Day 267

by Rev Joel Yong

John 15:1-2
Then Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father takes care of the vineyard. He removes every one of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit. He also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.

This is a familiar passage.
What strikes me, is that even the productive branches (good disciples) get pruned.

You’d think no cutting would happen to branches that do well.
But you see, the Gardener – who is God Himself- also knows the potential of each branch and it’s His desire to help us reach the full potential He has imbued in us.

I have 2 sons – I rejoice when they reach developmental milestones. I high five them and tell them I am pleased.

But here is the thing, I know they can now do more- having crossed the previous milestone (say for example, going to the potty).
I am not going to let their life achievement be that they made it to the potty on time … I know they can do more.

So I teach them more, show them more and it won’t be easy – but I wait anticipating their next achievement.

That is why He prunes productive branches.
That is why even good disciples will experience hardship.

Stay faithful even in such times- He is waiting our next greater crop of fruits!

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Day 266

by Rev Joel Yong

John 14:1-3
“Don’t be troubled. Believe in God, and believe in me. My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into my presence so that you will be where I am.

Jesus knew it was going to be a stressful and anxious time for the disciples- once He is arrested and falsely accused.

So He reminds them- not to let their hearts be troubled. Instead- as an antidote to this stress and worry- they are to focus on God instead. To look to Him and keep their eyes on Him.

Then He tells them why He is to be taken from them … He says He goes away to prepare for our future. That we too might be with God someday.

That is a great thing to think about- instead of the “what if’s” and instead of the “big obstacles” in life’s pathway.
Think about God and His great love and His might.
Think about the destiny you have in Him.
Think about what it will be like when we enter into His presence.

Day 265

by Rev Joel Yong

John 12:4-6
One of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for a high price and the money given to the poor?” (Judas didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the moneybag and carried the contributions.)

Things are not always what they seem.
A question asked, may come with a hidden agenda.

But God knows all.
There is nothing that can be hidden from Him, for He is omniscient- all-knowing.

So come clean before Him.
Not for His sake – He has all the info He needs on you.
But for yours, so that you might let the Healer heal you, correcting your heart and giving you new life in Him.

You don’t have to keep doing the same old year after year.
You can address your tendencies to blow your top, to lust after what is not yours, to worry day after day over everything … and so much more.
Just come to God, and confess your failings and your need of Him.

Day 264

by Rev Joel Yong

John 9:1-3
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Did he or his parents sin?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Instead, he was born blind so that God could show what he can do for him.

The disciples’ question revealed a seemingly karmic understanding of the imperfections of life.

They thought that the man was being punished and that is why he was born blind- presuming it was due to his parents’ sin.

Jesus’ reply- showed a different perspective.
Rather than consider the finality of the suffering or imperfections we possess in life, we ought to consider the possibilities of our situation.

That God might be glorified.
That God might show us what He can do for us.

In that failed marriage.
In that dismal health report.
In a downward-spiraling career.
In the case of a prodigal child.

Consider what God can do.

Day 263

by Rev Joel Yong

John 6:1-2
Jesus later crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (or the Sea of Tiberias). A large crowd followed him because they saw the miracles that he performed for the sick.

People followed Jesus for various reasons.
A large crowd did so because of the healings he did.

It’s nice that they appreciated what He could do.
But it would have been better if they appreciated Jesus for who He was … and not just what He could do.

The crowds turned against Jesus when they saw Him powerless, strung upon a cross, crucified.
He no longer seemed able and doubt crept into their hearts …

Their chief taunts were variants of this: “If You are the Christ, save Yourself from the cross …”
They wanted to see what else He could do.
And if He did not perform according to their expectation- then He was not the Christ they were looking for.

The people weren’t seeking God, they were seeking an idol- one to perform miracles to meet their needs.
They weren’t seeking God, to know His will and bend themselves to follow His will.
They were seeking to find a ‘god’ who would bend to their will. That’s idolatry. That is why their loyalty to Jesus was so fickle.

They did not see nor understand the significance of the cross.
That by choosing to remain on the Cross- Jesus saved us from our greatest bondage – our bondage to sin, and He liberated us from our greatest prison – not the prison of an ailing body alone, but from the prison of an eternity in Hell that awaits each human soul.

Day 262

by Rev Joel Yong

John 3:14-18
“As Moses lifted up the snake on a pole in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up. Then everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.” God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Those who believe in him won’t be condemned. But those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son.

Jesus referred to a story in the Old Testament of when the people were writhing, poisoned and God instructed Moses to lift up a pole with a bronze snake crafted onto it. All who looked up and saw the snake were healed as a result.
He likened His impending death on the Cross to that Old Testament event – all who are without hope of being cured and saved, will be saved when they look to Jesus.

They ‘look to’ Jesus by believing in Him.
More than just beholding Him with their eyes, they behold Him in their hearts.
He saves and He cures us from our sinful condition and promises us new life- eternal life, in Him.

Those who do not turn to Him, are like those who are bitten by a poisonous snake in the Old Testament story, but refuse to accept that they are in need of an antidote and in need of healing. They will perish from the poison.

Then Jesus goes on to elaborate, that it’s not God’s intention to let us perish- rather He desires that all of us get healed and be given life rather than die.

Day 261

by Rev Joel Yong

Luke 23:14-25
He told them, “You brought me this man as someone who turns the people against the government. I’ve questioned him in front of you and haven’t found this man guilty of the crimes of which you accuse him. Neither could Herod. So he sent this man back to us. This man hasn’t done anything to deserve the death penalty. So I’m going to have him whipped and set free.” The whole crowd then shouted, “Take him away! Free Barabbas for us.” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for his involvement in a riot that had taken place in the city and for murder.) But because Pilate wanted to free Jesus, he spoke to the people again. They began yelling, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” A third time Pilate spoke to them. He asked, “Why? What has he done wrong? I haven’t found this man deserving of the death penalty. So I’m going to have him whipped and set free.” But the crowd pressured Pilate. They shouted that Jesus had to be crucified, and they finally won. Pilate decided to give in to their demand. He freed Barabbas, who had been put in prison for rioting and murdering, because that’s what they wanted. But he let them do what they wanted to Jesus.

What tragic words – “Pilate decided to give in to their demand”

He found nothing wrong.
He knew Jesus shouldn’t die.

But because Pilate was pressured, he did what he knew was wrong.

Ever done that? Do something you know, to be wrong- because of pressure?

In seeking to be approved by the world, we declare that we are willing to lose the approval of God- by going against His truth and His way.

Matthew 10.33
But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

Nothing is worth more than the approval of God.
That is why Jesus died- so that we could stand righteous before the judgment seat.