Those earlier days

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Heb 10:1-17; Pro 11:12-13

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Hebrews 10:32-33
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

REFLECT
The writer of Hebrews continues his letter of earnest encouragement to early Christians who were suffering greatly for their faith. Here, he reminds them to remember. Yes, to remember the time when they first saw the light, and how willing they were to endure hardship because of the joy they found in Christ. Yet somehow, that joy had faded away, and some of the believers were now in danger of turning their backs on Jesus and choosing the easy way … which could lead only to death.

RELATE
Yes, I remember my early days as a Christian, some 30 years back. Such great was my joy and awakening that there was little that I would not do for God. So sweet was the fellowship of believers in my first church that I eagerly awaited our weekly small group and Sunday service. Most of all, the fear of God was so strong that all temptations seemed easily overcome. Well, that was special grace, and a foretaste of heaven! Now that the honeymoon period is over, my faith must be tested so that it becomes deep and mature. But whenever the going gets tough, I must remember that holiness is possible. I had a glimpse of it in “earlier days”!

REST
Lord, I need you, now and forever. May I always love You as my First Love!

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Assurance?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Heb 6; Pro 11:7

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Hebrews 6:4-6
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

REFLECT
This could be one of the toughest verses in the Bible to accept and comprehend! Isn’t the grace of God sufficient and powerful for all things? Didn’t God say that one should forgive seventy times seven times? Then why can’t a Christian who fall away be restored to salvation? For me, these verses are actually an assurance. An assurance that if we have tasted the goodness of God, we will NOT fall away. Yes, even in times of weakness, God will hold on to us, if we allow Him to. There is no good reason for us to want something else, unless we have decided to become our own god.

RELATE
Someone once said that hell is like one who closes the door at God and locks it from the inside. God will not force Himself in, because He has given us freedom to choose. But why would we want to close the door at God, unless we want to become the devil? No, we must not live our Christian life worried about our salvation every day. Our eternity does not hang on a thread, but on the Cross of Christ. If there is a warning in these verses, it is for those who do not (even try to) live out the Christian life. As the next two verses (7-8) tells us, a good tree cannot bear bad fruit persistently.

REST
Lord, grant me the peace of salvation, and the passion for life!

The worth of women?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Lev 25:47-27:13; Ps 51

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 27:3-4
if your valuation is of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. If it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels;

REFLECT
Now why is a man worth more than a woman? Aren’t both made in the image of God? Why is there a need for such a distinction? Of course, one could say that it’s a special concession and benefit for females (and those paying the bill for them!). But the feminists would not agree. For them, such a valuation would be considered the root of discrimination, chauvinism and present day female abuse.

RELATE
It is heart-breaking to hear of how African women are generally treated. The norm is for the men to betray, abuse, and abandon the women, then get away scot-free. Even the justice system can do no justice about this. But how can this be possible in year 2018?!! As a man, I’m not sure what I can say – except that I must not perpetuate the abuse of women, be it physically, emotionally or virtually. I am inspired by Jesus my Lord, who wasn’t just a man, but a gentle-man.

REST
Lord, destroy all the unjust systems of this world! Help all of us men to remember that, no matter what we might think about women, we were born of one.

Lobster anyone?

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Lev 14; Pro 10:26

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 14:54-57
“This is the law for any leprous sore and scale, for the leprosy of a garment and of a house, for a swelling and a scab and a bright spot, to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the law of leprosy.”

REFLECT
Tough readings! And are these relevant for us? Leprous skins, garments and houses … what’s that got to do with us? And why must there be religious rituals to deal with physical uncleanness! Well, the law of Moses seemed to connect every sickness with sin, and every healing with God. That’s why the sin offering was required for cleansing. And the burnt offering was required as an act of thanksgiving/ worship for God’s healing grace. While we don’t fully grasp the meaning of “the law of leprosy”, we cannot miss God’s demand for us to be clean.

RELATE
Just before writing this post, I was served at lunch my first ever whole lobster – barbecued to perfection! Such delicacies are cheap here, especially in the seaside town where I’m staying. Then I remembered Leviticus – unclean!! Yes, this lobster would not have made it to the Jewish dining table. So what has changed from the time of Moses, till now? How could I eat this 1-foot lobster with my conscience clear? In fact, I could ask – how can one be a Chinese and not break all the food laws of Leviticus? I suppose the simple answer would be – I’m Chinese, not Jewish. More accurately, I’m a Christian, not an Israelite. While it is critical for me to be clean, the focus of holiness is now of the heart.

REST
Lord, teach me to discern between clean and unclean, good and evil, holy and hollow.

Worship 101

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Lev 1-3; Ps 44

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Leviticus 1:1-2
Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.

REFLECT
How should humans worship God? While modern readers might look at Leviticus and it’s various types of offerings and conclude that the OT is old fashion – Christians must not make the same mistake. The key to worship is the word “offering”. While we prefer cash today, ancient Israelites only had animals, grain, and birds. What they have, they offer unto God. While it was “required” of them, the offering was released freely (1:3). God taught the people how to relate with Him by giving specific instructions. He still does. The question is, will we follow Him?

RELATE
There was a time in my Christian journey (even as a young pastor) when I saw the “worship” segment of a service as merely preparation for the sermon, i.e. the real thing. As such, I got very impatient when the worship leader repeated the singing over and over. Why can’t he get it over and done with?! So, while others were joyfully worshipping the Lord, I was foolishly missing the point. My eyes were on the clock, not on the Lord. Praise God for showing me my error sooner than later! Yes, time and discipline matters. But trust and devotion matters more.

REST
Lord, teach me how to worship You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yes, teach me how to … love You!!

Common grace

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Acts 23:11-35; Proverbs 10:17

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Acts 23:29
I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.

REFLECT
The above words were spoken by a Roman commander, who felt that Paul should not be handed to his Jewish enemies. Whatever we might say about the Roman empire, there was a basic justice system that punished evil and protected the innocent. This is evidence that even those who do not know God were guided by their conscience, and benefited from a general revelation of justice. Let us not be too quick to dismiss everything that do not fit into our religious systems (or laws).

RELATE
The Christian church is often guilty of not recognizing the goodness of God in places that don’t look “Christian”. For example, we criticize our “secular” government for their mistakes, but fail to give thanks for the many things they do right. Or we would judge non-Christians for their bad habits (like smoking), without affirming their filial piety and good work ethic. This is a reflection of our own narrow mindedness, which in turn reveals a lack of biblical understanding. No wonder so many people are not attracted to our faith! 😦

REST
Lord, open our eyes, that we might see Your image in all that You have created. Grant us compassion to love those who don’t look or sound like us.

Humanity and Humility

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Acts 18:23-19:12; Psalms 39:1-13

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Psalms 39:4-5
“Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.”

REFLECT
Whether we are talking about Joseph Schooling (young and promising, at his “best state”) or an old man sitting in a food court, both are “but vapor”. Perhaps the old man was also a swimming legend in his time, but now his end is near. According to the Psalmist, it might not matter whether we are young or old, rich or poor. What matters is that we know our days are numbered, and we are weak as humans. For humility is the beginning of a blessed life.

RELATE
This morning I received news that a friend had died of a heart attack. I will always remember him as a humble man. Though from a wealthy household, he did not look down on the poor, and lived a simple life. Perhaps he would say that he was a humble-d man. Humbled by many decades of trials and troubles, but never letting go of his faith in God. This week many will celebrate his life, and mourn his death. Praise God for you, my friend. See you.

REST
Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. (Ps 90:12)