Fear God because He is good?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 33:1-34:22; Proverbs 27:15-16

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Jeremiah 33:9 “And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.”

REFLECT
Quite often, we equate the fear of the Lord with our awe of His power, might and holiness. Yet, in Jeremiah 33:9, it is suggested that the fear of the Lord can come through our realisation of His goodness and mercy in our lives. This can only happen when we are focused on the One who delivered such goodness as He pleases; and not so much on the “goodness” itself. Yes, when God bless a nation or an individual when the need arises, we can learn to fear Him. This is because it is a great reminder that He is in the know and in control of all things.

RELATE
In recent months, while searching for a new home, we witnessed for ourselves the very goodness of God. To save on agency fees, we decided to administer and search for the property on our own. While doing that, we met with many owners as well as housing agents. Some were friendly and acted in a fair manner. However, some were quite unscrupulous.

It was an eye and heart opener for us. While some of these incidents saddened our hearts; we found joy in a sovereign God who acted on our behalf. On more than one occasion, the Lord interceded on a potential deal that would have been unfair for us; or highlighted our attention to some aspects of the house that we would not have taken note of. Indeed, while we thank God for His goodness; we are also humbled by His grace to us all. He knows it all and already accounted for our foolishness in our journey with Him. What a mighty and good God He is! He is indeed worthy to be feared.

REST
Lord my God, as I ponder upon your goodness in my life. Help me to be humble and learn to revere you even more. Amen.

God is our Siri / Alexa?

by Rev Jason Phua

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Jeremiah 21:2 “Inquire of the LORD for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the LORD will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”

REFLECT
Disaster was at hand. When the stubbornness of Judah stood against the consistent mercy of God; God was determined to send His judgement against the people. This was for the purpose of humbling Judah and after 70 years of exile; may grow to be a better people.

In Jeremiah 21:2-3, it was troubling to hear from King Zedekiah. Even after all that had happened, he had the audacity to inquire of God and expected the Almighty to help them. How could Zedekiah even think that God would help them at this juncture? He and many of his predecessors had done what was evil in the sight of God. Many in Judah had repeatedly rejected the grace of God to repent. Yet, there he was, thinking that God was his Siri or Alexa. While he did not respond to God’s call to repent; there he was asking God questions which he expected favourable responses. How dull of ears and eyes could Judah be?

RELATE
Have we made God our Siri or Alexa? Even when we had not been spending enough time with God; have we been expecting God to respond when we “call”? Even when we have not been responding to God’s call for us to be transformed in His word, have we been expecting God to answer when we ask? Even as we have been resisting His will; are we expecting God to conform to our will?

I believe many of us have the tendency to be so. We have expected God to “answer” when we ourselves are super slow to respond and action on His perfect will. We have even expected God to conform to our will and sulk when He does not do so.

The root issue could be that we just want our own way and not the way of Christ. We are much more comfortable that way. We do not want to change; not when our own comfort or even our “treasured” sins are threatened. Sometimes we even have the audacity to expect God to go according to our way; and not His. How dull of eyes and ears can we be?

REST
God our Lord, forgive us as a people when we are stubborn. Help us to repent and walk according to Your way. Help us to be sensitive to Your calling in our lives; so that we can make wise decisions. This is all because You are the Potter and we are Your clay. Amen.

Eyes to see and ears to hear

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 4:19-6:15; Proverbs 27:4-6

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Jeremiah 5:21 “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.”

REFLECT
Jeremiah 5:21 speaks of God’s rebuke upon the people of Judah. The rebuke was that the people of Judah was foolish and senseless. They were foolish because they have eyes that did not see and ears that did not hear. Yet, what were they supposed to see and hear?

According to the surrounding passages, Judah was supposed to see and hear about the truth of God. Here, the act of seeing and hearing are not merely passive observations; but calls for understanding and action. Hence, they were supposed to fear God and walk in His ways in the truth.

Instead they were described as a people who: “lurk like fowlers lying in wait. They set a trap; they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.” (Jeremiah 5:26-28). So to the Lord, Judah was as good as blind and deaf; for their eyes and ears were tuned to things that were not of the Lord’s. They were an abomination.

RELATE
Do I have eyes and yet not see? Do I have ears and yet not hear? Are my eyes and ears tuned to what they were originally intended to see and hear?

