Day 103

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Kings 4:1-7
One of the wives of a disciple of the prophets called to Elisha, “Sir, my husband is dead! You know how he feared the LORD. Now a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.” Elisha asked her, “What should I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” She answered, “I have nothing in the house except a jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Borrow many empty containers from all your neighbors. Then close the door behind you and your children, and pour oil into all those containers. When one is full, set it aside.” So she left him and closed the door behind her and her children. The children kept bringing containers to her, and she kept pouring. When the containers were full, she told her son, “Bring me another container.” He told her, “There are no more containers.” So the olive oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God. He said, “Sell the oil, and pay your debt. The rest is for you and your children.”

The oil flowed as long as there were empty vessels to receive it. If she had all the empty vessels in the world- I am sure the oil would be enough to fill them all.

That is the way it is with God.
He is big enough for all our needs, and all our problems.

When He pours Himself forth into our lives- may we continually be found to be empty and availed to allow Jesus to fill us!

But note this- Elisha also told the widow to take the money and … pay the debtors.
Not run away with it to buy a mansion!
As evil as those men were- the right thing to do was to pay them!

Matthew Henry writes: “It is one of the main laws of the Christian religion that we pay every just debt, and give everyone his own, though we leave ever so little for ourselves; and this, not of constraint, but for conscience’ sake.”

God may make a miracle for us but He expects that we would continue to do right by Him and to those we encounter in this life- not because of whether they are good or evil men but because it’s the God-glorifying thing to do!

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Day 102

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Kings 3:1-3
Joram, son of Ahab, became king of Israel in Samaria during Jehoshaphat’s eighteenth year as king of Judah. He ruled for 12 years. He did what the LORD considered evil, but he didn’t do what his father or mother had done. He put away the sacred stone that his father had set up and dedicated to Baal. But he would not give up the sins that Jeroboam (Nebat’s son) led Israel to commit. Joram would not turn away from those sins.

Joram could have said – ” I am not as bad as Ahab.”
That is what we do- isn’t it?
I am not as bad as Hitler.
I am not as bad as that guy in the news for corruption.

We shake our heads at other’s flaws and are blind to our own.

It says “But he would not give up the sins that Jeroboam (Nebat’s son) led Israel to commit. Joram would not turn away from those sins. ”

And here is what God thought of him – “He did what the LORD considered evil”

You see, at the end of the day – it’s not how far we are from the bottom of the pile that makes us good people.
It’s about how far we are from the top- how we fall short of God’s mark of holiness that counts.

Day 101

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Kings 2:1-8
When the LORD was going to take Elijah to heaven in a windstorm, Elijah and Elisha left Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here because the LORD is sending me to Bethel.” Elisha answered, “I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not abandon you.” So they went to Bethel. Some of the disciples of the prophets at Bethel came to Elisha. They asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” Elijah said, “Elisha, please stay here because the LORD is sending me to Jericho.” Elisha answered, “I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not abandon you.” So they went to Jericho. Then some of the disciples of the prophets who were in Jericho approached Elisha. They asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here because the LORD is sending me to the Jordan River.” Elisha answered, “I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not abandon you.” Fifty disciples of the prophets stood at a distance as Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan River. Elijah took his coat, rolled it up, and struck the water with it. The water divided to their left and their right, and the two men crossed the river on dry ground.

Elijah in this story is meant to be a parallel of sorts for Christ. Just as Christ ascended, Elijah was taken up.

Just as Christ had his followers, Elijah had his faithful Elisha.

And Elisha would not depart and leave his master.

When they reached the river- the waters yielded to the coat of the prophet!
It meant that the power of God dwelt upon the man such that his coat could part the waters in the same way that the waters parted when the Ark entered the same river many years ago!

If we follow Christ and follow Him faithfully and life comes to its end, and we are taken through the waters which often symbolize death in Scripture- these very waters can be parted again by the power of God accompanying us on this leg of our journey as we bid goodnight to 1 existence and awaken to God’s eternity.

This or that way

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 John 3:7-24; Psalm 122:1-9

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
1 John 3:10 “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

REFLECT
The Apostle John pulled no punches in his writing to the recipients of 1 John. He was exhorting them that there are only two ways to live – either be righteous in God or be in alliance with the devil to abide in sin. Those who choose to practice sinning will be of the devil. There is simply no in-between. Righteousness cannot be blended with sin just as light cannot be merged with darkness.

I often wonder how the recipients of John’s letter responded to such “strong” words; for in the modern world we are often easily sensitive and at times defensive to such exhortations. Yet we know that John was not writing because he had a personal axe to grind; he wrote because that is the truth and Christ has said that the truth shall set us free.

RELATE
As predicted by the Apostle Paul, we live in a world where many believers shall increasingly choose what our flesh want to hear, say and do. So when we come across a rather “strong” or “hard” exhortation, we squirm in our seats and get all uncomfortable. So these preachers are sometimes told to “simplify”, be “sensitive” and even “tone down” the sermon content.

