Keeping His Word

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Revelation 22:1-21; Psalm 150:1-6

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Revelation 22:7-8 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

REFLECT
The word “keep” appears twice in Revelation 22 (verses 7 and 9). God’s people are exhorted to keep the words of the book of Revelation. The word “keep” is translated from the Greek “tereo” which in context, means to “pay attention” or “to observe”. In both verses, “tereo” is given to us in the present participle. This means that God’s people are to actively and consistently observe God’s Word as given to us in the book of Revelation. So what are we to consistently pay attention to and observe? As given to us in verses 10-15, we are to actively and consistently observe holiness in our journey with Jesus. We are to actively and consistently shun what is evil.

RELATE
Some like to treat the book of Revelation as a book that tells the future. Some parts of the book do talk about what will happen in the future. However, if we are to draw a major consistent theme through Revelation, its main message is for us as a church, to be holy and watchful as we wait for the Lord’s coming. To me, the book of Revelation is not so much as a crystal ball that foretells what is going to happen in the future; but a promise that tells us of the solid hope that those who persevere shall reign with God forever. One of the main reasons why I learn to trust more and more of the Bible, is not because it is a book that tells us what we want to hear; but what we need to hear. Such needs are at times, unnoticed until we hit a roadblock or went through major life challenges. Nonetheless, we learn more and more that the things of this world and especially ourselves is not the solution. Only Christ is. We need to hear and keep His Word. For He is coming back.

REST
Christ our Lord, we thank you for the book of Revelation. Help us to understand more about what You want us to learn through this book; this is so we can fulfil Your promise that we shall be blessed if we actively and consistently keep Your Word in our lives. Amen.

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He is able

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Zechariah 12:1-13:9; Proverbs 31:1-7

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Zechariah 13:1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.”

REFLECT
The desire of the Lord is for His people to be cleanse from sin and uncleanness. However, God’s people cannot do this through our own efforts, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we desire it to be. We can only strive towards holiness and perfection through Jesus Christ. Only by first being reborn as a child of God through the blood of Christ, would we have any hope of becoming who God wants us to be. For this, the Father sent His only begotten Son to first become fully human even as He was fully God. Only then, could Jesus atone for our sins and we reconcile our broken relationships with Him.

RELATE
We know why Jesus came. We know why He had to come in a manger. Yet, we find it so difficult to be cleanse of our sin and uncleanness. We tried. We succeeded for a while and then we failed again. Why is this so? Is it because the blood of the Begotten is not enough? Is God not powerful enough to make us wholesome again?

No. It has to do with us. It is always us and not the fault of God. We keep failing because we could be afraid to lose the momentary pleasure that sin brings. We keep failing because we have no confidence in God who can really give us breakthroughs. We keep failing because we did not truly grasp the good news of Jesus being born in a manger. We keep failing because all these while, we have not understood that true happiness can only be found in the things of God. For all that God is, of why He came and how He died on the Cross for our sins; this Christmas, let us not lose hope for He is more than able. He will help us if we are sincere in our worship of Him in all that we do.

REST
Lord our God, the story of the birth of the Christ-child is not a fairy tale. It is a story full of bloodshed, violence and tragedies. All this so that mankind can be reconciled to You. May You help us not to lose sight of this greatness which You have done. This is so that we will never lose hope in You. For You are able. Amen.

Which side; what choice?

by Rev Jason Phua

Readings: Revelation 17:1-18; Psalm 145:1-21

READ (verse chosen for meditation)
Revelation 17:8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.”

REFLECT
Revelation 17:8 is a parody of Revelation 4:8 where God is depicted as the One “who was, and is and is to come”. Here, the evil one “was, and is not and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction”. Where the eternal Word of God is concerned, the destinies of two sides of the battle is clear. Where there is God, there will be life and eternity. Where there is evil, there will be destruction. Why was a parody given to the Apostle John? Why not just speak plainly? It might be that even as evil always try to imitate what is good; a parody is given to highlight the truth that however much evil tries, it can never give what God can.

RELATE
All who know God are not reborn to be perfect. Instead, we are reborn with the seed to strive for perfection even to the day we are home in the Lord. We could be struggling with an addiction that has been going on for many years; we could be wavering in the faith because of a loved one who is in pain or had passed away; we could have taken flight from worshipping God for a long time; or we could be feeling so helpless that we want to die. Whatever the situation, no matter the depth of the darkness we are finding ourselves in, Revelation 17:8 reminded that we are not to follow the beast into its doom and destruction; but we are to follow the Light who will bring us out of darkness. There is always hope and there is always a choice. We could have been making the wrong choices, but today is the day to make it right.

REST
May He who is able, help us make the right choice and continue with perseverance to fight the good fight of faith in Him. Amen.

Fear

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Revelation 15:1-8; Psalms 143:1-12

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Revelation 15:4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

REFLECT
Many of us know what “fear” means. For some of us, it is the fear of losing our family. How can we live the same, if our loved ones were to leave us? For some, it is the fear of losing our wealth and possessions; the lost of hand phones has created a form of trepidation that had never been felt before. For some, it is the fear of losing what we have built as our “empires” and even status over many years. Yet, even as we know the idea of “fear” and being “God-fearing”, we might not be as fearful of God as we are of losing the things of this world.

