God’s testing

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Deuteronomy 8:2 “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”

REFLECT
Why was it necessary for God to test Israel those forty years to know what was in their hearts? Isn’t God all knowing? Why was there a need to “test”? God tested Israel to humble them, to see how they would respond; whether they were still in awe and worship of Him. Hence, they were brought to hunger and then supplied with manna so that they could be reminded that God is their Provider.

Humility, especially when it comes as a result of God’s testing, is not often seen as a gift from the Almighty. Rather, it is often seen as a “consequence” from God’s discipline. Yet, humility can bring believers to new heights in our spiritual journey. Humility based on faith in Jesus, can bring miracles to a believer’s soul; for it can transform what was impossible to what was possible. Humility as a result of God’s testing, is a precious gift.

RELATE
In my own spiritual walk with God, I came to realise that God is ever so patient and loving as my divine Father. He will give me tests so as to shape a particular area of my life. Each of these tests is an opportunity for conviction and learning on humility. Each of these tests is an opportunity for further transformation. Every-time I fail in these opportunities; I wasn’t condemned into hell; but given another set of tests for the purpose of sanctification.

Such tests can come in the form of suffering the consequences from wrong decisions; or in the form of God’s intervention in whatever way necessary to bring conviction and repentance. The key to embracing such tests and allowing such tests to help us change is humility in faith. The humility to know that God is Almighty and I cannot save my own soul. The humility to bow down at His feet and allow Him to mould us, no matter how painful it might be. The humility to know that even in His tests, is grace.

REST
God, help me to see that your tests is good for my soul. Challenging as it might be, give me the grace and strength to go through as You will. Amen.

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Amazing Holiness

God’s holiness is so amazing! Because He is perfectly holiness, we can be holy too. And if every disciple of Christ walks increasingly in true holiness, every church would be a better church and our witness to the world would be stronger too! On the other hand, it is unholiness amongst believers that has often given Christianity a bad name. That we must avoid. With God’s help and with the Holy Spirit working within us, let’s be holy as the Lord is holy.

Bowing Down

by Rev Lai Kai Ming

Readings: Deuteronomy 4; Proverbs 12:25

READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
Deuteronomy 4:15-16
“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female …”

REFLECT
Why was God so concerned that men would make idols and worship them? What were the consequences of humans bowing down to wood, stone, animals, and planets? Someone has said that we become what we worship. We who are made in God’s image would lose our identity when we start identifying with lifeless objects and wild beasts. The natural outcome would be suicide and genocide.

RELATE
Most of us don’t worship wood, stone, animals and planets anymore. We know that is ridiculous. Modern science has rid us of superstition and primitive idolatry. We no longer bow down to idols. Or so we think. Jesus reminded us candidly that murder and adultery are committed even before one makes the first move. They have already begun in the heart. We might think we are standing, but inside we have bowed to hate, lust, and other invisible deities. Thankfully, God prescribes the same cure for dealing with idols without and within – death to self, and life in the Spirit. In other words, loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

REST
Lord, deepen my love for You. Show me who You really are, that I may become who I truly am.

The whole point

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: 1 Corinthians 14:18-40; Psalm 78:1-31

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
1 Corinthians 14:19 “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

REFLECT
Paul told the church in Corinth that he was given the gift to speak in tongues more than all of them. However, even with such a gift, he would rather “speak five words with his mind to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Corinth, it seemed that the church cherished the “manifestation of the spirit” where one of such “manifestations” could be the speaking of tongues. Yet, Paul’s advice was that while these things are from the Lord; they should be done in a way where the church is being built up. No point having such glorious manifestations and yet the church is not built up or even worse; stumbled.

The whole point for the Holy Spirit to pour out His gifts to every believer is for the building up of the church; which according to Jesus is the making of disciples so that more disciples can come into the kingdom. The whole point for the gifts of the Holy Spirit is never to create a class of super Christians or to cause divisiveness in the Body of Christ. The opposite is true. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for acts of service and these are to create unity in the Body of Christ.

RELATE
Yet, if we are to do a brief survey of what is happening to the Body of Christ today; we are ironically divided by non-scriptural interpretation and application of the various gifts of the Holy Spirit. We even cause hurt to one another through such non biblical emphasis of particular gifts. Some Christians thought that they are somewhat “closer” to God just because they can speak in tongues. Some thought that they are a special “breed” just because they are given words of knowledge to speak. Otherwise, even if the persons given such gifts do not feel superior to others; people who are more fascinated by the “manifestations of the spirit” than our obedience to the daily call of the Gospel idolized these persons who are given such gifts.