No. Not always. There will be times when I would love to dwell in the word of God for a longer period of time but gave in to the temptation of attending to another less important matter. There will be times when I should tune out unhealthy gossips during conversations but I allow my curiosity to mar my discernment. Even if I know the truth and understood it; I might not always carry out the intended purpose of the truth. For example, I know that God requires me to defend the rights of the needy; yet there were occasions when I failed to do so in the excuse of a more “urgent” matter.

REST
Lord, help me to see and hear more of what you intended and so allow me to act upon these for the furtherance of Your kingdom. Otherwise, my eyes and ears would only be so tuned to the ways of the world; that I would fail to carry out Your purposes for my life. Amen.

Voice of the opposition

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23; Psalm 104:24-35

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
2 Chronicles 35:20-22 “After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah went out to meet him. But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo.”

REFLECT
King Josiah did what most kings would have done. He stopped the advancement of a foreign army as it attempted to march through his own land. Yet, Josiah died for such an act. What did he do wrong? Even if Neco sent envoys to Josiah; Josiah was not obligated to let the army through.

Perhaps the only thing that Josiah did wrong was the failure to seek God concerning Neco’s claims that he had heard from God. The enemy from Egypt had claimed that he had heard from God, but Josiah failed to seek God if he was speaking the truth. He took things into his own hands and suffered demise. The truth is that God can use even our “enemies” or people who seemingly oppose us to speak into our lives. We will need to consult God for His wisdom to learn the truth through such conversations.

RELATE
In my previous workplace and current ministry as a pastor; I faced the voices of those who opposed to what I was trying to do. I also faced those who are opposed to the ways of God. While the “biblical” way was to seek God on what had been communicated; the natural tendency was to take things into my own hands. There are times when I would think that this person was just out to oppose me. This person was just trying to further his or her agenda. This person did not really understand what I was trying to say or do. This person was just trying to be nasty to those who believe in Jesus.

Today’s passage reminded me that I would need to go deeper with God about the voices of those whom i do not agree. Are they placed here to help me do better? What was it that they are really saying? Have God spoken to them as well? Am I wrong? Let me hear God with what was being said or done and let God provide His discernment on how to handle the situation. Let me also be humble to accept that the message of God can come through the voice of an opposing party. That would be the best. For the Lord can use the most unimaginable and creative way to speak with us.

REST
Help me Lord to see what You see and discern Your ways. This is so I can depend more on You. Amen.

God’s sovereignty and our roles

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21; Proverbs 26:21-22

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
2 Chronicles 21:7 “Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.”

REFLECT
Even for the evil that King Jehoram had done, God was not willing to destroy the house of David. This was not because God favoured Jehoram more than anyone else; nor was He condoning of Jehoram’s evil. God stayed His hand because of the covenant that He had made with David. The covenant that God made with David was not a tool that God invented to bind Himself to certain outcomes. Instead, the covenant revealed the sovereignty of God. The covenant was made because God knew the evil of men. The covenant was God’s way of allowing men to come into His sovereign plan; or they can choose to rebel against it. Whatever it is, God will not allow the evil of Jehoram or any other human beings to mess with His plan.

RELATE
Have we thought to ourselves: “If God is sovereign, then what part do I get to play?” “If everything is planned and will go according to God’s way; why am I even here?” “If everything is planned; why do I even need to be right with God?”

Yes, God is sovereign. He will get what He wants. He knows what is best for humanity. Yet, He graciously invites people to partner Him in His plan. So when we walk right with Him; we participate in the plan and reaps the blessings of that partnership. When we rebel against Him; we are out of the plan and will walk ourselves right into disaster.

God is sovereign; but it does not mean that we are robots created to amuse an ego-manic God. God is sovereign because He is God. Whether we like it or not, He will have control over all things. He will prevail. Jesus will be back. Evil will be destroyed. The world will undergo tribulations and a new heaven and a new earth will be created. Tears will be no more. Sin will be no more. Death will give way to eternal life.

REST
Question is: Where will God find us when His sovereign plan unfolds and come into completion? What are our roles now in the light of God’s sovereignty? Shall we persevere? Or give up? May the Lord so help me to persevere in Him so as to bear fruit in the light of His sovereignty over my life. Amen.

God dwelt with man

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11; Psalm 97:1-98:9

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
2 Chronicles 6:18 “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!”

