What Legacy?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 33:14-34:33; Proverbs 20:19

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
2 Chronicles 33:22-23 “And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them.  And he did not humble himself before the LORD, as Manasseh his father had humbled himself, but this Amon incurred guilt more and more.”

REFLECT  
What is significant for me is that Amon sinned upon what the father (Manasseh) had left behind. Even though the father repented; his son did not manage to do so. When I passed on from this world; what would I leave behind? Would it be possessions which cause my children to sin or to be blessed in the Lord? Would it be teachings that cause my children to prosper in Christ or that which cause them to linger in disastrous habits? Would it be a life journal which help them to journey with God; or would it stir them towards unbelief?

RELATE
A real life story was told to me that a father had a hidden stash of pornographic materials. It wasn’t left behind for his children, but they discovered it. Unsurprisingly, the children grow to sin like the father. We often hear of “generational sin” which suggest that children are bound to inherit the “seed” of their parents’ particular sins. Hence, a parent who loves to gamble will pass the “generational sin” of gambling to their children. I am not convinced of such an argument. What I know for certain is that if parents are careless and indifferent about our faith in Christ; then there is a high probability that our children will sin upon what we left behind or failed to do.

REST
Lord, may you help us as parents to leave behind a legacy which will help our children to grow in the faith. Such a legacy does not merely count on what is done towards the end of our lives, but what is done throughout our lives. Help us as children also to know that in Christ, we can overcome whatever sins that we may have carried from our parents’ legacy. Have mercy O God and save us. Amen.

True Harmony

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-22; Psalm 25:1-15

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
Romans 15:5-6 “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

REFLECT
“Harmony” is a beautiful word. It speaks of people coming together in agreement and order. It speaks of people playing different roles and yet working towards similar objectives. However, there are times when the word or idea of “harmony” is misused to fulfil personal needs; or when we find it troublesome to confront the truth. This is especially so when “harmony” is rooted in our own flesh; rather than what is suggested in Romans 15:5 to be “in accord with Christ Jesus”. The Apostle Paul was not suggesting that the people of God must agree with one another at the expense of biblical truth. Rather, he was suggesting that we find “harmony” with one another according to the Person and teachings of Jesus Christ.

RELATE
There was a time when I was asked to forgo the seeking of truth with a fellow brother in Christ for the sake of “harmony”. I thought on it and found that indeed, it was so much easier to seek “harmony” than to confront. Yet, when I thought of the reality that my Lord Jesus Christ would die on the Cross in order to provide me with the truth; how then can I forsake the truth in order to preserve my own skin? Would I also prefer that someone tell me the truth (no matter how painful) rather than hide it for the sake of “harmony”? In the end, I chose to confront my fellow brother in Christ for the truth in love. It was a painful process but the end result was that transformation took place. True harmony does not forsake the teachings of Christ; anything other than that are tempting whispers from the evil one.

REST
Lord God, may you give us the courage and love to seek harmony according to the ways of Christ. This is so that the Body of Christ can be truly united with one voice to glorify God. Amen.

Going to the Chief Shepherd

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 13:1-14; Psalm 23:1-6

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
Psalm 23:3 “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

REFLECT
With the Lord as our Shepherd, our souls are able to be restored and we can be led in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. The problem is not whether we recognise the Lord as our Shepherd, but whether we want to go to Him even though we know that He is our Shepherd. Even when our souls are wretched from committing sin again and again, suffering near burn-out from work or wandering away in unbelief; we can be so hard-hearted as to hold on to our position and not want to go to the Shepherd.

RELATE
I spoke with a group of Life Group Leaders today on the idea of shepherding. Unlike what is portrayed in some movies (green grass, blue sky, docile lamb), shepherding is probably one of the toughest job in the world. A shepherd needs to learn how to work tirelessly under harsh conditions; cope with the possible loss of sheep to wolves, diseases or hypothermia; and going after sheep that would wander off or escape despite the best precautions. An experienced shepherd said that a person would need at least 40 years to complete apprenticeship in order to be recognised as a “true shepherd of the flock”.

In some ways, shepherding God’s people is similar to shepherding sheep in the mountains. It is hard work and takes a lot of emotional strength and patience.  More importantly it requires a heart of humility to seek God. No matter if we are the shepherds of God’s flock in the family, church or workplace, we need to learn to go to the Chief Shepherd regularly. This is because He is able to restore our souls and lead us in paths of righteousness.

REST
Chief Shepherd, may You help us, as Your under shepherds, to cultivate a heart of humility and surrender to go to you regularly for sustenance and spiritual nourishment. This is so we can journey well with those You have entrusted to our care. Amen.

Finishing Well

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28; Proverbs 20:8-10

READ (Verses chosen for reflection)
2 Chronicles 24:17-18 “Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.”

REFLECT
When the priest Jehoiada was alive, King Joash did what was pleasing in the sight of God. When Jehoiada passed on to glory, Joash turned to the evil influences of the princes of Judah and started to worship idols. What happened? One would think that the many years of Jehoiada’s mentorship and guidance would give Joash a good foundation for godly rule. Yet, this didn’t turn out to be so. Despite knowing the joy of pleasing the Lord; Joash made the choice of turning to evil. As a result, Joash was assassinated and was refused a burial in the tomb of the kings.