Question is, why shouldn’t preachers give messages that cause discomfort to our souls? After all, the Gospel is given not to massage our egos, but to challenge, convict and transform the innermost of our wretchedness.

So as like what the Apostle John said, there is no other way. Either we pursue righteousness, which can and will be excruciating for our flesh but the reward is Godliness. Or we can lean our souls to the devil and let him have his way. May the Lord help us to hear what He wants us to hear and receive with joy His Word that transforms.

REST
May the Lord help us to choose the right way and be empowered to stay that way. Amen.

Day 100

by Rev Joel Yong

2 Kings 1:9-15
Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, O man of God, the king says, Come down. But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again the king sent to him another captain of fifty men with his fifty. And he answered and said to him, O man of God, this is the king’s order, Come down quickly! But Elijah answered them, If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty. Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. Behold, fire came down from heaven and consumed the two former captains of fifty men with their fifties, but now let my life be precious in your sight. Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, Go down with him; do not be afraid of him. So he arose and went down with him to the king.

The king sent the 1st 2 captains and they thought that since they were sent by the king- that their authority was immense and they called for Elijah to surrender himself.

They called him “man of God” but they had no respect for the full meaning of those words- they only honored their earthly authorities. So they sought to make him surrender because:

  1. they came from the king
  2. they were armed men

But in a show of force, God showed who was the ultimate authority when He sent fire from heaven to protect Elijah and burned up the soldiers.

Twice.

The 3rd captain comes and he fears Elijah. He knows the power of God and begs for his life rather than seek to impose earthly authority.

And God says to Elijah “Alright, go with this one. He knows who’s boss!”

Sometimes in this world- we call a person ‘Pastor’ but do not treat him as if he were our spiritual leader.

Sometimes we call a man ‘Father’ but do not honor him as if he were the one God called us to honor.

Sometimes we say ‘Thou art Almighty’ but live as if He is powerless.

Sometimes we say ‘I do’ in the presence of God as we unite in holy matrimony – but our actions whisper ‘only if certain conditions are met.’

There is a right order to our world. God’s way.

Earthly logic seeks to persuade us though otherwise. Till the point comes when God is a mere construct of our thoughts and a word we utter without genuine honor or respect.

At that point- our belief is but a mere custom and not a spiritual conviction.

Day 99

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Kings 22:5-28
And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, Inquire first for the word of the Lord. Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain? And they said, Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king. But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire? And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah. Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, Thus says the Lord, With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed. And all the prophets prophesied so and said, Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king. And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably. But Micaiah said, As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak. And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain? And he answered him, Go up and triumph; the Lord will give it into the hand of the king. But the king said to him, How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord? And he said, I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the Lord said, These have no master; let each return to his home in peace. And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil? And Micaiah said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, I will entice him. And the Lord said to him, By what means? And he said, I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so. Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you. Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, How did the Spirit of the Lord go from me to speak to you? And Micaiah said, Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself. And the king of Israel said, Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son, and say, Thus says the king, Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace. And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”

They only wanted to hear that what they wanted would come to pass- even if it wasn’t the truth.

So Micaiah when summoned, initially told them what they wanted to hear. But when pressed to tell the truth- Micaiah eventually prophesied the truth that they would be defeated and destroyed in battle.

But they slapped him and threatened to throw him in jail.

Surely we don’t do that today, or do we?

Surely we would listen when our pastor tells us that if we continue being consumers who come to be served instead of worshippers who come to serve- that the church would die..

Surely we would listen when told that our time in leadership is up and we need to be replaced and graciously step down as a leader…

Surely we would listen if pastor tells us that as leaders there is a level of character, commitment and participation that is required of us and let him chide or correct us when necessary..

Surely we would listen when our small group leader tells us that we have been a difficult group member who has been toxic to the group and change for the better..
These are but some examples but am sure we can think of more..
How willing are we to be corrected by the truth?
How humble and how much do we seek God’s truth instead of that which we desire to hear?

Day 98

by Rev Joel Yong

1 Kings 21:1-16
Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money. But Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers. And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers. And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food? And he said to her, Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it. And he answered, I will not give you my vineyard. And Jezebel his wife said to him, Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, You have cursed God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death. And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth cursed God and the king. So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth has been stoned; he is dead. As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead. And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

What an evil thing to do.
In order to get Naboth’s vineyard- Jezebel plotted to accuse him falsely and have him killed.

They sullied his reputation falsely , not because they cared for the name of God.
But because of the vineyard they wanted.

But God our Defender is not blind.
He sees the evil in men’s hearts – no matter how they attempt to warp the truth by twisting words or concealing motives.

1 Kings 21:24
Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.

This is the horrific judgment that eventually came upon the house of Ahab because of what he did to Naboth.
Horrific yes.
A stark reminder that God is not to be mocked and our sin will catch up with us.
Even though we may think we have gotten away with evil schemes.