Yet, nothing in the Bible suggested this. Gifts given are by the pure grace of God to edify the church. The human vessel of which such gifts are bestowed ought not to be idolized nor given any special favours; be they church members, leaders, pastors or in some areas self-proclaimed apostles. Today’s reading puts a strong reminder that as a believer and pastor, I must be careful that my actions does not promote such human tendencies to favour more of what is spectacular; but to be faithful to God’s mission.

What is biblical is that all believers are gifted in some way or another by the Holy Spirit. No gift is more important than the others. All work together as a Body and for the glory of Christ. We are no less nor more as compared to one another. We are to serve the Lord in unity, purity and humility. That is the whole point.

REST
Lord our God, forgive us as believers universal, for we have constantly swayed from Your path. Help us to see as You see, love as You love and not to show special favour to anyone gifted in any manner. For such a behaviour divides the church and is harmful to the Body of Christ. Amen.

Day 365

by Rev Joel Yong

Revelation of John 21:3-5
I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “God lives with humans! God will make his home with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There won’t be any more death. There won’t be any grief, crying, or pain, because the first things have disappeared.” The one sitting on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” He said, “Write this: ‘These words are faithful and true.'”

One day, God won’t just watch us- He will live WITH us. And all sorrow and pain will be no more.

What an amazing and beautiful hope.

Our world is ailing.
It is in need of a major overhaul.

While our computers are still new, we receive updates and patches we can download to help enhance our security and operating systems.
But one day it becomes obsolete and then it’s no longer about a software update or a virus patch.
It needs to be completely changed.

Our world is overdue for an overhaul.
We have no solutions to the problems we have created.
The patches of temporary solutions to the wars we have raging, the pollution that is widespread and the diseases all around- don’t really work.

No wonder God says: “I am making all things new.”
He alone has the Answer we are all waiting for.
Not just a patch here and there.

Day 364

by Rev Joel Yong

Revelation of John 11:3-13
I will allow my two witnesses who wear sackcloth to speak what God has revealed. They will speak for 1,260 days.” These witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing in the presence of the Lord of the earth. If anyone wants to hurt them, fire comes out of the witnesses’ mouths and burns up their enemies. If anyone wants to hurt them, he must be killed the same way. These witnesses have authority to shut the sky in order to keep rain from falling during the time they speak what God has revealed. They have authority to turn water into blood and to strike the earth with any plague as often as they want. When the witnesses finish their testimony, the beast which comes from the bottomless pit will fight them, conquer them, and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie on the street of the important city where their Lord was crucified. The spiritual names of that city are Sodom and Egypt. For 3½ days some members of the people, tribes, languages, and nations will look at the witnesses’ dead bodies and will not allow anyone to bury them. Those living on earth will gloat over the witnesses’ death. They will celebrate and send gifts to each other because these two prophets had tormented those living on earth. After 3½ days the breath of life from God entered the two witnesses, and they stood on their feet. Great fear fell on those who watched them. The witnesses heard a loud voice from heaven calling to them, “Come up here.” They went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. At that moment a powerful earthquake struck. One-tenth of the city collapsed, 7,000 people were killed by the earthquake, and the rest were terrified. They gave glory to the God of heaven.

In the last days, 2 powerful witnesses for God will appear.

Some think – they will be Moses and Elijah, who met Jesus when He was transfigured.
Some think the apostle John will be one of them, for Jesus said to Peter:” If I want him to remain alive until my coming again, what is it to you?”

Regardless of who you think these witnesses are- note that they will preach for an exact number of days.

Almost 3 and a half years. During this time, anyone who attempts to hurt them or destroy them, will be destroyed.

But when the time is up, the beast will kill them and then like any cold blooded dictator, leave their corpses as an example of what happens to any that crosses his path. The evil people who belong to the beast, will celebrate this too.

But after 3 and a half days, they will be resurrected and an earthquake will destroy those who celebrate evil- leaving the survivors shocked and concluding that it must only be God who has done this.

These things will happen.
Let us be alert and watchful.
Let us be among those who sigh and groan at evil.
Rather than those who hate reproach and correction that comes from God.