Lord’s strength and grace that gave him all the successes he had through his lifetime of conquering and possessing the lands in Canaan. He understood that if the Lord promised to do something (as He did in Joshua 1), He will definitely do it. Hence, Joshua chose to fulfil God’s call for him by faith in obedience. The obedience to be strong and courageous; the obedience to cling on to God and not cling on to idolatry. The obedience to do as God wills. Joshua chose to obey because he understood God’s power and grace for his life and for the lives of his people.

RELATE
Do I understand the Lord’s power and grace for my life so that I obey and keep His Word? Or is my obedience based on what I think God is doing in my life? If I think that God is not doing much in my life, will my obedience wax and wane?

I came to understand that our God is no man’s negotiator. He dictate the terms, not us.

If not for His grace found in Jesus Christ, we don’t even have anything to obey with in the first place. Instead, the right attitude for the Christian should be: God has already done something big. He has already promised what is coming. He is after all the Alpha and the Omega. So we obey because in faith, we believe that He will do what He has set out to do. There is simply no other way.

Our obedience is an outflow of God’s grace in our lives; and not the chip we use to bargain for a better life. Hence, we obey because we come to understand that He first love us and not simply because we have experienced blessings. We obey because He had promised and called through His Word; and not because we need to “experience” Him first.

REST
Lord our God, help us to reflect deeper on why we obey and keep Your Word. Is it because we want something out of you for our own sake? Or is it because we understood Your love for us and that is why we follow?