RELATE
As a young believer, I had a difficult time understanding what it means to fear God. Is God intentionally “scary” so that we can fear Him? Or is God to be feared because He alone is worthy of worship? How can “fear” be defined in the context of our Abba Father? As time goes, I came to understand that being God-fearing has a lot to do with obedience, grace and love. I learn to fear the Lord not only because He can send me to eternal condemnation; which I am all deserving. I learn to fear the Lord because in spite of His greatness; He has chosen to save and love one so sinful. My fear of God arises out of my desire to worship Him and in reverence of His Almighty power. My fear arises out of the deep conviction that He is my Creator and has by grace gave His life for me. This is a God who is totally worthy of my fear and worship.

REST
Lord, teach us more on how to fear You and not let the world pull us from honouring You and worshipping You as the One and Only. Amen.

Eternal vs Temporal

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Zechariah 1:1-21; Proverbs 30:17

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Zechariah 1:5-6 “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, “As the Lord of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.”

REFLECT
Apart from God’s Word, there is nothing in this world that can last forever. Even our own parents whom we look up to, even the prophets whom we so hear of God’s Word. No one can be in this world forever and nobody can give an everlasting impression. Only the words and statutes of God will overtake everything that this world was in the past, at the present, and is to come. So why do we still cling on to what is temporal? Why do we spend so much time focusing on ensuring that we get the “best” out of the very limited years of our lives? Why are we so indifferent, why do we reject or even hate what is eternal?

RELATE
I think it is because we are prone to give in to conveniences, short term pleasures or maybe deep in our hearts we don’t really believe in the eternal. We prefer to deal with what we can see right here and now. Don’t talk to me about the future, don’t talk to me about eternity; I just want to enjoy what I have now. In the Young Adults Retreat that just past, the speakers emphasized the importance of having boundaries (on physical intimacy) for couples who are yet to be married. This is one example where our souls can be tuned towards what is eternal (to honour one another and God) instead of giving in to what is temporal (giving in to temptations and lust). In the context of sexuality and marriage; the result for persevering on what is eternal is not only to experience as a couple; true joy, freedom and fulfilment in the Lord but also as a milestone in our future reign with God when Christ returns. Will the One who saves find us faithful? Or would Christ find us messing with what He has given as the new life when He comes back again? Let us therefore focus on what is eternal; and increase our self-control and discernment over what is temporal.

REST
Lord, help us to cultivate a growing spiritual desire for eternity and empower us to have self control over what is temporal. Amen.

Eat this scroll!

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Revelation 10:1-11; Psalm 138:1-8

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Revelation 10:9 “So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.”

REFLECT
What does it mean when John was commanded by the angel to eat the scroll and that it will make “your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey”? This scenario reminded of a similar one in Ezekiel 3 where the prophet was also commanded to eat a scroll and then “speak to the house of Israel”. Hence, eating of scrolls seems to be a symbolic act for the prophets to “eat” the Word of God and then proclaim it to the people. “Eating” here does not just mean the reading of God’s Word, but rather a full “digestion” of what God has said – which can mean deep understanding, conviction and obedience.

RELATE
Given what Ezekiel and John had to say to the people, it was only right that they truly understand and be convicted of what was going to be proclaimed. What they have been told to say were difficult messages; yet they chose to obey because the faithful prophets understood the sins of their people and were convicted of the need for repentance. Such a process of proclaiming God’s Word can also be applied to all of us. Whether we preach, teach or share the Gospel, we need to “eat” what we are suppose to preach, teach and share. We need to be diligent to understand and be convicted of what God’s Word is saying to us even as we seek to proclaim to others. So even if a particular message is going to be “bitter to the stomach”; let it be so and let us just obey. Otherwise, it will just be all “talk” and no “walk”.

REST
Lord, help us to put in the effort to understand and meditate upon Your Holy Word even before we proclaim it unto others. This is so we do not misrepresent what Your Word says and lead others to the wrong path. Amen.

Judgement of God

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Rev 8:1-13; Psalm 136:1-26

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Revelation 8:13 “Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

REFLECT
Revelation 8:13 prepares the readers for what is to come in chapter 9, which speaks of the three dreadful series of judgments upon those who do not believe. When we read of the plagues and destruction in both chapters 8 and 9, we might ask the question: “Is God’s judgement against the unbelievers too severe?”

Personally, I do not think so. I do not think we serve a God who merely punishes or disciplines people for the fun of it. The purpose of God’s judgments, dreadful as they are, is to warn and leave room for unbelievers to repent and choose Him as Lord. So even as God is righteous and just (that is why the judgement must come), He is also compassionate and merciful. Unfortunately, Revelation 9:20-21 is a typical case of human sinfulness; where we are told that even as the judgements described seem very severe and dreadful, unbelievers shall continue to be unrepentant, worship other idols and indulge in sexual immorality.

RELATE
Many years ago, someone asked me whether the book of Revelation is a “doom and gloom” book of the Bible. I answered that even though Revelation speaks of God’s judgments in the end of time; it also reveals God’s love and mercy for all people in this world. The fact that Revelation is given to us in this present age signifies that God wants us to understand this book; not to be overtly frightened by it; but to increase in our faith and worship of the Almighty.

For example, the seven churches were warned through John at Patmos to turn from their evil ways; this is so that when Christ comes back again, He will find them faithful. As we read about the seven churches, we ourselves might also be convicted of various sins in our lives and choose to repent. The very fact that we are able to do so in this present age is a tremendous blessing and grace from the Lord. May we remember this and not falter in our walk with our Abba Father.

REST
In this Advent Season, as we await the Second Coming of the Royal Shepherd; may He who is able help us to “keep awake” and live a life that is true to Him. Amen.