RELATE
When we came to know the Lord Jesus; many of us might behave like Joash in the early part of his reign. We might be full of passion and conviction to do His will. Yet, as we journey on in the faith, our commitment wax and wane. The Bible reading for today reminded me that while it is important to start off well in the faith; it is more important to finish well. Yet, how can we do so? There is simply no shortcut but to persevere in allowing the Spirit of God to work in our lives. This means a constant making of choice to nourish our soul with God’s Word, overcome evil with God’s empowerment and do what is pleasing in God’s sight.

REST
Lord Jesus, may You help us to consistently make the right choice and finish well in this running of the race of the journey of faith. Amen.

Being afraid

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37; Proverbs 20:4-6

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
2 Chronicles 20:3 “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”

REFLECT
The Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites became one and came against Jehoshaphat (king of Judah). The king of Judah then became afraid. This time round, he didn’t seek alliance with evil kings like Ahab; but rally the people to seek God’s help. Even though Jehoshaphat was afraid, his faith to seek God’s help seemed to be a much better thing do; for what resulted was that God routed the enemies in complete victory (ref: 2 Chronicles 20:17-24).

RELATE
I observed that some Christians like to advice one another: “do not be afraid; but be of faith”. It seemed to them that being afraid is a sign of “weakness” or being faithless. Yet, is that really true? What if we are really afraid? Does being afraid means that we have no faith in God? Might not be.

Like Jehoshaphat, we can be afraid of the people or the circumstances around us. However, if such fear can turn us to seek God, it will still be considered as having faith. I am of the conviction that God is not seeking after “fearless” believers but rather believers who fear Him more than they fear the world.

REST
Lord our God, in times of trouble or fear, help us to seek You. Help us also to be wise in our care and words for one another. Amen.

Sovereignty of God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 9:1-24; Psalm 19:1-14

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Romans 9:21 “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”

REFLECT
Romans 9:21 speaks clearly of God’s sovereignty. It means that as God, He can do whatever He wants. In this context, it is the sovereignty of God to create men and women; some for honourable use and some for dishonourable use. The end point as said in Romans 9:23; is that God’s Name be glorified.

Yet, even as God is sovereign; He allows human beings the freedom to act. As the example of Pharaoh is used; we note that it wasn’t until the sixth plague that God actively “hardened” Pharaoh’s heart. For the first five plagues, Pharaoh was (according to Hebrew grammar) literally hardening his own heart. This interplay between God and Pharaoh on the hardening of the latter’s heart demonstrated how God’s sovereignty is dynamically linked to the human will.

RELATE
The idea of God’s sovereignty is not easy to accept. In things that are good, we often celebrate God’s sovereign hands. However, in the bad things that happened, we seldom celebrate if at all. Often, we hear testimonies that speak of victories and successes; testimonies that celebrate failures are less common. On Wednesday evening, I shared with the LCEC about how my past failure as a group leader helped me to learn more about God’s heart for leadership. On hindsight, I should have also shared that this is something to be celebrated. For God’s sovereignty has enabled something bad to be turned into something useful for His glory.

REST
Lord our God, may you help me to understand more and more about Your sovereignty in my life. You are the Potter, I am the clay. Shape me and mould me, in Your own way. Amen.

Assurance of faith

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Romans 8:9-25; Psalm 18:16-36

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Romans 8:16-17 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

REFLECT
How does the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God?

A common understanding is that Romans 8:16 speaks of how the Holy Spirit “whisper” to our inner souls that we are “God’s child” and therefore produces the assurance of faith. However, I am not entirely sure if this verse can be interpreted in this manner; especially if the Greek is to be translated as “bears witness with our spirit” and not “bears witness to our spirit”. Moreover, we might run into problems if such an interpretation is adopted; especially in cases where Christians claim not to be able to “experience” such an assurance of salvation.

So if the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit; what does it mean? Personally, I thought Romans 8:16 can only be properly understood in context with Paul’s exhortation in verses 10-14 that as Christ dwells in us, so we are to live in the Holy Spirit. This means that we can only know the assurance of faith by actively choosing to live in the Holy Spirit, be led by the Spirit and dwelling in the hope for much better things to come. The evidence of being God’s child is that we are not merely trying to “feel” for God’s presence in our lives; but actively choosing to do God’s will through the Spirit’s guidance. Only by doing so, can the Holy Spirit witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

RELATE
Such a reflection brings to mind that the journey of faith is much about choosing to what is right with God or allowing ourselves to “fall back in fear” (v15). The power to choose is given to us through faith in Jesus Christ who atoned for our sins so that we can call God Abba Father. The struggle to choose between what is right with God or that which sin against Him is an assurance that we are God’s children. The victory of choosing what is right over what is evil is the assurance that the adopted sons of God are no longer bound by the power of sin. Hence, as His children, we want to do what is pleasing to God and not that which breaks His heart. This is what “having a relationship with God” really looks like.

REST
Thank you Abba Father for your grace in helping us to know what is good and right. Help us Abba Father to live daily in the Spirit and choose what is good and right. Amen.