REFLECT
Solomon finished building the temple and in the presence of God and the people of Israel, he prayed a prayer. In his prayer, he uttered the prophetic question of whether God will indeed dwell with man on earth. Never did he know, nor would he had imagined, that approximately 900 years later, his question was answered. His question was answered quite literally, that God came to dwell with man on earth in the flesh. Immanuel. God with us. Jesus came as fully man, even as He is fully God, to dwell with man. Jesus came to dwell with man, so that He can obey the Father’s will to atone for our sins at Calvary.

Why would God do such a thing? Why would a holy God choose to dwell with sinful creatures who rebelled and betrayed His trust? Why would a Creator of the universe and beyond choose to dwell with human beings whom He had created? I believe it is because of God’s desire to reconcile His people back to Him. I believe it is because of God’s faithfulness to the covenant that He had made with David especially of 2 Samuel 7:16 “Your house and kingdom will endure before Me forever, and your throne will be established forever.” God was not saying that David’s line will be kings forever. God was saying that David’s line will involve the birth of the Christ child and through Christ, God’s kingdom shall be established forever. Indeed, nothing on earth can contain God. However, if God so choose; He can dwell with man in the flesh for the sake of rescuing us from ourselves. Such is the magnitude of God’s grace and love for man.

RELATE
As one who regarded myself as a follower of Christ, how am I responding to such a magnitude of love and grace from my Creator? Do I worship, pray and give reverence to God like Solomon? Does my life reflect that I am truly in awe and gratitude of such a great God? I have much to learn from Solomon at this point of his life. I do not think that I am always in awe of who God is in my life. If it be so, then I wouldn’t have prioritized my own comfort to His will. I wouldn’t have surrendered to impatience instead of being still to seek His face. I am thankful that God has chosen to come and dwell in the flesh. If not for such a miracle; I would have continued in my old ways and not the privilege of living in the new.

REST
Lord God, help me to learn from the sense of awe that Solomon have for you at this point of his life. This is so that my life in Christ can be more pleasing in Your sight. Amen.

Heart of the Father

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:30; Psalm 95:1-96:13

READ (verses chosen for meditation)
1 Chronicles 28:9-10 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.

REFLECT
In the presence of “all the officials of Israel, the officials of the tribes, the officers of the divisions that served the king, the commanders of thousands, the commanders of hundreds, the stewards of all the property and livestock of the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the seasoned warriors” (1 Chronicles 28:1-2); King David charged Solomon his son to serve God with his whole heart and a willing mind. By proclaiming such a charge in public, David was telling his people that even as his son, Solomon would be of no exception to know and obey God. Such a charge came from the heart of a father who wanted to honour God above everything else. Such a charge came from a parental heart that would take the effort to nurture his children to know God and serve Him.

RELATE
Unfortunately, such a charge isn’t often proclaimed anymore. Not in the public, not in church, not even at home. These days, many fathers are “outsourcing” such a charge. So the school should be helping their children to behave. So the church should disciple their children to grow in Jesus Christ. If the faith of their children are wrecked; it must be the fault of the Sunday school. It must be the fault of the youth ministry. It must be the fault of the church!

I wonder what King David would think of such a theology. Such a theology of discipleship was never in the mind of King David. Nor was it in the minds of many godly parental characters in the Bible. Yes, it is true that there are quite a few parents in the Bible who missed the mark of nurturing their children well in the faith; but none had ever thought to outsource! When have we started to push the blame when it is us who failed? When have we started to get upset when we have not honoured God in helping our children to grow in the faith? Is it because we ourselves have not been growing in our relationship with God? And so we felt so inadequate and even ashamed?

Fathers. I believe in the grace and power of God to help us change. I believe in the will of God that He wants us to take our rightful authority once again. It is time to take hold of our destiny as parents. It is time to wake up from our stupor. It is time to take hold and declare: “And you, my son (daughter), know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” Fathers, disciple our children. It is never too late to start.

REST
If you are a father reading this and like to pray for your children, you can pray this with me:

“My Father in heaven, holy is Your Name. I am sorry that I have not been fulfilling my role as a parent to ____________ (your child/children’s name(s)); help me Lord, help me to disciple my children according to your commandments. Give me the power and wisdom to do so as You did for King David and the many godly fathers in the Bible. Help me to grow in my own journey with You. This is so that my children can see that I am serious in the faith; and they should be too. May _____________ (your child/children’s name(s)) come to You in humility and declare Your Lordship over their lives. In Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen”